REGINA—A public policy think-tank says the Saskatchewan government will lose revenue if it goes through with a plan to privatize liquor sales.
A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says privatization would drain $115 million from the province’s books over the next five years
The government announced last fall that it will make 40 of its 75 liquor stores private outlets if the Saskatchewan Party is re-elected at the ballot box in April.
Report author David Campanella says wholesale liquor costs have been increasing an average of six per cent a year—a major cost the government would face which isn’t included in the privatization proposal.
He also says the government’s markup on wholesale prices is being reduced by about 25 per cent—another loss of revenue.
Don McMorris, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, says the information in the report is wrong.
“It’s just not accurate at all,” McMorris said Feb. 11. “They really need to go back to the very first paper we put out that would dispel and answer so many of the questions and conclusions they’ve made regarding revenue neutral for government.
“That first document was an education piece. Obviously they didn’t read it.”
McMorris said the government will still sell liquor to stores at the price the government decides, so no revenue will be lost.
“The vast majority of revenue is created from when government brings the alcohol in to marking it up, and then it’s retailed after that.”