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TASMAC: Keeping The Spirits High & Govt’s Cash Register Ringing

TN tipplers build up a massive thirst long before sundown each day. A unique system here is that the state sells liquor through the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) outlets. No wonder critics are raising the question, with raging Covid-19, shortages of vaccine, oxygen, beds and drugs like Remdesivir, is it important to keep booze flowing through state run machinery? The firm response even during the first lockdown, TASMAC is non-negotiable. Why? The state’s major chunk of revenue comes from a tipsy Tamilian who must have his spirit elevated at any cost. Guess what? On Saturday (April 25) the revenue flow from booze stood at a steady Rs 250 crore, never mind the tippler tottering after. In 2018-19, TASMAC’s revenue was Rs 31,158 crore. Neighbouring Union Territory Puducherry has already banned sale of any form of liquor. The irony, there was a time when droves of happy-hour seekers drove to Pondi and enjoyed the less taxed product in abundance! The story goes that some ruling party heavyweights objected to populist cash incentives that would be introduced “once we come back,” before the election by the CM as they feared the exchequer would bottom out. They were pacified: “this money will come back to us through TASMAC.” This is a state where women voters have time and again rallied against the ruling parties for openly encouraging their men to tipple and topple, but to no avail. Die hard drinkers!