Thiruvananthapuram: In a major decision that would bring much cheer to those who enjoy their pegs, the Kerala government has allowed sales of imported liquor (foreign-made foreign liquor – FMFL) in bars of the state. Beer and wine made abroad could be purchased from beer and wine parlours in the state. The decision comes close on the heels of permitting the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) outlets to sell authentic foreign liquor and wine. Tender procedures in this regard were completed recently and sales started.
With Excise Commissioner Rishiraj Singh issuing the necessary order, bars and beer parlours in Kerala can now sell liquor manufactured abroad. The government took the decision based on a plea submitted by bar owners.
The Government expects a revenue of around Rs 60 crore by selling FMFL through Bevco. An additional amount will be earned as taxes.
It was on February 28 this year that the government invited bids from liquor companies and dealers through its e-tender portal to import foreign liquor and wine. This was based on a proposal in the budget for 2018-19. After a scrutiny of the bids, 17 firms were selected and given permission to import 227 brands of liquor and wine. These items are already available at Bevco outlets.
After Beveco started selling FMFL, the bar owners approached the government with a similar demand. After holding elaborate discussions, the authorities responded positively on the matter.
The government order permits the following categories of licence holders to sell imported liquor after purchasing the item from the godowns of the Beverages Corporation: Beverages Corporation outlets (which have FL 1 licence), Bars (FL 3 licence), Marine Officers’ Club (FL 4), bars functioning at airport lounges (FL 7), beer and wine parlours (FL 11) and beer outlets (FL 12).
Earlier, bars used to buy FMFL from Customs, for which an annual fee of Rs 25,000 was levied.
With the new order, the state exchequer is expecting a huge windfall. According to the 2018-19 budget proposals, imported liquor attracts a duty of 78 % and wine made abroad 25 %. In addition, a special fee of Rs 87.70 per proof litre has also been imposed on FMFL.
Excise authorities said that sales of FMFL were already going on illegally in the state for long, causing a huge loss for the treasury. It was to avoid this drain of money that the Government decided to allow Beverages Corporation to import FMFL. According the government, consumption of liquor will not come down if supply is reduced. In fact, it feels that liquor use can be checked only by controlling demand. However, the new order is all set to increase sales as well as income for the government.