International liquor firms upset with Kerala’s policy: Congress

Thiruvananthapuram : International liquor companies and the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), supported by major producers of alcohol, are upset with the Kerala government’s new liquor policy, the ruling Congress party said Wednesday.

After a meeting of the state Congress party, president V.M. Sudheeran said the decision by the Kerala government to achieve full prohibition in the state in 10 years has shocked these liquor companies.

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“India and especially Kerala are huge potential markets for these liquor companies and it’s quite natural they will go to any extent to see that our new policy does not go as planned and they will do everything what they can to subvert this,” said Sudheeran.

Last month the Oommen Chandy government announced its new liquor policy which aims at achieving complete prohibition in the state by Oct 2, 2023.

“The policy that has been announced is not negotiable and there would be no re-look into it. It was the unanimous decision of the Congress-led United Democratic Front and there is no reason to believe that there was undue haste in arriving at this decision,” added Chandy.

According to the new policy, all the 710 bars will have to close down by Sep 12. Of these, 418 have not opened since the beginning of this fiscal and hence the remaining will have to down their shutters.

Nearly 600 owners of these 710 bars have approached the Supreme Court and when the case came up for hearing Wednesday, the court asked why is that the five-star hotels are allowed to function when the other bars are closed.

The court has posted the case for Thursday and has asked the state government to maintain status quo till then.

Meanwhile, the Gtech Group of companies representing all the IT companies in the state have written to Chandy that the new liquor policy will be detrimental to the IT industry here.

Its chairman V.K. Mathews has told Chandy that no IT company of consequence will plan to set up their facilities in a state which has such archaic regulations.

While Sudheeran and Chandy have made it clear that there is no question of going back, a few allies of the United Democratic Front (UDF) have said that such a tough policy should not have been taken.

The UDF is meeting here Thursday.