The Delhi government will charge 70 per cent extra tax on liquor from today amid the coronavirus pandemic. Calling the new tax "special corona fee", the Arvind Kejriwal government in a late night order on Monday said the police should allow the shops to remain open from 9 am to 6:30 pm.
The 70% tax is on the maximum retail price or MRP per bottle. For instance, a liquor bottle with a pre-tax MRP of Rs 1,000 will now cost Rs 1,700.
Liquor shops pulled up their shutters on Monday after over a month since the centre announced a lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Delhi government is looking to harvest more revenue from liquor sales as the lockdown has affected businesses and tax collection.
The move to charge the 70 per cent tax on liquor was first considered at a cabinet meeting chaired by Mr Kejriwal on Monday morning itself, just after the extended lockdown kicked in with some rules eased, news agency PTI reported quoting unnamed sources.
On Sunday, Mr Kejriwal said the state government's earnings and economy have been affected due to the lockdown. Citing revenue figures, he said the Delhi government earned Rs 3,500 crore in April 2019, but only Rs 300 crore in April this year.
The Delhi government issues licence to sell liquor to its tourism and related undertakings - DTTDC, DSIDC, DSCSC and DCCWS – and these agencies can further issue licence to those who want to use their premises to sell liquor.
Only standalone liquor shops as against those located at markets are allowed to open in Delhi.
Many said they were not aware that only government liquor shops were allowed to open.
Hours after the shops opened on Monday, thousands turned up to stand in long queues and without following social distancing guidelines. This led the authorities to shut many of the shops in no time.
Officials had painstakingly drawn chalk circles for buyers of booze to stand in but the social distancing efforts were thwarted as people gathered from early morning.