In a move, seen as a first step towards a phased liquor ban in the state, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet on Thursday decided that the government would run liquor shops in the state.
The AP Beverages Corporation, which is the sole wholesaler of liquor business in the state, will also operate the retail stores once the necessary amendments to the existing law are made. The state cabinet, chaired by chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, has approved a draft bill that seeks to amend the 1993 state excise Act.
The government said the decision to take over the retail liquor business was taken after studying the excise policies of various states in India.
In the recent assembly and general elections, the ruling YSR Congress Party promised the people that it would introduce a phased prohibition of liquor in the state after coming to power. The government has already acted against the informal network of retail liquor sale called 'belt shops' being run in villages.
Although a liquor ban was imposed briefly in undivided Andhra Pradesh when Telugu Desam Party(TDP) founder N T Rama Rao came to power for a second time in 1994, retail liquor business was never taken over in the state after the ban was lifted by successive governments.
While Tamil Nadu government runs the retail liquor business, in Telangana, the government issues annual licenses through auctions to private persons to set up wine shops.