Amarinder sets up Excise Reforms Group to tighten noose on illicit liquor trade – Report to come in 60 days

Chandigarh, June 6, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)

A day after he announced an SIT to thoroughly probe the matter, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday further tightened the noose on illicit liquor traders in the state with the constitution of an Excise Reforms Group to break the nexus between producers, wholesalers and retailers.

The 5-member Group has been asked to submit its recommendations on destroying any such nexus within 60 days, thus paving the way for elimination of illicit liquor trade and maximisation of the state’s Excise Revenue, according to an official spokesperson.

The Group shall comprise Housing and Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Public Works Minister Vijay Inder Singla, in addition retired IAS Officer DS Kalha, Advisor Financial Resources VK Garg and Secretary School Education Krishan Kumar.

Working in parallel with the SIT, which has been tasked with investigation into all aspects of the illicit liquor trade in the state, including complicity of Excise Department officials, the Group will identify the gaps leading to revenue losses for the state due to such complicity.

The Chief Minister has mandated the Group to come out with its suggestions on long-term legal and administrative reforms, after due diligence and consultations with the stakeholders.

In this process, the Reforms Group may consider the suggestions/ reports received earlier from State Finance Minister on his visit to West Bengal and also from the previous Local Government Minister.

The Spokesperson further said that the Department of Excise & Taxation would provide requisite information and other assistance to the Group to facilitate its functioning.

The Chief Minister pointed out out that despite various policy changes and measures by the Department of Excise & Taxation, the inadequate increase in excise revenue as well as illicit liquor trading remained a matter of concern. The outcomes of these measures had not been on expected lines, thus necessitating deeper examination of the issues to formulate and implement long-term excise reforms, he added.

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