Sales figures reveal that liquor consumption in Kerala dropped during 2020-21, a period marked by the lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak, Minister for Excise M.V. Govindan said in a written reply to the Assembly on Wednesday.
According to the Minister, 205.41 lakh cases of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and 150.13 lakh cases of beer were sold in the State during 2016-17. Sales dropped to 187.22 lakh cases of IMFL and 72.4 lakh cases of beer during 2020-21.
The price of liquor as well as the tax imposed on it determine the Government's revenue from liquor sales. A hike in tax will bring in a higher revenue. A decrease in liquor consumption need not necessarily cause a drop in revenue if taxes have been increased, the Minister said.
During 2016-19, as many as 69,655 cases were registered under the Abkari Act and 23,603 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. After the COVID-19 outbreak, 31,039 cases were registered under the Abkari Act and 6,540 cases under the NDPS Act.
To a related question, Mr. Govindan said the State Government does not believe that the closure of liquor outlets will discourage consumption. The Government's policy is founded on promoting abstinence from alcoholic beverages rather than imposing an outright ban on liquor, he said.
The present LDF Government has not given its approval for opening new outlets for the retail sale of liquor. However, hotels of three stars and above are being issued bar licences as part of promoting tourism, the Minister said.