This is despite the fact that liquor stores are open only from 6 am to 10 am due to the lockdown regulations across Karnataka.

beers in a lineImage for representation / Flickr
Coronavirus Lockdown Wednesday, June 02, 2021 - 14:09

Despite a statewide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, Karnataka has reported steady levels of liquor sales in the last two months. The excise revenue collections in this period — April and May 2021 — are higher compared to the corresponding period in 2020. The figures released by the state excise department showed that 43.67 lakh carton boxes of IML (Indian Made Liquor) were sold in May 2021, compared to 44.46 lakh carton boxes in May 2020. This is despite the fact that liquor stores are open only from 6 am to 10 am due to the lockdown regulations. 

However, the sale of beer across Karnataka fell sharply during the lockdown period this year, with only 7.67 lakh carton boxes sold compared to 12.29 lakh carton boxes in May 2020. However, the Karnataka government raked in Rs 2,205 crore in April and Rs 1,445 crore in May this year —  a total of Rs 3,650 crore in the two months. The average monthly excise duty collection is around Rs 2,000 crore.

Speaking to TNM, an excise official said that the figures account for sales done in both liquor stores and establishments such as bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. "Beer sales have reduced because it is a drink usually bought in restaurants and bars," the official said.

In the corresponding months last year, the Excise Department collected only Rs 1,404 crore due to the nationwide lockdown in April 2020. It is to be noted that liquor stores opened only in the first week of May in 2020. The Excise Department reported it had collected Rs 45 crore on the first day that liquor stores opened after the lockdown last year.

The excise revenue target for this year was increased from Rs 22,700 crore to Rs 24,580 crore. The department officials stated that the lockdown this year has not significantly impacted the revenue collections of the department unlike some other departments of the Karnataka government. On January 1, 2021, the Excise Department reported that Rs 48 crore-worth alcohol was sold in Bengaluru alone on New Year's Eve.

The Karnataka government announced lockdown restrictions on April 27 and later extended them twice in May. The current lockdown is in effect till the morning of June 7 but the state government is yet to confirm whether it will be extended.