The devastating floods that wrecked the state of Kerala, however, failed to cast its shadow on liquor sales that witnessed a soaring revenue.
The latest figures reveal that the alcohol sales from the outlets of Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) and Consumerfed in the fiscal year 2018-19 registered a revenue of Rs 14,508 crores, the highest ever.
The Kerala government, to partly compensate for the loss from the plantation, tourism and Onam trade sectors due to the floods, had hiked the excise duty on liquor by 0.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent for 100 days during Onam. The famous love affair of the people of Kerala with alcohol has contributed more than Rs 11,000 crore to the state’s exchequer last year.
Incidentally, the highest sales value of BEVCO was reported in August last year, the month when the state was hit by devastating floods, when liquor sales touched Rs 1264.69 crore.
The Left government had reversed the previous Congress-led government’s decision to shut all bars expect those in five-star hotels. The new policy of the state government allows two and three-star hotels to serve liquor, and new bars will be allowed to apply for licenses.
In India, consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, and Nagaland, as well as in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. There is a partial ban on alcohol in some districts of Manipur as well. In contrast to this, the state government of Kerala “believes in restraint and not prohibition”.
The new policy of the state government has clearly contributed to the rise in alcohol sale in FY 2018-19, where a jump of Rs 1,567.58 crore from 2017-18 has been recorded. The quantity of liquor sales last year was 216.34 lakh cases, with 450 hotels operating with liquor sale license (FL111). The rise in sales figure was seen in the case of beer as well, where 121.12 lakh cases of beer were sold last year. The sales figures show a pattern of continued increase in growth of liquor sales in the state since 1984-85, where the revenue was just Rs 55.46 crores.
The figures also reveal that brandy was the most sought after alcohol beverage among the tipplers that was followed by rum and vodka. McDowell’s Number 1 emerged as the winner in the race as the most sold brand.