The sudden withdrawal of high-value currency notes seems to have dulled the spirits in the state excise department as the sharp dip in liquor sales has hit hopes of an improved excise collection target for the current fiscal.
According to information collated by officials of the excise department, over the past five-six days, an average 20% drop in sales have been registered at both liquor shops and bars across the state.
“The districts have thrown up more alarming figures, with the sales dropping by almost 35%. The liquor sales went down from November 9, the day after the Prime Minister announced the decision to scrap 500 and 1,000 currency notes,” an official of the excise department said.
Explaining the difference in decline in sales figures in Kolkata and the districts, he said while most bars and off-shops in Kolkata have the option of credit or debit card payments, those in the districts do not.
“The off-shops not accepting card payments have lost more business over the last few days than those that do. And, the resultant decline in liquor sales has had a knock-on effect on excise collection figures,” the official said.
He said the state could fall far short of its excise collection target for fiscal 2016-’17 if the currency crisis persists till early next year. “Normally, the peak season for liquor sales sets in from October and continues till early January as festivals drive sales and the chill in the air too causes many to turn to the bottle. The maximum sale is recorded in December,” the excise official said.
Finance minister Amit Mitra has set an ambitious excise collection target of Rs4,698.29 crore for the current fiscal, much higher than Rs3,981.59 crore mopped up in 2015-’16.