The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has urged 10 states to allow sale of alcoholic beverages saying that a complete ban during the lockdown to contain coronavirus has resulted in sale of illegal liquor while causing burden on our national money.
The body noted that the nationwide lockdown has resulted in the shutdown of all wholesale and retail shops selling alcoholic beverages. It said the need to close the bars and pubs is well understood in light of social distancing.
The CIABC, which is the main body of the Indian alcoholic beverage industry, has sent letters on Monday to chief ministers of 10 states — Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
CIABC Director General Vinod Giri stated in the letter that there are growing reports of sale of illegal liquor in the state which can potentially lead to serious health hazards for people as well as create adverse law and order situation.
It has also requested all state governments to extend all liquor licenses and approvals till June 30.
Giri said alcohol is one of the most important sources of revenue for state governments and by shutting down retail shops, states are depriving themselves of the tax revenues that are so vitally required in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
He also said some people need alcohol on medical grounds and that should also be considered.
The CIABC, which includes most major Indian companies that manufacture and market their product range in India and abroad, pleaded for permitting sale of alcoholic beverages from off-shops (retail outlets) in the state during the lockdown period.
It suggested that the state governments may do so by placing reasonable control measures such as curtailed shop timings, and directing outlets to strictly follow social distancing norms.
Key recommendations of CIABC for the phased restart of retail liquor stores include:
- Retail licenses granted for year 2019-20 which expired on 31 March 2020 should be extended until June 30, 2020.
- Shops outside identified COVID19 hotspots should be allowed to open in following phased manner. Keeping shops open for longer is to help spread customers. From April 15th to May 15th – from 9 am to 11 pm From May 15th to June 15th – from 11 am to 11 pm June 15th onwards – normal timing.
- Shops should be permitted to sell stock purchased or ordered in 2019-20 till stocks last.
- No demurrage should be charged for stock lying in government retail shops until June 30.
- No retail shop should be manned by more than two salesmen.
- No shop should permit more than two customers if it’s a walk-in shop or one customer if it’s single window shop. All shops must make circle markings outside for customers to stand.
The CIABC said recognising the threats to public health and law and order, some state governments have taken proactive measures and directed relaxation in shutdown orders for alcoholic beverages shops.
Some have also mooted the idea of allowing home delivery of alcoholic beverages to deserving cases, it added.
CIABC’s suggestions are:
- Shops should be asked to enrol for home delivery through online applications. Government may charge a fee, this being an addition to license.
- Each qualifying shop should be given 3-4 movement passes for home delivery personnel.
- Customers may place order online on over phone, along with an ID proof establishing age.
- Government may limit amount of liquor delivered or frequency of delivery as it deems fit.
- Government should consider institutionalising home delivery as a separate channel administered online.