Approved amendments to the Excise Ordnance

10 - March - 2018 | 299 Views | Share

Parliament approved amendments to the Excise Ordnance on Thursday prohibiting the tapping of coconut and palmyrah trees without obtaining licences and allowed tapping only the kithul tree for toddy without a licence. 

The new law will come into effect from 1 April 2018.

Moving to the second reading debate on the Bill, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne held that the Government was committed to reducing the use of alcohol every step of the way, making use of issuing licences. 

“We will monitor toddy production and control it making use of this new licence. But we need to clarify that the Government is not trying to popularise or increase the use of alcohol by giving licences,” he said.

According to the WHO Status Report on Alcohol, the per person use of spirit, which stood at 2.2 litres between 2003 and 2005, increased to 3.7 litres from 2008-2010. 

“We need to reduce alcohol use in Sri Lanka. If you compare Sri Lanka with the region, it is true that we have a higher usage. This is due to some countries banning alcohol use due to cultural and religious reasons. 

But India and Thailand are way ahead of us. In Thailand it is 8.3 litres per person. Sri Lankans consume 85% hard liquor and 13% soft liquor. The use of illicit liquor, which is extremely dangerous to humans,is increasing. On the other hand, the health expenses borne by the Government keep increasing,” the Minister added.

The Minister offered a clarificationthat the gazette notification allowing women to buy liquor was rejected at the Cabinet meeting,saying: “There was a barrier in Sri Lanka to obtain liquor. But it is a matter of equal rights between males and females. Marking International Women’s Day, I assure that the Government is committed to gender equality even though the role of the male and the female could differ. Our recent attempt, which was criticised at different levels, was to create gender parity but not to increase consumption.”

The amendment is cited as the Excise (Amendment) Act, which is proposed to come into operation on 1 April 2018 by repealing and replacing paragraph (b) and (c) of Section 15 of the Excise Ordinance. The replacement paragraphs (b) and (c) provides: “No tree producing toddy, other than Kithul tree, will be tapped. No toddy will be drawn or lowered from any tree other than the Kithul tree.”

Prior to the proposed amendments, the tapping of coconut and palmyrah trees did not require any licencing. 

According to Section 20 of the Excise Ordnance, when any exclusive privilege of manufacturing and selling toddy has been granted under Section 19, the Minister can declare that the written permission of the grantee to draw toddy will have the same force and effect under a licence obtained from the District Secretariat suitable for the purpose.

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