The Delhi government has decided to waive off the liquor licence fee for restaurants and hotels during the lockdown period, announced due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Restaurant owners in the Capital had requested the Delhi government to waive off the licence fee.
As per the order issued by the Delhi government’s excise department dated September 24, “Considering the requests for sympathetic view in regards to appropriation/adjustment of liquor licence fee due to Covid-19 pandemic, the competent authority, in view of the provision of Rule 49 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, has decided that the lockdown period due to Covid-19 form the date of the lockdown and till the opening of the licensed premises by the Delhi government orders to be treated as deemed cancellation of licence and accordingly, the licence fee paid in advance by the licensees shall be adjusted for the corresponding future period payable for the half year beginning 1st October 2020.”
A senior excise department official confirmed the development.
The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) had given multiple representations to the excise department and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in this regard.
The licensees will have to pay for the period after September 9, when bars were allowed to operate in the city.
The annual liquor licence fee, which is charged according to the seating capacity of a restaurant, varies between Rs 9.25 lakh and Rs 22.41 lakh. The fee has to be paid in advance before the start of the financial year. It can also be paid in two instalments: one before the start of the financial year and the second one before September 29. For instance, the licence fee for the financial year 2020-21 was paid by restaurants, either full or partially, by February 28, 2020.
Welcoming the order, Manpreet Singh, the owner of Zen restaurant in Connaught Place and treasurer of NRAI, said, “We are thankful to the government for considering our demand and providing much-needed relief. We have been demanding this for a while because the licence fee was paid for this financial year, but sale of liquor started only recently. Restaurants are already bleeding as we are operating at 50% seating capacity and the turnout is also low right now.”
The association has held several meetings with the excise department and met Sisodia recently.
NRAI had also requested the government to permit the disposal of the expired stock. “We need space to keep the new stock. A lot of liquor has expired and we have to first dispose of it. We hope the government gives us permission soon,” said a restaurant owner.
Despite repeated attempts, the Delhi government spokesperson didn’t comment on the issue.