Sri Lanka should relax issuing licenses for beer & wine: FinMin

Mangala-Samaraweera

June 23, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister told Parliament Thursday that the country needs to relax issuing liquor licenses for beer & wine as it may reduce illegal liquor consumption.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the ministry is now collecting information and is having discussions with the relevant parties with regard to the issue of licenses.

“When we keep increasing fees and duties, people tend to consume more illegal liquor affecting health. Illegal liquor consumption is currently around 61 percent,” Samaraweera said.

“So, we are looking forward to modify and amend liquor license issuing procedures.”

He said Sri Lanka also needs to reduce dry days to attract more tourists especially in the peak tourist seasons.

Dry days are usually considered days when the sale of alcohol is not permitted; such as public holidays like Poya days. Wine stores and bars are closed on these days and mini bars of hotels would be the only available option.

“Even the Christmas day where the highest numbers of tourists come here has been considered as a dry day,” Samaraweera said.

“We need to revise these outdated laws in order to become a tourist paradise and also to earn foreign exchange while developing the sector.”

Finance Minister further stressed that even a Buddhist country like Thailand closes liquor shops only on general election days.

Samaraweera was speaking while presenting a motion before the Parliament to reduce the license fee of distilleries.

Accordingly, the license fee of distilleries will be officially reduced from 100 million rupees to 1 million.

2016 budget increased distillery license fee from 100 thousand rupees to 100 million and license for manufacture of liquor from 50 thousand to 50 million rupees.

The increase has however not materialized as there are several cases including fundamental rights petitions filed against the government decision to raise the particular license fee.

Small and medium scale liquor producers in the recent past requested the Finance Ministry to reduce the license fee citing difficulties to pay a higher license fee.