LAHORE - Illegal sale of liquor of worth millions of rupees is on rise in the province with the connivance of senior Excise and Taxation (E&T) officers while officers who raise voice against the illegal practice are made and example, well placed sources in the E&T told The Nation.

They said that Excise officials with the connivance of Hotels management were selling 30 times more than the approved quantity of liquor in Punjab. A senior officer of E&T privy to development, seeking anonymity said that staff of Murree Brewery liquor manufacturing factory was manufacturing as much liquor a day as was supposed to be produced within the whole month. Sources were of the view that Excise officers were involved in corruption on the pretext revenue generation.  Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif had directed a former Secretary Excise, Shahid Ashraf Tarar to control corruption and illegal sale of liquor in the province since it was bringing bad name to the government. The CM had rejected such ill gotten revenue in the past.

Well placed sources claimed that a former Director, Headquarter E&T, Raja Mansoor and former DG Hamayun Mazhar Shaikh were involved in illegal sale of liquor. During fiscal year 2012-13 an Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO), Muhammad Ali Naveed who stood on number five among top ten best performer officers regarding revenue recovery was posted at Rawalpindi for his reputation and performance. Since liquor manufacturing factory Murree Brewery and four hotels of Rawalpindi and Murree fell under his jurisdiction he visited hotels and the factory stopping illegal sale of liquor. On which Hamayun Mazhar Shaikh then DG E&T asked him not to visit the said venues and keep mum over the illegal business. The ETO remained unmoved and did not allow illegal sale of liquor. In the mean while DG asked him to sign some illegal permits of liquor but on his refusal he was taught a lesson by the DG as he was made a rolling stone on the pretext of transfer postings among various districts of the province. First of all he was transferred from Rawalpindi and posted at Chakwal district and then transferred and posted at Attock and now a days he was performing at district Nankana Sahib.

Though then Secretary Excise, Shahid Ashraf Tarar called explanation from DG E&T that on what grounds the said officer was being transferred. In Lahore Assistant Excise and Taxation Officers (AETOs) are to assist ETO in Excise branch to look after four bars of different hotels like PC, Avari, Hospitality Inn and Ambassador but in the recent past these posts have been abolished and only one ETO Khalid Bajwa was performing duty on four bars. An officer of E&T said that objective behind the abolition of posts was to curtail the share of ill gotten money which was going to four officers also. Now only ETO was collecting money and passing it on. Sources revealed that Khalid Bajwa was almost transferred three times but he managed to get his transfer cancelled. Sources in the E&T said that Khalid Bajwa was an influential and well connected officer due to which his transfer orders get cancelled.

As per statistics of E&T there were 13921 permits issued to Christian and non Muslims and against every permit Excise could issue six bottles per month. But unfortunately here millions of bottles are being manufactured a month only with the connivance of excise officers. One permit was repeatedly being used for the issuance of illegal liquor bottles and then it was also being used in different districts of the province.

The Excise receives Rs225 as vent fee against the sale of every 756ml bottle of liquor while Rs32 against sale of Beer cane. Though current DG, E&T, Naseem Sadiq is widely known for his uprightness but perhaps he was busy in improvement of other section of E&T department like Motor Transport, Property  Tax and others that is why Excise branch was bringing bad name to E&T department. This scribe repeatedly tried to contact DG, E&T but his cell phone remained unattended.

Then a message was sent on his cell phone with request to talk but no response was received. Khalid Bajwa was also contacted more than once to know his view point over the issue but his cell phone also remained unattended.