‘Opening of State-owned outlets a step in that direction’
Deputy Chief Minister (Excise and Commercial Taxes) K. Narayana Swamy reiterated that the government was committed to total liquor prohibition in a phased manner and the opening of government-owned outlets was a significant step in that direction.
He claimed that the number of liquor shops came down to 2,934 from the previous 4,380 and around 43,000 belt shops and over 4,000 permit rooms were removed in an unprecedented move. The number of liquor shops and bars had already been reduced by 33%, he stated.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Narayana Swamy said that the government formed a Special Enforcement Bureau to crack down on illicit liquor businesses.
Since May 2020, the SEB filed 14,689 cases and arrested 2,00,786 people and seized 51,103 vehicles for transporting illegal liquor. A total of 7,12,557 litres of non-duty paid liquor and 95,238 litres of duty paid liquor belonging to other States along with 2,49,162 kg of cannabis were seized in the last two years, he said.
Mr. Narayana Swamy demanded that former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu make his stand clear on whether he opposed the liquor ban, and pointed out that all the brands that were available in the market were approved by the previous government.
In 2018-19, around 661 lakh boxes of liquor were sold whereas the consumption during the current regime (in 2020-21) fell to 224 lakh boxes, a decrease of 63%, he said.
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