The new excise policy in Uttarakhand has been deferred, following differences in the state Cabinet on the issue.
At a Cabinet meeting held on Monday, some ministers sought more clarity on the excise department’s plan.
However, Chief Minister Harish Rawat defended the plan saying his government was trying to break the syndicate culture in the state.
Ahead of the general elections last year, the government had withdrawn its controversial order which allegedly favoured two companies for the wholesale foreign liquor (FL-2) business. At that time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had approached the Election Commission against the government for “quietly” changing the state excise policy to “generate election funds to the tune of crores of rupees”. Through this order, the BJP had said the government was trying to give the contract of the wholesale FL-2 business to only two companies.
After the BJP complaint, the government in May last year had clarified it had already cancelled the order on the excise policy.
On March 29 Last year, the government had issued a notification saying from June 2014, the wholesale foreign liquor (FL-2) would be sold only through two centres – one in Dehradun and the other in Udham Singh Nagar. Through this order, the government had tried to revoke the present wholesale liquor policy, where all big companies were entitled to open their depots in the state. But through this controversial order, the government had allegedly restricted the sale of foreign liquor through the two centres or companies only, said Ajay Bhatt, leader of the the Opposition.
“The chief minister is lying when he says he is trying to break the syndicate. Actually, the chief minister is trying to promote the syndicate culture,” said Bhatt.
He also said the new policy would have also harmed the state’s revenue in a big way as the government used to get license fees from over 40 companies through the original policy.