Make new Excise Policy effectual

It may be recalled that the Excise Policy for the year 2020-21 was approved by the UT Government of Jammu and Kashmir in the middle of July this year though the same should have been announced on its due date say, by ending March. The delay in announcing the new policy and extension of the old one till the new one was put forth, was all due to the unavoidable constraints and pressures on account of COVID pandemic. The new policy envisaged two things specifically, one and the most important – increase in the revenue and two- bringing about more ‘transparency’. It is also a fact that avenues of raising revenues in the UT, otherwise staggering are limited and due to host of “reasons”, venturing going beyond the same limited sources has all along been treated as ”touch it not” area, therefore, lend special impetus to the operation of the new Excise Policy. Needless to add, the paradox and the enigma about increasing revenues through excise is laying stress on ‘greater’ social consciousness and preaching on the one hand that consuming liquor was injurious to health but simultaneously for the successful effectiveness of the policy, the expectations of a good turnover being cardinal to increasing revenues, is felt to be possible only due to increase in the number of people taking to the grab of the bottle.
While the new Excise Policy was announced in mid July and should have been duly notified and made effective within a few days, it is quite puzzling that the same has not seen the light of the day and appears to have been ‘masked’ by the official lethargy and adopting non serious approach by the concerned authorities. As per the prevalent practice, any policy approved by the Administrative Council has got to be notified and public duly informed within a few days but nearly a month of its approval , nothing is done. Not only the official inertial handling of its post approval , the policy has got intertwined into the sprees of letting it be postponed or deferred incognito due to interplaying of the tactics of some liquor manufacturers. That is precisely because they feel to be at a disadvantageous position as compared to the last year’s ‘advantageous’ excise policy. Then, where can the much hyped ‘transparency’ be found, it being in utter oblivion needs to be accounted for.
On the face of it, on each and every bottle of the booze , duty stands levied under the new policy with intent to increase the revenue which is found disadvantageous to their ”interests” by the manufacturers. The brunt is , however, only on the retailers – the ultimate consumers who otherwise have been hit hard by increase in the price of their drink by as much as 50 percent effective from May this year of Indian made foreign liquor, imported foreign liquor and all others manufactured spirits in Jammu and Kashmir. If reports are to be relied upon, instead of increase, there has been steady decrease in the sales as a rise of 50 % is felt to be too much on the higher side. Bootleggers and hooch makers can become fully ineffective when pricing of the ”stuff” is kept within the affordable reach of those who pay the tax voluntarily and immediately. The recent unfortunate hooch tragedy in Punjab needs not to be discounted.
The need of the hour, therefore, is to notify the new Excise Policy in a distinct and effective way so that its each and every clause was implemented scrupulously with the main intent to ensure the anticipated increase in the revenue so as to neutralise any pressure tactics or manoeuvrings from any side whatsoever. Let complete transparency and objectivity be achieved in respect of sensitive areas, viz renewal, cancellation, transfer of licences and penalties in respect of the new Excise Policy announced in July this year.