Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, May 14:
In a significant interim ruling that could end the crisis of beer in Odisha, the High Court today allowed manufacturers to supply the frothy beverage to the state-owned Odisha State Beverages Corporation (OSBC) at last year’s price.
There has been stand-off between beer manufacturers and the Odisha government over the latter’s new excise policy, which requires manufacturers to supply beer to the OSBC at 20% less than its normal price. Five major beer manufacturers, which among them control about 70% of the supply to the beer market in the state, had refused to sign the mandatory agreement and challenged the government decision in the High Court.
The court, in an interim order, asked for a meeting between price fixation committee of the state government with these companies to break the stalemate.
Excise minister Damodar Rout had hinted at revising the cut in offer price – the price at which beer manufacturers supply the stuff to the state-owned Odisha Sstate Beverages Corporation (OSBC) – from 20 per cent to 10 per cent last week. The minister’s proposal for a revision in the offer price is now awaiting the approval of the chief minister.
The refusal of major beer manufacturers to sign the mandatory agreement with the OSBC in protest against the slash in the offer price has led to a beer crisis in the state and has resulted in sharp decline in revenue for the Excise department.
The OSBC had supplied only 2.35 lakh cases of beer in April this year to licensed retailers against the demand of 12.49 lakh cases.