Puducherry

Bedi hints at auction of IMFL outlets

Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi on Tuesday hinted at open auction of liquor shops in future as a source of higher internal resource mobilisation.

In a Whatsapp message to reporters, Ms. Bedi said post-COVID, business cannot be as usual and the region should reclaim what rightly belonged to the people.

In the context of more revenue generation, the Lt. Governor said “all liquor licences be on one uniform policy of open auction. And the whole system computerised to allow no leakages.”

For the past 50 years, the Union Territory followed a system of granting licence for running wholesale and retail IMFL outlets.

As per the Pondicherry Excise Rules, 1970, the government was entitled to issue licence and collect annual renewal fee for running wholesale and retail outlets. But in the case of arrack and toddy, the rules prescribed annual auction of the shops.

The Lt. Governor had hinted at auction of IMFL outlets like in the case of arrack and toddy.

Currently, the Excise Department collected a renewal fee of ₹10 lakh and ₹23 lakh from retail and wholesale IMFL dealers respectively. Currently, there are around 400 retail outlets and 90 wholesale dealers.

A transparent auction of IMFL outlets, said a senior official, in all probability would generate more revenue for the government and also destroy the monopoly in liquor business.

But the biggest challenge would be to maintain the momentum in revenue from subsequent years of auction and also preventing entry of spurious liquor.

“Of course it is going to bring a huge revenue in the initial stages. Future auctions will certainly depend on the profitability of the business. There is also chances of liquor owners adopting bad practices including sale of spurious alcohol for profit making,” he said.

For a long time, there had been a clamour for a change in liquor policy to bring transparency in business and bring more revenue to the government.

“Certainly, there needs to be a re-look of the entire policy. The government even could consider taking over liquor sale as done in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It could even generate more income than the auction process,” said a retired revenue official.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Chief Minister K. Lakshminarayanan and AIADMK leader A. Anbalagan have already mooted the idea of government takeover of sale of liquor in Union Territory.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 6:45:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/bedi-hints-at-auction-of-imfl-outlets/article31629761.ece

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