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Liquor shop e-auction rescheduled to June

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The state government has rescheduled the auction of licence for (IMFL) and Country Sprit (CS) from June onwards.

The guidelines issued by the state excise department for 2013-14 said that pending the introduction of e-auction, the existing licences of vendors will be extended till May 2013.

As per the guidelines, in case some IMFL shop licences remain unsettled though e-auction, the state government agencies and co-operative organisations will be allowed to run the shops by paying a licence fee fixed by the government.

The move is expected to open up scopes for state-run PSUs such as Odisha Tourism Development Corporation, Aska sugar mills and other co-operative institutions to enter the liquor trade.

Besides, the new guidelines has suggested establishment of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) based cheap liquor shops for the first time in the state. The Department of Excise has also proposed to allow model wine shops attached to star hotels and luxury hotels, shopping malls and complexes with licence fee of Rs 1 lakh to boost the sale of wine and low strength liquor.

The new policy aims to increase revenue from excise sector. From 2013-14 onwards wholesale licence of Odisha State Beverages Corporation (OSBC) will be renewed on payment of fee of Rs 100 crore as against Rs 50 crore earlier.

Licence fee for breweries and bottling plant have also been raised for the next fiscal. Excise duty on beer, India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) like whiskey, rum, brandy and vodka has been revised upwards.

The new policy said, interested entrepreneurs can open up beer parlors in major cities by paying Rs 3 lakh annual fee. Similarly, IMFL off liquor shops can allow consumers to drink in places adjacent to their shop counters by paying annual fee of Rs 2 lakh per year in urban areas and Rs 1.5 lakh in rural areas.

Henceforth, liquor shop vendors will required to provide bills on liquor purchases, otherwise they will be penalised with a fine of Rs 10,000.

The last auctioning of foreign and country liquor shop licences in the state took place in 2005 and since then the licences of vendors are getting renewed every year, undermining the concept of auction process.

The idea to auction the liquor shops was mooted by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had issued orders to this effect last year. However, the plan was shelved as the authorities apprehended non-participation of interested persons for fear of paying more per licence.

Last week, the state government had to withdraw the liquor shop licence notification issued on 28 February because of ambiguity in the notice and had promised to come up with comprehensive guidelines later.

Odisha government collected Rs 1,380 crore revenue from the excise sector during 2011-12 and aims to take it up to Rs 1,700 crore during the current fiscal.

The state excise department has already initiated discussion with the officials of National Informatics Center (NIC), which has developed software for e-auction. The NIC team will soon come out with customised software in this regard.

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