Excise revenue down Rs 1,820 cr in 11 months - ECAS Punjab

Excise revenue down Rs 1,820 cr in 11 months

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17

Punjab's excise collection in the first 11 months of 2019-20 was down by Rs1,820.07 crore, as compared to the Budget estimate of Rs6,201 crore.

These figures, revealed in the audited accounts of the Punjab Government, show that in 11 months of the last fiscal, the state managed to collect Rs4,380.93 crore.

Interestingly, this shortfall is at the centre of the controversy over the financial relaxations demanded by liquor contractors.

In its briefing to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday, the Excise Department had claimed that there were no losses incurred by the department in 2019-20, except the losses because of the lockdown. It is baffling how the revenue shortfall of over Rs1,800 crore could have been bridged, especially when most of the new auction of vends had not taken place nor liquor contractors, wishing to retain their licensing units, had paid the renewal licence fee in full before the lockdown period began.

Punjab's Excise Policy has allowed for renewal of licence for the contractors allotted liquor vends in 2019-20, and 70 per cent of them had opted for renewal of liquor contracts. The total renewal fees to be paid was Rs300 crore and only 60 per cent of this had been paid till March 20, officials in the department told The Tribune.

Excise officials contend that ever since the policy of minimum guaranteed quota (MGQ) yielding a minimum guaranteed revenue (MGR) was introduced in 2018-19, they had been able to deliver this revenue. "The Finance Department works the estimated excise collection on a higher side of the MGR. That is why there appears to be a shortfall, even as the targets of MGQ and MGR are being met," said a senior officer, adding that a loss would be counted only if there was a loss on the MGR. In 2019-20, the department has managed to give MGR of Rs5,500 crore.

Data available from the state Finance Department also shows that the excise collections in 2018-19 was down by Rs927.60 crore (revised estimates) and that in 2017-18, it was down by Rs286.79 crore.

Sources in the liquor trade, however, do not rule out the large-scale liquor smuggling — both from the distilleries located in the state and from outside — as the reason for the shortfall in targeted excise revenue. It is perhaps thus that the CM has now ordered a police crackdown on all liquor smuggling, though it remains to be seen how successful it will prove to be in increasing revenues.

from The Tribune https://ift.tt/2ZeAo8M

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