CHANDIGARH: Punjab Finance, Planning, Excise and taxation Minister Advocate Harpal Singh Cheema on Thursday said that the Excise department has fixed the minimum and maximum rate of beer in order to keep the rates of beer within reasonable limits.

He said that the minimum and maximum retail sale price of pints and cans of the beer would be proportionately fixed in relation to the minimum and maximum retail sale price of their quarts.

Chairing the monthly review meeting of Excise department here at Punjab Bhawan, Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema said that in the Excise Policy, 2023-24, clause 28 has been inserted, whereby, in order to keep the rates of beer within reasonable limits, the power to decide the minimum and maximum retail price of beer to be sold at L-2/L-14A retail vends and stand alone vends, has been given to the Government. He said that the minimum retail sale price of beer brands has been calculated according to the prescribed formula in Annexure 3 of the policy and maximum retail sale price has been fixed keeping in mind the interests of the consumers so that they are able to get affordable products.

He said that this step has been taken to check the exorbitant prices of the beer besides discouraging its smuggling from the neighboring states. He said that such steps would also discourage the production and consumption of illicit liquor.

Issuing directions in compliance of Orders of Apex court in case of SLP (Civil) No 3764 of 2021, the Finance Minister asked the department officials to further boost the enforcement activates to completely root out illicit liquor trade from the state besides running awareness campaigns against this trade. He said that full coordination should be extended to the police. As per orders of Apex court now the local police shall be held responsible if any illegal Bhatthi (Working Still) is found in their area.

Vikas Pratap, Finance Commissioner Taxation apprised the finance minister that he had already issued instructions to the Excise Commissioner, Punjab for ensuring that all Deputy Commissioner (Excise), Zones should personally meet respective Deputy Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of Police / SSPs for ensuring compliance of the court orders.

Meanwhile, Varun Roojam, Excise Commissioner, said that the department has been keeping a strict vigil on the movement of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) from manufacturer to its final destination. He said that the GPS equipped vehicles carrying ENA are not allowed to stop within the first 100 km of its journey and excise teams are conducting surprise checking regularly to rule out any mischief. He said that the Excise department will be regularly conducting enforcement activities to root out the menace of smuggling and production of illicit liquor.

In his concluding remarks, the Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema congratulated the entire staff of the Excise department for their immense contribution in increase the excise revenue during FY 2022-23 besides breaking the back of the liquor mafia. He expressed confidence that the department would cross the five figure mark of revenue generation in the FY 2023-24.

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