Happy hour: State rakes it in, despite downturn | india | Hindustan Times
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Happy hour: State rakes it in, despite downturn

The Malls may be deserted and cinema halls running nearly empty. But there’s one thing flying off the shelves even faster than before: Liquor, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2009 15:08 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The Malls may be deserted and cinema halls running nearly empty. But there’s one thing flying off the shelves even faster than before: Liquor.

If the latest excise revenue figures are anything to go by, people seem to be drinking more in Maharashtra, one of the reasons leading to a 14 per cent increase in excise receipts.

That’s good news for the state exchequer, haunted by the slump and witnessing a dip in most other revenue receipts.

With a dip of 14 per cent in VAT revenue, 18 per cent in stamp duty and 12 per cent in transport revenue over last year, a worried finance department may even seek monetary assistance from the Centre.

Liqour revenues, on the other hand, have seen a 10-fold jump in three years, increasing at the rate of Rs 470 crore to Rs 500 crore every year.

“This year, we have a target of Rs 4,200 crore and have already netted Rs 350 crore more than last year, though there has been a slight impact of the slump since December,” said Excise Commissioner Iqbal Chahal. Last year, the department collected Rs 3,930 crore.

The department’s latest figures were revealed at a meeting held by Excise Minister Ganesh Naik on Tuesday. The maximum revenues come from Indian-made liquor, followed by foreign liquor and tailed by beer.

So is Maharashtra drinking more because we’re blue about the economy? Officials say it’s not that simple.

Chahal said that one of the main reasons for the increase in revenues has been the rationalisation of the excise duties.

Over the last 18 months, the department has been slashing its tax, leading to greater compliance. The state has also sanctioned three grain-based distilleries in the state last year.