Liquor: Beer in town has become costly with bars, retailers, and wholesale liquor shops charging higher and different prices in the city.
Following this sudden hike, owners of dozens of shops that sell beer have been rushing to Tashi Commercial’s Changbangdu beer godown, irrespective of the heat or rains. Among many buyers who were in queue at the Changbangdu godown recently, was an animated lady who owns a bar, Pema, who thought it was all because of the scarce supply.
“Make the supply sufficient, otherwise, make liquors such as Foster’s and Hit available one more time,” she said, adding that it was a harassment to wait in queue fearing of uncertain supply and price.
Another bar owner, Namgay was also not happy. “Illegal marketing is rising because of cut in the supply,” he said. His only concern was that, while imports for the produce was stopped, the country’s same produce was exported, which he finds perplexing.
A liquor shop owner, Passang, while keeping an eye at the queue said this was happening all because of the “monopoly” of the beer manufacturer in Bhutan. “Beer brands such as Tiger and Foster’s come from third countries, but Hit being from Sikkim should be allowed at least,” Passang said, reiterating that 11000 was not sufficient.
He also said that currently, license for such produce is given to Tashi only, and feels that another license should now also be issued to those interested. “If monopoly is erased, there will be sufficient beer and quality will improve because of competition,” Passang said.
Meanwhile, the beer price according to a bar owner in Olakha, Dorji has been rising mainly because of the wholesale liquor shops taking advantage of the “situation of scarce supply.”
“The wholesale liquor shops buy beer at the same price from Tashi, and when the supply is less , they sell at an exorbitant price,” Dorji said.
A bottle of beer today ranges from Nu 60-80. Most bars are not anymore selling at Nu 60, which according to bar owner Sonam Choden was the “usual price” only a month or two ago. “I also sold at Nu 80 as I bought a case of beer for Nu 800 from a wholesaler in town,” she said.
Tashi sells a case of beer at Nu 580 and all those who came to buy beers yesterday were also asked to get their shop licenses. Ten cases of beer were allowed for one license holder yesterday.
While license holders of bars, liquor shops, and wineshops were entertained, others weren’t.
This according to the sales in-charge with Tashi at the godown, Ganga was mainly to stop the same people coming in repeatedly. “We don’t know who all are selling at different prices,” he said. “ We sell at the usual company rate, which is Nu 580.”
Regional manager of Tashi Subash Rana said “this situation,” may had occurred as the labeling machine in Pasakha was dysfunctional for five days, which resulted in short supply. “The labeling machine is now functional and production since then is at “full swing.”
The company took time to repair the machine because the parts had to come all the way from Italy.
The manager also cleared that the machine is new and that the problem existed with the employees, who are new to the machine, and less experienced. However, people in the queue yesterday had different stories. They said the hike existed for about a month now.
The regional trade director Dungtu agreed that there were complaints about the increased beer price.
However, he said there is no mandate for the trade office to look at the price of beer. “Trade only looks at those essential goods, which the government has mandated to control or look at,” he said.
By Rajesh Rai