Another minister dumbfounded by Sri Lanka’s peculiar booze laws

Eran Wickremaratne

Hot on the heels of Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera calling for the restrictions on the sale of alcohol on certain days to be liberalized, Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne said he was stunned to find out that women cannot legally purchase liquor in Sri Lanka.

“I was at a meeting in the Excise Department. For the first time I heard that women cannot legally purchase arrack in Sri Lanka. I asked where did that come from? I was amazed at it,” Wickramaratne said. He said that this law has been in force for decades but that no one has bothered to change it, similar to other laws that are biased against women.

However, women do not face much difficulty in purchasing alcohol in Sri Lanka as the law is seldom enforced, similar to how certain traffic laws are not enforced in Sri Lanka.

Samaraweera last month said that alcohol sales should be made legal on Buddhist holidays and Christmas, since alcohol sales start rising on the lead up to such holidays and reach the peak during the holiday, when alcohol is sold illegally.

He also said that the tax structure on beer and wine—which is higher than on hard liquor—should be revisited in order to divert consumption from hard liquor and illicit alcohol.

Sri Lanka’s regressive alcohol taxation policies have drawn wide criticism for forcing citizens to consume illegal and illicit substitutes and medical practitioners have noted that this is causing worse health problems than from consuming alcohol produced to standard.

(Source: Daily Mirror)