Bar owners in C’garh sailing in rough seas

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Apr 2018 11:52:10



By Roshan Chachane

With around 40 percent drop in the profit, bar owners in the State are sailing in rough seas ever since the State Government took over the liquor business in Chhattisgarh.
A bar owner told ‘The Hitavada’ that establishing a bar was considered as high-return investment in spite of its high capital investment required initially to build the facilities and obtain the licenses, but all that changed after on March 30, 2017, when Chhattisgarh Assembly ratified a bill to constitute a corporation to not just regulate but also to facilitate sale of both Indian and foreign liquor brands through Government owned outlets. In a nutshell, all the liquor shops were now under the Government control instead of private contractors.

“As Government did away with middlemen, it then sets up the process to maximise the profit at the cost of cutting down profit of bar owners”, said bar owners. The bar owner divulged that the business isn’t lucrative anymore. “The primary reason is that Government no longer gives us the 35 percent discount, which was given by private contractors, available to them previously”, added bar owners. What further dragged down the profit is the extra cost associated with procurement of liquor from Government run shops as the same liquor bottle cost them 10 to 20 percent higher rates than to a normal customer.
Then comes the rules regarding daily opening and closing schedule, which allows Govt run shops gets a 2-hour head-start as they open up at 10 am while the bars cannot begin business till 12 pm, but when it comes to shutting down for the day, both have to close at 10 pm. Now, within those two initial hours, many customers get their liquor directly from shops rather than to wait for bars to open.

“Another rule is the minimum limit of bottles that a bar owner has to anyhow purchase per month. The limit is set at 960 bottles monthly and if bar owner fails he ends up paying a fine of Rs 600 per lesser numbers of bottles procured. Next reason hurting the business is the most controversial one. Every bar owner as well as the customer complains about lack of brand varieties, particularly in the Beer brands. Other than two brands no other brand of beer is made available in Chhattisgarh. Bars can’t pacify the customers’ demand of any other brand other than these two brands”, said bar owners in city. In such a restrictive business environment, it has become extremely difficult for many bars to survive. Even major companies have complained of lack of level playing ground in the state.

However Excise Commissioner D D Singh stated all these things are policy matters, which are already decided by the Government. The bar owners also have clear understanding of the rules and regulations. So, it is up to them how to adapt in accordance. As far as unavailability of liquor brands, beer in particular, is concerned, they have released a list of brand which fulfil the State’s standards and meet laws. So, whatever brand complies with the laws is available in the state.