Liquor shops in Goa on strike against poll panel's diktats
Panaji, April 10 (IANS) Wholesale and retail liquor outlets in Goa have downed their shutters in an indefinite strike to protest what they claim are 'harassing diktats' of the Election Commission.
The liquor traders are protesting the increased vigil enforced on them by the state excise department, which is keen on clamping down on misuse of liquor to influence voters during the Lok Sabha polls.
'The strike will carry on until the excise department and the Election Commission fulfil our demands,' Bernade Sapeco, convener of the Liquor Traders Association, told IANS Friday.
'While the norm during every election was to submit a daily sale statement to the excise office by the end of the day, this time the excise officials are hounding us by asking for immediate on the spot statements for inspection. How is that possible?' Sapeco said.
There are nearly 800 liquor wholesalers in Goa, while the number of retail outlets runs into thousands.
'This is a tourist state. Tourists come by the busloads and are in a hurry. It is difficult to keep track of liquor sale by the hour. Our demands are to put an end to these dictatorial orders by the EC (Election Commission). We would not mind submitting a daily statement of sale,' he said.
Speaking to IANS, state excise department officials said that they were working out a compromise formula with the liquor vendors to ensure that the alcohol sale in the state does not drop drastically.
'Sale of liquor earns the state a lot of revenue. These are temporary hardships. We are looking at resolving the issue by evening today (Friday),' an official said.
The state is known for the prolific number of liquor outlets lining its streets.
Liquor in Goa is cheaper than in neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, thanks to a policy of low tax on liquor. The state excise department had netted nearly Rs.80 crore (Rs.800 million) in taxes from sale of liquor alone during the last financial year.
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