Plan is to regulate consumption than prohibition
Is the Andhra Pradesh government mulling significant changes in the liquor policy? Is the focus now shifting from prohibition in a phased manner to regulation in consumption?
The answers seem to be in the affirmative, and the government is expected to make an announcement soon.
There could be two possible reasons behind the shift in the liquor policy.
Firstly, the high price of liquor brands is opening the doors for illegal smuggling across the border. In spite of many enforcement measures such as constitution of the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB), there is rampant smuggling of liquor. Secondly, the demand for beer is expected to go up significantly as summer sets in.
The significant loss of revenue to the exchequer and the perilous financial situation in the State could be other reasons.
Though no decision has been taken in this regard, sources say that the government may soon take a call on this.
Soon after the YSRCP formed the government, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced a graded prohibition as consumption of liquor was leading to many evils in society.
The Chief Minister had said that liquor prices would be jacked up by 75% and the number of shops would be gradually reduced. He had also ordered that all permit rooms and belt shops be disbanded. He had also directed that the business hours be reduced from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The policy decision had reduced the consumption of liquor. The sale of IMFL from April to December 2020 was 126.55 lakh cases against 239.56 lakh cases during the corresponding period in 2019, a drop of 47.17%.
The sale of beer in 2020 had also gone down to 126.55 lakh bottles against 186.36 lakh cases in 2019, resulting in 80.91% dip in consumption.
The number of liquor shops were reduced by 33%, from 4,380 to 2,934. In all, 43,000 belt shops had been closed.
However, the government is mulling significant changes, and the first announcement may be on the prices of beer as summer sets in.
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