‘Govt under pressure from influential people to issue liquor licenses’

Jammu: Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather  Monday said the government was “always under pressure” from various quarters to issue liquor licenses to people.
“We are always under pressure  from various quarters and influential people to issue licenses to the people for sale of liquor,” Rather said in his response in the Legislative Assembly to the speeches made by legislators on the budget presented by him last week.
“Most of the pressure comes from people from Jammu region,” Rather said. “But I have never succumbed to such pressures, and in my tenure in the government I have not issued even a single license to anyone and will never do so.”
Rather said he would be the happiest person if the sale of liquor is banned completely in the state. “But I can’t do it singlehandedly if people don’t want it; let the legislators come up with a debate in the House for imposing ban on its sale and I will support it. The state will bear the losses of the revenue it generates from its taxes,” said Rather.
Responding to questions from various legislators that the state generates its maximum revenue by imposing taxes on the sale of liquor, Rather said that presently the state generates Rs 637 crore from the sale of liquor including Rs 420 crore from the excise duty and Rs 217 crore from sales tax.
“That is only Rs 637 crore out of total Rs 6700 crore revenue generated by the state from tax collections last year,” said Rather.
He said the state can generate these Rs 637 crore from other sources as well if the House wants prohibition on the sale of liquor in the state.