Kochi: The Left Democratic Government had vowed to promote abstinence as it came to power five years ago. Ironically, liquor sales boomed since then, even though Kerala had witnessed an unprecedented economic crises during 2018-20 in the aftermath of floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Liqour sales were to the tune of Rs 65,000 crore were registered in the last five years (2016-21) coinciding with the LDF regime. This is Rs 17,000 crore more than the sales reported during the Oommen Chandy government which sought to shut down several bars in a bid to promote abstinence.
The exact sales amounts are Rs 64,619 crore coinciding with the current LDF government and Rs 47,624 crore during the earlier United Democratic Front government.
The overall five-year sales figures are almost equal to the average annual state revenue of Rs 65,000 crore!
The sales figures were Rs 12,142 crore in 2016-17, Rs 12,937 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 14,508 crore in 2018-19.
In 2019-20, record liquor sales of Rs 14,700 crore were registered even though job losses were rife during and after the two consecutive floods of 2018 and 2019 that paralysed normal life in most parts of the state.
However, the sales cooled to Rs 10,340 crore during the current financial year that coincides with the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 and months of lockdown thereafter.
The LDF government had reopened all the bars shut by the UDF government under the latter's radical liquor policy aimed at curbing social vices. The former even allowed the opening of 200 new bars and nine clubs were allotted bar licence. Naturally, the sales and consumption of spirits spurted only to taper off last year during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The sales records were made available by way of the Right to Information Act.