- without his approval in 2017 and 2018
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had ordered Excise Commissioner General H.G. Sumanasinghe to investigate as to how licences had been issued without his approval in 2017 and 2018.
The Minister had wanted the report within two weeks.
The procedure followed so far by the Excise Department when issuing liquor licences was to obtain the approval of the Subject Minister or inform the Subject Minister in that regard, according to the Ministry.
The Excise Department has issued 10 new liquor licences in 2017 and 74 in 2018. However, it is reported, as described under the Provisions of the Excise Ordinance, the approval of the Subject Minister was not obtained nor was he informed of these new issuances.
Under the Excise Ordinance, at the discretion of the Subject Minister, he or she could decide whether to issue, renew or cancel any liquor licence or licences at any time at his discretion without any explanation. Accordingly, Excise Commissioner General H.G. Sumanasinghe said that an investigation had already been instituted on the liquor licences which have been issued without obtaining the approval of the Subject Minister or without informing him in 2017-18.
He said all such licences issued in these two years, if found to be issued without meeting regulatory requirements or any corruption detected, action would be taken to cancel such licences.
Meanwhile, the commenting on media reports that four new licences issued to set up distillery factories, Excise Commissioner General Sumanasinghe said that no such new licences had been issued.