Punjab Excise Dept says 'marked increase' in collections

Chandigarh, May 15 (PTI) Two days after several Congress MLAs sought a probe against the chief secretary for alleged excise revenue loss in the last three years, the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department on Friday said the revenue receipts have shown “marked increase” since the Amarinder Singh government came to power in 2017.

It also stressed that it has not incurred any loss in financial year 2019-20, except those resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Ten Congress legislators and one Rajya Sabha MP on Wednesday had demanded a probe against Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, blaming him for alleged excise revenue losses.

The crisis was triggered by a showdown between two ministers and the chief secretary at a meeting, after which Karan Avtar was relieved of additional charge of Financial Commissioner Taxation.

Contrary to speculation, the Punjab excise department has not incurred any losses in FY 2019-20, except those resulting from the COVID-19 related curfew, which are yet to be assessed, a government statement said here.

This was disclosed by the department at a meeting with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to review the situation in the light of the amendments to the excise policy, it added.

Barring losses incurred on account of the lockdown, there was no loss in fiscal 2019-20, the department said at the review meeting.

The department informed the chief minister that though the final figures for 2019-20 are yet to be worked out, indicative data shows that excise revenue for the year was higher than that of the previous fiscal.

Giving details, the department said revenue receipts had shown a 'marked increase' since the Amarinder Singh government took over in March 2017.

From Rs 4,405.72 crore in fiscal 2016-17, the actual revenue received by the state exchequer shot up to Rs 5,135.68 crore in 2017-18 -- a 16 per cent increase in one year.

There was a slight dip in the excise department revenues in 2018-19 on account of quota and price reduction, as well as hike in VAT, which went up to 14 per cent, along with some changes in GST, said department officials. The decrease was, however, marginal, with the actual receipts reported at Rs 5,073.79 crore.

As far as 2019-20 fiscal is concerned, the revenue earned by the excise department currently stands at Rs 5,015 crore, it said.

However, as per the excise policy of 2019-20, an amount of Rs 50 crore, on account of application money, was transferred to the Excise & Taxation Technical Services Agency (ETTSA).

In addition, VAT amounting to Rs 125 crore has been included, and taking the same into consideration, the total receipts would, in fact, stand at Rs 5,222 crore.

With 'Janta curfew' imposed on March 22 followed by the lockdown, all the fees for 2020-21 which were to be deposited in March could not be collected.

This included Rs 278 crore for renewed groups, Rs 68 crore from the newly allotted groups, and another Rs 120 crore in routine receipts, officials said.

The chief minister directed the department to expeditiously complete the pending tasks with respect to allotment of vends, among others, and take all steps to boost revenue.

Meanwhile, 4,404 vends have opened for sale of liquor across the state. Only those in the containment zones have not been opened, the release said. PTI CHS VSD ABM