Foreign liquor likely to become cheaper in state before Durga Puja
Kolkata: The prices of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the state is expected to go down before this Durga Puja after a proposal of implementing a new excise tax structure has been placed before the Bengal government to bring parity with the liquor prices in the neighbouring states.
Sources said the state Excise Directorate has sent a proposal to the Bengal government preparing a new tax structure for IMFL in this regard. The new tax structure has been framed followed by a detailed assessment of prices in different states. The move was taken after it was noticed that a heavy volume of liquor is coming into Bengal from neighbouring states, including Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh where the prices are comparatively less.
A proposal has been sent to increase the price of country liquor. If the state government approves, the price of a 600 ml bottle of country liquor would go up from Rs 100 to Rs 120. At the same time, a new taxation policy has also been proposed so that the price of high end "bottled-in-origin (BIO)" or imported liquor goes down.
With the prices of IMFL increasing twice in 2020, the prices had gone up by at least 40 to 50 percent compared to that of March 2020. However, it did not affect the revenue as there was a collection of Rs 12,371 crore in 2020-21 fiscal while the same in between April and July in 2021 was Rs 3,759 crore. "But the sale volume has dropped considerably," said a senior officer.
The price of liquor for the first time went up when shops reopened after remaining closed due to the lockdown during the first wave of Covid with the increase in sales tax on IMFL and country-made liquor from zero to 30 percent from April 9 in 2020.
Again, the prices of the same, mainly of 750 ml IMFL bottles increased with implementation of the new taxation system in November 2020 since when duty started getting imposed on Ex-Distillery Price (EDP) on a bulk litre basis instead of on Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
Citing some examples, an officer said price of a 750 ml bottle of "major selling products" like two most popular brands of rum was Rs 370 in March 2020. It went up to Rs 460 and Rs 640 in April and November respectively. If the proposal gets accepted, its prices would drop to Rs 540. Similarly, the price of a 750 bottle of a popular brand of whisky was Rs 870 in March 2020, which went up to Rs 1,120 and Rs 1,350 in April and November respectively. The price of the same will drop to Rs 890. Another popular brand of whisky that gets sold at Rs 1,000 at present, though its price was Rs 520 in March 2020, will drop to Rs 750.
"We are waiting for Nabanna's go-ahead and expecting the new prices to get implemented before Durga Puja," the officer said.