Relax time limit for serving liquor: AHAR to State

Hotel association writes to ministry, says time extension will make Mumbai 24x7 a success

The Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (AHAR) has written to the Ministry of Labour and Excise to allow the time limit for serving alcohol to be extended to 3.30 a.m. from 1.30 a.m. AHAR believes the Mumbai 24x7 project will not be successful unless the time limit is extended as it will not be affordable for restaurants.

Last month, the State government pushed through with the Mumbai 24x7 project which allows restaurants and malls in select commercial to function all night. The move met with a tepid response from Mumbaikars but officials are hopeful that as the word spreads, it will catch up. Meanwhile, AHAR president Shivanand Shetty met Minister for Labour and Excise Dilip Walse-Patil and the Excise Commissioner last week to submit the association’s demands.

AHAR has sought a review of the Bombay Prohibition Act and Bombay Foreign Liquor rules and also that the 5% value added tax (VAT) on liquor served in restaurants be scrapped on the ground that it is an additional financial burden. Also, a price hike forces people to go to illegaly-run places or drink secretly in public, leading to a law and order problem.

Other demands include abolition of the permit system for personal consumption, no hike in licence fee, bringing down the age of drinking from 25 to 21 for all forms of alcohol, and having only two to three dry days in a year.

The letter from AHAR reads, “We as legitimate licence holders should be allowed to keep our licence working up to 3.30 a.m. or else, illegal drinking habits will start mushrooming around the food trucks, resulting in loss of revenue for the State.”

Explaining the rationale behind these demands, Mr. Shetty said, “Wine shops do not have VAT but restaurants having FL-III licences do, and so people prefer buying alcohol from wine shops. That is why we want it to be scrapped.” FL-III is a permit room licence or a licence for alcohol sale at a hotel, on which excise duty has been paid at special rates.

On reducing the legal drinking age, Mr. Shetty said, “The legal age for voting is 18, and for marriage it is 21. It is not like people are waiting to turn 25. College students also drink these days. So Maharashtra should allow all alcohol by the age of 21.” AHAR is in its 41st year and has around 8,000 members in Mumbai.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:08:59 PM |

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