Sri Lanka probes new alcohol licenses
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera has ordered a probe on alcohol sales license issued in 2017 and 2018, without his knowledge, a statement said.
The finance ministry said in 2017, 10 liquor licenses and in 2018, 74 alcohol licenses are reported to have been issued.
Under the prevailing practice, the finance minister is usually informed or his approval is sought, the statement said.
The statement quoted Excise Commissioner H G Sumanasinghe as saying that a probe had already been launched.
If there had been any corruption or the licenses had been issued to persons who were not qualified, they may be revoked, Sumanasinghe was quoted as saying.
In Sri Lanka approvals provided to citizen under several laws have a provision for ‘minister’s concurrence’ which activists say leaves room for deliberate delay resulting in corruption or extortion.
Any citizen that can meet the any criteria for a license or facility should automatically qualify at the relevant department under law, without interference from political authority, they say.
In several free countries, people have liberated themselves from minister’s concurrence by giving a limited period (two weeks) for the political authority to raise objections and concurrence to be presumed thereafter. (Colombo/Sept14/2019)