Lockdown: Raj Thackeray Demands Opening of Wine Shops for ‘Increasing Revenue’ of State

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Mumbai, April 23, 2020: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has written an open letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray demanding re-opening of the wine shops in the state.

Raj Thackeray stated in his letter, “Since last 35 days, the restaurants and canteens in Maharashtra have been closed. This closure is a huge loss not only to the hotel and restaurant industry but also to their employees. It has also hit the regular citizens. Today, restaurants are not just a pleasurable entity in Mumbai and other cities, they are a necessity. There are so many low budget small restaurants, canteens wherein one has access to the affordable and humble ‘rice plate’. It is imperative that such outlets and restaurants be allowed to function.

The number of such low budget restaurants and canteens is huge as they serve to a large number of population and are very affordable. There are many homes which are not equipped with cooking staff and many homes would not even have the necessary supplies and requirements needed for cooking. The government now needs to start thinking about this category that so many people fall under. To stop the spreading of this virus, it’s essential that a physical distance is required and that needs to be adhered to strictly. But, why can’t a parcel service be initiated? To adhere to the guidelines of an appropriate physical distance and hygiene is the duty of the hotel/ restaurant owners and they should follow it meticulously. This will assist in reviving a small segment in the economic upheaval in our state.

A very pressing issue on hand is the fast depletion of our state treasury and this needs an incoming flow rather urgently. Nearby since,18th March, our state is in a lockdown phase. First, the deadline was 31st March, then extended to 14th April, now it stands on 3rd May. How long will this lockdown phase keep getting extended cannot be ascertained. In such times, by the opening of wine shops, the state will start getting a bit of revenue flow. There is no harm in keeping this option open. By keeping the wine shop open, doesn’t mean we are trying to cater to the needs or looking after the alcohol consumers. The only reason behind this is to start the process of an income flow into the shrinking revenue of our state.

This entire issue that is being written here, stems only from the depletion of our revenue and the various ways we can begin an inflow into our treasury. The petrol pumps are nearly closed. The businesses surrounding land and immovable assets are shut down. The excise duty that is generated for the state via liquor duty tantamounts to 41.66 crores daily,1250 crores monthly and 14000 crores yearly. Keeping the lockdown phase in mind of nearly 35 days till now and the extensions that might happen; one can take into consideration the loss of revenue from this sector and the loss that might happen in future too.

The police force and the health care staff are not getting the PPE kits, the free meal service for the people and other requirements are not being met with. The state government is struggling against all odds and with very limited resources. Keeping this dismal scenario in mind, it’s imperative that the revenue that will be generated by the sale from wine shops will begin the required revenue inflow process. Our state is in a crisis and this is much needed. It’s not that there was a liquor ban in our state and we are asking to remove that ban. Prior to the lock-down, the wine shops were open. The state government should not try to get caught up in some moral issues at such a crucial time and take the necessary decision. Let’s face reality and find solutions instead. The guidelines of social distancing and other directives will naturally apply to the sales process in these shops.

Apart from this, the other essential commodity services like vegetables, fruits, milk, bakery and general stores need to start functioning. They are open and available in some areas but there is a lack of organised coordination. By starting the functioning of these services and organising them better, the state needs to activate and energise its economic cycle. To face this corona pandemic, the citizens will cooperate but the government too needs to ensure a decent and liveable life to its citizens in return.”