As Assam braces for 65% alcohol price hike, excise min says "Drink two pegs instead of three"
Parimal Suklabaidya

Silchar: Assam excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Monday said the objective behind hiking liquor prices in Assam from June 15 is to “make people drink less so that their health remains good.”

The excise department of the Government of Assam issued a notification on June 2 about the increase in the prices of the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) across Assam from June 15. The hike will be on select brands, including rum, whisky, gin and brandy, the notification stated.

Talking to EastMojo on Monday afternoon, Parimal Suklabaidya said the idea behind increasing liquor prices is to take people (alcoholics) away from alcohol and help them live a healthy life. “Increase in the prices of liquor will make people drink less. One who drinks three pegs (daily) will drink two pegs once liquor prices are hiked. This way, a person will live a healthy life,” Suklabaidya said.

“We (government) cannot make the state dry or stop people from drinking. If we do so, people will start protests,” the minister said.

He also added that the government had no plans of reducing the prices once hiked, quashing speculations that the hike might be temporary. 

News of the increase in liquor prices in the state from June 15 has attracted the attention of social media with a large number of netizens “expressing their sadness” over the government’s move. A user wrote: “Even the British never taxed us to this extent….”. Another user said – “A habitual drinker will drink whatever be the price increase of alcohol by reducing his expenses on other essential things.”

A wine shop in Ramnagar, Silchar said as per information, the price of some selected brands would be increased. On being asked if people are buying liquor in huge quantities after the news of the hike surfaced, he said the sale of liquor in his shop remained the same as always. So far, there has not been any panic buying by customers, the wine shop owner said.

Another wine shop owner of Tarapur, Silchar said there has been no change in liquor sales after the news of the upcoming price hike came out. He, however, claimed news reports (uploaded by a few news portals) about a 65 per cent hike in the prices of liquor are false and that the hike would be much more nominal. 

Last month, the Meghalaya government decided to hike IMFL prices by 1-9 per cent in the state. 

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