By Arré Bench May. 05, 2020
Arvind Kejriwal, CM of one of the most booze-friendly states in the country, has decided that Delhi will impose a 70% tax on all alcohol, starting Tuesday. He also warned that if social distancing wasn’t maintained at stores, he would be forced to shut them down.
A day after alcohol shops opened across the country, giving social media more meme fodder from the lockdown, state governments have started to realise the long lines aren’t really helping the social distancing cause.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of one of the most booze-friendly states in the country, has since decided that Delhi would impose a 70 per cent tax on all alcohol, starting Tuesday. He also warned that if social distancing wasn’t maintained at stores, he would be forced to shut them down.
#BREAKING – Delhi govt’s unique revenue generation move amid pandemic.
Delhi to charge 70% extra tax in liquor from today.
— CNNNews18 (@CNNnews18) May 5, 2020
Dubbed the “Special Corona Fee”, the new order also came with revised times for government liquor shops to stay open — from 9am to 6.30 pm. The state was forced to shut standalone liquor stores hours after opening them on Monday, after large crowds gathered outside, violating social distancing norms.
The Delhi government, which earns revenue of ₹5,000 crore from the sale of liquor, said that the new tax will boost the state’s revenue, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown. And, indeed, the amount of money we spend on alcohol is staggering, as seen with a single day’s statistics in Karnataka.
INDIA: On first day of reopening, Karnataka liquor shops have sold 390,000 liters beer and 850,000 liters Indian made liquor.
Totaling $5.9 million (Rs 45 crore) in sales.
— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) May 4, 2020
The government has also argued that the move would discourage people from crowding, which according to early reports from Delhi, doesn’t seem to have worked as expected.
— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2020
On the other hand, the move has received a fair share of criticism, with some accusing Kejriwal of treating the people of Delhi “like an ATM”.
— Free Press Journal (@fpjindia) May 5, 2020
A few also pointed out that the middle and lower economic classes would suffer the most from this decision, while the privileged would, once again, be unaffected.
No matter how a common middle man can afford these heavy imposed tax burden as he himself is in the lockdown situation for past 6 weeks. All the tax burden is put on the middle class people. @ArvindKejriwal #CoronaCess #70percentCoronaCessOnLiquorhttps://t.co/lNDpMZGPax
— Kawan Khurana (@KawanKhurana) May 4, 2020
Here we go. Govt mandates liquor only for the privileged. https://t.co/brrB70W9l6
— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) May 4, 2020
A journalist said that the tax came with the implication that it was “only the poor that create a nuisance” when it came to violating social distancing norms.
Actually it just makes alcohol only affordable for the rich because it stems from the notion that it’s only the poor that create a nuisance- be it violating physical distancing norms or creating scenes.
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) May 4, 2020
As expected, the announcement also led to a few jokes on social media…
The community which goes and buys liquor tomorrow even after #70%CoronaTax should be officially designated as the fifth pillar of democracy.
— kumar uttam (@meetuttam) May 4, 2020
As well as speculation that a similar tax may be imposed by other struggling states…
Delhi government adds 70 % tax on #liquor. WIll big states like UP, MP, Rajasthan follow- will surely bump up revenues
— renu agal (@renuagal) May 5, 2020
This speculation will no doubt continue through the day, as one thing is getting increasingly clear — as we enter phase III of the nation-wide lockdown, no one knows what to expect next. The future, as we’ve been informed in several ways, is uncertain.