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New policy propels 40% hike in excise revenue

Kolkata: The state government has witnessed a growth of 40 percent in its excise revenue in between November and March of 2020-21 compared to the corresponding period in 2019-20. This comes after implementation of the new excise policy in the state.

In November, the new excise policy was introduced for retailers procuring Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and "bottled-in-origin" (BIO) or imported liquor from the warehouses of the state's sole liquor distributor West Bengal State Beverages Corporation (Bevco).

The new taxation system turned smaller (180 ml) IMFL bottle cheaper while the bigger ones like 750 ml became dearer. The cost of BIOs had also dropped.

After the new excise policy was introduced, the revenue from November 2020 to March 2021 was Rs 6,661 crore, which is Rs 2015 crore more than the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

In between November 2019 and March 2020, the revenue generation was Rs 4,646 crore. "The growth was of 40 percent," said an official.

It needs a mention that the liquor shops in the state remained closed for around three months due to the lockdown. Even after they were reopened, there was a shortfall in the revenue collection for the next few months.

It was only after the introduction of the new excise policy that the revenue generation started going up. As a result, round the year revenue generation through excise also yielded a 10 percent growth in 2020-21 financial year.

In 2019-20, the annual excise revenue generation was Rs 11,236 crore. It witnessed a growth of Rs 1125 crore at the end of 2020-21 fiscal as the excise revenue generation has touched Rs 12,362 crore.

When contacted, Uma Sankar S, Managing Director of Bevco, said: "The revenue generation shows that the new excise policy worked well as it not only helped in increasing the revenue generation but also encouraged less alcohol consumption."

It needs a special mention that online booking of liquor and its home delivery was also allowed in the state last year and it had attracted major players in e-retail business that also led to employment generation.

This comes at the time when the state government on Friday imposed restrictions and shut down bars due to the second Covid wave.

It will lead to loss for bar owners and there will be a considerable drop in the sale of liquor as well.

"But now the priority is to check the surge in Covid cases," said a bar owner.

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