Those who like their beer are paying hiked prices for it in the state and not the stipulated Maximum Retail Price (MRP). This is despite claims by the excise department that it is available at MRP and that customers can also get a bill at all the wine outlets in AP from March 1. The AP government is yet to seriously execute plans to connect all the 4,000 odd liquor shops in the state to the excise department with an integrated computer network system that will check MRP violations.
An excise officer said that some wine shops in the state were linked to the integrated network but due to technical glitches it is yet to be connected to the head offices of the department. Excise commissioner Mukesh Kumar Meena, during a recent visit to Vizag, said the department's top priority was to check MRP violations in the state by adopting technology to bring in transparency in the trade. Beer drinkers say that they are paying Rs 10-Rs 15 more than the stated MRP: Budweiser beer (650 ml) costs Rs 125, but it is being sold at Rs 140, according to Naresh Kumar, a customer.
A liquor trader says theyare cashing in on the demand for beer, with temperatures rising and people willing to pay more. Sources say excise officials are reluctant to initiate action against the traders despite complaints as they want to meet the revenue target.