The move of the State government to hand over the responsibility of managing depots of Karnataka State Breweries Corporation Ltd. (KSBCL) to Excise Department officials has been opposed by the liquor trade body, arguing that it would only increase corruption.
Earlier last week, the Finance Department approved the proposal to scrap the posts of the KSBCL depot manager and post excise officials. It approved upgrading 25 posts of excise inspector to deputy superintendent of excise, and post them as depot managers. The Excise Department has proposed the changes citing that it could save the department about ₹2.5 crore annually, and address the shortage of manpower.
“The KSBCL that supplies liquor to all liquor vending businesses is also a liquor licence holder and excise officials have the power to inspect the KSBCL depots. How can those with powers of inspection be deputed to manage the depots? Is it not a conflict of interest?” asked B. Govindaraj Hedge, general secretary of the Federation of Wine Merchants Association Karnataka.
“If there is a shortage of manpower in the KSBCL, officials from other departments can be deputed. Excise officials are there to regulate the excise laws and not licence holders,” he argued.
In a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Excise Minister Gopalaiah, the federation has expressed its reservation over such postings, and feared that it could lead to large-scale corruption by excise officials posted in the depots.