After incurring huge revenue losses, Pinarayi Vijayan led Kerala government has announced a new liquor policy according to which Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) would be served in three and four-star hotels across the state. The new policy will be applicable from July 1. At present only five-star hotels in Kerala have the FL-3 licence that allows them to serve IMFL, while others hotels have the FL-11 licence as per which only beer and wine can be served. Also, while renewing the license, the government will abide by the recent Supreme Court directive as per which there is a ban on selling liquor within 500 m from national and state highways.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The liquor policy of UDF, which envisaged total prohibition, was a complete fiasco. The UDF policy was impractical and had led to an alarming rise in the use of drugs. The LDF policy aims at abstinence. The government will start more de-addiction centres and will strengthen the existing ones”.
As per the new liquor policy bars will be open from 11 am to 11 pm and the minimum age for buying liquor has been increased from 21 to 23. Calling the new liquor policy as the need of the hour, CM said that UDF policy majorly affected the tourism sector in the state. According to him, it was because of the previous policy that as many as 40, 000 people became unemployed.
Previous Congress government, in 2104 had ordered selling of liquor only in five-star hotels. However, the opposition seems not very pleased with the decision, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said, “The Government has succumbed to the liquor lobby and bar/hotel owners. I don’t want to say now how much money the government has pocketed from bar/hotel owners”.