Shimla: Himachal Pradesh’s Excise Policy for 2023-24 has generated a record-breaking 40 per cent increase in revenue, as compared to the previous year. The state government’s multi-pronged efforts to enhance sources of revenue generation have borne fruit, as the policy is expected to fetch Rs. 2800 crore for the State exchequer, against an expected revenue of Rs. 2357 crore.

The Excise Policy for 2023-24 has several provisions to curb smuggling from neighbouring states and increase the government’s revenue. It has increased the fixed quota of country liquor by 7.5% and that of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) by 5%. Additionally, the annual fixed license fee for wholesale vends has been raised from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 35 lakh, and the licensee has been allowed to lift the quota beyond the Minimum Guaranteed Quantity (MGQ) for the financial year.

The policy decision was a bold move, considering that the previous government’s decision to renew liquor vends had brought in only Rs. 1296 crore in the previous fiscal year. However, the present government’s auction cum tender has ensured revenue of Rs. 1815 crore, which is Rs. 520 crore higher.

The State Government has also made it mandatory for all stakeholders to install CCTV cameras at their establishments to monitor the manufacturing operation of liquor, its dispatch to wholesalers, and its subsequent sale to retailers. Furthermore, the bottling of imported wine in the wineries of the state has been allowed, which will make the best-selling high-range wine brands more accessible to customers.

The present Excise Policy also allows the L-3, L-4 and L-5 license holders to have a Mini Bar for occupants in all rooms of three-star hotels and above, which is expected to boost tourism and be a source of additional revenue for the State.

The State Government has also levied an Rs. 10 per bottle “milk cess,” which is expected to ensure additional revenue of Rs. 100 crores for the government. This fund will be utilized to benefit farmers and boost milk production.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu expressed satisfaction with the policy’s outcome, adding that the government’s decision to introduce new measures and auction liquor vends had ensured healthy competition and a transparent process. He also said that the Excise Policy for 2023-24 had been designed to enhance the government’s revenue and curb smuggling, and it had exceeded expectations.