Karnataka State government orders audit of inventory in liquor shops

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Karnataka State government has ordered the audit of inventory of nearly 10,000 liquor vending outlets in the State. This move has been opposed by the Federation of Wine Merchants’ Association, Karnataka, on the grounds that it will create more confusion.

Since the total ban on liquor came into force from the fourth week of March, as many as 91 cases of thefts in liquor vending outlets have been reported across 24 districts in the State with about 16,000 litres of IML and 5,200 litres of beer allegedly stolen. On charges of violating the lockdown guidelines, 86 liquor licenses have been kept under suspension in 17 districts. “Complaints have been received about license holders transporting liquor despite the premises being sealed and also illegally selling the liquor,” the Excise Commissioner’s order on inventory audit said. It further said that it is now imperative to check the current inventory against the stock that existed before the liquor sale ban came into force to ensure that the license holder has not illegally sold his stock.

The Excise Department has asked its units to ensure that the seal on the outlets is intact, and take an inventory of IML, beer and wine stock in the outlets, and investigate if there are any discrepancy in the stock. “Officials have been asked to file a special report within May 5,” sources said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Wine Merchants’ Association, Karnataka, has said that the audit of inventory will “create confusion” among license holders. In an appeal to the Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, the federation has said that the license holders have already suffered for more than 40 days and this would create anxieties. “Most liquor outlets closed abruptly and book of accounts had not been updated. Many license holders may not even know exact stocks available,” a senior office-bearer of the federation said.