By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana
The use of poisonous chemical concoction to produce artificial toddy, which is the key ingredient of manufacturing vinegar in Sri Lanka, has been brought to the knowledge of the State Minister of Finance, who admitted a tax leakage of Rs.40 billion per annum as a result, Excise sources said.
The issue was transpired when State Minister of Money Ajith Nivard Cabral was responding to a series of queries raised by opposition parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana in the House last week, over the use of artificial or chemically brewed toddy to manufacture vinegar.
Minister Cabral said two methods are adopted to determine the quality of the toddy or ‘Maha Ra’ being used for the production of vinegar, which is either to send suspicious samples of artificial toddy to the Government Analyst or to perform a laboratory test within the local vinegar plants by the Excise officials.
Thus, he said that there wouldn’t be any room for the artificially brewed toddy to end up in vinegar industry.
For this MP Pathirana insisted that instead of depending on the data and reports prepared by the relevant authorities or the Excise officials, who were the competent authority in charge of monitoring the quality of toddy and vinegar in the country, the Minister should do an independent research on the actual situation of entering artificial toddy into the vinegar industry.
The MP further said that whatever the reports being made by the authorities regarding the regularization of toddy in the vinegar industry, the actual situation is far from that where a considerable amount of chemical toddy is entering into the industry, which a serious health hazard to the consumers.
State Minister Cabral however, agreed on conducting a research on this with the assistance of Excise and health officials as well as Consumer Affairs Authority too to determine whether the hazardous artificial toddy being used in vinegar manufacturing.
Many media reports in the recent past disclosed how toddy is illegally being produced by using merely Ammonia, Urea, sugar and wasted nickel cadmium batteries, as the actual supply of natural coconut toddy is barely sufficient for the vinegar industry.