Liquor traders in Goa have asked the government to stop issuing any more licences for retail sale of alcohol as the industry has reached “saturation point”.

President of the All Goa Liquor Traders Association, Dattaprasad Naik, said if the proposed hike in excise duty on alcohol mooted in the recent state budget is not withdrawn, the entire industry would collapse.

The government, in its budget 2020-21, had proposed a hike in the excise duty on various liquor brands, including local brew Feni.

According to a PTI report, there are currently 2,000 retail liquor outlets across the state for a population of 15 lakh.

“There is no space for more outlets in the state. The state government should stop giving fresh licences for the next three years, he said, adding the industry has reached “saturation point”.

Naik added, apart from these 2,000 outlets there are 8,000-10,000 bars which sell liquor across the state, a popular tourist destination.

Referring to former chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s amendments in the State Excise Act that makes it mandatory for fresh applicants to have 25-year domicile certificate, Naik said this rule should also be implemented during annual renewal of licences.

Naik said, when licences are taken up for renewal annually, the rule of 25 years of domicile in Goa should be made compulsory so as to stop increasing takeover of the industry by non- Goans.

Speaking about non-Goans involvement in the business, Naik said that several local traders have illegally leased out their premises to non-Goans.

The business was exclusively for Goans, but slowly it is slipping out of their hands. Now, only 75 per cent of the people in this trade are Goans, he commented.

Naik said the taxation proposed in the recent state budget will result in collapse of the industry.

If you see the statistics, only 20 per cent of the liquor sold in Goa is consumed locally, while the rest 80 per cent is carried back home by tourists, he said.

Keeping this in view, the president of the All Goa Liquor Traders Association held a meeting with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant earlier this week and sought a roll-back of the proposed hike in excise duty on liquor.

Sawant has assured a rethink on the proposed hike in liquor tax, he said.

Naik said slabs for low-priced alcohol, proposed in the budget, should be revised, while there should be status quo on high-end liquor. The association also demanded that the local brew Feni should be completely exempted from excise duty.

(With input from agencies)