Liquor Policy: Row over CMO's Message to Bankers' Panel

Published: 29th November 2014 06:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2014 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A communication forwarded by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) to the State Level Bankers’ Committee, seeking moratorium on loans in backwater tourism sector in view of the State Government’s new liquor policy, has kicked up a row.

The representation, submitted by the House Boat Owners’ Association to the CM’s office and later wrongly included in the SLBC meeting agenda, states that the new liquor policy would not go well with the tourism sector. With reports coming out stating that CM’s office had criticised the government’s new liquor policy, the CM’s office and the SLBC clarified that it was only a representation from the House Boat Owners’ Association.

CM’s office also denied having given any directions to the SLBC in this regard.

The whole issue began on Friday morning with visual media reports coming out that the CM’s office had come out against the government’s new liquor policy. According to the reports, the SLBC meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday is discussing a communication (agenda item placed as 3.1.2.3) received from the CM’s office which directs to declare moratorium on loans taken by houseboat owners, as they are badly hit by the new liquor policy.  According to the reports, communication from the CM’s office pointed out that the liquor policy would not go well with the tourism sector and requested to declare moratorium on loans by houseboat owners. “Non availability of liquor in places other than the five-star hotels would lead to a crisis in tourism sector. It will keep tourists away and affect employment possibilities in the sector.

“The liquor policy will have an adverse impact on backwater tourism in the state. Majority of people coming here, both domestic and foreign tourists, use liquor as part of celebrations. The liquor policy will be a major setback to houseboat owners. Of the 529 houseboat owners in the state, majority have taken loans. With the new liquor policy they won’t be able to repay the loans,” the communication further pointed out.

By evening, CM’s office issued statement denying reports in this regard. They clarified that they had only forwarded a representation received from the Kerala House Boat Owners Association. To substantiate the same, communication received from the Boat Owners Association on August 30 and the forward note by the CM’s office to the SLBC on October 10 were also provided. “The representation was sent to the SLBC General Manager by the CM’s office for his private secretary. Matters pointed out in the representation are given as such in the SLBC agenda note, with a wrong mention that it’s from the CM’s office. No such directions were issued from the CM’s office. It was only a normal course of action of forwarding a representation to authorities concerned,” said the statement.

In a separate statement, the SLBC too clarified that it was a representation received by the CM’s office and forwarded to the SLBC Kerala. “It was not intended to be included as an agenda item in the SLBC meeting. The item placed as 3.1.2.3 has been removed from the agenda item and no decision was taken on the subject matter in the SLBC meeting,” said the clarification.

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