Last April, the Supreme Court’s ban on the purchase of alcohol near highways had hit restaurants, hotels, and bars. Although the ban was subsequently modified to exempt places that served liquor, restaurateurs now say their businesses are getting hit by new excise policy and license norms, which have led to a sparsity of liquor supply in some states.
“We are working with various state governments and we are going through a tough time, especially in states like Delhi, UP and Haryana.”
– Rahul Singh, President of the National Restaurant Association of India & Owner of the Beer Café.
Restaurants and Bars Hit by the Excise Policy
Issues with excise department websites and online processing of outlet registrations have led to bars and restaurants running out of liquor in some states this month.
“In Haryana, the entire process moved online and there were delays in online registration and approval of labels… the past 15 days there is zero supply as the online system was not reflecting the registrations,” Singh told us in an earlier conversation. “In UP as well, they have gone online but the online system is not working. In Delhi, the supply is there but the Delhi police teams are asking for multiple checklists.”
Currently, IMFL is depleted on the basis of the minimum retail price decided by the trader or the retailer. Under the new policy, the role of middlemen would be reduced to a minimum and the aim will be to maximize the revenue earned by the state government.
“Many foreign liquor tags are not available in states like Haryana, which is the striking business for restaurants resentfully.”
– Anurag Katriar, CEO of DeGustibus Hospitality
The excise license fee has also been hiked by 10% in Maharashtra. “We have only one outlet in CyberHub, but if this continues we will also face the crunch,” said Katriar who runs restaurants like such as Indigo Delicatessen and Tote on the Turf. “Hiking the license fee in states like Maharashtra does hit the business, as well as everybody, was hoping for some relief. It is an added cost. The market is so competitive and the chains can’t afford to hike the prices.”
Apart from this, now operators of eateries and bars now need to comply with a new checklist of 19 documents to obtain an excise license in the country capital.
“The Delhi Police eating house license is unique to Delhi and for the first time this year, they have introduced a new checklist of 19 documents for obtaining that license. All these need to be secured in order to obtain an excise license,” said Singh of Beer Cafe. “Earlier, one could just show the municipal body clearance for obtaining the Delhi Police eating house license.”
Singh said the problem is particularly grave for his beer chain. “We have zero stock in our outlets in Haryana as beer is perishable liquor and we do not keep more than one week of stock in our outlets.”
Source: The Economic Times