Discussion on to lift ban on liquor: CM Biren
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, August 01 2022: Stating that discussions are being held to withdraw the liquor ban in the state, Chief Minister N Biren Singh informed the assembly that if liquor were to be legalised and sold, the state could earn revenue of Rs 600-700 crore a year inclusive of excise duty, value added tax and license/permit fee.

Responding to opposition MLA K Ranjit's question on sale of liquor during Monday's sitting of the ongoing Assembly session, CM Biren said that The Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Second amendment) Bill, 2018 (2018 bill no 9) was introduced during the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly for sale of Manipur's indigenously produced liquor outside the state.

However, the Bill has now lapsed and discussions are being held on the matter at present.

MLA K Ranjit then asked a supplementary question, remarking that despite being a dry state, both local and foreign made liquor are sold indiscriminately in the state.

As such, what is the benefit of imposing a ban on sale of liquor in the state, and when did the government start thinking about revoking the ban, he questioned, while further asking how long the process is going to take.

The MLA further said that sentiments of the people regarding the sale of liquor for some amount of money are well known.

Thus, he questioned whether the government is planning to talk with the stakeholders who are in support of the ban.

Moreover, locally brewed alcohol of Sekmai and Andro is being sold in neatly sealed bottles, with the label 'Not for Sale in Manipur'.

Hence, he asked whether the government had approved the sale of the above and whether it is planning to reintroduce The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill, 2018 in the House.

In response, CM N Biren stated that despite being a dry state, the Excise Department handles around 3200 cases a year.

Liquor has become a common sight in most major festivals/occasions across the valley, which in turn has led to increasing cases of liver disease, some of which have been fatal and made women widows.

The government's plan to legalise liquor is not just for increasing revenue, as there are many other ways to increase the revenue.

But the effects of liquor are high and as such, the cabinet had held discussions twice in this regard.

Biren continued that after The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill was introduced, a committee was formed for monitoring.

Many brew liquor in the name of tradition while making a business of the same on the side.

If this is legalised, an expert company could assist in proper brewing of the liquor and exporting the same legally.

The Committee had submitted a report supporting the legalization but the Bill lapsed due to the end of the previous term.

In the matter of the sale of the sealed bottles, the government has not given its approval, he clarified.

The CM then said that keeping aside the revenue aspect, since the ban on liquor has not been effective, alternative methods must be considered to ensure supply of only unadulterated liquor and save precious human lives.

The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act of 1991 and 1994 could be extended by the government and notice issued on the same from time to time, as per an Act.

However, due to this Act, the state cabinet either can introduce or lift the ban.

Thus, the existing rules can be legalised without having to introduce the same in the form of a Bill, he added.

He then urged the state CSOs and NGOs to consider the bigger picture and support the government's decision on the matter, while informing the House that the Government is in talks with those opposing the legalization, making them aware of both the advantages and disadvantages.

Replying to a question on GST by opposition MLA Surjakumar Okram, CM N Biren said that after GST was implemented in 2017, around Rs 366.17 crore has been collected till date.

In context of Manipur, the pre-GST revenue in 2016-17 was Rs 499 crore.

But post GST, the revenue in 2021-22 was Rs 1135.25 crore.

In the last 5 years, the GST has increased to around 127 percent.

The implementation of GST does not impact the revenue of the state and as such, there is no need for the central government to compensate the state government.

Responding to MLA LM Khaute's question on the higher education courses in Churachandpur and Lamka Colleges, Education minister Th Basantakumar said that process is underway to open MA, M Sc, BCA, BBA, Physical Education and Paramedical Courses in Churachandpur College and Lamka College, Churachandpur College has applied for introducing Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) from the academic session 2023-24, while Lamka College can apply for the same after obtaining a valid NAAC score.

Around 39 government colleges in the state now have wi-fi connections but no formal step has been taken up for schools at the moment, he informed.

The minister further informed the House that the government is discussing setting up of a state university and transfer the affiliations of all colleges in the state from Manipur University to the state university.

As MU is a central university, the colleges in the state have a difficult time in following the guideline.

Thus, once the state university is set up, all colleges in the valley and hill districts, which are affiliated to MU, will be transferred to the former, he added.

Replying to MLA Md Ashab Uddin's question on Latingkhang High School, the education minister said that the School (Class VI-X), which is under ZEO Jiribam, has 6 teaching staff but no non-teaching staff.

As of now, 154 students are enrolled for the current session.

Basantakumar then said that the major issue of the schools in Manipur is shortage of teachers.

Although teachers are utilised in different schools, an order has been issued for the teachers to go back to their respective schools.

Thus, an inquiry will be conducted whether the teachers of Laitingkhal High School, who were utilised at other schools, have returned or not, and disciplinary action will be initiated if not done so.

MLA Md Ashab Uddin then asked a supplementary question and urged for taking up steps to teach Meetei Mayek as a compulsory subject in all schools of Jiribam district, while informing the House that as the MIL (Bengali) book taught in Manipur is published by Assam Board, it contains more information about Assam.

Thus, he urged for taking up requisite steps to publish the subject through Manipur Board so that it may help inform the students about Manipur's rich culture and history.

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