Govt decision on bars taken in ‘haste’- argues bar owners

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014,19:52 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Kerala Bar Owners today informed the Kerala High Court that the state government’s decision to close all bars was taken in ‘haste’ and would be counter productive as it would lose substantial revenue from Abkari business, besides impacting tourism.
In their affidavit filed in the court, the bar owners said a substantial revenue of the government is augmented from the taxes, duties, and rentals collected from the Abkari business.
At a time when the state was running on overdraft, the state government had not examined the impact of prohibiting vending of liquor in hotels other than those classified as five star hotels.
The government has not made any proper study as to what would be the shortfall of the revenue and whether the state can meet the substantial revenue loss by finding out alternative augmentation of revenue without affecting the public, it was submitted.
The Foreign Liquor (third amendment) Rules 2014 is still born and a nullity for the reason that it is shown to be issued by order of Governor on Aug 27, 2014 on which date the Governor ceased to be in office.
Pointing that the government decision has been taken in ‘haste’ and without ‘application of mind’, the affidavit said the survival of tourism will be at stake. There will be large scale cancellations of conferences, meetings etc due to the liquor ban.
Government had shown tourism as a major sector for investment during the Global Investors Meet (GIM) in 2012. Income generated from liquor was shown as major source of making the project commercially viable. Major IT companies will not set up their offices in the state, they stated.
Kerala Government had yesterday informed the High Court that it was its ‘avowed’ policy to reduce liquor consumption in the state stage by stage and to achieve the goal of total prohibition within a 10 year span.
The government had been directed by the apex court to file the affidavit on a batch of appeals filed by 300 odd bar owners challenging the decision to close down all bars, except those in the five star category. The government had earlier declined to renew the licenses of 418 sub standard bars.