Sri Lanka sozzled to the gills
Some 106,744,533 litres guzzled p. a. despite Mathata Thitha

The local production and import of liquor had shown a marked increase since 2005, the year in which Mathata Thitha under the Mahinda Chinthana programme commenced, Parliament was told yesterday (23).

The production of local liquor in 2006 increased by 16.9 percent, 30.2 percent in 2007 and 19.4 percent compared to 2005, State Revenue and Finance Minister Ranjith Siymabalapitiya said.

Percentage wise the import of foreign liquor, too, had shot up by 3.13 percent in 2006, 63.97 percent in 2007 and 33.26 percent in 2008 as compared with imports of 2005, he said.

Local arrack production stood at over 38.4 million litres in 2005, but this amount rose to 44.9 million in 2006, 50.08 million in 2007 and 45.9 million liters in 2008.

The local production of beer, which stood at around 51.5 million litres in 2005, had dropped to around 46.8 million litres in 2006 and then increased to 49.5 million in 2007 and in 2008 production levels had reached 57.4 million litres, the Minister said.

Local wine production which was 6,317 litres in 2005 had increased to 10,894.93 litres in 2006, 45,172.87 litres in 2007, but dropped to 8271.41 litres in 2008.

Foreign liquor imports which was around 1.3 million litres in 2005 stood at around 1.2 million litres in 2006. In 2007 it had increased to 2.1 million litres and recorded a drop in 2008 to around 1.7 million litres, the House was informed.

The total amount of liquor produced by 30 companies in this country during last year was 103,375,246.14 litres. The total quantity of liquor imported during the same year stood at 3,369,287 litres at a cost of rupees 2,457,517,630.

The annual tax revenue generated from imported liquor during 2008 was Rs 685,584,297.

Minister Siyambalapitiya was answering questions raised by JVP MP Ranaweera Pathirana, who asked how the government could say that it had implemented its Mathata Thitha programme properly.

Minister Siyambalapitiya said that the government had stopped issuing permits for liquor shops, restaurants, bars and wine stores. New permits would only be issued to tourist hotels. The Excise Department had increased its raids by 100 percent, he said. He hoped that within a very short period the illicit liquor business could be brought to an end.

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