Fruit wines will be cheaper in the State. The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced a cut in excise duty on fruit wines, except those made of grapes and mead, to ₹1 per bulk litre from the earlier 100% of manufacturing cost.The decision to reduce excise duty will be applicable to wines made of Indian blackberry, chickoo, banana, red dates, cashew apples and conkerberry and is likely to benefit horticulturists in the Konkan and in tribal areas.Prior to the decision, the wine manufacturers paid 100% excise duty on the manufacturing cost. As a result, the wines were costlier than soft alcoholic drinks such as beer and grape wine. “We have now reduced it to a negligible amount. It will boost the industry and consumers will benefit,” said Chandrashekhar Bawankule, State Excise Minister.A 330 ml beer bottle costs anywhere between ₹150 and ₹180 while table wine of 750 ml is available in the ₹250 to ₹ 400 range. Due to the cost difference, the wine industry in the State was suffering, said the minister. “Only four new businessmen joined the industry in the past two years. This decision will help entrepreneurs as well as farmers,” said the minister.Meanwhile, the State Excise Department earned a revenue of ₹25,323 crore in financial year 2018-19. In 2016-17, the State witnessed a 10% growth in revenues. In the next two years, the growth was 9% and 16.5% respectively.Decentralisation of responsibilities and ease of doing business through the online medium has helped the government with the excise department’s functioning, the minister said. “One of the reasons for an increase in the department’s revenue is the ease of doing business mechanism, adopted in issuing permits and licences in manufacturing as well as alcohol sale,” said Mr. Bawankule.