Probe liquor price hike: Chennithala

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded an anti-corruption inquiry into the election eve hike in liquor prices.

In a petition to the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), Mr. Chennithala said the government had accorded undue pecuniary advantage to liquor manufacturers. The liquor lobby had dropped large amounts of money in the LDFโ€™s election campaign kitty for the generosity.

Mr. Chennithala alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan had struck a bargain with liquor manufacturers at the AKG Centre.

The government had agreed to purchase liquor from manufacturers at a higher than market rate. It has cited the increased production cost and raw material to justify the hike in the introductory procurement price. Mr. Chennithala said the government had favoured the liquor production lobby for the second occasion in the election year.

Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) procures an estimated 20 lakh cases of liquor costing an estimated โ‚น1,680 crore from manufacturers every month. The Bevco has awarded the liquor lobby a windfall of โ‚น200 crore or more by hiking the procurement price. The liquor companies have ploughed back a share of the profit to the party and ruling front politicians.

He demanded that the VACB bring Mr. Vijayan, Mr. Ramakrishnan and managing director of Bevco, under the ambit of its probe.

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