The new liquor price came into effect from 3 October this year.

How Kerala tipplers view the liquor price hike in the statePhoto : Mikko Koponen from Helsinki, Finland, Wikimedia
news Kerala Liquor Saturday, October 08, 2016 - 14:20

A hike in price of everyday commodities usually results in some sort of a hartal or a strike, or at least a token protest in Kerala. But Malayalis in God’s Own Country however seem to have adopted a tight-lipped stance over the liquor price hike, even though the state has the highest number of guzzlers in the country.

The Kerala Beverages Corporation on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) increased the price of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) available for sale in the state. The new liquor price came into effect from 3 October this year.  This basically translates into a 750 ml bottle being priced Rs 25 to Rs 75 extra, depending on the brand.

Liquor prices in Kerala have always been hiked by every government which comes into power in the state. The increasing price trend has however never affected the sales figures. IMFL worth around Rs 410 crores was sold in just eight days during the Onam festival this year. Last year, the same raked in Rs 353 crores. The total turnover from liquor sales was around Rs 2000 crores in 2014-15.

Speaking to The News Minute, a few ‘steady’ tipplers expressed their deep concern with regard to the price hike, while others were more worried over whether the state government would be forced to shut down liquor outlets, due to low income factor!

Reporter TV had even aired a news segment on how some consumers had raised the need for a union of alcohol consumers, as they genuinely believe that it was the lack of a structured association of ‘drinkers’ that results in constant liquor price hikes.

Sudhakaran -a plumber based in Thiruvananthapuram- terms it gross injustice directed against the layman. “We don’t belong to the high-income category. Since there is no one to protest against the same, they keep increasing the price at regular intervals,” he rues.

Ask him why he drinks, he asks right back: “Is it a fault to do so? When the rich drink, it is termed classy. Drinks are part and parcel of their lifestyle. We on the other hand, have to stand hours in the queue to get even a quarter. But after all the difficulty we have to endure to even lay our hands on a pint, society brands us as drunkards.”

But Rajan -a tailor based in Kochi- prefers to adopt an equanimous view regarding the price hike: “Price hikes apply to commodities across the board. The market thrives based on increasing costs. I am more worried about possible closing down of the beverages’ outlets.”

An officer from the state Beverages Corporation Warehouse at Aluva in Ernakulam -who sought anonymity- feels that since liquor does not figure in the list of basic necessities in life, the said price hike can actually prove to be a matter of concern for many.

“The hike is obviously aimed at generating more income. It could also stop at least some from drinking,” he opines.

The regulars however mocked the idea that a mere price hike would deter them from hitting the bottle everyday. “I don’t intend to ever stop…the price hike is not all that steep” Sudhakaran smiles.


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