Excise Minister seeks report from Bevco chief over abrupt hike in foreign liquor price

The Bevco outlets received the new price list on Monday morning and the sales as per this began by afternoon.

Thiruvananthapuram: Bevco CMD Yogesh Gupta will probe into the abrupt hike in the prices of Foreign-Made Foreign Liquor (FMFL) without the sanction of authorities. Excise Minister M V Govindan has directed the CMD to carry out a probe and submit a report urgently.

The excise department or the Bevco MD was kept in the dark of the sudden hike, though it was annulled within hours. In the preliminary enquiry, the Bevco IT wing had explained that the prices were raised after a bungle on its part.

The Bevco outlets received the new price list on Monday morning and the sales as per this began by afternoon. As per the list, the price increase was Rs 450 and above for several brands.

After the sales began with the new prices, the media brought this to the attention of the CMD and the excise department. By Monday night, the Minister's office and the CMD clarified that no decision was taken to hike the prices.
Meanwhile, sales were carried out on Tuesday as per the earlier prices.

The CMD's stance is that he had not approved the new price list nor did he instruct this to be sent to the outlets. But the CMD will have to explain as to why the new price list was prepared and why it included all the FMFL brands currently being sold along with their names, quantities and rates.

It has been noted on the list that the Bevco consultant determined the prices, while raising the warehouse profit-margin on liquor to 14 per cent. And that the new price will be effective from August 1.

Though it is technically correct that the list had not been approved, it can be assumed that the management had taken a decision to hike the prices and carried out the preparatory works for it.

As reported earlier what led to the unofficial price increase was the leakage of a worksheet prepared by the IT wing of Bevco.

The worksheet contained the profit patterns of FMFL brands in comparison with various tax slabs before and after the hike. As the document reached the outlets of Bevco and Consumerfed, the personnel there started selling the bottles as per the higher prices marked in the worksheet as they took it for a revised price list. Most of the outlets started charging the new rate after entering new price details in computers.

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