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What's in a name! ; Govt changes tack, belt shops to stay

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Proposes to regularise belt shops in the new Excise policyA 2013-14 Allots two to three belt shops to...

  • Proposes to regularise belt shops in the new Excise policyA 2013-14
  • Allots two to three belt shops to each licensed wine shop dealer
  • Belt shops to be named as 'link shops'

Patan Afzal Babu

Hyderabad : Virtually, taking a U turn on its decision to shut 'belt shops,' the State government is all set to regularise the belt shops by naming it after 'link shops' in the new excise policy 2013-14 , which will come into effect from July this year.A The officials of the State Excise and Prohibition Department told The Hans India that, as per the available information, wine shop dealers were running about 60,000 belt shops in the State. On an average, each shop dealer runs 10 unauthorised liquor outlets. Since belt shops turned into important revenue generating centres for liquor traders, shutting down all of the belt shops will adversely affect the profits of wine shop owners as well as the State's exchequer.

It may be mentioned here that Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on May 7 announced closing all the belt shops in the State within 40 days. As there was no option to fill revenue deficit once all belt shops were closed, the officials said that the department opted a 'middle path' to compensate the loss incurred by the wine shop dealers by allowing them to run at least two belt shops in their area.

"Under the new Excise policy, licensed wine shop dealers are being given permission to run two to three belt shops in their jurisdiction by charging Rs 5,000 to 10,000 additional fees," a top official informed on the condition of anonymity. In the new Excise policy, the government will also enforce new acts imposing heavy penalty and cancellation of licences in case the dealers are found running more number of belt shops than permitted. Wine shop dealers will be given the freedom to choose the villages where business potential is high to establish belt shops and the remaining shops will be dismantled. The department is waiting to get the Chief Minister's nod as the draft policy has already been forwarded to Chief Minister's Officer (CMO) last week.

In the recent meeting held by the Excise Department with AP Wine Dealers Association, the Association members threatened to give up liquor business if the belt shops were completely closed in the next auctions scheduled in July this year. Over 60 per cent of the existing wine shop dealers have been in liquor trade for the last 20 years.A Meanwhile, the Association's general secretary D Venkateswara Rao said that the Association had requested the government to hike the trader margin, as compensation, if the belt shops were to be closed down.

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