Retail beer vends allowed at JKTDC/ Tourism establishments, Airports; bid starts from Apr 4

JK announces new Excise Policy, decks cleared for ‘big players’
MRP in bars reduced from 25 to 10% ; 25% less duty on CSD/PMF brands
Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, May 28: Clearing decks for the big players in Liquor Industry in the country and discouraging monopoly of the local manufactures besides introducing three categories of new Licenses, the J&K UT Government today announced its New Excise Policy-2023-24.
While encouraging low alcoholic beverages and discouraging illicit liquor, the UT Government has allowed retail selling of beer/ RTD (Ready To Drink) products with low liquor content at JKTDC/ Tourist establishments besides Airports in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Government has also allowed operation of open/ rooftop bars in the high end hotels and restaurants with the additional 50% of the annual license fee to boost tourism related activity. Providing a big relief to the Bar operators, the Government has reduced their MRP from existing 25 to 10 % or as per menu/which ever is higher.
While giving extension to the existing retail liquor vends up to April 16, 2023, the Excise Department has declared to start bid for the new retail liquor vends from April 4 while its registration process will commence from March 29 (Wednesday). The registration fee has been increased from Rs 25000 to Rs 50,000 and EMD from Rs 7 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs and the reserved bid price from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakhs.
Giving boost to the local production, the Government has announced 25% less Excise Duty on CSD/ PMF brands manufactured in J&K only. While protecting local industry, restrictions shall be imposed on import on brands having MRP Rs 600 per bottle ( 750 ml).
While taking major initiative for the first time and clearing decks for the big players from outside, the JKUT Government introduced JKEL-6A, Bottling License on leased out premises and W-1 Winery License for the first time. It will help in big way to the local fruit growers, especially from Kashmir in raising their economy by supplying even rotten fruits for the wine manufacturing.
Further, to optimise the production of liquor in the existing distilleries/bottling plants as per new policy, the Excise Department shall grant permission for leasing out production lines to the major Liquor companies from outside, in making local bottling plants, economically viable and promoting export from J&K. Taking advantage of good climatic conditions, for maturation of bulk spirits, the JK Government shall grant permission for Export/ Import/ Transportation and maturation of bulk spirits. The Govt shall facilitate introduction of more BIO beer and other liquor brands by decreasing the import duty by Rs 5 per BL on beer and reduce the additional assessment duty on BIO brands by 50% over previous Excise Policy.
For the first time, a new country liquor brand of 45 degree proof has been introduced that is cheap and affordable and shall arrest/ discourage sale of illicit liquor in the rural and semi urban areas and may prevent possible hooch tragedy.
For ensuring timely opening of JKEL-2 vends , for repeated premises there shall be no requirement of DMs clearance besides Deemed Clause introduced and renting out Government land for one year for opening vends where private premises is not available.
With the declaration of new Excise Policy, 26 new JKEL-2 vends (22 in Jammu and 4 in Kashmir), total 305, have been proposed for retail sale of liquor in underserved and un-served areas of J&K UT. The fee has been revised as per the category of the hotels; fee /duty has been slightly changed for IMFL and JK Special Whisky.
In order to discourage conflict of interest or monopolistic practices in liquor trade, all manufacturing units have been proposed to be declared as ineligible for grant of Type A,B, C Licenses.
The new Liquor vends have been proposed at Tourist places and places of illicit distillations with NOC from DM and a certificate from FSSAL. To address the grievances of stakeholders, quota transfer fee of Re 1 per bottle has been introduced for transferring MGQ from one vend to another. Promotion of digital payments have been encouraged. To ensure zero leakage, it has been proposed to install flow meters at Bottling Plants/ Distillers/Breweries.
Excise Commissioner, J&K, Pankaj Sharma said that the New Excise Policy has introduced many new progressive initiatives that will upscale revenue, will boost the local liquor industry with more incentives to optimize liquor production and also bring in more enforcements in regulation of liquor trade.
He disclosed that for encouraging informants, giving information about the growing / cultivation of poppy / cannabis, also manufacturing of illicit liquor and bootlegging, a new clause of rewarding the informers has been introduced in the policy. He added that all the services in the Excise department including liquor permits, duties, fee etc shall be provided only through online mode from e-Abqari Portal on real time basis.