Liquor is an interesting business. For a produce worth Rs 280 crore in 2015-16, the government made Rs 817 crore as taxes. Tragically the drinker paid it all. Kashmir has slightly increased its in-take, but it is not as alarming as it is in Jammu.
Kashmir is gradually improving its liquor in-take. From 11.49 lakh bottles of all types of wine and liquor in 2008-09, Kashmir’s consumption jumped to 22.62 lakh bottles in 2012-13.
Now the latest figures released by the government suggest the overall consumption – cumulatively of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), Desi Whisky, Beer and RTD, has jumped from 22.79 lakh bottles in 2014-15 to 28.35 lakh in 2015-16.
The liquor consumption has surged in clubs and Golf course bars too. Kashmir Golf Club consumed only 1211 bottles of all types in 2012-13. It had 2640 bottles in 2014-15 and 4204 in last fiscal.
Even though the liquor intake is upswing, Kashmir still is a dry place. Kashmir’s share in overall liquor market is negligible. In 2014-15, J&K consumed 136.64 lakh bottles of IMFL which increased to 143.22 lakh last fiscal. Kashmir’s share was only 11.50 lakh and 15.29 lakh respectively.
Kashmir’s consumption of desi whisky (JK Special Whisky) is literally zero when J&K consumed 249.621 lakh bottles in 2014-15 and 265.70 lakh bottles in last two years. Unlike desi, Kashmir consumes beer – in overall consumption of 158.55 lakh bottles in 2014-15 and 164.58 lakh bottles in 2015-16, Kashmir’s share was 11.29 and 13.96 lakh bottles, which is even far below than Leh – the scarcely populated district of the state where not even two lakh people live.
Of the 10 Kashmir districts, eight actually lack any formal liquor sale structure. Even Budgam and Leh have quite basic one shop. It is only Srinagar, the main tourist place and the largest of the populated Kashmir districts that has one whole-seller, four retailers, and six bars and clubs serving drinks.
Liquor continues to be a major revenue earning activity for the state government. The more people drink the more money state makes to feed its surging requirements including salary. J&K consumed 54450261 bottles in 2014-15 which improved to 57582280 bottles last year. The government levies excise duty as well as commercial tax on every single bottle that goes to market. Unlike excise being collected at the factory level, the sales tax is being recovered at the point of sale.
In 2014-15, the government’s earning from different kinds of liquor and wine was 726.42 crore which improved to Rs 817.86 crore in 2015-16. Of this excise alone accounts for Rs 464.88 crore and Rs 531.38 crore, respectively. Since Kashmir consumes quite little, its contribution to the public kitty is less. In 2014-15, the government collected Rs 45.98 crore which improved to Rs 57.96 crore.
Jammu continues to be the main consumer. Its contributions to public kitty by way of excise duty and commercial tax was Rs 676.69 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 754.74 crore in last fiscal. Jammu district alone has 133 wine shops in addition to bars and clubs where drinks are served.
Jammu region owns seven distilleries, three breweries and 10 bottling plants. The twenty manufacturers produced liquor worth Rs 260.81 crore in 2014-15 which was improved in last financial year to Rs 279.22 crore. Devans continue to be the beer kings of the state. The two brothers are running two manufacturing facilities in Jammu. Their cumulative production in 2014-15 was Rs 80.10 crore which they have improved to Rs 89.27 crore in 2015-16.
A part of the production is exported also. IMFL exports in 2014-15 were at 222386 cases (a case is 12 piece) which reduced to 176158 cases in 2015-16. Unlike IMFL, beer exports improved from 1417403 cases to 2152342 cases. Devans are the major beer exporters from J&K. Their main product goes off-shore.
Despite local manufacture, J&K consumes a good quantity of imported brands. Security forces alone imported 524017 cases of IMFL and 125382 cases of beer in 2014-15 which jumped to 585973 cases of IMFL and 142556 cases of beer in 2015-16. Usually supplies to the CSD canteens, the government collects excise on all this import. Against collection of Rs 54.50 crore in 2014-15, the government collected excise duty of Rs 61.69 crore in 2015-16. Supply to security forces does not involve 35 percent of sales tax.
Civil consumption of imported liquor exhibits a different trend. Security set up consumes four times more IMFL than civilian drinkers unlike imported beer that it consumes barely half the civilian order. Imported IMFL for civilian consumption jumped from 110222 cases in 2014-15 to 386655 cases in 2015-16. Beer imports jumped from 254713 cases to 283031 cases in the same period. State government collected Rs 20.57 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 60.97 crore in last fiscal.