Kolkata: The West Bengal government’s excise department is seeking to engage cash-rich super distributors to handle transport, import, storage and supply of liquor from West Bengal State Beverages Corporation (Bevco
)-managed warehouses to the retailers for a smoother supply chain experience.
A source close to the development said that the move may ultimately lead to a manufacturer-distributor-retailer model by doing away with the role of Bevco. The transition, set to be implemented from October 18 this year, is unlikely to have any impact on the end-user as the super distributors would be getting the margin of profit previously drawn by Bevco.
The state excise directorate on Thursday notified the government’s decision to grant the licence and called for submission of applications from interested parties. However, not everyone can apply for the licence, it said. Business entities having a minimum five years of experience in wholesale distribution of liquor in any state/UT in India along with a liquor distribution turnover of at least Rs 150 crore every year for the last three financial years can apply for the same.
Set up in January 2017 as a wholly owned and controlled PSU under the state finance department with an aim to tackle the menace of spurious/illicit/non-duty paid alcohol
, Bevco began procurement of bottled spirits from all liquor manufacturers and suppliers situated outside the state and selling the same to all Bengal-based retailers by 2018.
However, retailers had many complaints against Bevco ranging from damage to pilferage of products during transportation of bottles and cartons.
“We had been raising complaints about it for a long time. The supplies from Bevco were erratic and often we ended up getting a lesser amount of products against what we had paid for. A number of bottles got damaged or stolen in the process and cartons were found ripped in some cases,” said a retailer in central Kolkata.
With Bevco, retailers said, they had to deal with a group of middlemen, who used to control the supply and transportation network. “These third-party personnel were difficult to handle. The new system will hopefully help us interact directly with the distributors,” said another retailer.
Excise duty on alcohol is the third-largest source of tax revenues for the state clocking a whopping Rs 20,000 crore revenue per year.