CHANDIGARH: The Punjab cabinet on Monday gave its nod to amend Section 26-A of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, making way for hotels, restaurants and clubs to serve liquor within 500 meters of highways. The restriction will remain valid for all other retail vends though.
The state cabinet approved the draft amendment Bill, 2017, to be tabled during the current budget session for enactment.
Talking to the New Indian Express, Satish Arora, president of Punjab Hotel Association, said, “This move will bring big relief to the hotel and restaurant industry. There are 2,500 hotels and restaurants in the state and of these, 1,500 are on the highways. After the Supreme Court order, there was loss of Rs 100 crore to the hotel industry daily and Rs 50 crore loss to the state government on account of excise duty. As per state government orders, we charge 6 per cent tax from the customer on serving liquor and 14 per cent tax on food items.”
“Not only there was revenue loss, there were many who lost jobs too in this sector,” Arora said. “The owners of these places had already deposited Rs 800 crore with the state government in form of excise duty for this financial year besides Rs 2700 tax on per box of whisky before the SC passed its order,” he added.
Sources in the state excise and taxation department said that despite state government’s decision, around 1,200 liquor vends in the state which were closed earlier after the SC order will remain closed. Apart from this, the cabinet approved the setting up of a dedicated horticulture university to promote crop diversification in the state.
They also approved restructuring of the separate departments of Governance Reforms and Removal of Grievances by merging them and renaming them ‘Department of Governance Reforms and Public Grievances’.
The move is aimed at improving and synchronizing the existing online grievances redressal mechanisms for effective citizen service delivery.