‘There is a 40% reduction in liquor consumption in the State in one month of its rollout’
The new excise policy has yielded a positive result. Besides putting an end to irregularities and unethical practices, it has significantly brought down liquor consumption, says Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Excise and Commercial Taxes K. Narayana Swamy.
“Liquor trade has been completely streamlined since the announcement of the policy on October 1. The first step towards implementing total prohibition, as promised in the YSRCP manifesto, has been taken,” Mr. Narayana Swamy said in an interview to The Hindu.
“The YSRCP government will not consider sale of liquor as a means of revenue. It has rolled out the new policy knowing well that it will lose substantial income. The reduced consumption is a reflection of the initial success of the policy,” the Minister said. As per statistics, the number of cases of liquor and beer sold in October 2019 was 33.55 lakh against 56.14 lakh sold during the corresponding period in 2018, which was a 40% decrease in consumption.
In terms of revenue, the A.P. State Beverages Corporation Limited incurred a loss of ₹70 crore (5%) as it netted ₹1,624 crore in October 2019 against ₹1,703 crore during the corresponding period in 2018. “After closure of all belt shops, liquor is now available only in the 4,380 government-run wine shops and bars. The nuisance of tipplers at the permit rooms and areas close to it is a thing of the past. All the wine shops will be brought under electronic surveillance in phases,” the Minister said.
“The number of wine shops will be reduced by 20% every year. An action plan to streamline the bars will be announced by the Chief Minister soon,” Mr. Narayana Swamy said.
Certain employees were still indulging in unethical practices, the Minister said, and added, “All such officers are under watch. Disciplinary action will be initiated against them. A majority of the officers and employees are doing their best.”
Officials had been asked to ensure that the wine shops were located close to the bars, he said.
The idea was to discourage people from going to the bars, where the possibility of fleecing customers was high, he said.
“We have found that some bars are selling liquor parcels for cheaper price. Such bars under scanner and they will be seized,” the Minister said.
“District Collectors have been asked to provide an alternative source of livelihood to the people dependent on illicit liquor trade. The number of de-addiction centres will also be increased gradually,” he said.
Drive against ganja
Referring to ganja consumption at educational institutions, Mr. Narayana Swamy said that committees would be constituted in colleges to identify the students addicted to the vice and the peddlers, and get rid of the menace with the help of the department.
“To address the issue of ganja cultivation, the government will discuss with the neighbouring States,” the Minister informed.
To streamline and improve Commercial Taxes collection, the department would undertake a street survey. Officials would visit the the business units in person and assess the details.
“We have found units quoting lesser turnover and production capacity to avoid tax. Such practices will be exposed during the survey,” he said. More