Foreign Liquor now in wine shops in AP
In about two weeks from now, the excise and prohibition department will start selling foreign brands of liquor in Andhra Pradesh. Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Grey Goose Vodka, Corona beer and many more would be available in wine shops and bars. Previously, the foreign brands were available only in star hotels with an incredibly expensive tag. Now, the government is trying its best to make them available to the common man. The state expects to make about Rs 400 crores with the sale of foreign liquor.
In 2009-2010, Andhra Pradesh earned about Rs 12,000 crores from the liquor industry. In 2010-2011, it is expected to reach Rs 15,000 crores. Clearly, instead of restricting liquor consumption, the government of Andhra Pradesh has been promoting its consumption for revenue generation. Introduction of foreign liquor to wine shops comes at a time when the state treasury is almost empty. Meaning, the sole motive of the state is revenue generation. You can see why this is dangerous. Not some private corporation, but the state itself is putting money before public interests. This is when things can go terribly wrong.
AP state government has two distinctly contradicting agencies – Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Limited (APBCL) and the Department of Health (DoH). APBCL promotes alcohol consumption and is driven with the sole motive of revenue generation and the DoH tries to lower the alcohol consumption in the society. Ironically, the government wants those who are addicted to liquor supplied by APBCL to make use of the Arogyasree program offered by the DoH.
Recently, Union Health Ministry has advised that State Health Departments be empowered with implementing alcohol consumption control policy. And Rightly so! The Department of Health would ensure that government puts public interests before revenue generation.