Guwahati, March 9: A section of legislators in Meghalaya Assembly today advocated for legalising the locally-brewed rice beer to generate more revenue from liquor as well as employment avenues.
The deliberation on the issue was started on a subtle note by Mawphlang, MLA, S K Sunn who sought to know rates of the different brands of IMFL sold in the state and respective slabs of excise duty and revenue collected from the Excise Minister, Kyrmen Shylla.
The Excise Minister replied that the revenue collected by the department from excise duty on IMFL during 2017-2018 was 199.30 crore, 2018-2019 was 226.21 crore, 2019-2020 was 276.27 crore and ,2020 up to January 2021 268.79 crore.
Sunn then questioned the difference between rum (IMFL) consumption and rice consumption which prompted Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to intervene saying that the discussion was being led to a different direction as rum is liquor and its consumption is optional while rice is a staple food of the state.
Sunn countered stating that his point is rice produced in plenty in the State and why don't the State government allows legalisation of local brew from fermented rice and generate revenue and employment.
The Chief Minister clarified that Meghalaya produces about 3 lakh metric tons of rice per year while it consumes 4 lakh metric tons per year.
“There is a clear shortage of 1 lakh metric ton of rice required by the state and keeping that in mind if we were to divert rice and push it for brewery it will affect availability of the primary and staple diet," he said.