New excise policy still not in place
The Excise and Taxation Department has not announced its new excise policy for the next financial year so far.
It is learnt that suggestions from various districts have already been sought to take into account the pros and cons of the existing policy. Senior officials will soon convene zone-wise meetings with the field staff to ponder over the crucial issues, including steps to enhance the revenue.
Officials in the department said since the viability of the existing liquor vends was marred by various factors, such as fixed quota, over pricing of vends, at least 15 to 20 per cent cases of licensees surrendering vends were coming to the fore.
The enhancement of quota year after year has led to a situation where the amount of liquor supposed to be sold by a vend has tripled in the last eight years while the viability of a vend has failed to record a corresponding increase. Licensees failing to exhaust their quota are charged an annual penalty.
As per estimates, nearly 15 to 20 per cent vends remained unsold last year and they had to be sold at a lower reserve price, leading to revenue loss worth crores to the department. The trend was witnessed in 7 of the 12 districts in the state.
While there were cases of vends having become overpriced due to successive revision of reserve price every year, cases of vends, whose price had increased manifold, but were sold at lower price was causing revenue loss to the department.
There was an urgent need to make fresh allotments to enhance the revenue by way of licence fee and fresh calculations of its viability, said sources in the department.
For the past eight years, no fresh allotment of vends has taken place and the department has only renewed the existing vends. The trade was therefore monopolised by a chosen few and though a decision to make fresh allotments had been taken for the current financial year, it was reversed within a few days.
The officials said they were working out the nitty-gritty of various issues which should be included in the new policy so that maximum revenue could be generated.
Suggestions like maintaining only a minimum retail price were also put forth by the field staff as liquor was not an essential commodity and similar practice in the neighbouring states was known to fetch a higher revenue.
The officials also faced an uphill task in curbing flow of illegal liquor in the districts sharing border with the other states and several such cases had come to the fore in Baddi during the financial year.