At a time when Odisha is witnessing anti-liquor protests, the standing committee for Excise Department has suggested the state government to open more IMFL shops and reward successful licensed traders. The panel, which is headed by BJD MLA Subrat Tarai, sought more IMFL off shops to generate more revenue and to check illegal trafficking of spurious liquor.
Presenting its report in the Assembly on Friday, it said the excise department generated resources for the state government and stressed on the rationalisation of minimum guaranteed quantity (MGQ) of shops located in rural areas. "The exclusive privilege holders, who meet the MGQ fixed for the shop and cross it substantially, should be rewarded appropriately," the standing committee said in its recommendation.
It also recommended increase in staff strength, providing more infrastructural support to officers of the department and establishment of more depots of Odisha State Beverages Corporation with appropriate infrastructure to facilitate supply of liquor to retailers. The panel observed that the department has been meeting its revenue collection target in successive years and the excise revenue has increased from Rs 849 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 3,925 crore in 2018-19.
With rising trend of consumption of different beverages such as India-made foreign liquor (IMFL), beer and country spirit in the state, a target of Rs 4,600 crore for excise revenue has been set for the 2019-20 fiscal. The state run OSBC's total turnover increased from Rs 735.28 crore during 2007-08 to Rs 4,738.36 crore in 2018-19.
The excise department along with state police destroyed hemp worth Rs 793.20 crore in Angul, Sambalpur, Boudh, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada, Deogarh, Malkangiri and Koraput districts during the last financial year, the report said. Odisha Mada Mukti Abhijan, a body demanding total prohibition in the state, has condemned the committee's recommendation.
"We fail to understand how a trader is to be rewarded for selling more liquor and not a teacher or doctor for their best service to the people. We urge the government not to accept the committee's recommendation," said Prahallad Singh, a leader of the organisation..
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