It was on 2019 had the government initiated a program to affix a special sticker on locally produced and imported liquor bottles to increase the tax revenue of the government by suspending the sale of non-taxable liquor under the Excise Act. The initiation was introduced with the intervention of the Excise Department.
In the first round, the sticker was introduced for imported liquor bottles and the program was later expanded to the local liquor manufacture as well.
The initiation, however, has met with a strong objection by two leading liquor companies in the island, namely DCSL and Ceylon Beverage Holdings.
The procurement process for the manufacture of this sticker has involved an Indian company, which holds a local agent in the country, namely Ceylon Business Appliances, which, according to business sources, has falsified information to the Excise Department in a bid to win the tender for printing stickers.
Ceylon Business Appliances has a liability of over Rs. 1.2 billion, but the information provided to the Department detail that the liability amounts to only Rs. 100 million.
Further, the Indian company is also among the companies that are blacklisted in India, leading to failed business deals in several countries in the African region, including Sudan, business sources added.
Behind the procurement involving a blacklisted company is a powerful but unseen political fist, sources went on, pointing out that the affair has been proceeded with in the event that a large sum of money could be remitted to the said company on a monthly basis.
The average monthly consumption of liquor in Sri Lanka exceeds 40 million bottles, and this company sells one sticker to the Excise Department for Rs. 02. The agreement signed between the two parties reveal that the Excise Department is entitled to purchase a minimum of 32 million stickers per month.
On the other hand, a digital application ought to be developed in reading the information contained in the sticker via QR, to clarify whether the liquor bottle was legally sold or not. This project, at all aspects, may not be practical as this would be an utter waste of public funds, experts in the field denoted.
Stay tuned for more information on this affair.