The Karnataka government is seriously considering a proposal that allows home delivery of liquor and kicked off extensive consultations with all stakeholders on Monday.
As a first step, the excise department is planning to allow online sale of liquor in Bengaluru city via mobile apps before extending it to the rest of the state through retail outlets and MSIL shops.
The state excise department, headed by commissioner M Lokesh, has asked stakeholders to submit their opinion in writing. Karnataka is looking at launching this service in August if it achieves a consensus on the proposal. At least six states, including Kerala and Maharashtra, have already launched the online delivery of liquor in the recent months.
Bars and restaurants, clubs and beer lounges, which have been closed in Karnataka since March due to Covid-19, did not get any relief in Unlock 3.0 guidelines announced on Wednesday night. “This may prompt the government to start online sale of liquor,” an excise officer said.
‘Online sale of liquor will help people stay safe’
Owners of bars and restaurants, already reeling under losses due to Covid-19, urged the government to drop the proposal as it would affect their business further. However, a senior minister sought to reassure them, saying the proposal will take into account market dynamics and no decision will be taken that will affect stakeholders.
“When owners of bars and restaurants are suffering heavy losses owing to Covid-19, the government is trying to push them to the wall,” said Govindaraj Hegde, general secretary, Federation of Wine Merchants’ Association, Karnataka. An excise officer said the move would help ensure social distancing at liquor outlets and bars, reduce the number of accidents caused due to drunken driving and help the government earn more revenue. “With people refusing to come out of their houses to buy liquor because of the rising number of Covid cases, the online facility will also help them to remain safe,’’ he added.
With other revenue-generating departments showing a slowdown, the government is dependent on the excise department to increase its revenue collection. The budgetary target for the current fiscal is Rs 22,700 crore.