COVID-19: Kerala's liquor shops open for revenue?

COVID-19: Kerala's liquor shops open for revenue?

Representative image.

Despite the escalating alert against COVID-19 in Kerala and the state government calling for restrictions at public gatherings like festivals, malls, and theatres, the government is turning down the plea for pulling shutters of the liquor outlets and bars in the state.

This has triggered speculations if the impressive revenue from liquor sales was deterring the government from plugging liquor sales even as such a demand has come up even from the workers at the liquor outlets.

The steadily increasing revenue from liquor sales has been a major source of income for the state exchequer. The total annual turnover of liquor sales in Kerala during 2018-19 reached an all-time high of Rs. 14,508 crore and the revenue of the government from state excise during the period was Rs. 2,521 crore.

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The revenue estimate from state excise for the current fiscal ending this month is Rs. 2,609 crore. Kerala has around 300 retail liquor outlets, 598 bars and 357 beer and wine parlours.

Sources at Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which is the sole distributor of liquor, beer, and wine in Kerala, said that there was not much fall in liquor sales after the COVID-19 alerts.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran and various outfits like the anti-liquor forum of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council had demanded that the liquor outlets should be shut. But Kerala government has rejected the demand with the state excise minister T P Ramakrishnan maintaining on Saturday that there was no need to shut liquor shops or any other shops in Kerala.

Meanwhile, a fake campaign that liquor consumption is a good resistance against coronavirus is also going on in Kerala.

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