SHOMA PATNAIK | NT
Liquor retailers in the state are claiming losses due to the increased surveillance on their activities as the election date is approaching. The Lok Sabha election is scheduled to be held in Goa on April 23.
Several retailers, speaking to this daily, said that they are forced to keep their shops closed due to the intensified monitoring of their business by the government and hence they lose income.
The monitoring includes mandatory submission of the daily sales reports to the excise department which according to the retailers “is not practical.”
According to the retailers, dealing with customers, maintaining register of sales invoices and submitting the same to the excise department is difficult because of which they prefer to keep their establishments shut.
A check conducted by this newspaper on liquor outlets in different localities revealed that numerous shops remain shut.
President of Goa Liquor Traders Association Dattaprasad Naik said that several large liquor stores in Panaji market and also shops located in the beach areas around Mapusa, Pernem, Mandrem and Calangute remain shut due to the extra surveillance.
Naik said that small stores, being one-man establishments, do not have
enough staff to maintain the daily records and fearing government action, keep the outlets closed. He added that although the scrutiny on sales happens during the code of conduct period, the submission of the daily sales reports is usually done three-four days in advance of the election date.
Refusing to bow down to pressure from the retailing industry, Excise Commissioner Amit Satija said that maintaining records of daily transactions is a part of the existing law on liquor vending (Rule 101), which is mandatory for all retailers in the state.
“It is not correct for retailers to cite difficulty in complying with the rule that was present even in normal times,” said Satija. The Excise Commissioner said there can be no relaxation in the reporting of daily liquor sold owing to the sensitive nature of the product.
The excise department has asked shop owners to provide information on sales of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), beer, country liquor and all alcoholic beverages alcohol and the stocks at the end of day.
Satija said that large outlets can send the information online while the smaller outlets can use the department’s app.
A liquor store owner in Goa Velha said that the app refuses to work, as it needs sales information of the past, which, he said, he could not provide. He said that travelling to Panaji to deposit the records with the Tiswadi taluka inspector was too much of a hassle because of which he has presently shut his shop.
Rejecting the difficulties in using the app as “excuses,” the Excise Commissioner said that retailers can also send sales figures through e-mail and “must comply with all the measures for monitoring alcohol consumption.”
Liquor seizures are high during the run-up to the forthcoming elections; the seizures are valued at over Rs 2.6 crore.