A day after announcing a 25 per cent hike in liquor prices, the Andhra Pradesh government increased them further by 50 per cent on Tuesday even as people formed serpentine queues at government-controlled liquor shops across the state on the second day of lockdown easing. Both the hikes were introduced in the form of additional retail excise tax (ARET).
The state excise department has fixed three different rates for the three different categories of liquor as per their existing price points, with a steep hike effected in higher-end products. The government has asserted that the increase in liquor prices was in line with its prohibition policy, which seeks to reduce the consumption of alcohol in phased manner till the sales will be completely stopped in 2024.
The move is expected to generate a substantial additional income for the government considering the state registers an estimated turnover of Rs 20,000 crore in liquor sales annually of which close to 70 per cent goes to the state exchequer.
The government's decision come at a time the other streams of revenue are expected to take time to reach their normal potential even as the industrial and economic activities were allowed to function normally following the Centre's new relaxations.
Signalling that the resource mobilisation has been one of the immediate priorities, the state government has also instructed the stamps and registrations department to open sub-registrar offices with immediate effect to enable land and property registrations, which is the next biggest revenue source after liquor.
Meanwhile the state government has increased the coronavirus tests to 10,000 per day from the earlier 6,000 tests level completing so far 1,25,229 tests through 11 labs to effectively trace and isolate the infection in the population. The rate of daily tests have risen phenomenally after the state government has asked the medical teams to perform door-to-door tests to trace the coronavirus infections.
The state stands first in the country with highest number of tests done while the total number of Covid-19 positive cases rose to 1,717 with the addition of 67 new cases during the past 24 hours.