Local Goa News

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Govt under fire for liquor nods to foreigners

Porvorim : Chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar during Wednesday's session of the assembly, was cornered by the opposition and as well as BJP MLA Michael Lobo over liquor licences issued to foreigners in these last four years.

Lobo said the government had issued a liquor licence to a foreigner operating a night club on an agricultural land in Arpora and demanded that it be immediately cancelled.
Lobo said it was illegal under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) during the question hour.
Parsekar told the House that since 2013 three foreign nationals had been issued excise licenses, two in North Goa, and the third to Norman Steel and Carol Steel - UK nationals operating from Loutolim in South Goa. He said that he issued one licence in 2015 on the basis of the two others issued earlier.
Sources said that licences to foreigners are given by the government, meaning the finance minister under whose jurisdiction excise falls. In Goa, the finance portfolio is usually held by the chief minister.
Lashing out at the government, Lobo said locals have to run from pillar to post to get any licence and wondered how a foreigner could be issued an excise licence, especially since under the FEMA no foreigner can purchase agricultural land in the country. The granting of excise license to the Arpora nightclub, run by a foreigner, is illegal, he maintained, stating that he was making the statement after speaking with former advocate general of Goa.
Chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, in his reply, said, the license was issued to Gregory Daniel Shah, a German national who holds a PIO card. The reply failed to impress Lobo, who reiterated his demand for suspension of excise license to the foreigner.
Lobo was supported by Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai and Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte.
Goa Vikas Party (GVP) MLA Francisco Pacheco also criticized the government for granting liquor licenses to foreigners and demanded that the license issued to British nationals in Loutolim, which is part of his constituency, be suspended. Opposition leader Pratapsingh Rane demanded half-an-hour discussion on the issue.
Parsekar said opinion of the law department would be sought as to whether a PIO card holder could be granted an excise license or not. "The license will be suspended the minute it is proved that it was illegally issued," said Parsekar and added that the Goa government will shortly modify its excise rules to make it difficult for non-Goans to run liquor business in the state.
The change will be probably be carried out before the conclusion of the ongoing monsoon session the CM said.
The requirement of 15-year residence certificate for obtaining excise license will be extended to 25 years.
Parsekar, who represents a constituency in the coastal belt, Mandrem, said many Goans rent their places to foreigners and others when promised high rent. "They are quiet content to earn Rs 2-3 lakh as rent," Parsekar said. In reality, the person who runs the business makes the profit he said and added "Goans need to introspect on this".
Parsekar said they have now sought to change Excise Rules, and probably, it would be done before conclusion of ongoing monsoon session.

TOI Goa News

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