Excise Department considering soft liquor licences for establishments sans SLTDA registration – The Morning


  • Move aimed at mitigating illicit liquor sales 

By Imesh Ranasinghe

The Excise Department is looking into issuing soft liquor licences to tourist establishments that are not approved by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), The Sunday Morning Business learns.

A high-ranking official at the Excise Department said that many of the tourism establishments which had not registered with the STLDA due to the lengthy process had started selling soft liquor illegally without a licence.

So far the licences have been given only for SLTDA-approved tourist establishments by the Excise Department. In a recent raid conducted in Ella by the Excise Department, five tourist hotels were found to be operating without licence for soft liquor.

“Under the present criteria it is hard for them to obtain the licence, so now we are planning to give the licence in a more convenient manner,” sources said. 

According to sources, the validity of the proposed new licence would be seasonal or annual as the discussions are still going on. It was also revealed that SLTDA had about seven officers to check the licences of the tourist establishments in the country while the Excise Department has about 1,200 officers to check licences.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that some tourist establishments operate without licence by bribing Excise officers in the area.

However, SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijayasinghe said that the new method would be introduced to ease the process of obtaining licences for newly-approved tourist establishments.

The Department of Excise issues 45 different types of licences based on the type of business. Licence fees are fixed for each type and in certain categories, subsidiary licences are issued free of charge. A fee of Rs. 7,500 is levied for a non-refundable application. Excise licences are renewed for periods of three years and the licence holder can opt to renew annually.

According to Excise Notification No. 983 in the Excise Ordinance, the annual licence fee of the Distillery Licence, except palmyrah, is Rs. 100 million, while the manufacturer’s wholesale arrack/beer/foreign liquor outlet licence, toddy bottling licence, wholesale licence for liquor, supermarket liquor licence, and Tourist Board-approved hotel licence for hotels with over 200 rooms stands at Rs. 1 million each.

As of September 2019, there were about 245 tourist establishments approved by the SLTDA with soft liquor licences.



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