Thiruvananthapuram– The Kerala government is all set to tweak the much-debated liquor policy of the previous Oommen Chandy government, a state minister said on Thursday.
State Minister for Excise T.P. Ramakrishnan said: “We are very clear on what the policy should be. It will come into effect from the next fiscal year.”
Ramakrishnan is a senior CPI-M leader and a close aide of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Talking about the likely changes in the tweaked liquor policy, he said: “Whenever our policy is announced, it will be one that lays emphasis on the policy of abstinence and not total prohibition, which the last government’s policy stressed upon.”
The Chandy government had laid out a road map to take the state towards total prohibition by 2023.
As a first step, it decided to allow only some two dozen bars to operate in five-star hotels across the state, which led to the closure of more than 700 bars operating in other starred hotels and restaurants.
It also decided to close down 10 per cent of the retail liquor vends every October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti) starting October 2014. Currently, there are 338 retail liquor vends in the state, all of which are run by the state government.
“We have now decided that this October 2, not a single retail liquor vend would be closed,” Ramakrishnan added.
Had Ramakrishnan carried forward the policy of the Chandy government, which came in force on April 1 this year, 38 retail vends would have had to down their shutters on October 2.
“We looked into the figures and found that liquor sales have not gone down, instead they have gone up. Our policy is being worked upon and it would have specific policies to see that the message of abstinence is sent out very strongly,” said Ramakrishnan.