Ahead of completion of a year of total prohibition in Bihar, on April 5, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday tried to dispel what, he said, was a myth that the liquor ban had adversely impacted the flow of revenue in the state.
“It is wrong to assume that prohibition caused a fall in revenue owing to loss of excise duty. The state used to earn Rs 5000 crore through VAT and excise duty on liquor. Post prohibition, the revenue generated in fiscal 2016-17 was almost the same as it was in 2015-16,” said Kumar.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his Lok Samvad programme. His responses were to a question on possibility of imposition of prohibition in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and the Supreme Court directive for removal of liquor shops from highways.
Kumar said, despite the cumulative effect of prohibition and de-monetisation, the revenue generation in Bihar this fiscal was the same as it was in 2015-16. “Chances are, it might increase further,” he said.
“No doubt, the revenue collection of a state falls (in the wake of prohibition) but the people’s money, earlier spent on liquor, is saved. This money is used for more useful purposes,” he said.
To buttress his point, Kumar said that as per a market survey, sale of hosiery, readymade garments, milk, milk products, sweets, sewing machines, electrical goods, vehicles and furniture had increased, post-prohibition.
“Those who are parroting loss of government revenue, forget that the lives of many people have been saved. In Bihar, nearly Rs 10,000 crore was spent on liquor. Now, at least this money is being saved,” he said.
Kumar went on to add that the money saved would help in facilitating market expansion and improvement in economy. He also gave a piece of mind to other states, which have partially opted for prohibition.
“My appeal to all states is that they should mull prohibition. It changes people’s lifestyle, their thinking and behaviour. The step taken by Bihar is being welcomed everywhere,” he said.
Commenting on the SC order to remove liquor shops on highways, Kumar wondered if this would serve any cause. “After all, can they shift towns and villages? They (states) should think of prohibition,” he said.
Kumar said the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha, during which Mahatma Gandhi had led a protest by indigo farmers, in Champaran in 1917, would start with a national level discussion on Gandhiji on April 10 here.
“Thereafter, a yatra will be taken out in Muzaffarpur on April 15, the day Bapu landed in this north Bihar town a century back on his way to Champaran. On April 17, Gandhians across the country will be honoured,” he said.