Excise minister Raja Peter inaugurates the beverage corporation godown on Friday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Ranchi/Dhanbad, Nov. 23: Jharkhand State Beverage Corporation, a state government entity that aims to streamline wholesale trade in liquor and prevent the rampant evasion in excise duties, made its debut today with a unit in Dhanbad.
Excise and prohibition minister Gopal Krishna Patar, alias Raja Peter, inaugurated a 2,600sqft godown set up in the Barwadda locality of the coal capital where liquor supplied by manufacturers will be stored.
The beverage corporation would regulate the wholesale trade and ease the stranglehold of private players, better known as “the syndicate”, who have for long controlled the business in Jharkhand.
After Dhanbad, several other units of the corporation will start to function in other districts, especially those in the Santhal Pargana region.
“We are trying our best to complete the setting up of beverage corporation godowns in every district by the current financial year so that the corporation can become fully functional,” Peter told The Telegraph days before.
As per the cabinet’s decision, wholesale liquor trading licenses of private players would be terminated automatically after the beverage corporation was functional in their respective areas, he added.
The state beverage corporation was approved by the cabinet in 2010, a few weeks after Arjun Munda took over as chief minister on September 11. However, persistent delays led to allegations that the government was playing into the hands of the liquor syndicate.
The government aims to earn over Rs 700 crore by way of excise duty on liquor during the current fiscal. But, the net receipts till September-end were around Rs 211 crore. Last fiscal, too, total receipts were in the range of Rs 408 crore against a target of Rs 700 crore.
Senior officials of the excise department had realistic expectations from the corporation. They realise that while it may not have a significant impact on revenue earnings immediately, it would start showing results from the next financial year.
They admitted that keeping tab on real transactions of the wholesalers and retailers in the current scenario was bit difficult. Further, the beverage corporation has been instrumental in improving excise revenue earning in several other states as well.
Records available with The Telegraph suggest that consumption of India made foreign liquor and beer was way above the minimum guaranteed quantity set by the excise department. But, consumption of country liquor was much below the guaranteed quantity.
Excise duty levied on country liquor and that of India made foreign liquor, imported foreign liquor and beer was in the ratio of 1:4. Hence, a slide in the consumption of country liquor would not impact revenue earnings.
“We have also initiated a move to appoint more personnel to conduct regular raids. The home department has also been requested to provide additional forces. But, we cannot promote liquor consumption. Yet, we also need to earn maximum possible excise revenues,” Peter explained.