June 6, 2020 11:44:35 pm
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday constituted an excise reforms group to break the “nexus” between producers, wholesalers and retailers of illicit liquor, the move coming a day after he announced the setting up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe such trade in the state.
The five-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, a government statement said.
The group shall comprise Housing and Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Public Works Minister Vijay Inder Singla, retired IAS Officer D S Kalha, Advisor Financial Resources V K Garg and Secretary School Education Krishan Kumar.
Working in tandem with the SIT, which has been tasked with investigation into all aspects of 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 up with suggestions on long-term legal and administrative reforms, after due diligence and consultations with the stakeholders. In this process, the group may consider the suggestions/reports received earlier from the finance minister on his visit to West Bengal and also from the previous local government minister.
The department of excise and taxation would provide requisite information and other assistance to the group to facilitate its functioning, as per the government statement.
The chief minister pointed out out that despite various policy changes and measures by the excise and taxation department, 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 had added.
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