Tipplers in Tamil Nadu out for a good drink this festive season are in for some disappointing news.
The Tamil Nadu government has decided to increase liquor prices at a Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, in a move that authorities say will add Rs 5,320 crore to the state's coffers.
The increase in price ranges between Rs 10 and Rs 12 per bottle (180ml) across Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor (IMFL) brands -ordinary, medium and premium.
A government official said an order in this regard would be issued any time. “We are waiting for the approval to release the order,” the Hindu quoted him saying.
Ordinary liquor (a quarter bottle), which is now sold at Rs 88 will bear a price tag of Rs 100. Medium liquor will go up to Rs 110 from Rs 100 and premium liquor with a price range from Rs 120 to Rs 380 will see an increase of Rs 10 in the current bill. Beer bottles will cost Rs 10 more than the current price.
The last hike was made in November 2014. In the run-up to the 2016 Assembly elections, most parties, including the AIADMK, pledged to enact a liquor ban in the state. AIADMK members said that sale of liquor will be phased out soon.
The late chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa, after being sworn in as the chief minister, had ordered shutting down 500 TASMAC outlets, and reduction in the working hours of remaining outlets by 2 hours.
Only the government-owned TASMAC is authorised to sell liquor in Tamil Nadu. In 2015-2016, the company earned Rs 25,000 crore in revenue.
The Supreme Court order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of the national and state highways has already dented Tasmac revenue by 7% in the last six months, sources said. This loss is estimated at Rs 1,000 crore. In all, 3,321 retail vending shops had to be shut down in April due to the court order, but Tasmac could manage to resume business by relocating 2,300 shops.
On an average, Tasmac sells liquor worth about Rs 70 crore a day on weekdays. During weekends and festive days, this figure goes up to Rs 100 crore.
Customers are unhappy about this decision by the government. Many claim that liquor is the best option to unwind after a long day of work and that the government is taking away their one source of merriment.