Licence to liquor shops will be issued on a fixed licence fee and licences will be granted through the draw of lots. Mohammed Siddique reports
The Andhra Pradesh government, which had come under fire for its earlier excise policy of auctioning liquor shops and licences to the highest bidders, on Monday, announced a new excise policy for 2012-2014.
Under this policy, announced through an extraordinary gazette, licence to liquor shops will be issued on a fixed licence fee and licences will be granted through the draw of lots.
While the earlier policy had proved highly beneficial to the state government, as the licence fee alone had yielded a revenue of Rs 7,000 crore in 2010, and the total excise revenue had crossed Rs 15,000 crore, it led to corruption and other illegal activities including the sale of liquor at exorbitant rates and opening of unauthorised shops in other places.
Under the new policy the total number of shops will remain 6,596 in the entire state.
The new policy has divided the towns and cities in six categories depending upon population and licence fee has also been fixed accordingly.
Under this policy, the following licence fee structure will be followed. For a place with population of 10,000 or less: the licence fee for a liquor shop is Rs 32 lakh. For population of 10,000 to 50,000 Rs 34 lakhs, for a population of 50,000 to 300,000 Rs 42 lakhs, for population of 300,000 to Rs 500,000 Rs 46 lakhs, for population of 500,000 to 20 lakhs Rs 64 lakhs, for population of more than 20 lakhs Rs 1.04 crore.
The government has warned that if any retailer resorts to selling liquor at a price higher than the maximum retail price, his licence will be cancelled and the shop will be handed over to the state owned beverages corporation.
The earlier system of auctioning the licences for 6596 liquor shops had come under fire as successful bidders had formed syndicates all over the state with the help of politician-police-bureaucrat nexus and fleeced the customers by selling the liquor at inflated prices. They had also opened smaller unauthorised shops in villages to recover their investments.
The Anti Corruption Bureau probing the liquor syndicates has recently issued notices to three MLAs and several other people. Rammanohar Rao, son of a senior minister Dharmana Prasad on Monday appeared before the ACB for questioning on his alleged links with the syndicates.
State transport minister and state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana has also come under fire from the opposition for the involvement of his family in running a large number of liquor shops in coastal Andhra region.