Fearing massive financial and job losses, the Indian alcoholic beverage industry has asked the Centre and state governments to chalk out a plan and allow opening of distilleries and bottling plants in a phased manner.
It has also sought phase-wise opening of retail and on-trade (pubs, restaurants, etc) establishments in non-Covid-19 hotspots and commencement of online sales under strict government observation to fulfil the criteria of social distancing.
In its letter to Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has sought an urgent “phase-wise opening of the alcoholic beverage industry in conformity with COVID-19 prevention guidelines.”
CIABC is the apex body of the Indian Alcoholic Beverage Industry with members including major Indian companies who manufacture and market their product range in India and abroad.
In its letter to Goyal and also Chief Ministers of all states (barring those under prohibition), CIABC Director General Vinod Giri has said since the lockdown was ordered, all wholesale and retail trade has been closed.
“Factory warehouses hold stock, trucks are stranded, distribution warehouses are locked with stock and retail shops sit on unsold stock. Distilleries and bottling plants are shut down. The industry which contributes almost Rs 2 lakh crores by way of various taxes, sustains livelihood of nearly 40 lakh farmers, and employs nearly 20 lakh people directly and indirectly is in dire straits,” Giri said.
“What has compounded the problems for alcoholic beverage industry is the fact that Excise policy for many states come to an end on March 31. Prior to that date, there are several statutory requirements that ought to be met by companies for them to keep continuity of operations. As March 31 fell in the middle of the lockdown, all supply chain stakeholders, viz., companies, distributors and retailers have not been able to meet those requirements,” CIABC letter said.