State alcohol monopoly for Lithuania?
After its surprise victory in Lithuania's parliamentary elections, the Peasant and Greens Union has presented its first plans for government. These include a state alcohol monopoly meant to curb alcoholism in the country. Lithuanian commentators show little enthusiasm for the proposal.
State monopolies don't solve problems
Creating a state monopoly won't solve Lithuania's serious problem with alcoholism, writes columnist Ramunė Sotvarė-Šemetienė on web portal Lrt:
“It's obvious that setting up a monopoly won't change consumer behaviour. At most it will only conceal the problem, and that's not a good idea. Because it's not companies that are to blame for alcohol consumption, nor shop opening hours or the large selection of beverages. If we want to crack down on thieving we don't tie everyone's hands as soon as they go out on the street. We don't ban private cars to avoid car accidents. Knives are often involved in street fights and domestic violence. Should we perhaps set up a cutlery monopoly too?”
What a crazy idea!
Writing on web portal Lrytas columnist Algimantas Rusteika finds the idea of a state monopoly chilling:
“The establishment, construction and management of a network of hundreds of state-run liquor stores nationwide would cost more than just a million or even ten million euros. … The drinkers will drink just as much as before but more contraband. The bosses of the smuggling rings are already gleefully anticipating increased profits. A pharmacy monopoly and a state bank will cost another few hundred million euros which we don't have. … And all this will cause nothing but trouble for the budget and the people. I would never have believed that a country that fled the Soviet Union would want to return to socialist and state-run instruments.”