The Finance Ministry has recommended that measures be taken to stem corruption among excise officers and that companies involved in the liquor bottle security sticker scam be imposed heavy fines and have their liquor licences cancelled.
The recommendations are included in a report the Ministry has submitted to President Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding corrupt practices in the local liquor trade, a senior Finance Ministry official told the Sunday Times.
The Ministry has also recommended that orders be issued to liquor producers that they should install CCTV systems inside their factories, with the systems being connected to the Excise Department so the production process could be monitored.
Given the accusations that some excise officers are also involved in the scam, excise officers deployed as inspectors to any manufacturing plants where liquor bottles with fake security stickers have been produced must be transferred immediately, the Finance Ministry has recommended. As an additional measure, all excise officers deployed to liquor manufacturing plants as inspectors should be rotated every six months.
Another recommendation is to call for a report regarding liquor licence holders who possess multiple permits for the same area, allowing them to sell liquor at several locations in close proximity.
A copy of the Finance Ministry’s report has also been forwarded to Parliament’s Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka. The Committee, too, has been probing the fake security sticker scam.
Meanwhile, as of Friday, the Excise Department had seized about 48,000 liquor bottles suspected to contain fake security stickers, Excise Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe said.
He said the Excise Department was also compiling a detailed report containing information such as how many bottles with fake security stickers had been recovered from the market, the estimated tax loss suffered by the state, the companies involved, and the persons responsible. The report will be submitted to Parliament, the Finance Ministry, and the Presidential Secretariat.
In addition to confiscating the bottles with fake stickers, the Excise Department was planning to impose a tax on the companies involved, depending on the number of bottles found with fake security stickers, Mr. Kumarasinghe said.