Kerala's former finance minister TM Thomas Isaac has rubbished Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's claim that liquor and lottery sales were the major sources of income of the state government.
In a CPM fortnightly explainer video 'Money Matters', Isaac said Kerala's combined earnings from liquor and lottery were just 13% of the total revenue receipts and that the share has dipped by at least 3% from pre-COVID times.
“From which WhatsApp university did the governor get the figures? Usually the BJP makes such baseless allegations,” Isaac said in the video.
According to the former minister, who is a central committee member of the CPM, Kerala's liquor consumption has dropped and earnings from lottery were less than a percent of the state's revenue receipts.
“In 2021-22, the state's revenue was Rs. 1.16 lakh crore, in which the profit from lottery sales was Rs 560 crore, which is less than a percent,” said Isaac.
He claimed that while lotteries worth Rs 7,145 crore had been sold in 2021-22, half of that was given in prize money and a share went as commission, besides advertising and taxes left the government with less than 15% profit.
“Before COVID almost Rs 9,000 crore was the earning from lottery sales but the end profit was just 2%,” he said.
'Liquor consumption has dropped'
Isaac claims that in 2021-22, liquor sales contributed to 13% of the state's revenue. “In 2016-17, it was 16% and that revenue has kept dropping because liquor consumption has been going down in Kerala. If we combine the income from lottery and liquor sales, it comes to about 13% and how can that be called the major source of income?”
He also blamed the Centre for not offering Kerala financial packages like it “has given Gujarat, UP or Assam”.
“While 50% of the revenue of other states is contributed by the Centre, Kerala gets only 30%. The most important of it is the finance commission. By claiming that our earnings have improved but population has diminished the Centre that used to give 3.8% (state's share of Central taxes and duties) now gives 1.9%.
“How can someone like the Governor hide these facts and raise allegations. Can't he just glance across the figures in the budget?” said Isaac.