Thiruvananthapuram: Tipplers in Kerala will again get to purchase liquor soon as the state was in the process of reopening the vends, Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan said on Thursday.
Ramakrishnan told the media: "There are 301 liquor vends in the state. We are working out a new scheme to avoid crowding at these vends and also planning for online purchases with payments to be made when people visit the retail outlets to collect their booked liquor."
A decision on selling parcel liquor at bars in Kerala will also be taken.
"The date of reopening of vends will be announced soon, when all these things are ready. This mode of (online) sale of liquor is a temporary one only," added the Minister.
The IT Department and Kerala Start-Up Mission is finalising an IT firm to develop an online app for liquor sale.
Defending a decision to hike taxes on liquor, beer and wine ranging from 10 to 35 per cent taken at a Kerala Cabinet meeting here on Wednesday, he said there was no other way out.
"During the 2018 floods, to tide over a difficult situation, we hiked excise duty from 8 to 15 per cent and withdrew it after 100 days. This time, we are in an even more tight spot, and hence there is no other way but to hike the taxes by 10 per cent for beer and wine and 35 per cent for liquor," added Ramakrishnan.
The state exchequer has been reeling under revenue shortfall. Last month, the state government collected a mere Rs 250 crore from various sources.
Sale of liquor and beer is one of the biggest revenue earners in Kerala. In the last fiscal, the southern state garnered Rs 14,504.67 crore on this count.
An earlier study conducted in Kerala revealed that around 32.9 lakh people - 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women - out of the state's 3.34 crore population consume liquor. Around five lakh people consume liquor daily. Of these, 83,851 people, including 1,043 women, are addicted to alcohol.