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NRAI Welcomes The New Excise Policy In Delhi; Holds A Knowledge Session To Apprise The Members Of The Fine Prints Of The Policy

Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 11:33 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Hyderabad

As a responsible Restaurant Body, NRAI has made efforts to improve the policies, laws and working conditions prevailing in the sector. It has been making extensive and continued lobbying efforts with the Union Government as well as various State Governments for policy and other support. NRAI also recognizes its responsibility to constantly educate and apprise its members on the finer details of any new policy or amendments to existing policies so that the members benefit the most out of it.

With this objective in mind, NRAI held its first virtual knowledge session on 5th June to educate the members on the benefits of the new excise policy announced by the Delhi Government recently. The session also included other critical subjects like Municipal Laws and the Fire Norms for the Restaurants. It also specifically covered the impact of the new Excise Policy on the nightlife economy of Delhi. 

The Session started with opening remarks by Anurag Katriar, President of NRAI where he warmly welcomed all the participants. Before starting the proceeding, every member observed a minute of silence as a homage and tribute to two of the longest-serving NRAI Leaders, Late Santosh Jindal and Late Vyoum Ghai, whom we lost to COVID recently. 

Anurag Katriar said “NRAI and its Delhi based leadership have been working relentlessly towards bringing amendment to the archaic excise policies in Delhi and I am extremely thrilled that the Delhi Government has finally come up with a policy that will revolutionize the liquor trade in Delhi. These policies are going to help the industry grow as well as help the Government Exchequer. These progressive policies also conform to the changing societal reality of today. 

He added, “If India has to become a $5-Trillion economy then it is very important to promote night-time economy and back it with good policies and that is what this new Excise Policy does. I would like to thank the Delhi Government, Shri Arvind Kejriwal and Shri Manish Sisodia for formulating these new progressive policies and further thank the Hon’ble Lt Governor for giving his consent to these amendments. These revolutionary Excise Policies can potentially propel Delhi to become the new Party Capital of India. I urge my Industry colleagues to make full use of the opportunities that these new policies create.”

Opening remarks were followed by a workshop on new Excise Policy by Rahul Singh, Founder & CEO, The Beer Café and Trustee of NRAI. He has been actively involved in discussions on the new policy and he explained all important aspects of new Excise Policy and how path-breaking these reforms by the Delhi Government were. 

Highlights of Excise Policy Workshop were as follows:

India is 3rd largest liquor market globally with 8.8% of growth (CAGR). The market size of liquor sales in India is over $48 billion. 
Liquor sales contribute significantly towards State revenues.
As a significant stakeholder, NRAI was very actively involved in the deliberations preceding the policy rollout and we are extremely happy to see that most of our suggestions have been incorporated in the policy. It is gratifying to see our constant efforts yielding such positive results.
Delhi is ranked as the 28th most visited city in the world and the first in India, by foreign visitors.
Delhi is  under-served with 849 liquor vends and 641 licenses to restaurants for serving liquor. 
Delhi aspires to generate Excise revenue of Rs 7,000 Crores annually with the implementation of new Excise Policy.
Rationalisation of HCR Licenses will benefit the industry, especially the small eateries as they can now take up license to serve liquor to elevate the experience of their food offering.
The new policy rightly changes the role of the Government to regulate the trade and not to operate it. 
For Ease of Doing Business, some of the path-breaking decisions made by Delhi Government are as follows:
? Drinking age being reduced to 21 years
? Number of dry days at par with Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh
? No objection to discounts or rebates on purchase of liquor
? Bottle service permitted
? License can be transferred to another company in same premises
? Two dispensing counters without charge. Additional at nominal @ 5%
? No more 15-day notice / beating of drums: Munadi abolished
Delhi to have the lowest EDP/EBP. 
This new Excise policy will revolutionize the trade, provide better consumer experiences, and improve Ease of Doing Business apart from significantly enhancing the Government revenues. We hope this policy will be a benchmark for other states to follow in coming days.

After a detailed workshop on new Excise Policy, Sandeep Anand Goyle, Director, Essex Farms (P) Ltd and a long-serving member of the NRAI Managing Committee talked about the various Trade Licenses and Policy for use of Open-Air Spaces/Terraces by SDMC. He also educated the Fraternity on the process of applying for new licenses and renewals through Unified Licence Portal. 

Furthermore, Kabir Suri, Vice-President of NRAI shared updates on one of the most critical issues of Delhi – Fire Licence. The highlights of his presentation were as follows:
He emphasized the fact that industry recognises the significance of fire safety and is ready to take all possible & practical steps to enhance the fire safety.
He said that the current 90sqm policy is detrimental to the industry in Delhi where a significant number of restaurants will be forced to shut down.
NRAI has been engaging with the Government actively through the Special Committees formed by the Delhi Government to look into the matter and find solutions.
Our recommendations to the Delhi Government are as follows:
? Restaurants with seating capacity below 50 should not require Fire NOC.
? Modernization / usage of fire technology should be implemented / suggested as a remedy rather than structural changes to be applicable.
? All guidelines should be as per existing law, and any new guidelines should be implemented prospectively and not retrospectively 
? The new 90sqm guidelines are not as per the definition of Assembly Building as per existing law. 
? The current definition of Assembly Building as per existing law should be followed unless changes are incorporated in relevant provisions of UBBL, NBC & Fire Safety rules after following due process as per law.
? The classification of Restaurants as per operating dates is infructuous and should be discarded.

Moving on, Priyank Sukhija, Chairman, First Fiddle Hospitality and a member of the NRAI Managing Committee touched upon Delhi Nightlife Sector and how it will benefit from the new Excise Policy. The highlights of his address to the Fraternity were as follows:
We should warmly welcome the new Excise Policy with open arms. With its implementation, Delhi is going to be Nightlife Capital of the Country. 
With the new drinking age limit of 21 years, a significant portion of the consumers will now get to drink in a responsible and controlled environment. 
With new guidelines, many smaller establishments will be able to provide better experience to consumers by easily getting a liquor licence.

The Session was concluded with closing remarks by Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.  & Trustee of NRAI. He said “It really is a new day and we are filled with optimism. NRAI Leaders have been working relentlessly for last many years to bring about these changes in Delhi such as 21 age drinking limit, bottled service, extension of operation timing till 3am, Home delivery of alcohol, Ease of Doing Business, new License structure. 

He further added, “I thank Delhi Government, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Shri Manish Sisodia and the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor for a progressive outlook and inclusive policy making by taking lot of inputs from the NRAI and the industry. Delhi will be a rocket ship as it is allowing hospitality to progress and setting benchmarks by creating a new model where traders are actually consulted before making policies.”

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