The Punjab Excise Department has shown deteriorating performance over the past few years due to a lack of workforce and non-existence of transfers within the department, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Consequently, several posh hotels are increasingly making illegal alcohol sales to consumers while the officials stand unable to take any action against them causing the department’s revenue to decline.
According to sources, the department used to have four assistants for every excise officer to maintain proper records of alcohol sale from officially designated points, but, at present, sources claimed that the excise officer is working alone, which has overburdened the department.
The past five years have seen an exponential increase in alcohol sales from private hotels due to the department’s inefficiency, sources said. Officials get posted to stations of their choice and most of the time stage fake raids to enhance their performance on record, claimed sources.
They often sell the confiscated alcohol to peddlers, adding water to it. The department has not raided any of the famous hotels that are selling alcohol beyond the prescribed time nor has it taken any steps to check their records, said sources, adding that most of these hotels have outdated or fake licenses permitting sale which have become a major source of illegal income for the officers from the department.
The bar-room personnel indulge in illegal sales with due knowledge of the hotel management. The excise officials are also hand in glove with them which is why no action is taken against them,” a bootlegger standing outside the bar room of a posh hotel on The Mall confided in Pakistan Today. He said that last year the excise department and managements of the four hotels had a major standoff over “cuts” from liquor sold to non-permit holders.
“The excise department started delaying issuance of permits to entitled persons and started making frequent raids at the hotels to pressurise the bar room managers. The bar room personnel resorted to charging exorbitant prices from the consumers. After a couple of months, the two sides were able to come up with a distribution formula and it is business as usual now,” he said.
A bar room manager of a local hotel refused to comment on the illegal liquor sale but said that excise officials often employ various tactics to extort money from them. “No hotel can refuse excise officials’ demand for free rooms and alcohol, yet their hunger for more money does get on our nerves sometimes,” he said.
Talking to Pakistan Today, excise minister’s PRO said if any application against excise department officer is submitted involved in this matter, the minister will take proper action against the particular individual.
Director General Excise & Taxation Akram Gondal when contacted for his point of view he hung up on your correspondent without any answer.