Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 24 :
Sales have fallen with the new liquor policy being in force in Kerala since September, a minister said Friday.
Excise Minister K. Babu told reporters that ever since the Congress-led UDF government assumed office in 2011, the rate of growth of liquor sales, which stood at 21 percent, has been steadily coming down and it became negative last year.
“With the figures now out for the first half year of the current fiscal, the total liquor sale has dropped by four percent as compared to the same period in the previous fiscal. Our anti-liquor campaign has gone down well,” said Babu.
Releasing the half-yearly figures, Babu said 116.15 lakh cases were sold during April-Sep 2014 as against 120.70 lakh cases during April-Sept 2013. Sale of beer also fell from 50.63 lakh cases to 46.94 lakh cases during the same period.
“The sale value in rupee terms might have gone up because there was an increase in liquor price and also because an additional five percent cess has been introduced,” said Babu.
The new liquor policy of allows only the five-star hotels in Kerala to run bars, and order closure of all the 710 (418 did not open this fiscal following non-renewal of license) bars in the state.
The policy also decided to close down 10 percent of the 383 state-owned retail liquor outlets every year and decided to make all Sundays as dry days, with the aim of making Kerala a dry state by Oct 2, 2023.
Following this the Bar Owners Association approached the Supreme Court which directed the Kerala High Court to take the final call.
The verdict of the high court on the fate of remaining 292 bars is expected shortly.
Government is in talks with the trade union leaders to work out a rehabilitation programme for the 7463 employees rendered jobless after 418 bars did not reopen this fiscal, Babu said.
“We have asked them for suggestions and there would be another meeting to finalise the package,” said Babu.