Kolkata: Liquor is all set to burn a bigger hole in the pocket of tipplers from next week. India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) across all categories will be dearer by 20%-25% across the board from November 3. However, liquor in some off-shops may be available at the old rate till stock remains. The only solace could be that the price of imported liquor (bottled in origin) and some liquor of overseas spirits bottled in India (OSBI) category will go down by 5%-10%. However, these categories constitute only 2%-3% of the total liquor consumption basket.
A retailer in central Kolkata felt that the new IMFL price regime is a major blow to the liquor trade. Another retailer in South Kolkata opined that this round of price hike would force tipplers to shift to lower brands, which is neither good for the exchequer nor for the health of the tipplers.
Vinod Giri, the director general of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverages Companies (CIABC), said the confederation has expressed its concern to the new finance secretary and the excise commissioner. “We have said that any experimentation at this peak time would be detrimental to the industry,” he added.
CIABC has pointed out the state has already seen a 35% fall in volume in July, August and September, which could worsen going forward. “When most states are rationalizing taxes, like Odisha and Delhi, in order to bring MRP at such levels that revenue is maximized, Bengal has proposed a taxation structure which would take MRPs higher. We estimate 40%-45% fall in overall volume for the entire year if such a taxation structure is implemented in its current shape and form,” the CIABC had said. It had earlier said that it had presented a similar analysis to the Delhi government, showing how imposition of high coronavirus taxes by Delhi had severely brought down liquor sales and, thus, government tax revenues.
Incidentally, the 15%-20% increase in IMFL prices will lead to a 45%-50% jump in prices of some popular IMFL brands from their pre-Covid prices. The state had imposed a Covid tax of 30% from April 7. Now this will be replaced by the new tax structure, which is based on ex-distillery price (EDP) and ex-brewery price. There are 22 slabs for IMFL and 16 slabs for beer. Based on the new tax structure, price of beer had came down earlier this month. But the price of IMFL will go upwards.
The revised tax regime was supposed to be implemented from September, but was deferred following requests from liquor bodies.
Bengal has an annual market for 14.1 million (1.4 crore) cases of hard IMFL and 8 million (80 lakh) cases of beer.