Bengaluru: Recalling that no liquor store had been opened in the state since 1992, excise minister Satish Jarkiholi told reporters here on Saturday that the government now planned to permit the opening of new wine stores in consultation with opposition parties.
Emerging from a review meeting of his department, he said although there was a demand for granting of new licences, they had not been issued so far owing to opposition from people and NGOs. “But now we plan to convene a meeting under the leadership of the Chief Minister and consult opposition leaders before taking a call on this," he added.
Jarkiholi claimed the government had to look into the demand for new licences as liquor was being sold in kirana shops too today. "We have noticed that in many places liquor is sold in kirana shops because there is no wine store in the vicinity. This is costing the government revenue too," he maintained.
When his attention was drawn to the powerful lobby supporting illicit production of liquor in the state, he claimed it did not exist and that such liquor was produced only by scheduled caste and tribes of 80 villages of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gadag and Belgaum districts. "We have come up with plans to rehabilitate these people," he assured.
The minister also revealed that files pertaining to the dues of arrack contractors, who had defaulted for over 40 years, would be closed and all liquor stores would be expected to display boards carrying the MRP of all brands in future.
The department, which had been given a revenue target of Rs 12,400 crore, wanted the government to plough back one per cent of it towards its various welfare programmes, according to him.