The Mamata Banerjee Cabinet on Saturday approved a proposal for re-organisation of the State Excise Department, a move that Finance Minister Amit Mitra claims will generate more resources for the government and check use of illicit liquor. Re-organisation of registration and stamp duty collection was also approved by the Cabinet.
The number of excise districts will be increased from 21 to 24, excise ranges from 65 to 87 and excise circles from 159 to 213, Mr. Mitra told journalists later at the State Secretariat. “These are reform measures with a twin aim of uplifting society while boosting State coffers.”
The Minister expects additional revenue generation to the tune of Rs.700 crore through the two proposals.
As a part of restructuring the Excise Department, a centralised computer cell of the department will be set up to analyse the data on excise collection obtained from various parts of the State.
The cost of restructuring the department will be Rs 2.70 crore, and the initiative will boost the State’s revenue by Rs.300 crore, the Minister said.
The State Excise Department reforms come nearly 10 months after West Bengal witnessed one of the biggest illicit liquor tragedies in which 172 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Mograhat area of South 24 Parganas district in December 2011. Questions were raised about the role of the State Excise Department, and the West Bengal Human Rights Commission had recommended departmental proceeding against the State Excise Commissioner for not acting against erring officials.
Stating that reforms in the State Excise Department were last rolled out in 1966, Mr. Mitra said revenue from the department had increased significantly over the past few years but things remained as before.
“In 1993, revenue from the department was about Rs.210 crore. Today it has crossed Rs.2,000 crore,” he added.
The Cabinet also approved restructuring of the Directorate of Registration & Stamp Revenue wherein the State Finance Department will bifurcate 15 large registration offices and set up an inspection wing in the Presidency division at Burdwan and at Jalpaiguri. A cost of Rs.3.5 crore will be incurred for restructuring the department, which will boost the State’s revenue by Rs.400 crore, Mr Mitra said.
A centralised computer-enabled Research and Analysis Centre (eRAC) will be set up to ensure online registration of properties, as promised in the State Budget, he said.