Government to amend some archaic laws to support diverse industries
State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya revealed the government will amend some of the archaic laws necessary to support diverse industries in the economy.
“We are going to introduce several new laws to control the liquor industry. When I visited the Excise Department the other day, I came to know that our existing laws are still the same as they were made 60 to 70 years ago to nab sugarcane.
Now the Excise officials have to argue with those who deal with e-money and therefore new regulations will be introduced to amend those archaic laws,” State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.
He made these remarks at a ceremony to issue soft liquor licence for establishments registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) at the Tourism Ministry yesterday.
State Finance Minister revealed that of the total reserves of $ 1.8 billion, only $ 300 million can be utilized for all essential imports, emphasizing the need to develop the tourism industry to boost foreign exchange inflows.
“We must extend certain incentives to develop the tourism industry, but that does not mean it is used to promote the use of alcohol,” he stressed.
On 13 June, the Cabinet Ministers approved to issue soft liquor licenses for the sale of beer and wine to all establishments registered with the SLTDA, as a measure to boost the tourism sector. The proposal to this effect submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stability and National Policies Minister was approved by the Cabinet Ministers.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said it was necessary to amend some of the archaic laws in catering to the diverse lifestyles of tourists as well as to put an end to the misuse of authoritative powers vested among certain law enforcement agencies.
“By allowing soft liquor does not mean we undermine the culture of our country, but rather accommodating our guests. This will help promote tourism and improve foreign exchange income for the country as well as all tourism stakeholders. This license also prevents certain law enforcement agency officials harassing the tourist establishments unnecessarily,” he explained.
Fernando also said this will also provide a level playing field for the stakeholders to draw crowds rather than limiting one restaurant or hotel to draw crowds and create additional employment opportunities.
The fee for the soft liquor license is Rs. 25,000 and it is required to be renewed annually.
Accordingly, all SLTDA registered star-class hotels, boutique hotels, boutique villas, eco-friendly rest houses, historic hotels, tourist hotels, tourist guest houses, tourist hostels, tourist bungalows, camp sites, historic bungalows, historic residences, tourist restaurants, food courts and tourist apartments will be allowed to sell soft liquor subject to conditions with effect from 28 July.