Three licences allegedly issued for large-scale distilleries
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera was issuing liquor permits to third-party acquaintances to strengthen UNP presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa's faction, similar to what he did during former President Chandrika Bandaranaike's tenure, MP Udaya Gammanpila yesterday charged.
Addressing the media, the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader charged that Mr Samaraweera was intoxicating the people to promote his neo-liberal agenda and betray the country.
Responding to a question on three licences being issued recently to start liquor manufacturing plants, the MP said, "Issuing liquor permits was a way of winning political loyalty from the time of J. R. Jayawardena to Chandrika Bandaranaike. It was stopped during the term of Mahinda Rajapaksa, and again it commenced after this government came to power."
He added that Mr Samaraweera knew that certain UNPers liked having liquor permits, and had, therefore, started issuing them to strengthen the Premadasa faction. "I ask Minister Premadasa whether he agrees with winning political loyalty through issuing liquor permits and whether this was the same as his 'Sasunata Aruna' programme," Mr Gammanpila asked. "I request Minister Premadasa to reply me promptly on this," he added.
Meanwhile, Excise Department Deputy Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe told the Daily Mirror that they were unaware of three licences being issued recently for any large-scale distilleries.
However, he said they would inquire about this soon as all officials in charge of such operations were participating in the Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition being held in Jaffna. He said he would comment further on this as soon as they returned to Colombo and their offices. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama and Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana)