In high ‘spirits’,Punjab fails to lift education

Only one-sixth education cess levied on liquor went into dedicated fund: CAG

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh | Published: March 30, 2012 3:00 am

Only one-sixth education cess levied on liquor went into dedicated fund: CAG

Tipplers in Punjab are guzzling more liquor,enough to lift the spirits of its excise collectors. The state’s excise income jumped from Rs 1,568 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 2,373 crore in 2010-11. Other than excise duty,Punjab also levies an education cess ranging between Rs 2 to Rs 6 per proof litre of country liquor,IMFL and beer on sale. But only one-sixth of this cess went to the dedicated fund,says the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on the functioning of Punjab’s excise department.

A total of Rs 199 crore has been collected as education cess from 2005-10. Of this,the state transferred only Rs 32.9 crore to the education development fund,between April 2008 to January 2009. Subsequently,an amount to the tune of Rs 166.79 crore was credited to the consolidated fund of the state and not spent on the stated objective,says the CAG report.

It further states that though the per capita consumption of liquor in the state shot up by 59.2 per cent – up from 2.518 proof litre in 2005-06 to 3.790 proof litre in 2009-10 – the excise income during the same period only jumped by 51.3 per cent from Rs 1,568.16 crore to Rs 2,373.07 crore.

Also,most of this money seems to be coming from country spirits as other heads – malt liquor,liquor,foreign liquor and spirits and opium,hemp and other drugs were witnessing a downward trend during this period. Notably,excise duty accounts for 12 per cent of state’s total revenue collection.

Dwelling on reasons for the anomaly,the CAG says the excise department has not fixed any norm for production of beer or liquor from grains,which cost the state an additional revenue of Rs 73.01 crore. The allotment of additional quota for sale of liquor at concessional rates was also injudicious. During the years between 2007 and 2010,this led to a loss of RS 22.61 crore. Likewise,there was short recovery of licence fee from vend licences and the department took no action to suspend licences of the defaulters.

Another Rs 6.27 crore during the year 2008-09 were lost to canteen store departments of Army in Jalandhar and Pathankot not paying assessed fee. There was also short realisation of renewal fee from bonded warehouses.

Citing shortage of staff as one of the reasons behind shortfall in excise collection,inspection and enforcement of rules,the report says manpower should be trained exclusively for excise-related functions.

40,893 ‘ineligible’ get pension

There are around 40,893 elderly in ten districts of the state who are ineligible for pension,states a CAG report tabled in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday. As per the report,following reported cases of ineligible old age pensioners,the state government had directed all deputy commissioners to conduct verifications on people to whom pension benefits had been allowed after September 1,2002. The verification drive in 10 out of the 20 districts was completed between March 2010 to August 2010 and 40,893 ineligible beneficiaries of old age pension and financial assistance to widows and destitute women were detected by the department. These persons who are ineligible either have excess land holdings or are under aged,have excess income or are sons of beneficiaries working in government jobs and abroad.

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