PANAJI: Liquor traders in Goa on Friday asked the state government to stop issuing any more licences for retail sale of alcohol as the industry has reached "saturation point".
All Goa Liquor Traders Association president Dattaprasad Naik also said if the proposed hike in excise duty on alcohol mooted in the recent state budget is not withdrawn, the entire industry would collapse.
The budget 2020-21, presented in the assembly on February 6, proposed a hike in the excise duty on various liquor brands, including local brew 'Feni'.
Talking to PTI, Naik said 2,000 retail liquor outlets already exist for a population of 15 lakh which is sufficient to meet the requirements in Goa.
"There is no space for more outlets in the state. The state government should stop giving fresh licences for the next three years, he said, adding the industry has reached "saturation point".
Naik said besides the 2,000 retail outlets, there are 8,000-10,000 bars which sell liquor across the state, a popular tourist destination.
He claimed the liquor trade industry is slowly slipping out of the hands of Goans due to "faulty" policies of the state government.
Pointing out that former chief minister Manohar Parrikar had amended the State Excise Act to make it mandatory for fresh applicants to have 25-year domicile certificate, Naik said this rule should also be implemented during annual renewal of licences.
When licences are taken up for renewal annually, the rule of 25 years of domicile in Goa should be made compulsory so as to stop increasing take over of the industry by non- Goans, he said.
Naik admitted that several local traders have illegally leased out their premises to non-Goans.
This was the trade which was exclusively with Goans, but slowly it is slipping out of their hands.
Now, 75 per cent of the people in this trade are Goans, he commented.
Naik said the taxation proposed in the recent state budget will result in collapse of the industry.
If you see the statistics, only 20 per cent of the liquor sold in Goa is consumed locally, while the rest 80 per cent is carried back home by tourists, he said.
Naik met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant earlier this week and sought a roll-back of the proposed hike in excise duty on liquor.
Sawant has assured a rethink on the proposed hike in liquor tax, he said.
Naik said slabs for low-priced alcohol, proposed in the budget, should be revised, while there should be status quo on high-end liquor.
The association has also demanded that Goan brew Feni should be completely exempted from excise duty.