The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet Monday approved the Excise Policy 2023-24 allowing the production of a new category of liquor by fermentation and distillation of fruits that would boost horticulture in the state. While fruit wines and ciders were already being manufactured in the state, officials said this new addition would open avenues for the productive use of unsaleable fruits and increase income.
The cabinet also approved auction-cum-tender of retail liquor vends in the state. The BJP government, in the last five years, renewed the license of vends with a 10 per cent increase in rate. But with this auction, revenue earning would see a 15 to 20 per cent rise, Industry Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan told reporters.
The policy also provides for the introduction of high-keg draught beer in retail vends with a capacity of five litres, benefiting the customers who would have more varieties of beer, according to a statement issued here. Excise Policy 2023-24 also allows the bottling of imported wine in the state to ensure easy availability of the best-selling range of wine brands. Also, mini bars would be allowed in all rooms of three-star hotels and above.
An effective, end-to-end online Excise Administration System would be set up in the state that would facilitate real-time monitoring of liquor bottles. The policy has been framed taking into account suggestions from all stakeholders, including the government, consumers, retailers, wholesalers, bottling plants, distilleries and hotels and bars. The Cabinet also decided to introduce Himachal Pradesh Water Cess on Hydropower Generation Bill, 2023, in the upcoming Assembly session.