Canada province moves to privatise liquor stores

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Canada has moved a step closer to a privatised drinks retailing industry, following Saskatchewan province's plan to privatise 40 of its liquor stores. 

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) said earlier this week that 40 government liquor stores would be converted to private outlets and a further 12 private stores would be opened in "under-served communities". 

The changes are expected to come into play after provincial elections in April next year. 

SLGA minister Don McMorris said:  "Saskatchewan consumers will enjoy more choice, more convenience and more competitive pricing." He also said the new direction would allow the government to collect the same amount of revenue "through a new wholesale markup".  

In its consultation review document, the SLGA said a common wholesale price would replace the existing discount structure where retailers receive varying discounts. 

Currently, alcohol is retailed by government liquor stores, private stores, rural franchises and off-sale outlets. SLGA said that within these groups, there are many different rules including different discounts, restrictions on the type of products they can sell, restrictions on what beer products can be refrigerated and differences in how products can be priced.

The move follows a consultation which launched in November 2014. 

Alberta became the first to privatise liquor retailing in 1993. 

Earlier this year, Canadian province Ontario said it will allow 60 grocery stores to sell beer as it continued plans to relax alcohol monopoly laws.

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