After Delhi, Andhra Pradesh government has raised liquor prices by 50% and West Bengal has raised 30% sales tax on old MRP.
As alcohol-lovers rush to stores with the central government relaxing 40-day nationwide lockdown restrictions, several states have rushed in to maximise tax revenue from liquor, and at least one state has begun delivering it online to people. After Delhi announced a massive ‘corona fee’ (excise duty hike) of 70 per cent on MRP of liquor, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have also come up with similar announcements. The aim seems to be to offset the losses incurred in the lockdown to some extent. The Andhra Pradesh government has raised liquor prices by 50 percent, taking the overall hike in the price of liquor to 75 percent. Similarly, West Bengal has also raised 30 per cent sales tax on old MRP.
However, while the purpose of increasing the prices of liquor in Delhi is to generate surplus revenue, the motive is to discourage alcohol consumption in Andhra Pradesh. Even as the prices are substantially raised, there is a huge rush at the modal shops even today. Considering the severity of the situation, to enforce social-distancing, the Chhattisgarh government has launched a web portal for home delivery of liquor in green zones of the state. The portal is being run under the ambit of the state-run CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited) that controls the sale of liquor in the state.
Though a large section is raising questions on the necessity of allowing alcohol sales during this unfortunate time, the states have a ready answer for it that they can’t survive without the revenue generated by liquor sales. The central government had recently opened liquor stores in various places in the country after India went into the third phase of nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, earning more revenue by dramatically hiking the product price is not limited to liquor, the Delhi government today announced an unprecedented hike of over Rs 7 per litre on diesel. This has made the diesel prices in Delhi much higher than in the other states of the country.