Andhra hikes liquor prices by 50% to discourage consumption

Kolkata: People wear masks and practise social distancing as they buy alcohol at one of the liquor shops that reopened from today in Kolkata during the extended nationwide lockdown, on May 4, 2020. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)

Amaravati, May 5 (IANS) A day after reopening the liquor shops, Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday increased alcohol prices by 50 per cent.

The government said the move was aimed at discouraging liquor consumption. The shops had reopened on Monday with a hike of 25 per cent in liquor prices.

However, the hike failed to deter the tipplers, who gathered in large numbers at the shops across the state, flouting the social distancing norm to check the spread of COVID-19.

As the scenes of long queues and chaos raised fears of further spike in the number of corona cases in the state and the government came under criticism for encouraging liquor sale during a pandemic, it hiked the prices by 50 per cent on Tuesday.

Officials said the new prices will come into force with immediate effect. However, shops will open only after the issue of formal orders and the new prices are updated online.

There was utter confusion on Monday when the shops reopened for the first time after the lockdown began as the prices following 25 per cent hike were not updated online.

The government claimed that another 50 per cent hike has been taken as further step towards discouraging alcohol consumption. With the latest hike the prices have increased by 75 per cent in two days.

Officials said the latest decision was taken to discourage liquor consumption in view of the conditions that prevailed on Monday.

The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government said the number of liquor shops would be further reduced by 15 per cent by the end of this month.

The YSRCP, which had promised total prohibition, started phase-wise implementation after coming to power in May last year.

As a first major step towards prohibition in October last year, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government took over th
The state-owned Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Limited (APBCL) took control of the liquor shops from private contractors after reducing the number of outlets to 3,500 from 4,380 earlier.

In December, the government had claimed that as a result of its steps the liquor consumption came down in the state.e retail liquor business and increased the price to discourage consumption.

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