Lockdown 3.0: Andhra increases liquor prices by another 50%
Admitting that the reopening of liquor shops on Monday led to a chaotic situation, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday increased liquor prices by another 50% with immediate effect, taking the overall increase in the retail prices of liquor to 75% in the last two days.
On Monday, the first day of resumption of retail liquor sale, the state government increased the liquor prices by 25% by imposing an additional retail excise tax on all brands of liquor.
“The steep hike in liquor prices is to discourage the consumption of alcohol by the people, as part of implementing prohibition in the state in a phased manner and preventing heavy rush at liquor outlets,” special chief secretary (excise) Rajath Bhargava said.
An official release from the chief minister’s office said apart from an additional hike of 50%, in addition to the 25% increase of rates in liquor prices, the number of shops would also be slashed by 15% by end of May.
At present, there are 3,468 retail outlets in the state. Of them, just around 500 located in containment areas and inside malls are closed. All these outlets are being run by the state excise department.
The official release admitted that hours after the shops opened on Monday, thousands of people turned up in long queues without following social distancing guidelines.
“Controlling the public has become a herculean task amidst the spread of Covid-19. In order to discourage people from consuming liquor, the government increased the prices by 75% on the lines of Delhi government, which hiked the prices by 70%,” it said.
The state government also decided to open liquor outlets from 11am till 8pm.
Reviewing the situation at an official meeting, chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy instructed that the police department take an active charge in controlling the flow of liquor from other states and illicit liquor.
The reopening of liquor shops on Monday, in tune with the central government guidelines last week relaxing lockdown norms in green and orange zone districts and non-containment areas of red zones, drew large crowds on Monday. There were, however, protests from women in parts of Nellore and Visakhapatnam districts.
“On the first day, the state earned around Rs 68 crore through liquor sales. On the second day, it is expected to be more as the prices have been increased further and the duration of the shop has been extended by an hour — up to 8pm, instead of 7pm,” a senior official in the excise department said.