As part of its plan to impose total prohibition, the Andhra Pradesh government is all set to take control of retail liquor business in the state, with a bill towards this effect passed by the state Assembly on Wednesday.
Andhra Pradesh (Regulation of Trade in Indian-Made Foreign Liquor, Foreign Liquor) (Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed by voice vote following a debate in the absence of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members.
Public sector organization will take over the retailing of liquor from private outlets. Excise and Commercial Taxes Minister K. Narayana Swamy said this would ensure strict implementation of regulations and eradicate violations in retailing of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).
State Beverages Corporation Ltd or any other entity owned and controlled by the government will have the exclusive right to sell liquor at retail shops, he said.
Total prohibition was one of the major promises made by YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in the recent elections. The government plans to ensure this in a phased manner and ultimately confine sale of liquor to only five-star hotels.
Under the first step towards total prohibition, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy last month declared crackdown on 'belt shops' or the illegal extensions of the licensed liquor shops.
During the debate on the bill, members of the YSRCP hailed Jagan Reddy's decision, saying it will usher in a social revolution.
The members including B. Karunakar Reddy and K. Roja said the previous TDP government encouraged sale of cheap liquor and opened 40,000 belt shops.
Terming liquor the root cause of many evils, the members hoped that total prohibition will curb the crimes against women and bring happiness to the families.
Karunakar Reddy said it was unfortunate the previous government treated liquor as a source of revenue, ignoring the fact that it was ruining many families.