Liquor Shop
Liquor Shop

Mumbai: In a relief for the state government which grappling with a lack of funds and resources, the decision to re-open liquor vends has led to an inflow of around Rs 1,250 crore to its coffers.

Liquor shops in the state had been closed down during the coronavirus induced lockdown. However, relaxations were granted from May 4 onwards, leading to wine shops being gradually allowed to operate across Maharashtra.

State Excise Commissioner Kantilal Umap told FPJ that the department had collected around Rs 750 crore as excise duty and another Rs 500 crore has been generated as sales tax.

Every month, the department gets an average of Rs 1,200 crore as excise duty, and Rs 800 crore is earned as sales tax. State excise is the third-highest contributor to the state exchequer after Goods and Services Tax (GST) and stamp duty and registration charges.

“A significant chunk of liquor consumption takes places in permit rooms, which have been allowed to sell bottles for off-consumption only. Though wine shops can operate, outlets in containment zones cannot be opened. In Mumbai and parts of the metropolitan region, wine shops can only offer home delivery of liquor,” an official explained.

While Maharashtra sells around 3 crore bulk litres (BL) of country liquor per month, just 1.60 crore BL was consumed in May because of the flight of labourers from cities and economic distress. Sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) dropped from 1.78 lakh BL per month to 1 crore BL. However, the sharpest fall is seen in the consumption of beer, which was just 1.24 crore BL in May compared to the average of 3.64 crore BL.

“Though beer sales peak in the summers, the coronavirus pandemic led to people keeping away from chilled drinks like beer. Since only home delivery by retail outlets was allowed, many youngsters, who usually drink beer on the sly in permit rooms and restaurants, could not consume it. These factors affected the demand for beer,” an official said, adding that however, liquor consumption was expected to rise gradually.

Maharashtra has 1,685 wine shops, 4,947 beer shoppes and 4,159 country liquor vends, of which around 1,446, 3,477 and 2,957 respectively are operational.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the state excise department earned revenues of Rs 15,428 crore against the Rs 17,977 crore target.

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Free Press Journal