Liquor bars in Kerala have resumed operations from Monday though only beer and wine will be sold for now. They were closed nearly a week ago, soon after the latest Covid unlock had commenced, in protest over the hike in warehouse charges by the Beverages Corporation or Bevco which is the wholesale seller of liquor in the State. Bar owners on Monday said no liquor will be sold at bars till their demands are met. The exception has been made for beer as it cannot be sold after the expiry date.
The president of the Federation of Kerala Hotels Associations, V Sunil Kumar, said private bars could resume parcel service only if the government took a decision favourable to them. More than 800 bars and 40 liquor outlets of the Consumerfed across Kerala had shut operations this month citing financial loss. The outlets turned sick as the Bevco increased its warehouse rate and slashed the profit margin of retailers. Bevco had raised the warehouse charge for bars from 8% to 25% and for Consumerfed from 8% to 20%.
Bevco justified the move saying that the increase was needed to recoup the loss it faced during the COVID lockdowns. Following the move, the bars and Consumerfed liquor outlets decided to cease operations from June 21, three days after the sale of liquor had resumed in the state. The profit margin of retail outlets fell to three per cent from 20% after Bevco increased its warehouse rate. Private bar owners said they would incur a loss of Rs 9,000 while selling liquor worth Rs 1 lakh under the revised Bevco rate.