Andhra Pradesh switches to restriction from prohibition

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Amaravati, May 30 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Sunday announced a major shift in his government's liquor policy, moving away from prohibition (nishedham) to restriction (niyantrana).

'We will implement restrictions on liquor in a phased manner to protect the families from the evil,' the Chief Minister spelt out in a 16-page booklet released on Sunday, marking his government's second anniversary in office.

Two years ago when he assumed office, Jagan had promised 'liquor prohibition' in a phased manner as it was 'ruining families and destroying human relationships.' The government had taken over the liquor business in the state to 'curb liquor sale' since earning profits was not the motive.

It claimed that the number of retail liquor outlets has been reduced from 4,380 to 2,934 in the last two years.

Now that the government has escrowed revenue from liquor sale and borrowed more than Rs 10,000 crore from various banks, the policy has ostensibly been changed from prohibition to restriction, top official sources pointed out.

Even in the 2021-22 financial year, the AP State Development Corporation is targeting to borrow at least another Rs 16,000 crore for various schemes.

For this again, liquor revenue will be escrowed as guarantee for repayment, the sources said.

In 2020-21 financial year, the government earned Rs 17,600 crore from liquor sale and a similar amount the previous year, after enhancing the rates by more than 125 per cent in two years.

'But consumption of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor is down by 37 per cent and of beer by 70 per cent. It is a most difficult task to earn revenue and reduce consumption at the same time. But we are heading towards it,' a top official told PTI.

He said a lot of leakage has been plugged, keeping the revenue stable despite the reduction in number of shops. PTI DBV VGN ROH ROH

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