The Punjab government is all set to allow home delivery of liquor, and also likely to impose a ‘Covid-19 cess’ on sale.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has constituted a three-member committee of senior officers to assess the losses resulting from the closure of liquor vends because of the lockdown.
The Punjab council of ministers on Monday had authorized the CM to take a call on amending the state’s excise policy in view of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
The CM has asked a group of ministers (GoM), comprising state finance minister Manpreet Badal, as also the education and housing and urban development ministers, to work out the ‘Covid-19’ levy on liquor “as has been done by certain other states in the wake of losses incurred due to the prolonged lockdown”.
Excise from sale of liquor is one of the principal sources of revenue for the Punjab government. Singh has said Punjab has suffered a loss of 88 per cent in revenue in April during the lockdown period, and had been requesting the Centre to allow sale of liquor.
On the issue of home delivery of liquor, the CM has cited the Supreme Court’s observations in this regard and left the option with the licensees. The Supreme Court has suggested home delivery of liquor in its order in a public interest litigation of May 8 to ensure social distancing during the period of lockdown.
The CM also said the government could not complete allotment of liquor vends for the year 2020-21, but ruled out an extension in the contract of liquor vends beyond March 31, 2020. They will, however, be compensated for the losses incurred for the lockdown period from March 23 to May 6.