THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan has dismissed the allegations made by Opposition in the sale of foreign made foreign liquor (FMFL) and wine via bars and beer and wine parlours. According to the minister, the Opposition is desperate to score some quick political brownie points and as part of this it is coming out with some baseless allegations.
“FMFL has been in sale in the state from 2007. The former UDF government found certain anomalies with the same including loss to the exchequer and thriving FMFL black-market,” said Ramakrishnan at a press meet here on Monday.The minister added: “To fix the same and to put in place a tax structure for the same the then Excise Minister (K Babu) had issued a slew of orders and circulars. When this government came to power we only tried to streamline the same.”
According to the minister, it was as part of bringing in more transparency to the procurement of FMFL that it was decided to distribute the same through the warehouses of Kerala State Beverages Corporation Limited (Bevco). The reasons for the same were also mentioned in the State Liquor Policy 2018-19 and the State Budget 2018-19. “Following that, an amendment was made to the Finance Bill 2018. But when this Bill was considered by the subject committee no members from the Opposition raised objection to the same. But now they are coming out with some baseless allegations,” added Ramakrishnan.
Asserting that the government has nothing to hide in the FMFL distribution, the minister said that till date Bevco has granted permission to 17 companies to offer some 228 brands. The minister said that Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan MLA’s claim that the government is giving undue consideration to Bacardi company is incorrect. He added that the company has been offering its products for the last 10 years in the state and of the 36,510 bottles of FMFL that were sold between August 20 and November 30, Bacardi had sold only 516 bottles.
“The Opposition’s claim that the FMFL brands were more stronger in content than the IMFL brands is also an unfounded one,” said the minister. He stated that of the 228 FMFL brands that were being sold through Bevco warehouses, only nine were strong in content than the IMFL brands. The remaining 219 brands were less stronger than the IMFL brands.
Earlier, the minister said that D8.25 crore has been made through the sale of FMFL, and from this the state government generated an revenue of D4 crore. He added that since the government came to power, it had granted license to 121 bars