Tipplers in Kerala have to spend a few more days uncomfortably without their favourite brand of drink as the State Government plans to launch an app to buy liquor have been delayed.
Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama reported that the launch of Bev Q, the app that will help consumers buy alcohol, has been delayed further since Google, the Internet services multinational, has sought some clarifications.
The American company, which will make available the Bev Q app in its Playstore, has posed six queries to Kerala Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) with regard to the security aspect of the app.
The app has been developed by a startup company Fairapp, which has now been asked by BEVCO to respond to the queries.
Assuming that Google is satisfied with BEVCO’s replies and allows the launch of the app later tonight, the beverages firm will have to carry out tests and trials to ensure the app is functioning without any problem.
That way, the State Excise Department could resume sales of liquor, discontinued since the nation-wide lockdown announced on 24 March, from 25 May.
Kerala had planned to resume liquor sales this week and had submitted the app for listing by Google on 18 May but it has now been caught in a technical wrangle.
Bev Q, the mobile app, will hand out the tokens and help consumers choose the nearest outlet that is less crowded. Timings when the outlets will be functioning will be announced once the app is ready.
Consumers will now to pay more for their favourite liquor brand once sales resume as the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has raised taxes on liquor by 10 to 35 per cent.
Kerala expects to earn an additional Rs 2,000 crore as revenue from the liquor tax hike.
Kerala earns Rs 2,500 crore annually as taxes through the sale of liquor. Sales during 2018-19 fiscal were reported at Rs 14,500 crore.
Kerala suspended liquor sales after the nation-wide lockdown was announced to tackle the spread of novel Coronavirus that had attained pandemic proportions.
In between, the state, concerned over suicides by tipplers suffering from withdrawal symptoms, planned to issue licences to buy liquor. The move was, however, stayed by the Kerala High Court.
Till now, Kerala has reported 690 Coronavirus cases with four deaths.
The number of suicides due to withdrawal symptoms is higher than the Coronavirus deaths.
The liquor sales have also landed the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government in controversy as its decision to allow private bar counters to sell liquor is seen as affecting the BEVCO outlets income.