Sri Lanka government is ready assist local toddy producers to enter into international markets by manufacturing quality and unadulterated alcoholic beverages for exports to earn much needed foreign exchange.
Finance State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya noted that all necessary steps would be taken to take Sri Lanka’s toddy to the international market.
He said that with the current foreign exchange crisis, the demand for natural Sri Lankan toddy in the world market is high, and a huge demand has been created in the international market.
The minister emphasized that the manufacturing of artificial toddy, had posed a huge threat to the toddy industry. Therefore, it was very much needed to increase the natural toddy production in the country.
This was revealed following a discussion held with several toddy manufacturers and exporters at the Ministry.
He said necessary arrangements will be made to collect tax from the production of a litre of toddy, and he further informed the producers to give it their maximum support.
The attention of the minister also focused on the urgent construction of laboratories outside Colombo to test the quality of toddy product
The Excise Department and relevant authorities have been directed to facilitate exports of locally produced alcoholic beverages in demand by clearing legal hurdles.
Two newly formed companies are to produce popular fruit-based alcoholic beverage cider, using local fruits and milk- based alcoholic beverage milk punch, targeting export markets.
In 2022, the country exported US $ 21 million worth of alcoholic beverages to 35 countries, slightly up from US $ 20 million in export earnings recorded in 2020.
Minister Siyambalapitiya disclosed that locally produced coconut, kithul and palmyrah toddy are becoming popular in several foreign countries.
Measures will be taken to promote locally produced toddies, by organizing a toddy festival targeting foreign consumers heeding to a proposal made by a leading local corporate.
Further, Siyambalapitiya also opined that suitable import substitutions are needed to curb forex outflows through foreign liquor imports while noting that the country imported over US $ 2 million worth of wine and whisky alone in 2022 despite the economic crisis.
The legal alcohol consumption in the country has declined by 20-30 percent in recent months, owing to the economic crisis and high taxation.
The Excise Department was able to collect Rs.170 billion in taxes in 2022, closer to the Rs.185 billion target set by the government, which is mainly due to the implementation of a foolproof sticker and labeling system.
For this year, the government has set a daunting Rs.217 billion revenue target for the Excise Department.