Amid Financial Crisis, Kerala Officials Recommend Observing No Dry Days In State

Amid Financial Crisis, Kerala Officials Recommend Observing No Dry Days In State

Abolishing dry days has been recommended in a meeting held by Chief Secretary V Venu with top financial experts in the bureaucracy to shore up revenues.

Shankar RajUpdated: Thursday, May 23, 2024, 03:05 PM IST
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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has decided to tweak its liquor policy by abolishing dry days. The decision has been taken against the backdrop of the state's precarious financial position.

Abolishing dry days has been recommended in a meeting held by Chief Secretary V Venu with top financial experts in the bureaucracy to shore up revenues. The state could generate an additional Rs15,000 crore in revenue if dry days are abolished, according to estimates and the move would also help boost tourism and MICE (meetings, industries, conferences, and exhibitions) activities.

However, trying to earn more money by creating more liquor addicts is no way to sustain an economy however precarious the situation is, according to experts.

At present, liquor is not sold at retail shops or bars and hotels in Kerala on the first day of every month. This is in line with a system introduced in 2003 by AK Antony when he was the chief minister.

Delay In Announcement Of The New Policy

The new policy has not been announced yet because the model code of conduct is in force for the Lok Sabha elections. With no major industries to boast of, Kerala depends on two 'Ls' liquor and lottery to keep its finances in good health. In the last fiscal liquor taxes and levies generated a staggering Rs16,609.63 crore, up from Rs16,189.55 crore in 2022-23.

Experts contend that if people in Kerala decide to keep away from liquor for a week, it will lead to financial disaster.

The sale of liquor and beer in Kerala during the 2023-24 financial year touched Rs19,088.68 crore, up from Rs18,510.98 crore in 2022-23. Liquor is sold through 277 retail outlets owned by the State Beverages Corporation, and the state-backed cooperative organisation Consumerfed also has 39 retail outlets.

The profile of liquor consumers in Kerala reveals that around 32.9 lakh people out of the 3.34 crore population in the state consume liquor, which includes 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women. Around five lakh people consume liquor daily. Of this, around 83,851 people including 1,043 women are addicted to alcohol.

Another recommendation is to increase the production of low priced liquor as the buyers are mostly labourers who wind up the day’s work with liquor.

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