PUDUCHERRY: It’s cheers again for liquor enthusiasts in Puducherry as shops opened after more than two months (62 days). But the relief came with a heavy price. Prices of popular brands have doubled or tripled as the excise department levied special duty, which varied from 50 per cent to 200 per cent of MRP, on 154 bands. This was done to prevent entry of people from Tamil Nadu. Now, the prices of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) are same as in the neighbouring State.
There were long queues seen in rural areas, but the ones in the town it was less crowded. This could be attributed to the fact that there are more liquor shops in the Union Territory than in other States. The enthusiasts followed lockdown norms, i.e. maintained social distancing, wore masks and used sanitisers provided by the shops. The liquor traders fear that the price hike will lead to a slump in sales. The popular brandy, which used to cost between Rs 40-50 earlier is selling at Rs 120 now.
“Just to keep people from other States away, why are we being taxed so heavily. This new pricing will not be accepted in Puducherry. Tamil Nadu is different,” said a man who purchased two bottles of McDowell’s brandy. A daily labourer said he can’t afford to spend Rs 120 per bottle and would rather consume arrack.
The local brands are much cheaper in comparison and the special excise duty levied is only 25 per cent of the MRP and they are being sold at around Rs 75 per quarter.It is too early to speculate about the impact of the new price list as trends is likely to emerge only in a week or so.