India. Cash raining at Kerala’s liquor retailer; employees on the run with money

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A few years back, burglars snatched away ₹ five lakhs from an employee who was on his way to the bank. Though the police arrested the culprits later, the Bevco management blamed the employee for negligence and initiated punitive measures.

bevco_calicut_760x400The employees of the state-run Beverages Corporation (Bevco), the biggest authorised retailer of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Kerala, are literally on the run with bagsful of cash pouring in at its outlets.

Each liquor outlet of the corporation has a revenue of around ₹ 15 lakhs every day, with sales peaking in the evening. The banks are supposed to collect the money from the outlets through designated agencies. But banks do not often comply with this agreement, especially during long bank holidays. The Bevco management had earlier promised to provide police security to employees who go to banks with the daily collection. But this promise remains unfulfilled. Most of the outlets in rural areas do not have good security arrangements in place.

The Bevco has accounts in five nationalised banks in the state, and when the banks remained closed for four consecutive days during Navaratri last week and six days during Onam festival season, the collection at Bevco outlets accumulated and touched crores, creating a big headache for the employees.

During festival season, the Bevco records big revenue vary from ₹10 lakhs to ₹ 53 lakhs at outlets. For example, in eight days before ‘Thiruvonam’, the national festival of Kerala this year, the corporation sold liquor worth ₹409.55 crore.

A few years back, Rs.5.34 lakhs was snatched away from a Bevco employee who was on his way to the bank with the daily collection. Even though the police arrested the culprits later, the Bevco management insisted that the employee was responsible for the loss. The corporation also served a notice to the employee last week to furnish reasons for not to impose a penalty for the loss. The notice irked the Bevco employees and prompted them to demand more security to Bevco outlets and a reliable system to collect money every day, irrespective of the holidays.

The Bevco, established in 1984 to provide good liquor at reasonable prices to consumers, has 338 IMFL shops and 22 warehouses across the state. With the state government closing down more than 700 liquor bars in the state two years back, the consumers have fewer options now to buy liquor in Kerala. The outlets of the Bevco and the Consumerfed, a state-controlled civil supplies network, have monopolised the liquor sales in Kerala, except the five star hotels.