special corona fee queues

The Delhi government has imposed a “special corona fee” of 70% of the MRP on all categories of liquor that will be sold in the city with effect from Tuesday, may 5, 2020.

The fee was approved by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and a notification was later issued by the Delhi government’s finance department. The fee would apply at “70% of the maximum retail price of all categories of liquor sold through written licences for consumption off the premises,” read the order.

Keeping an eye on the fast depleting government coffers, senior government officials said that the lockdown since March 25 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has cost the Delhi government around Rs 645 crore in revenue from the sale of alcohol. The figure is based on COVID-19 revised estimates in the 2019-20 state budget . BT understands the excise department of Delhi government is preparing a comprehensive report on the exact revenue loss incurred by the ban on the sale of liquor for over 40 days.

While this late night move by the Delhi government will boost the revenue handsomely, it will hurt the hip pocket badly as it will result in a steep rise in the prices of retails liquor bottle. To a consumer a liquor bottle with a maximum retail price of Rs 1,000 earlier, will now cost Rs 1,700 in the city. There will be a stinging increment of Rs 700 adding to the pain of the already suffering consumer.

But, is the government worried? Perhaps NOT, particularly in light of the crowds outside liquor stores which had to be managed, at places by police intervention.

The Finance Department of the Delhi government said “70 per cent of the maximum retail price (will be levied) on all categories of liquor sold through retail licensees for consumption….”

Reacting to the crowds outside liquor shops, Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that his government would be forced to shut shops — opened under conditional scaling down of the lockdown restrictions applicable till May 17 – in case of violation of social distancing norms.

Kejriwal’s warning came after the chaos that followed the opening of government-run wine shops in the city after 40 days. Many had to be shut while at some places police had to intervene to disperse huge crowds gathered in front of the shops.

BT understands, about 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6:30 pm in accordance with the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

On COVID-19 India, Delhi registered another big spike of 349 new cases of Covid-19 that took the national capital’s tally to 4,898, according to the health department statement released on May 4.

India has recorded its biggest single day increase on May 5, with its numbers of infections jumping from 42505 to 46437 adding 3932 more infections. India’s death toll also rose from 1391 to 1566 adding 175 more deaths to India’s COVID-19 related deaths.

Perhaps those queuing up in front of those liquor shops are not as worried as the authorities grappling with the efforts to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in India.

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