By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
A writ petition has been filed in Court of Appeal seeking an order quashing the contract awarded to supply security stickers to an Indian printing company by the Excise Department.
The petitioner- Lasantha Kumara a resident of Colombo- 05 also sought an order staying the Commissioner General of Excise Department from purchasing any sticker whatsoever or making any payment to the Madras Security Printers, an Indian security printing company.
Filing the petition through Counsel Jayamuditha Jayasooriya, the petitioner was further seeking an order directing the Commissioner General of Excise department to implement a system to prevent local manufactures of liquor from evading or avoiding the due payment of taxes or levies to the State. The Petitioner states that he expected to prevent a loss of revenue to a magnitude of several billions as a result of the illegal and unlawful decisions and practices of the Excise Department.
The Petitioner states that he expected to prevent a loss of revenue to a magnitude of several billions
The petitioner further said Commissioner General of Excise Department by his letter dated 19.01.2021 addressed to the Secretary to the Treasury had informed that the affixing of stickers on foreign liquor was successfully continuing with effect from 20.07.2019 and his department could not implement the affixing of stickers on locally manufactured liquor due to practical issues and COVID-19 pandemic though it was to be commenced on 20.08.2019.
The Petitioner states that the Excise Department was obliged to pay a sum of Rs. 32 million every month to the Madras Security Printers. The Petitioner states that according to the information he had received that the Commissioner General of Excise Department had awarded the said contract without conducting a proper technical evaluation and also without following the tender procedures.
The Petitioner states that the printing of direct codes on bottles and cans could cost only 15 cents which had been the practice adopted in many countries but the Commissioner General of Excise Department was now spending about Rs. 2 per bottle which was not a safer method than the printing of direct marking codes.
The Petitioner states that Buddhika Pathirana, Member of Parliament raised the said issue in Parliament on 20th of April 2021 and he pointed out the corrupt practice adopted by the Excise Department by granting the said contract for the supply of security stickers and the said company was a blacklisted company in India as well as in several other countries. The Petitioner states that MP Buddhika Pathirana categorically pointed out that the State had to suffer over Rs. 1 billion as a result of the corrupt and illegal practice adopted by the Commissioner General of Excise Department.
The petitioner further states that this corrupt practice had caused a great foreign exchange loss to the Government of Sri Lanka
The petitioner had cited Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle, Commissioner General of Excise Department M.J. Gunasiri, Madras Security Printers Company and Attorney General as respondents.
This petition is to be taken up for support on August 23.