Govt to check excess markup on liquor

“The matter has come to my notice and I have already asked officers to take strict action and even cancel licences if they (the shops) do not fall in line,” Excise Minister Renukacharya told Deccan Herald. 

Of late, consumers have complained about liquor stores in collusion with Excise officers were were selling liquor at prices up to Rs 10 higher than the MRP. The highest markup is on wine. While extra charges on other forms of liquor varies between Rs 5 and Rs 10, one ends up paying at least Rs 30 more on each bottle of wine.

A reality check into reasons behind such price-fixing, elicited vague answers from shop owners. Some  did not even bother to explain, while some claim that there was no rule that they have to stick to MRP. Some shopowners claim that they were charging extra because in the amendment made in the prices about one-and-a-half-years ago had eaten into their margins.

“Earlier we operated on an 18 per cent margin but in the last 18 months or so we get only eight per cent, therefore we charge about 10 per cent more than the legitimate price,” said a store owner.

Another in Sanjaynagar said the additional charge in his bar falls under the ‘service charge’ tab on the bill. “We’ve been selling everything with Rs 10 extra. And I do not think it is illegal,” he said.

Another argued that no customer wants warm beer and selling beer at MRP does not leave him with enough to make up for the power consumed to keep the beverage chilled. “If you want beer at MRP, then you will get it warm.”

Some officials in the Excise Department that this reporter spoke, admitted that many of their colleague were hand in glove with the store owners, enabling them to scott free. In any case, the store owners are brazen about what they do , as the local police cannot act on complaints about over charging as it is outside their purview.

Renukacharya’s warning

Renukacharya, however said rules were clear about selling a bottle above its MRP being an offence. He warned officers that failure to act would entail penalty.

“I will hold regular meeting with officers and monitor the action taken in this regard,” he assured, adding that he had also instructed them to take action against shops that were opening early in the morning.

Minister says no compromise

Excise Minister M P Renukacharya on Thursday said strict action including cancellation of licence would be taken against liquor shops which sell liquor above the maximum retail price (MRP).

Speaking to reporters after holding a joint meeting with representatives of wine merchant associations and Excise Department officials, Renukacharya said there would no compromise against liquor shops violating norms. Cases would be booked against liquor shops if they open before or beyond stipulated hours, he added.

Renukacharya said the excise revenue collection had increased by 16 per cent for the April-October period compared to last year. Revenue mobilisation had been Rs 4,400 crore during this period compared to Rs 3,800 crore last year.

As against 216 lakh cases of liquor sold in April-October last year, sales have touched 255 lakh cases during the same period this year, he said.

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