The Delhi government has opted to extend the existing excise regime for an additional six months, citing concerns about introducing a new policy while several aspects of the previous one remain under investigation by law enforcement agencies.
According to officials, both the Delhi government and the lieutenant governor have granted their approval for the extension until March 31, 2024. Following clearance by the chief minister, the excise department’s proposal to extend the policy was submitted for the LG’s approval. Subsequently, the file was returned to the government from the LG’s secretariat, indicating it had been acknowledged with a “seen” mark.
The announcement regarding the extension is expected to be officially made on Friday.
As per a senior Delhi government official, the excise department intends to extend permits for both retail liquor shops operated by four government corporations and establishments such as hotels, clubs, and restaurants until March 31, 2024, subject to the payment of fees on a pro rata basis.
Officials indicated that the existing policy, slated to expire on September 30, necessitated either an extension or the implementation of a new policy to address regulatory requirements for conducting retail and wholesale liquor trade in the national capital. Under the current excise duty-based liquor system, only government corporations are permitted to operate retail liquor stores in the capital.
Nevertheless, industry associations held the view that the liquor trade in the capital required a stable regulatory environment to facilitate seamless business operations and enhance the overall consumer experience.
“The existing policy is being extended repeatedly just to keep business going. It is not a planned excise policy design to work for all stakeholders. What the industry needs more than anything else is regulatory stability,” said Vinod Giri, director general of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverages Companies.
Giri further emphasized that without a comprehensive, long-term excise policy in place, companies are unable to formulate extended-term strategies. They require clear policy direction for the coming year or two, at the very least, to make investments and carry out operations within the state.
“In recent times we have seen frequent major changes in excise policy, which have had an unsettling effect. Since Delhi’s operating margins are not great, companies with pan India footprint have the option of prioritising other markets for supplies if faced with such an uncertain regulatory framework,” he said.