Liquor in short supply | Pakistan Today

Liquor in short supply

As the face-off continues between the Punjab government and Muree Brewery, the country’s largest liquor production company, on the issue of excise duty on raw alcohol, a legal battle is all set to start causing further cut in supply of liquor, already declined to 80 percent in Punjab and other provinces, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Other local manufacturers, Quetta Distillery and Indus Distillery, are not based in Punjab, and remain unaffected from excise duty. With a massive decline in supply of alcohol, prices of various brands of liquor are learnt to surge up stocking concerns among minorities especially Christians, alcohol lovers and hotels. The dispute has put a real damper on the upcoming celebrations of Christmas and New Year. The supply is getting thin at the time when winter, in which alcohol consumption burgeons conventionally, is also round the corner. The black-marketers mafia has rolled up their sleeves to cash in on the poor supply of liquor in wake of the present tussle. “Among others, most popular beverages–London Dry Gin, Vat 1, and matured whiskeys up to 21-year-old, that constitutes 85 percent of total supply, will be sold on 50 percent of their original prices,” a hotel worker, working for the racket of the black-marketing mafia, told Pakistan Today seeking anonymity. He said that prices would further shoot up in December before Christmas. The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department imposed 75 percent duty on raw alcohol, both used and wastage materials, in July but Muree Brewery believed in paying on the finished item and paying only for the used one, excluding wastage. Due to stalemate on the issue, the department has not renewed the license of Muree Brewery. The Punjab CM had formed a committee to resolve the row. According to media reports, Additional Chief Secretary Nadeem Asif, who was heading the committee, had decided to exempt all outstanding taxes on Muree Brewery with the ruling that the company only needs to pay duty on the finished product. But both the department and management of Muree Brewery did not reconcile and decided to take the matter to court. Senior officials in the department dispelled rumours that the issue had been settled. They said that according to rules and regulations prescribed in the liquor license, the excise duty was paid by license-holders in advance. Excise duty was applied on both used and wastage material included in raw alcohol called rectified spirit, he added. “Brewery kept dodging the department smartly to evade the duty but now it has to pay all arrears and other dues in terms of excise duty on raw alcohol in line with the rules,” he said. Muree Brewery Spokesman Farasat Kazmi said that the company was consulting its lawyer to move court to seek justice against the highhandedness of the department. “We have been paying all taxes, including on raw alcohol, over the last 60 years and the license allows us to pay only on the finished item,” he said. About wastage material, Kazmi said that the license did not have any provision in this regard. He admitted that the company had decreased 80 percent of its liquor supply to the market due to adversary. Around 11 factories in Punjab produce some 182 million litres of raw alcohol per year under supervision of the department. It is then sold to distilleries, including Muree Brewery, with valid licences and homoeopathy or medical laboratories. According to information provided by the CM’s Secretariat, Muree Brewery is learnt to be the largest supplier of liquor products to Sindh and other parts of the country. “It makes up 70 percent of the market share in Sindh. The Sindh govt has so far lost Rs 300 million in revenue and already written to the Punjab govt asking that the issue be settled,” sources said. The Punjab govt had also made it obligatory on the company to meet the consumption demand locally before dispatching its products to other provinces, sources said. “Our aim is to address multiple issues related with the revival of supply at a normal pace, which is provincial revenue, but most importantly threat to lives of people, who look for other options in the absence of quality products and fall prey to poisonous products,” he added.



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One Comment;

  1. Ghausia Rashid Salam said:

    Nooo! Not the booze! Anything but the booze! This is what happens when a country is so corrupt, the booze ends up getting in harm’s way! *weeps*

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