Lucknow: A good news for those who love alcoholic beverages. An excise duty reduction is on the cards in Uttar Pradesh.
The exact duty cut is yet to be decided but the levy is likely to be in conformity with the rates in the neighbouring States. As a result, there may not be a price parity but price differential between a neighbouring State and this State will be minimised.
In simple terms, different brands of liquor which are selling at higher prices in UP than the neighbouring Haryana will be brought down considerably, to the cheers of anti-prohibitionists.
This proposal was mooted particularly to end the smuggling of liquor from neighbouring states which are rampant in the western part of UP.
This kind of effort was previously made during the Samajwadi Party rule which had led to 25% fall in prices.
However, the similarity between the two governments as far as the excise policy is concerned ends here. The previous two governments headed by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati had formulated policies which worked to the advantage of certain individuals and groups, better known as the syndicate.
Aware of the situation, the new government, after a crackdown on the sand and land sharks, has targeted the liquor mafia.
With connections in different circles, the monopolists may find some loopholes to be back in business as before but not immediately. They have to lie low at least for some time. To cut their wings, special zones created to their advantage have been abolished.
One individual can get the licence for not more than two in districts for opening a retail shop. To end proxy business, the contract will be linked to PAN and Aadhaar cards.
To make the whole process transparent, there will be e-tendering. Outsiders and those who are a novice in the business may also apply online. Money transfer can be made digitally through cards.
The excise revenue which has already gone up during the year and may rise further in view of these actions. so, it is to the delight of both the revenue collectors and the drinkers.
Some other initiatives have already boosted excise revenue collection. The current financial year is likely to end with the collection of over Rs 20,000 crores, marking more than 30% increase over the previous year. With the proposal to enhance the fee for a foreign liquor licence by 40% in 2019-20, the State is likely to earn more.
Those critics who have been charging the Yogi government with partiality caring for only one section of the people may have to think again in the light of the new move.