SHILLONG: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has recommended the introduction of robust mechanisms for the issuance of sales permits to bonded warehouses in Meghalaya.
Asserting that such a measure will ensure proper stock verification of warehouses before permits are issued, the apex audit institution urged the government to strengthen the procedure of permit issuance.
The recommendation came after the CAG unearthed fraudulent activities by two bonded warehouses in Shillong, which led to a shortfall of excise duty amounting to Rs 1.87 crore. This was detailed in the CAG’s report on the revenue sector for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2022.
Detailed scrutiny of records from June 2020 and October-November 2022 brought to light discrepancies in the procurement and sale of rum. It was reported that two bonded warehouses – M/s Ram Bonded Warehouse and M/s VW Bonded Warehouse – had falsely inflated their sales of rum at concessional rates of excise duty to canteen licensees. This inflated reporting spanned from April 1, 2015, to December 19, 2017.
Digging deeper, the CAG found that the said warehouses inflated their sales by 45,291 cases and 13,170 cases respectively. This deceit led to evasion of excise duty of Rs 1.45 crore and Rs 0.42 crore for the two warehouses.
The report further highlighted the laxity of the excise department in overseeing these activities. The department reportedly issued sale permits without proper verification and neglected to conduct regular stock-taking, allowing the warehouses to exploit loopholes and report higher sales figures.
When the matter was presented to the government in October 2021 and again in December 2022, responses in February 2023 confirmed that M/s VW Bonded Warehouse has remitted the full owed amount of Rs 42 lakh. However, there remains an ambiguity surrounding the recovery from M/s Ram Bonded Warehouse as of March 2023.