Beer offer price hearing deferred till tomorrow

Cuttack: Orissa High Court today deferred the hearing till tomorrow in a case challenging the move of the State government to reduce the offer price for beer suppliers.

The Excise department, which has reportedly suffered a stiff reduction in revenue collection due to shortage of beer, has now proposed the government to slash the hike in offer price from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. The stalemate might come to an end after approval of the chief minister to the proposal.

Meanwhile, the members of the Wine Merchants’ Association yesterday met the Excise secretary and discussed about the scarcity of the beverage.

Big brands like United Breweries, SAB Miller India and Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd, who usually supply 70 per cent of beer to Odisha, declined to sign the annual agreement with Odisha State Beverages Corporation, the sole wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages in the State, which led to the grim situation.

Excise minister Damodar Rout had also hinted at revising the cut in offer price from 20 per cent to 10 per cent last week. The corporation is able to supply only 2.35 lakh cases in April this year to the licensed retailers against the demand of 12.49 lakh cases of beer.