For Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan), one way to curb the practice of reselling beer and other alcoholic beverages bought from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service troop store is to impose heavy penalties on erring stores.
Propst said there are confirmed reports of stores that are buying beer from the troop store in Puerto Rico at a cheaper price, then selling the same items to the public without paying the proper taxes.
The lawmaker explained that the military store extends a privilege to enlisted personnel and their immediate relatives that allows them to buy liquor and other items at a discounted price. The items are often sold in large containers and are meant only for personal consumption.
However, some unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of this and have been buying items—particularly beer—in bulk that are then sold to stores. The stores then resell the beer to customers who unwittingly buy the items.
“One of the ways that I am looking at this as far as legislation is concerned is to impose an immediate and heavy penalty to these stores,” said Propst in an interview.
He added that a typical 30-pack beer could be bought from the troop store at $21.50. The same pack would then be sold to retail outlets, with $5 being added to the actual price.
Propst said the retail outlet can then make a nice profit from selling the beer and “cheating the system.”
The lawmaker added that severe fines can be a deterrent to this illegal practice, but there should also be strict enforcement from the police.
Propts said he has initiated talks with businesses on Saipan and military representatives as well to address the concern. “It is unfortunate that the military is well aware of the situation,” Propst said.