Online liquor proposal sent to Finance Ministry: Excise
2 years ago
By Mihi Perera and Dinitha Rathnayake A proposal to allow consumers to purchase alcohol online through supermarket delivery services was submitted to the Ministry of Finance by the Excise Department yesterday (15), the Department said. Commissioner and Spokesman of the Excise Department Kapila Kumarasinghe told The Morning that requests have been received from various parties to allow for the purchase of liquor online from supermarkets. He said the said recommendations have already been submitted to the Ministry of Finance and that conditional permission could be obtained from the Ministry. Excise Department Commissioner General M.J. Gunasiri had said earlier this week that the continued prohibition on liquor sales due to the existing travel restrictions in the country is resulting in a Rs. 600 million daily tax loss for the Department. Speaking to the media, he said that since the sale of alcohol was banned with the indefinite closure of all licensed liquor sales outlets, the consumption of illicit liquor has also increased. “We have observed that the production and the demand for illicit liquor and drugs have increased. Some people have even resorted to distilling spirits at home. This is a dangerous trend as the illegal brew can even poison tipplers due to the lack of standardisation. The Excise Department has received many concerns from members of the public on purchasing liquor during the past month. We are considering this due to the high demand for illicit liquor and drugs.” He also revealed that the Excise Department has conducted 370 raids till 30 April this year, concerning illegal contraband such as cigarettes and ethanol, and that 90 raids had been done with regard to alcohol. Local liquor is also available in the black market at exorbitant prices. A 750 ml bottle of Extra Special Arrack (commonly known as “gal”), usually sold at Rs. 1,600, had spiked to Rs. 5,000 over the past few days. The pricing had started at around Rs. 2,500 per bottle, but had shot up as the product remained out of bounds with the extension of the travel restrictions, sources told The Morning. The Excise Department granted permission to facilitate the sale of liquor in “Safe and Secure Level One Hotels” during the travel restrictions, which are Tourist Board-approved star-class properties which accommodate foreign visitors. The foreigners arriving in Sri Lanka under the air transport bio-bubble travel concept can be served liquor if they are in-house guests of a star-class hotel. This facility was granted to give foreigners access to liquor during their stay in Sri Lanka.