The Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention pointed out that the mass scale artificial toddy production in Kalutara for supply to upcountry, hill country estates and plantations, the manufacturing which was currently taking place with political patronage, was a major problem in the area.
According to the Task Force, the destination of the said toddy was Nuwara Eliya.
Director of the Task Force, Dr. Samantha Kumara Kithalawaarachchi said that a Cabinet paper that had been submitted to ban the said synthetic manufacturing was being delayed by the Minister of Finance.
He added that politicians affiliated to the Kalutara Pradeshiya Sabha, the Western Provincial Council and even Parliamentarians were allegedly involved in such. “With toddy, one can obtain a license to transport the toddy immediately after it has been tapped from the tree. Yet, in this instance, tanks have been set up to which they add sugar and urea, and keep the mix for fermentation,” he further said.
Elsewhere, the Task Force was unavailable to produce details in relation to a query made with regard to finding out how many MPs possessed bar, liquor licences. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe too had recently put forward a request seeking that the Ministry of Finance provide him with a list of MPs who possessed liquor licences. The Minister had also stated that as per a directive by President Maithripala Sirisena, it was the MPs who should implement the anti-narcotic and anti-liquor initiatives.
“It is the Department of Excise coming under the purview of the Ministry of Finance which would possess the information pertaining to such. These licences of MPs are mainly found to be in the names of their spouses and relatives,” Dr. Kithalawaarachchi explained.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and the University of Colombo launched a centre cum website for the purpose of monitoring the illegal activities including promotional campaigns of tobacco companies.