Plans are underway to issue new liquor production permits to several companies engaged in the trade of manufacturing liquor in Sri Lanka, according to sources at Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry of Finance comes under the direct purview of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakasa, who is the country’s Minister of Finance.
A total of 24 licensed companies are currently engaged in the production of liquor in Sri Lanka.
Out of this lot, two currently licensed companies have applied for new licenses, in a bid to increase their market monopoly.
At present the production of liquor in Sri Lanka has doubled surpassing consumption patterns leading to a production surplus.
The issuance of more licenses may lead to increased liquor consumption in the country giving rise to economic, social and cultural problems in the country.
Commissioner General of Excise M.J. Gunasiri speaking in this regard said that that four new applications had been received for the production of beer.
According to Gunasiri the Minister of Finance wields the power to issue new licenses for the production of liquor with the Excise Department required to submit recommendations on the companies seeking permits.
However, the Excise Department has not yet taken any action in this regard, the Commissioner General said.
Out of the 24 excise manufacturing companies in the country, 5 companies contribute about 95% of the excise revenue while the remaining 19 companies contribute only 5% of the excise revenue.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said that some liquor companies were fraudulently evading taxes.
Ranjan Kasthuri – Lankadeepa