The West Bengal government has decided to conduct a survey of the drinking habits of citizens to plug leaks in its revenue collection from liquor sales.
No, it will not be another 'Big Brother is watching you' exercise. Excise department officials said the data will be used to estimate how much liquor is consumed across the state. The figure will be used to find out if liquor makers are evading excise duty.
Altogether 200 excise department employees will be engaged in the survey, which will be completed in two months in urban areas.
The survey is part of state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta's efforts to increase revenue collections from liquor sales. After taking charge of the excise department, he was surprised to find that though the number of tipplers in the state had risen considerably in the past few years, excise collections had not.
"The exercise is aimed at finding out how much liquor is consumed and how much revenue is collected. Very often distilleries pass off fully loaded tankers as half-full. We have to identify these loopholes," he told reporters.
The state finance minister has set a target of Rs.10 billion as excise earnings from the sale of liquor for 2007-08. An expert committee has also been set up to suggest ways to ramp up revenue collection from the sale of liquor.