May 23: With the month-end approaching fast and no announcement of the Delhi excise policy yet for 2011-12, it is highly unlikely that the new policy will be in force before June 30, causing a lot of uncertainly and anxiety amongst producers, importers and the on trade buyers, writes Subhash Arora.
Although the excise department had issued an excise circular a month ago, duly reported in delWine, asking for the wholesale prices and also announcing the new annual excise license charges and label registration charges etc., the excise rates have still not be announced- it takes about a month to put the new policy in action. Many importers feel that June 15 would be the new limit, but with the excise department seemingly in hibernation, June 30 would be the most optimistic date.
In the meanwhile, the wines can be sold by depositing the pro-rata monthly charges on the registration and no one is losing any sales. In fact, some suppliers are smiling in their sleeves as they are able to put the fear psychosis of wine outages in the mind of the restaurants-it is a known fact that whenever the new policy is announced, there is usually disruption of supply for 4-6 weeks. The hotels are generally running low on stocks and do not want to order aggressively as they are hopeful that the duties would come down.
At the same time, they are not in a position to upgrade their price lists- they might even contemplate to lower the sales price if the excise duties are in fact brought down.
The excise department is in hibernation but not in slumber though. Part of the reason for delay has been due to the Chief Minister of Delhi, auntie (her new informal populist designation after the recent poll victory by a woman in Chennai) Sheila Dikshit taking over the Finance charge a couple of months ago after Mr A. K Walia left the finance ministry. Mr A K Singh has recently been appointed the new Commissioner after the previous Commissioner, Mr Pillai retired a month ago.
While Mr Singh is considered a very astute and intelligent senior officer and the trade expects him to give a better recognition to wines as a beverage and announce progressive excise policy, it is taking unusually long time this year.
The biggest losers are the small Indian producers who are waiting with the baited breath the implementation of the new policy that entitles them to deposit only Rs.100,000 per brand instead of Rs. 500,000 up front, as the annual fixed charges.
In the meanwhile one waits optimistically for the excise department to announce the new, progressive policy very soon.