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Uttarakhand Cabinet approves 2% cess to be levied on liquor

A 2 per cent cess will be levied on the sale of liquor by the state government as part of the new excise policy effective from June 1, which was approved yesterday by the Cabinet.

Rather than announcing major changes in the excise policy, the new BJP government has only fiddled with the old policy and announced a few changes here and there. The new 2 per cent cess will be levied on liquor (MRP) out of which 1 per cent cess so charged would be spent on road safety measures and 1 per cent on social safety measures.

The revenue target for 2017-2018 has been fixed at Rs 2,310 crore, a jump of 10 per cent from 2016-2017 when it was pegged at Rs 1,907 crore.

“Our government will not provide patronage to liquor business nor encourage opening of new liquor vends in the state. As a policy initiative, we have further reduced the sale hours of liquor in hill areas from 12 pm to 6 pm,” said state government spokesperson and Urban Development Minister Madan Kaushik while briefing mediapersons.

Barring Dehradun, Nainital, Haldwani and Udham Singh Nagar where the sale of liquor will continue between 10 am to 11 pm in the town and hill areas, the sale timings have been reduced. In Haridwar, a total prohibition already exists.

The District Magistrates will have the power to give licences for opening up new liquor vends based on revenue targets assigned to them for districts. This will also ensure the vends are allotted in keeping with the sentiments of the people.

The application fee for setting up liquor vends for country liquor has been pegged at Rs 22,000 and Rs 25,000 for vends selling Indian-made foreign liquor. Also, country liquor shops selling beer will have to pay a licence fee of Rs 2 lakh.

In addition to the application fee, the government will also charge minimum guarantee duty based on the total lifting of liquor by shops.

Further, the guest houses owned by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam and the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam would get a 50 per cent relaxation in licence fees for opening up bars.

The government has also announced complete computerisation of liquor vends for generating computer sale receipts. The other decisions approved by the Cabinet included waiver of development charge levied on Tibetan refugees who were provided government land for settlement purpose in Dehradun, Haridwar and Mussoorie. “This development charge was levied by the development authority and totalled around Rs 1.63 crore, which has now been waived,” said Madan Kaushik.

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