N. Rahul

15 per cent hike in upset price of the lease amount

HYDERABAD: The retail liquor shops in the State are up for public auction on June 7 with a hike of 15 per cent in the upset price of the lease amount. Excise Commissioner Heeralal Samaria told The Hindu that there is no change in the number of shops that would be sold for the lease period 2010-12, starting July 1. The same 6,596 shops that were leased out two years ago would remain. In fact, the shops' strength has remained unchanged since 2005.

East Godavari tops the State with a total of 555 shops while there are 212 shops in the State capital comprising the old Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad limits plus Secunderabad Cantonment. Another 390 shops are located in the adjoining Ranga Reddy district comprising three excise districts of Saroornagar, Rajendranagar and Medchal. Excise officials expect the auctions on June 7 and subsequent dates, if shops remained unsold on the first day, to fetch Rs. 4,000-4,400 crore (last time Rs. 3,200 crore) which is 15 to 20 per cent more than the projected collection with the revised upset price. The auctions had resulted in 100 per cent increase in lease amount over the previous collection in 2008, but officials said it might not be the same this time.

The auctions were driven by pre-election atmosphere which led to stiff competition for shops and soaring of lease prices. A shop near Madhapur here was bid for Rs. 2.6 crore and at least six shops were sold out for over Rs. 2 crore each, they added.

Meanwhile, the government has also proposed a 15 per cent increase in the licence fee of bars for the two-year period from July 1. There are 1,550 bars in the State and they are levied fee at rates in four slabs depending upon the size of population of towns/cities where they are located. At the lowest slab for population less than 50,000, the bars are presently charged a licence fee of Rs. 15.09 lakh. The fee in the highest bracket (population of over seven lakh) is Rs. 27.39 lakh.

The government has laid down strict guidelines for requests for relocation of liquor shops in the coming auction for reasons of they being unviable. Asking the Excise department to keep relocations to the bare minimum, that too after scrutiny by a committee, the government has said extreme care and caution should be taken in the matter.

Notification

Otherwise, all shops should be in places where they existed as on May 1, 2010. Notification of one shop in two or more places should be avoided. If old municipal wards and divisions are replaced, the shops should be notified at new places.