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Jagan Reddy’s new liquor policy: Andhra’s loss could be Telangana’s gain

The YSR Congress party government has decided to cut down the number of liquor outlets and restrict its sale. Under the new policy, which will come into effect from October 1, the number of liquor outlets would be reduced from 4,380 to 3,500, which amounts to downsizing of 20% of such shops.

south Updated: Sep 06, 2019, 04:00 IST
The new excise policy of the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh may well turn out to be a boon for the neighbouring Telangana.
The new excise policy of the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh may well turn out to be a boon for the neighbouring Telangana.(PTI)

The new excise policy of the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh may well turn out to be a boon for the neighbouring Telangana.

The YSR Congress party government has decided to cut down the number of liquor outlets and restrict its sale. Under the new policy, which will come into effect from October 1, the number of liquor outlets would be reduced from 4,380 to 3,500, which amounts to downsizing of 20% of such shops.

Secondly, retail liquor outlets will not be auctioned as was the practice till last year but will be run by state-run Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Limited through its own staff.

More than 500 shops held by private traders have already been taken over by the state government and are being run by the APBCL through its outlets from September 1. The remaining outlets will come under the corporation from next month.

“We have issued a notification on Tuesday for recruitment of accountants and sales staff on outsourcing basis for managing the retail liquor outlets. We shall be creating the infrastructure by September end,” an official of the prohibition and excise department familiar with the development said.

These retail liquor outlets will function for restricted hours – from 10am to 9pm. They will strictly follow the maximum retail price norm and also have to display a banner saying liquor consumption is injurious to health.

Following instructions from the chief minister, the department has already cracked its whip on unauthorised liquor outlets, known as “belt shops” locally, in rural areas.

“This has resulted in a drastic fall in liquor sales in the state. In the month of July, there was a decrease in the sale of 12 lakh cases of liquor (each case contains 12 bottles of liquor of 750ml each), compared to last year,” the official said.

While Andhra Pradesh excise commissioner MM Naik could not be reached for comments, senior Telugu Desam Party leader and former excise minister KS Jawahar said the new excise policy of the Jagan government would prove a disaster.

“Prohibition is by and large a failed concept, as history has proved that people will not give up liquor consumption despite restrictions,” Jawahar said.

Instead, it will cause a big dent in the state revenues in the form of the licence fee, salaries to the outsourced staff running government outlets and fall in excise revenue due to reduced supply of liquor, he said.

On the other hand, the Telangana government is hoping to cash in on the situation in Andhra Pradesh. There are as many as 2,216 licensed retail liquor outlets, 840 bars and 27 clubs in Telangana. Besides, there is a huge number of unauthorised liquor outlets in rural areas.

Telangana excise department officials say the numbers might go up in the coming excise year with effect from October 1 with an increase in districts to 31 to 33, municipalities from 68 to 142 and municipal corporations from six to 13.

“We are yet to work out figures on the increase in the number of liquor outlets. But, there is a demand from the market,” Telangana’s special chief secretary (revenue) and excise commissioner Somesh Kumar said.

Kumar said developments in Andhra might lead to an increase in demand for liquor to some extent in the border districts of Telangana. “If a person is habituated to boozing, he can go to any distance to consume it. It may be within AP or in Telangana,” he said.

Liquor dealers, who would lose their business in Andhra after the government takes over the retail trade, are planning to apply for licences in Telangana. Besides, the Telangana government is also contemplating doubling the application fee from Rs 1 lakh a shop this year.

“This will boost up the excise revenue in Telangana,” another official in the state’s excise department said.

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