Despite liquor stores staying shut for months in the last fiscal, Tamil Nadu consumed more alcohol in FY21 than ever before. According to a government reply in the legislative assembly, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), which holds the monopoly over the sale of alcohol in the state, reported revenues of Rs 33,811 crore in FY 21, which is its highest ever.
The collection is 2 percent higher than TASMAC's previous record of Rs 33,133 crore reported for FY20.
The record comes even as TASMAC liquor stores were shut between March and June 2020, when the COVID-19 first wave was at its worst. Liquor stores were shut again for four to five weeks earlier this year, owing to a state-imposed lockdown during the second wave.
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State-owned TASMAC has been tasked with overseeing alcohol retail across Tamil Nadu since 2003 when the government decided to monopolise sales of alcohol. The present revenue figure of Rs 33,811 crore is its highest collection, ever since.
Going by sales trends, this fiscal is also set to break new highs in alcohol sales across the state. As of July 2021, TASMAC sales have clocked Rs 7,907.61 crore in FY22. The company has handed out increments of Rs 500 to Rs 25,000 to its employees across 5,402 liquor outlets and 2,808 bars.
TASMAC and the Tamil Nadu government's controlling stake in the sale of alcohol has often been criticised, even as both principal parties in the state, the DMK and AIADMK, have promised to implement total prohibition.
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Most recently, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa promised phased prohibition as one of her poll promises in 2016, an election that she won. Jayalalithaa would go on to order 500 TASMAC outlets shut, as one of her first orders as newly elected chief minister.
The last five years have seen both parties go back on promises of prohibition, given the revenue-generating potential that alcohol sales have had held. Given the debt burden of Tamil Nadu, monopolistic alcohol sales have turned into a necessity more now than ever before.