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Excise minister H Nagesh, Retail News, ET Retail


Bengaluru: Karnataka excise minister H Nagesh on Tuesday said the government was in no hurry to introduce online sale of liquor, and would take a decision on the matter after taking all stakeholders into confidence.

Kerala and Maharashtra are among a few states that have put in place a home delivery system, and the minister told ET he would depute a team of senior officials to see how well the online delivery system was working in those states, and how people had received it. “We will also see whether such a new system will affect women and children. I will also discuss with wine merchants and liquor dealers to understand their concerns. I will place everything before the chief minister (BS Yediyurappa) for a decision,” he said.

The Supreme Court has left the subject to the discretion of state governments.

Discussions have been ongoing to launch online sale of liquor first in Bengaluru, at the earliest if stakeholders approve, according to official sources. The government has been of the view that online liquor sales would help reduce long queues and crowds in front of takeaway outlets and help with social distancing as cases of Covid-19 infections have been surging. There has, however, been some resistance with Janata Dal(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy opposing the idea. The former chief minister had said the earlier Congress regime itself wanted to implement it, but as the CM in the JD(S)-Congress government, he scuppered it.

BARS, PUBS OPEN

Pubs and bars resumed business on Tuesday as per the permission granted to them. The government and dealers expect business to pick up in the coming days.

“We have permitted bars, pubs and clubs to allow only 50% of their seating capacity. So, we expect the revenues to go up only to that extent,” the excise minister said. The government, he said, had laid down strict guidelines for them to follow to combat the spread of Covid-19 infection. Those violating these will be penalised, he said.

The government is now earning an average Rs 75-80 crore per day from excise levies, and with the opening of bars, pubs and clubs, it could probably reach Rs 120 crore, Nagesh said.

The liquor retailing industry was in deep distress, and those working there were also suffering without salary. Retailers were taking care of their basic needs, and the government had to step in with relaxations to reduce their pain, he said.





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