No takers for liquor vends, Punjab government in a bind
With liquor vends worth Rs 3,000 crore unauctioned on Friday, the Capt Amarinder Singh government took another financial hit.punjab Updated: Apr 01, 2017 08:47 IST
With liquor vends worth Rs 3,000 crore unauctioned on Friday, the Capt Amarinder Singh government took another financial hit.
Its hopes of replenishing its empty coffers by the auction of vends were dashed with only 65% vends sold. In terms of revenue, the state is short of Rs 3,000 crore against a target of Rs 5,600 crore.
Vends went unallotted in Patiala, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Moga, Bathinda, and Sangrur districts.
These are the maximum revenue-generating districts for the excise department.
Ludhiana garners excise revenue of Rs 700 crore, while Patiala mops up Rs 300 crore. With no liquor vend auctioned, there will be no sale in these districts till April 4 as all vends of the previous year will close by March 31.
“The excise policy was better this time. But liquor traders formed a cartel and didn’t apply for vends. However, we are expecting that the firms will participate in the tender allotment process on April 4,” said an excise official. The lukewarm response to the draw of lots has already cost the state Rs 150 crore. The number of liquor licensing groups has increased from 226 this fiscal to 650 for 2017-18.
The excise department was expecting more revenue from the application fee, but it nosedived and caused a loss of Rs 150 crore. Last year, the department earned Rs 308 crore, while this time only Rs 150 crore has been realised.
Gurtej Singh, deputy excise and taxation commissioner, said that the process of allotting the vends through tenders has been initiated.
He said the department has been able to sell vends worth around Rs 2,600 crore, but it’s still short of Rs 3,000 crore.
“We have reduced the rate by 5%, and hopefully on the day of opening tenders, maximum revenue for the state will be realised,” he said.