Shillong Dec 21: Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma today laid the foundation stone for the office building of the Commissioner of Excise in the presence of Minister, Excise, Kyrmen Shylla and senior officials in Shillong.
During his address the Chief Minister expressed satisfaction that the long pending project could finally take shape and said that the infrastructure will enable the department to function in a more efficient manner.
“This building has been pending for a very long time. It’s going to be close to 50 years of our statehood and yet an important and revenue generating department like the Excise does not have its own building. Once completed it will be one of the iconic infrastructures in the Secretariat area,” Sangma said.
The Chief Minister also informed that the State’s revenue generation was badly hit during the pandemic period but despite the difficult situation the excise department was one of the better performing ones bringing in steady revenue for the state.
“In the last three and a half years the MDA Government has been really focusing a lot on revenue generation. We went through a difficult time when Covid hit us but in terms of our revenue collection we saw that the excise department has done well. We have seen a constant growth of close to 10 to 12 percent in the revenue and that is a very positive indication,” the Chief Minister said.
Sangma also said that many other reforms are being initiated in the excise department that will ultimately result in increased capacity of the department for revenue generation, while also opening avenues for enterprising local entrepreneurs in the business of wine making.
“A very important reform which we initiated in the department was to allow local wines to be legalised. As you know, a lot of people are into wine making and there was no policy in the beginning to monitor and to give legal licensing to these different home wine-makers or small-scale winemakers. They use a variety of locally sourced fruits for their products. So not only does it help those entrepreneurs who are making the wine, but it also benefits our fruit farmers who can sell their excess produce to these wine makers. Fruits are perishable products therefore it makes complete sense to promote local wine,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said the that the government is trying to bring further reforms in local wine making by looking at the possibility of levying reduced fees and excise duties for local wines.
“We are also exploring the possibility of making it accessible through many other channels through different retail outlets with minimum license fees so that they may be able to sell these products without really having to go for a full-fledged license,” he added.
Minister of Excise, Kyrmen Shylla, during his address, informed that the new building of the Commissioner of Excise will house the Testing Laboratory of the Meghalaya Excise department for proper checking of all the liquor that are produced in the State as well as the ones imported from outside the State.
Shylla further said that at present 80 percent of the liquor consumed in the State are produced locally in the bottling plant and breweries located in the State but the certification of the same as fit or unfit for human consumption is done at Chemical Examiner, Guwahati, Assam.
He added that the construction of the laboratory in Shillong will enable the department to conduct all the essential tests in the department itself.
The logo of the Meghalaya Department of Excise was also unveiled by the Chief Minister at the function.