Poor man's indulgence enriches Excise department's coffers

80 pc revenue from sales of lower-priced Indian Made Liquor brands

People in the poorer sections of the society, it appears, are the State’s top tipplers. In fact, they are the ones filling the coffers of the State, year on year, by contributing up to 80 per cent of the Excise department’s total revenue.

According to the department’s statistics, in May this year, more than 50 lakh carton boxes (CBs) of Indian Made Liquor (IML)/hard liquor were sold. Of these, 33.47 lakh CBs come under the category of inexpensive or cheap brands. These brands are most sought after by the poor/lower segments and the lower middle class sections.

Brands like Original Choice Deluxe Whisky, Old Tavern Whisky, Haywards Cheers Whisky and Raja Whisky, ranging between Rs 200 and Rs 250 per 750-ml bottle, continue to fly off the shelves.

In 2014-15, the department sold 5.59 crore CBs of IML. Of these, 4.26 crore CBs were those of inexpensive brands. The department has 17 different price slabs for the boxes sold. In the lowest price range (0 to Rs 414), 48.22 lakh boxes were sold during this period.

Similarly, 2.77 crore boxes in the price range of Rs 415-Rs 464 were sold and one crore boxes in the range of Rs 465-Rs 514 were sold. Data shows that the sales were higher compared to 2013-14, when 2.61 crore boxes in the range of Rs 415-Rs 464 and 96.47 lakh boxes in the range of Rs 465-Rs 514 were sold.

The highest price range is Rs 7,616 and above, per 750-ml bottle. In this category, only 50,392 boxes were sold.

Department officials said that while 80 per cent sales are in the cheaper brands, 15 per cent revenue is generated from the mid-range brands. The remaining five per cent of the revenue comes from premium brands.

Having earned Rs 13,799 crore revenue in 2014-15, the department has set a target of achieving sales of Rs 15,200 crore in 2015-16.

Before that, the sale of illicit liquor was rampant. Once the department cracked down on units manufacturing illicit liquor and brought the menace under control, the poorer sections automatically shifted to legally sold liquor, priced slightly higher than illicit liquor.

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