Liquor contractors have refused to open their shops in the areas outside municipal limits of red zones citing threat from Covid-19.

(File photo: PTI)

The Madhya Pradesh government and liquor contractors seem to be on collision course with the state government hardening its stand against them.

Liquor contractors have refused to open their shops in the areas outside municipal limits of red zones citing threat from Covid-19. The state government on the other hand has read the riot act to the contractors asking them to open shops or face penal action.

Sources in the excise department said the real reason for contractors to not open shops is not Covid-19 threat but the refusal of the state government to accept their demand for reducing duty payable to it.

Liquor contractors under the banner of MP Liquor Association had even filed a petition at the MP High Court demanding that the state government give them some concessions given that they have lost business in April and are likely to not recover from the loss in the coming months either.

“The rates at which we purchased the contracts were based on business projections without corona in the picture. With the epidemic in full force in the state, spending on parties and marriages is expected to go down which will adversely impact sale,” said an office bearer of the association. He said that the state government should reduce the duty payable to offset these losses.

In early May when liquor shops were first opened in the state after the lockdown, the state government had assured the contractors that their demands would be looked into. On May 18, when the excise department asked contractors to open stores, they refused citing threat of spread of corona.

The state government is keen for the shops to be opened given that it is losing revenue everyday with no sale. Excise fetches the state around Rs 1,200 crore a month which was zero in April and is bare minimum in May.

State Home Minister Narottam Mishra told the media on Friday that the state government is considering extending options to contractors by May 27. He said that contractors who do not accept the proposal and do not deposit the tax as per earlier agreement will lose their shops which would then be given to new contractors.

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