THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The long-pending demand of distillers for increasing the purchase price of various liquor brands through the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) has now reached a flashpoint.
Representatives of the Kerala Bottlers Federation and Association of Distillers, Brewers and Vintners of India (ADBVI) told mediapersons here that they cannot even rule out a stoppage of supplies, if the government continued to turn a blind eye to the genuine demand.
They said that the since the last increase in 2009-10 by a marginal 4-6 per cent, that too after a gap of four years, distilleries have been left high and dry. Distillers are paying a high level of turnover tax of 10 per cent and the highest sales tax (100 pc and cess on sales tax at 6 pc) than in any other state.
In addition, the cost of raw material, packing material, labour cost and manufacturing cost had all been increasing substantially every year, but the KSBC has not been giving the increase in purchase price every year. Kerala-based distilleries have to comply with Minimum Wages Act also. Currently, the distilleries in Kerala employ about 12,000 workers both directly and indirectly of which 80 per cent are women.
‘’We would like to request the government once again to consider approving the prices quoted by the companies in their tender documents submitted for the year 2012-13 immediately. Otherwise is will be impossible for us to maintain supplies,” said Sushil Haskar, president, ADBVI.
The office -bearers pointed out that cost of extra-neutral alcohol (ENA), the basic raw material, had also gone up due to its shortage in the country. The cumulative price from 2007 has increased by 84 per cent for ENA, 95 per cent for glass bottles, 67 per cent for freight and yet the price increase given by KSBC was a mere 5 per cent. In spite of several requests to the Chief Minister and Excise Minister, no relief had been granted by the government till date.
The association had hoped that the government will consider the request for price increase favourably at least for the year 2012-13. ‘’Accordingly, we have maintained uninterrupted supplies for the whole year of 2011-12 and submitted fresh tenders for supply during the year 2012-13. But we were shocked to receive a letter from KSBC last month forcing us to supply liquor at 2011-12 prices for a further period of one month. This will certainly cause huge loss to all the suppliers and KSBC should compensate such loss,’’ KBF president Vijayakumar said.
Similar government beverages corporations in southern states increase the prices of liquor periodically depending upon the need.