Uttarakhand plans to levy Covid cess on liquor, says state minister

Uttarakhand plans to levy Covid cess on liquor, says state minister

After the Delhi government levied a whopping 70 percent Covid cess on liquor to discourage long queues at the shops, the Uttarakhand government is also considering a similar move in the state, said officials.

On Monday, the liquor shops were allowed to open after more than a month in the green and orange zones, along with areas outside containment zones and hotspots in the red zone districts.

The shops were open from 7 am to 4 pm as part of relaxations in the lockdown 3.0. Long queues of customers were witnessed outside the shops with police force deployed to maintain order and ensure social distancing.

Confirming the development, cabinet minister and government spokesperson Madan Kaushik said, “Yes, the state government is planning to levy Covid cess on liquor like other states are planning.”

He, however, refused to put a number on the cess percentage that is to be levied. Kaushik said, “It will be discussed in the cabinet meeting of the state government in detail, likely on Wednesday.”

A government official privy to the development said the move was important to avoid long queues at the shops.

“The move will ensure that there is no chaos or long queues at the liquor shops which may pose a danger to public health amid this ongoing pandemic,” said the above mentioned official who did not wish to be named.

“Apart from this it will also somewhat compensate the revenue loss to the state exchequer due to the closure of liquor shops for more than one month as excise is one of the major source of revenue for the government,” the official added.

Cabinet minister Kaushik, however, refused to reveal the reasons behind the move.

“All aspects will be discussed in the cabinet meeting. At present, the priority of the government is to ensure that the precautionary measures are being implemented in the market and public places which have reopened under relaxations to contain the infection of Covid-19,” said Kaushik.

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