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BENGALURU: With low-income countries keen to drive alcohol sales, e-commerce companies are playing on the gallery by getting involved in the delivery of spirits. After Swiggy and Zomato announced the big online grocery suppliers in Jharkhand and Odisha in May that they would be delivering alcohol to their homes, Amazon and Alibaba-supported BigBasket have now joined the bandwagon. Both companies reportedly attempt to supply alcohol in West Bengal after gaining regulatory approvals from West Bengal State Beverages Corporation, the state’s authorized agency for online liquor sales.
Although the email inquiries sent to both Amazon and BigBasket did not yield any illegal responses, the Nodal agency in West Bengal has already provided a list of companies that are authorized to promote our alcohol deliveries and includes both Amazon as well as BigBasket. E-tailers are watching this area at a time when state governments are also keen to boost liquor sales as excise duties on alcohol sales add a significant amount to total tax revenue.
After the reopening of liquor stores across the country, the stores saw a huge increase in sales, leading the respective state governments to impose higher tariffs on alcohol to increase revenue. In states like Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan, post-lockdown alcohol sales actually contributed more than 20 percent of the total tax revenue of each of those states, according to a Fitch report. The report mentioned that among states’ own tax revenues, state excise tax (mainly spirits) makes the third largest contribution to tax revenues, alongside SCGST and VAT.
States expect to earn nearly 2 lakh crore in total tax revenue from alcohol sales in 2020-21. The e-commerce companies must then work with the relevant government agencies to comply with the guidelines as well as with licensed liquor retailers to enable a smooth liquor delivery system.