a day after the Maharashtra government hiked the Excise
duty from 150% to 200% last week, the adjoining state
of Goa announced increase in the label registration
charges from an annual Rs.12000 (€210) to Rs.25000
per label. The earlier renewal charges of Rs.3000
have been escalated four-fold to Rs. 12000 a year.
The excise duty has also been increased
from a nominal Rs. 20 a bulk liter (Rs.15 a standard
bottle) to Rs. 50 a bulk liter (Rs. 37.50 a bottle).
The increase of 250% may be small in magnitude but
it indicates the shape of future for imported wines
in Goa. The VAT of 20% is added further to this increase
of Rs.22.50 a bottle
Ranjit Gupta, Director of Amfora
Wines, a new importer, feels threatened as he will
be severely hit by the increase. "We felt the
registration charges were already too steep, but since
the renewals were reasonable, we had decided to take
the plunge. Now, with this hike and renewal increasing
four times, it may not be possible for us to even
recover the label charges in Goa." Like most
other small importers Gupta will be forced to cut
down on the labels he registers, making new wines
in his portfolio impossible to enter the Goa market.
Recently Goa excise department had
also started insisting on the manufacturing license
before registering the new labels. Importers find
it very difficult to procure the same from their principles.
Bouvet Ladubay is reportedly the only company that
has been able to provide the same. The French winery
is fully owned by UB which is importing it in India
and the wine is being launched in Goa now.
Despite increase in excise duty,
Maharashtra has refrained from hiking the label registration
charges which are Rs.2500 per label beyond 20. Delhi
has maintained them at Rs.5000 with no change in the
excise duty of Rs. 150 a bottle.
How long it will take to reach Delhi,
Bangalore and Kolkata is a matter of fear among the
importers and fine wine lovers across the nation.
Earlier, the central government had
removed the ACD on July 3rd this year in response
to a case filed by EU and the USA with the WTO, while
increasing the customs duty from 100% to 150%, the
maximum allowed by the WTO agreement. The states were
asked by the government to deal with the excise issue
any way they liked. States are empowered to do so
by the constitution.
While EU withdrew its case, US has
stuck to its guns and is carrying on with the case.
Maharashtra had increased the excise duty from Rs.
150 a bottle to 150% within a week of withdrawal of
ACD. However, in response to the plea from the importers,
the government of Maharashtra further increased it
to 200% on November 20 vide notification dated November