Keralites set new record in Onam boozing

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on August 23, 2010

Guzzlers in God’s Own Country are set to create a new record in Onam celebrations, if the sales turnover of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BevCo), the State-owned liquor supplier, in the festival season so far is any indication.

In the first six days of the ten-day Onam sales season, BevCo sold liquor worth Rs 155.61 crore, registering a 17.61-percent increase compared to the sales turnover in the same period last year. In the first six days of the last Onam season till Uthradam, the day preceding Thiruvonam, the actual festival day, BevCo’s sales turnover was Rs 132.81 crore.

Spirited by the unprecedented rise in sales, officials at BevCo said they were confident about crossing the target fixed for this Onam period – Rs 225 crore. The corporation had sold liquor worth Rs 205 crore in 2009 Onam season. “My feeling is that we will easily collect Rs 230 crore this Onam with four days remaining in the season, including Thiruvonam (Monday),” said a BevCo official in Kochi.

However, the figure forms only part of the money the Malayalees spent on liquor as this pertains only to the booze bought through the 337 BevCo sales outlets in the State. With the turnover of the sales at the 500-odd bars and over 4,500 toddy shops thrown in, the turnover of liquor sales during the Onam season could be a really mind-boggling figure.

On Sunday, the Uthradam day before the actual festival day Thiruvonam, BevCo sold liquor worth Rs 30.31 crore. Corporation officials said sales on the remaining four days of the season could fetch over Rs 70 crore.

As usual, the outlet at Chalakudy in Thrissur, the district known as the cultural capital of Kerala, recorded the biggest sales this Onam season also. The people of Chalakudy bought booze worth Rs 29.44 lakh on Sunday, while the outlet at Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital district, stood second in turnover, by collecting Rs 22.60 lakh. .

That BevCo would easily attain its target was clear in the beginning of the season itself. On August 17, the first day of the Onam sales season, liquor worth Rs 19.46 crore was sold in the State, posting an increase of almost 25 percent compared to the same day’s sales last year. Sales went up further to net Rs 21.35 crore the very next day whereas the sales on the same day last season were worth Rs 17.50 crore.

BevCo managing director N Shankar Reddy is expecting an increase of 20 percent in the corporation’s booze sales this Onam compared to that in the last season. “But don’t be surprised if the total sales of the season register a 30-percent increase. If the general trend in the Onam spending by Malayalees this year can be taken as an indication, I am sure a 30-percent in crease is possible,” said a BevCo official.

BevCo’s sales target for fiscal 2010-11 is set as Rs 6,500 crore and the Government would then be getting a tax income of more than Rs 6,000 crore. It is a huge amount, the largest from a singe sector, as far as the State is concerned.

The CPI(M)-led LDF Government that came to power more than four years ago has earned Rs 14,922.54 crore in taxes from BevCo. The corporation sold liquor worth Rs 5,538.59 crore in 2009-10 and gave Rs 4,253 crore to the Government in taxes. As per the State Budget, the total Revenue income Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac expects to make this fiscal is a little over Rs 31,000 crore.

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