News

Restrictions on liquor license categories: Excise Department awaits clarification 

  • What license categories should remain closed/open 

  • Safe and Secure Level One hotels permitted sale to in-house foreigners 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

 

The Excise Department is awaiting an official clarification from the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the Covid-19 Outbreak Task Force committee in order to continue the restrictions presently imposed on various categories of liquor licenses issued by the Department which are presently kept closed in view of the prevailing travel restrictions imposed in the country, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

The Department informed that it is waiting for an official clarification on the names of the liquor licenses that should be kept closed during the period of travel restrictions. 

Deputy Excise Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe told The Sunday Morning that the terms used by the Department regarding liquor license specifications, were not the terms referred to by the said Covid-19 decision making committee, and that therefore, it is not clear as to which licenses should remain closed. 

“Therefore, we are waiting for an official clarification,” he added. 

According to Kumarasinghe, liquor licenses of 82 safe and secure Level One hotels are in operation at present and these hotels can only serve liquor to in-house foreigners. These hotels that engage in tourism and quarantining facilities, as approved by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), were given permission to sell liquor only to foreigners for in-house use, he explained. 

Other than that, all other licenses are currently restricted, and once the clarification that has been sought is given, the Department will take necessary action, he added. 

Meanwhile, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana alleged in Parliament last week that the Finance Ministry was attempting to issue five new liquor manufacturing licenses. 

He alleged that attempts are being made by the Ministry headed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Minister, to increase its revenue. 

However, the Finance Ministry has denied the allegations. 

When queried about the same, Kumarasinghe also denied the allegations, saying that as per their knowledge, there were no such plans at present.