Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 13:
Even as various political and social activists continue to agitate demanding enforcement of total prohibition in Odisha, the State Excise Department plans to open more liquor shops in the state.
As per information provided by a reliable source, the government is planning to take the e-auction route to open new foreign liquor and country liquor shops across the state. The auctions are likely to start from March after the pending court cases are solved.
Generation of additional revenue is being cited as the main motive behind the move.
While we questioned State Excise Minister Damodar Rout on the issue, he indirectly justified new shops and the additional revenue theory while not commenting on it directly.
“We are not encouraging alcohol consumption. Neither is the government allowing liquor shops only for revenue. This is being done to contain bootlegging of spurious liquor and hooch. The shops, in turn, give us some revenue,” said State Excise Minister Damodar Rout.
“Forming legislation alone won’t solve the liquor problem. We have laws against dowry system. Don’t people still give dowry? We need awareness to address these challenges. We would only be able to contain it, if people realize that alcohol consumption is a social illness,” he advised further.
As of 2005, the Excise Department had issued licenses for 1131 foreign liquor shops and more than 500 country liquor shops in the state.
Notably, the revenue generated as state excise duty has increased six fold in past 10 years.
While the state generated Rs 306 crore as state excise duty during 2004-5 financial year, the amount reached Rs 2038.69 crore in financial year 2014-15. Similarly, this fiscal, till the end of November, the revenue generated as the state excise duty has been Rs 1139.83 crore.
Even though the taxes remained more or less stagnant till 2013-14, the government revised the taxes for Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) last year and increased the sales tax from 20 percent to 25 percent.