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Exclusive beer shops to come up in Punjab: FM Harpal Cheema

Minister ascribes the jump in revenue to putting an end to the liquor mafia in the state

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CHANDIGARH, March 17 (PTI): Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema here on Friday said exclusive beer shops will come up within the municipal areas of the state.

Earlier, beer was being sold at various vending locations where other types of liquor are available, but many people “in modern society do not like to visit there”, Cheema said.

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Therefore, it has been decided to permit the opening of exclusive beer shops within the municipal areas of the state.

The cabinet approved an excise policy for the financial year 2023–24 on March 10, which aims to collect Rs 9,754 crore.

Speaking to reporters on the completion of one year of the AAP government in the office here, Cheema said there was a 45 percent increase in excise revenue because of the excise policy introduced by the state government for the years 2022–23.

He said the revenue from excise rose to over Rs 9,000 crore in 2022–23 from Rs 6,100 crore in the previous fiscal.

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He ascribed the jump in revenue to putting an end to the liquor mafia in the state.

Cheema, who also holds the portfolio of excise and taxation, said a total of 6,317 FIRs were registered against those who were selling illicit liquor.

More than 6,000 people who were involved in the illicit liquor trade were arrested, he said.

Over 1.48 lakh liters of illicit liquor and 1.74 lakh liters of “lahan’ (raw material for illicit liquor) were seized, he said.

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Cheema further said the state has witnessed a 23 percent rise in the collection of goods and services tax.

Responding to a question on the old pension scheme (OPS), he said the state government has already formed two committees — one led by him and another by the chief secretary at the officers’ level — concerning the OPS.

Claiming that the OPS launched by the Congress governments in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh will “fail”, Cheema said, “We will bring a scheme that will not cause any financial loss and employees will get their pension.”

Addressing a question on the opposition’s charge of “political vendetta”, Cheema said if an action was being taken against corrupt leaders, then they would call it political vendetta, and whomever is found involved in such practices will not be spared.

Cheema further slammed the opposition party and said during the Congress regime, debt amounting to Rs 99,505 crore was added.

Despite adding so much debt, the previous regime failed to improve the health and education sectors in the state, he said.

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