The Punjab government intends to “utilise” the revenue collected from sale of liquor in the state for de-addiction.
The government has constituted the Punjab Development Fund Board under the chairmanship of the excise and taxation minister. The Board will utilise a dedicated fund generated from a share of the revenue from selling liquor and use it for constructing new de-addiction centres in the state and maintain the existing ones.
Consumption of liquor, incidentally, is the most rampant form of addiction in the state.
The other purposes for which this fund will be used include creation of community assets of durable nature and maintenance and development of culture and heritage in the state.
Under the excise policy, out of the fee received from the sale of applications for allotment of liquor vends, 25% amount will be dedicated to this fund.
The excise policy of the state for 2014-15 had projected a revenue collection of Rs 4,671 crore as against Rs 3,947 crore last year, registering a steep increase of Rs 724 crore.
The policy, though aimed at collecting more revenue, was considered “consumer-friendly” as it brought down the retail prices of liquor, encouraging its sale.
Punjab’s excise policy has also other provisions aimed at increasing consumption of liquor. In order to reduce the rates of IMFL, the department has reduced the rates of extra licence fee on IMFL and has tried to bring them close to those prevailing in Haryana. Even the quota of country liquor was increased from 920 lakh proof litre to 950 lakh proof litre. The quota of IMFL was increased from 440 lakh proof litre to 450 lakh proof litre.
The Punjab government has been at the receiving end of criticism for encouraging sale of liquor on the one hand while harping about rampant addiction on the other.