GUWAHATI, April 6 - The State Excise Department has registered a revenue jump of 21 per cent in the financial year that ended on March 31 last.
This is despite the fact that consumption of liquor in the State witnessed a decline of 10 per cent during the period from April to January last and some 350 liquor shops remaining closed for three months due to a High Court ruling.
Revenue from sales of liquor during the financial year was Rs 970 crore, up from the cumulative revenue of Rs 799 crore recorded in the previous fiscal.
Official sources attributed the increase in revenue to enforcement drives launched over the last few months which helped plug the leakages and check illicit liquor business.
The new Assam Excise Rules 2016 came into force in September last. From October, a massive drive was launched, particularly in Guwahati, Sonitpur and Karbi Anglong, which led to seizure of illicit liquor worth over Rs 5 crore. Some traders were also brought to book.
�Twelve of the 78 bonded houses were fined heavily for evading tax and at least six officers of the department were placed under suspension for various irregularities.
As a result of this cleansing drive, revenue collection in the month of November jumped to Rs 114 crore against the corresponding Rs 62.38 crore registered in the same month in the previous year,� a senior Excise official told The Assam Tribune.
During the financial year 2015-16, despite a drastic hike in licence fees and Excise duty, revenue collection was Rs 799 crore.
�This year, we decreased the licence fee and did not levy any new tax. But the revenue went up as the leakages were plugged to a large extent,� the official added.
Consumption of country liquor also saw a decline during the year.