Liquor trade too has its quota in AP

In a new experiment, the Andhra Pradesh government has proposed reservations for the weaker sections in the liquor trade.

According to the draft Excise Policy 2012-14, 12 per cent of the retail liquor outlets across the state will be reserved for Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The new policy, to come into effect from 1 July, envisages granting of liquor trade licences through draw of lots instead of the present policy of giving them to the highest bidders.

The proposed quota for weaker sections in liquor business is being projected as an initiative in social empowerment. “When we have reservations for weaker sections in job and education sectors, why not empower them in the commercial sectors as well? On the lines of providing reservation in the small-scale industries, we are proposing reservations in liquor trade,” State Excise Minister K Parthasarathy said.

Another significant feature of the new excise policy is that the government would directly enter retail trade and run the liquor outlets to act as a price regulator. The decision was apparently prompted by widespread criticism over its failure to check illegal liquor trade.

In July 2010, the government had mobilised a whopping Rs 7,000 crore towards licence fee by auctioning 6,596 retail liquor outlets across the state for a two-year period of 2010-12. This was probably the highest licence fee revenue for any state.
There were at least 100 bids in the range of Rs 3 crore to Rs 4.5 crore for each wine shop and about 45 bids above Rs 4.5 crore. AP is among the highest liquor consuming states in the country. The spurt in liquor sales is attributed to the liberal excise policy under which even villages, with a population of 5,000, are allowed bar licenses and liquor permit rooms.

The opposition parties and women’s organisations have slammed the government for opening “floodgates” to liquor trade and playing with the lives of the poor.

“The Congress regime has made excise its main source of revenues. It is trying to convert everyone into an alcoholic. We will start agitation against this policy,”
Telegu Desam Party President and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said.

Meanwhile, the new excise policy would be announced after the declaration of results of the by-elections to 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency on June 15.

The licence fee for wine shops will be fixed based on the population of the area and the licenses will be issued by drawing of lot. It will be a minimum of Rs 27 lakh in an area where the population is below 10,000 to a maximum of Rs 1.27 crore where it is more than 20 lakh.

A separate lottery system will be held to choose licensees among the applicants belonging to SC, ST, and BCs.

Comments (+)