THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After Sprinklr, its app plan to sell liquor is turning out to be a political hot potato for the LDF government. The opposition Congress, which claimed a victory when the US company was removed from the Covid data-sharing deal, alleged major corruption in developing the app, named BevQ, for sale of liquor, citing the contract was awarded to a CPM sympathiser. However, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan said that CPM has no relation with the startup company and that it was the IT department that zeroed in on the app developer.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded a comprehensive probe into the government’s decision to award the contract to a startup company. “The contract should be cancelled and a comprehensive probe should be initiated. Why did the government favour a private company over public sector agencies? I have already sent a letter to the minister seeking clarification on the issue.
Only `10 lakh is required to make an app. But here, the startup company would walk away with a whopping `3 crore. Also, 50 paisa goes to the app developer for each token being generated,” Chennithala said. He claimed that the delay in launching the app is because of the private company’s inexperience.
‘App will be launched after getting Google nod’
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran also alleged that there was corruption behind BevQ. “A total of 27 companies had submitted tenders. But they were all were sidelined and the contract was awarded to Kochi-based Fair Code. IT Secretary S Sivasankar, who was behind the Sprinklr deal, took the decision to award the contract to the startup,” said Mullappally. Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Kozhikode, the excise minister said the app will be launched after receiving technical sanction from Google. “To avoid a long queue following the lockdown, a system was required to reduce rush. This is why the government decided to go for an app to launch the virtual queue system.
The app has to be foolproof. This is why there is a delay in launching the app,” Ramakrishnan said. “There has been no loss to the exchequer due of the delay in the launch of BevQ. So far, we have not received any complaint on the delay. The opposition’s allegation is just rubbish,” he said. Finance minister Thomas Isaac also said there was nothing wrong in giving the contract to a startup company. The minister, however, said that the state doesn’t need liquor shops to be opened to earn income. Thomas said he was more worried about people consuming spurious liquor due to the closure of Bevco outlets.
BEVCO OUTLETS TO STAY OPEN FROM 9AM-5PM
T’Puram: Once opened, the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) outlets, bars and beer parlours will be able to sell liquor between 9am and 5pm, as per the guidelines issued by the Corporation here on Saturday. According to the communique, a person will be eligible for further purchase only five days after his previous transaction. Such buys will be strictly restricted to those obtaining an e-token through the virtual queue management (VQM) system. The mobile app for this will be launched soon, Bevco said.
EXCISE MINISTER DISMISSES ALLEGATIONS
Kozhikode: Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan on Saturday dismissed the Opposition’s allegation of connections between the CPM and the much-awaited BevQ app. “This is a baseless allegation. The company that developed the app was selected by the IT department,” the minister told media persons. He added that there was no revenue loss due to the delay in the app’s launch and they had received no plaints in this regard so far.