There has been intense pressure from Parliamentarians and other politicos demanding the issuance of new liquor licences.

These licences are demanded especially to operate various types of bars. These demands come despite strict policy decisions taken at the highest level to discourage the consumption of liquor, key government officials confirmed.

Governmental units tasked with the eradication of intoxicants including drugs and alcohol, with presidential level authorization for carrying out the task, explained that only a letter issued by the Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention to the Commissioner General of Excise has so far thwarted these efforts.

Presidential Task Force Director on Drug Prevention Dr. Samantha Kumara Kithalawaarachchi confirmed that there have been a large number of such requests. He added that only this document has been standing in the way of the said politicians and their requests to obtainment of relevant bar licences.

These licences are primarily for the political supporters of MPs. It has been a practice adopted by many politicians in the past to reward their supporters, who have for example funded their election campaigns, with liquor licences.

Meanwhile, the incidence of rackets involving the wholesale (200 to 300 bottles in certain cases) of undeclared foreign liquor by certain Customs and Immigration and Emigration officials utilizing duty free shops for the rackets has been uncovered by law enforcement agencies.  “Fortunately President Maithripala Sirisena has clearly seen the health and economic burden that results from use of alcohol which is three times the income earned via its sale. Often families get separated and there are also road traffic accidents and sexual violence that takes place as a result. All others see only the business angle,” Dr.Kithalawaarachchi further explained.