Chandigarh’s excise policy has failed to generate interest in its liquor vends this year, with only 43 out of 95 vends being auctioned on March 15. The situation worsened on March 21 when only 11 out of the remaining 52 vends were auctioned. The Chandigarh administration is now preparing to auction the remaining 41 vends on Monday, but several officials are blaming the Punjab liquor policy for the current situation.
According to liquor contractors, the main attraction in Punjab is the negligible value-added tax (VAT) in the state, which is just 1% of the ex-distillery price (EDP). In contrast, Chandigarh charges a VAT of 12.5%, making liquor significantly more expensive. Contractors also point out that Chandigarh has a fixed liquor quota of 18 lakh liquor boxes per year, and liquor contractors in the city face penalties for unlifted boxes. In contrast, Punjab has an open quota, allowing contractors to lift as many cases as they wish.
Contractors also say that Chandigarh has a high license fee, which averages around Rs 6 crore, compared to Punjab’s fee of Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2 crore. They claim to have raised these issues with the UT administration while the excise policy was being formulated, but officials did not pay heed to their demands.
Liquor is also more expensive in Chandigarh, with a standard-size Royal Stag bottle costing around Rs 500, compared to Rs 300 in Punjab. Beer is similarly more expensive, costing Rs 110 in Chandigarh and Rs 90 in Punjab.