The liquor policy introduced by the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh, which was claimed to be aimed at reducing consumption of liquor in the state, is undergoing frequent changes.
Initially, the government drastically reduced the number of liquor shops and bars. The government also took over liquor business stating that this would eliminate the business of belt shops in rural areas.
Subsequently, the government abnormally increased the liquor prices up to 75 per cent, hoping that it would bring down the liquor consumption in the state. It also imposed restrictions on people stating that one cannot possess more than three bottles.
All these measures have apparently failed to yield any result. Instead, it resulted in large scale smuggling of liquor from the neigbouring states. Since the government itself has permitted a person to bring three bottles of liquor, people started purchasing liquor bottles at cheaper rates in neighbouring states and bringing them royally to AP.
This has not only caused huge loss to the state exchequer, but also defeated the very objective of Jagan to impose gradual prohibition in the state. So, recently, it banned tax free liquor import from neighbouring states.
And on Thursday, the Jagan government came up with yet another order, drastically reducing the prices of Indian Made Foreign Liquor and other high value liquor brands.
The reduction in prices of these liquor brands ranged from Rs 50 per 180 ml to Rs 1,350 per bottle. The new rates will come into force with effect from Friday, a government order said.
The government defended its decision stating that it was aimed at smuggling of high-value brands from other states as pointed out by the Special Enforcement Bureau in its report.
An analysis of the inflow of illegal liquor into State of Andhra Pradesh during the one month period from September 15 to October 15 revealed that 1,211 cases of smuggling have been registered, out of which 630 cases were in respect of smuggling from Telangana, 546 cases in respect of Karnataka, 24 cases in respect of Odissa and 11 cases in respect of Tamil Nadu.
The most smuggled liquor brands are in the category of medium and premium segments. The report points to the large difference between the MRPs of medium and premium liquor brands, observing that the prices of some brands of liquor in A.P. are more than double the MRPs prevailing in Telangana and Karnataka.
“The report therefore suggests to reduce the MRPs of medium and premium brands of liquor so as to prevent smuggling of liquor in these segments and consequent drain of the revenues of the State,” the order said.