CHANDIGARH: With the onset of the festive season, the International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI), an apex body of the premium Alcobev sector, urged the Punjab state government for strict checks and enforcement to counter the illicit and spurious liquor trade.
The association strongly recommended a balanced, pragmatic and transparent approach to the AlcoBev business in the state as the way forward to promote responsible consumption and build economic opportunity for the state.
The association stated that the consumption of illicit or spurious liquor not only has negative consequences on the health of the citizens of the state but also hampers the government’s ability to tax and control legally produced alcohol. As per the general estimate and based on market reports, in 2019-20, the loss in Punjab’s state revenues due to the illicit and spurious liquor trade is around Rs 55 crore from country liquor and close to Rs 355 crore from Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL).
After the hooch tragedy in three districts of Punjab – Tarn Taran, Amritsar rural, and Gurdaspur — the state government took various strict enforcement measures like ‘Operation Red Rose’ to curb illicit liquor trading and nail excise-related crimes; precise tracking systems and administrative coordination which helped to check illicit distillation, smuggling of liquor and spurious liquor trade. But the continuity of stringent checks and measures is needed to regulate the menace of the informal alcohol market in the state.
Suresh Menon, secretary general of ISWAI said, “Bootleggers selling counterfeit products in premium branded bottles not only pose a risk to consumers but also damage brand reputation, restrict future investments by companies and lead to a loss of legal sales. Hence, adopting and enforcing policies to eliminate illicit production, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages as well as to regulate or control informal alcohol are critical for the state.”