Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday asked all liquor distilleries in the state not to stop supply and sought time for the government to look into their grievances.
“It is not fair to go to the extent of stopping supplies,” Chandy said here after the weekly cabinet meeting. “Our government has just taken over. We should be given time to study and address their problems.”
Eleven private distilleries, which together supply 90 percent of all the liquor consumed in the state, had approached Chandy last week and requested him to come to their aid because they were in dire straits after a huge increase in raw material costs.
They have now announced that if the government does not offer them sops like lifting the 7.75 percent discount levied on their payments, they will not book fresh orders from the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC), the sole liquor wholesaler in the state.
The stand taken by the distilleries comes at a time when the state is close to Onam. It is during the Onam holidays, which begin Sep 4 this year, that liquor sells most in Kerala. Last year, these sales were in excess of Rs.250 crore.
Distillery owners point out that the major raw material in brewing liquor is neutral alcohol, whose price recently went up from Rs.32 a litre to Rs.48.
During the fiscal ended March 31, liquor sales touched an all time high of Rs.6,730.30 crore from Rs.5,539.85 crore in 2009-10. The government’s earnings from it went to Rs.5,239 crore from Rs.4,260 crore in 2009-10.
The KSBC buys a 750 ml bottle of liquor for Rs.34 but it is retailed for Rs.250. The last liquor price revision in Kerala was in 2005.
There are 683 bars in Kerala and 383 state-owned shops that sell liquor in the retail market.