He said that in 2016, the revenue from alcohol with VAT was about Rs 600 crore. In March this year, including VAT, that revenue stood at close to Rs 3,000 crore.
The decision of ruling BJP dispensation has drawn disparagement from several corners of the society with Leader of Opposition (LOP) in Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, lambasting the government over the issue.
In many areas of Assam, there are no liquor shops within a 10-20-kilometer area, according to the official records. Hence illegal production of country-made liquor has been growing in the state. Also, country-made liquors were transported to Assam from Arunachal Pradesh through illegitimate means which actually hurt the state government revenue, said Minister Suklabaidya.
To avoid this loss, the state government has been giving large-scale permission to open new wine shops.
Saikia said: “The government is giving licences for opening wine shops in rural areas to just generate revenue without thinking about the public health. Allowing open liquor shops in rural areas is a destructive step.”
He accused the ruling dispensation of using the revenues for advertising purposes.
The Congress leader commented that the minister’s remarks on liquor shops were stupid and his argument to drink foreign liquor rather than sugarcane liquor was very unfortunate.
However, Suklabaidya dismissed the charges and claimed that the revenue money is being used for the benefit of the people.
He also said that the government is not telling anyone to drink alcohol.
“As a minister, I never encourage anyone to drink alcohol. But those who are addicted to alcohol should drink in limited quantity otherwise it will adversely affect their health,” he commented.
“There is no law in place to ban drinking in the country. So those who are used to drinking, let them drink from authorised liquor shops,” Suklabaidya added.
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