Goa may run out of beer by polling day: Liquor traders

April 15th, 2009 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 15 (IANS) The ongoing tussle between liquor traders and the state excise department has triggered a shortage of booze, especially beer, in Goa, a state with one of the highest alcohol consumption levels in the country.
The liquor sellers in the state have stopped taking new stocks in protest against the “harrassment” by excise officials, who often conduct random stock checking at liquor outlets since it is election season.

“Our stocks are dwindling. Beer is already in short supply. If the government does not stop this harassment, beer may be completely off the racks in the next few days,” Bernabe Sapeco, convenor of the Goa Liquor Traders Association, told IANS Wednesday.

According to Sapeco, by the time Goa goes to polls April 23, stocks of most brands, barring the locally manufactured liquors like feni, would almost dry up.

“We will not take new stock from the manufacturers until and unless we are assured that the random stock checking carried out by the excise officials will stop,” he said.

Ralph D’Souza, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), told IANS that liquor traders should have been taken into confidence before the government initiated its pre-election preventive measures.

“We have spoken to the excise department officials about this. We told them that submitting weekly receipts of liquor was more practical. It’s very difficult for us to submit daily accounts,” D’Souza said.

“At times, even election commission officials conduct random checks, which make it difficult for the liquor traders to keep pace,” he added.

D’Souza, who is also in charge of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s committee on tourism, said small liquor retailers were bearing the brunt of the strike. “They have a limited stock,” he said.

Excise department officials, however, blamed the Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines for the present deadlock.

“We cannot deviate from the ECI guidelines. We tried to make the liquor traders association see reason. The deadlock is unfortunate,” a state excise official said.

Goa earned nearly Rs.80 crore in taxes in 2008-09 through sale of liquor.

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