GUWAHATI, April 28: Strangely enough, the State Excise Department has ended fiscal 2017-18 with a marked fall in liquor consumption but with a significant rise in revenue collection.
This indeed makes news with a bit of oddity. The reasons behind such a reality, according to State Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, are plugging of all holes in the department and making a number of services and their transactions online. One of the immediate reasons behind such a reality, the minister said, is large-scale seizure of IMFL entering Assam illegally from Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
Suklabaidya said: “We’ve multifarious activities to bring irregularities back on track. The large-scale seizure of IMFL entering Assam illegally from Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh has lowered liquor consumption in the State but it has created a situation here that is set to increase revenue collection. We keep in touch with our counterparts in the two neighbouring States. In fiscal 2017-18, there has been 5.46 per cent fall (3.62 lakh cartons) in liquor consumption in the State when compared to the consumption in fiscal 2016-17. It’s a good sign for society. Introduction of online services like licensing, issuing permissions and making payment online enabled us to collect Rs 1,700 crore revenue in 2017-18, around Rs 500-600 crore more than what it was in the previous year. This is not all. We’ve some tough laws that can bring corrupt officials to their knees.”
The minister further said: “The mahal system of country liquor has been abolished. We’ve branded such liquors as heritage liquor through value and prestige addition. The Assam Heritage Alcoholic Beverage Policy, 2017 has been implemented in the State. Under the new excise policy, drinking liquor in public places has been banned in the State from January 1, 2018. We have to keep an eye on drunken brawls in public places also so as to keep the social environment clean.”
Official sources say that around Rs 1,000-crore revenue is lost annually on an average by the department because of various anomalies.