New Delhi: Ahead of the implementation of new excise policy, the Delhi government has merged four separate licences. Now, a single licence is needed for serving liquor at restaurants in the capital. The move is aimed at cutting down on paperwork and at facilitating ease of doing business, said officials.
Meanwhile, a major shortage of liquor has hit the capital with the existing government shops getting ready to wind up their business while the private shops have already been closed to make way for big liquor stores. Many of the government stores are reporting shortage of various brands and they are no longer replenishing their stocks. The new liquor stores are permitted to open from November 17 and many shops are in the final stage of completion.
According to a notification issued by the excise commissioner, existing L-17, L-17 F, L-18, L-18 F licences will be combined into a L-17 licence as per the report of a group of ministers that was released earlier this year. The L-17 licence was meant for service of Indian liquor in restaurants, while L-17F licence was meant for service of foreign liquor there in restaurants. The L-18 and L-18F licences were required for serving different liquors like wine and beer in the restaurants.
The notification explained that the annual licence fee of L-17 licence will be Rs 5 lakh for restaurants with up to 1,000 sq feet area, Rs 15 lakh for 1,001 to 2,500 sq feet area and Rs 25 lakh for above 2,500 sq feet. The L-17 licence holder may serve any Indian or foreign liquor at any area, including balcony, terrace or open spaces or lower areas of the restaurant. They are, however, required to make sure that the area where the liquor will be served is screened off from public view.
A liquor trader, who did not want to be identified, said that the capital was headed for a liquor crisis because while all the existing shops would be closing down from November 17, the 850 new liquor stores would not open in a single day. “Many of the shops are ready but only a handful of shops are likely to open on November 17,” said the trader.
The trader also added that only 35 liquor brands were registered under the new excise policy till a few days ago while Delhi had around 400 registered brands under the old excise policy. “The excise department must speed up brands’ registration before November 17.”


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