Thiruvananthapuram: Bars and Consumerfed outlets selling liquor will remain closed from Monday, protesting against the decision to slash their commission.
The decision to close outlets in protest came after a government order that increased the commission of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) to 25 per cent of the liquor sales from the current eight per cent. Bevco has been selling liquor to bars and Consumerfed.
The government’s decision to reopen bars—even as places of worship remained closed—has sparked widespread criticism in the State. The government is now in a fix over the bars and Consumerfed’s decision to stop selling wine and liquor.
The Office of the Excise Minister, however, felt that an emergency meeting with bars and consumerfed representatives is not required now. Moreover, the decision to go on protest won’t affect customers since liquor will be retailed through Bevco outlets.
Bars owners demanded the government to allow them to increase the price of liquor or withdraw the hiked warehouse margin. Bars have been allowed to offer parcel service.
The owners pointed out that they are being forced to pay more due to the hike in the warehouse margin, which will lead to loss.
At a meeting with Excise Minister M V Govindan on Saturday night, the bar owners’ association pointed out the difference in prices of liquor sold through Bevco, Consumerfed and bars. This amounted to injustice, they said.
The owners said the minister had promised them to hold a meeting to sort out the issue of price difference on Sunday. Meanwhile, it is alleged that moves are afoot to increase the price of liquor.
Earlier, bar owners demanded a decrease in licence fee since they had been forced to destroy beer worth more than Rs 10 crore during the lockdown. The government has now ordered the bars to sell liquor at Bevco’s price. The Beverages Corporation had incurred a loss of Rs 1,800 due to the lockdown.
Citing the loss, the managing director of Bevco requested the government to increase its commission from the sale of liquor to bars and Consumerfed. The government issued the order based on the request.