Udayavni Special

Excise dept pegs losses at Rs 2,050 cr due to lockdown

PTI, Apr 29, 2020, 6:20 PM IST

Bengaluru: With liquor shops in Karnataka shut since March 24 due to the COVID-19 related lockdown and to remain so at least till May 3, the State Excise Department has pegged its losses for the period at Rs 2,050 crore.

“Our loss is Rs 50 crore per day. Liquor shops were shut down from March 24 when the lockdown was imposed and they will remain shut at least May 3.

Thus the estimated loss for 41 days is Rs 2,050 crore,” a senior excise official told PTI on Wednesday.

He said there is still lack of clarity on whether liquor shops would be opened after May 3 and the possibility of them opening after that appeared bleak.

The state government would have to take a call on when to reopen the shops, he said.

According to the excise department website,revenue during April for fiscal 2016-17 was 1,003.21 crore, Rs 997.55 crore for the month in 2017-18, and Rs 1,334.47 crore in 2018-19.

For the month of March in fiscal 2016-17, revenue was Rs 1,835.28 crore, Rs 1,780.43 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 1,535.93 crore in 2018-19.

The excise department is yet to post the month wise revenue for 2019-20.

Excise officials said that the last few days of March had always been crucial in terms of excise revenue because tipplers do panic-buying to store more liquor, anticipating exorbitant taxes from the new financial year.

“The Year-on-Year trend usually sees the rush start a week before March end. This time, customers did not get the chance to buy and store liquor as the lockdown was effected a week before on March 24,” another excise official said.

This is also one of the reasons behind the heavy loss in March this year, the officer said.

Expecting a spurt in bootlegging cases during lockdown period, the department had been on the alert.

As a precautionary measure it carried out 20,449 raids across the state and seized 77,305 litres of liquor, including 40,852 litres of India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), 24,340 litres of beer, 2,938 litres of toddy and 1,777 litres of wine from March 27 to April 27, this year.

“We arrested 115 people and registered 1,339 cases,” an excise official said.

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