This is the second largest jump in the number of new liquor licences issued by the Excise Department since 2006.
In 2014, 83 new licenses were issued. The number dropped significantly since then to 52 in 2015; 38 in 2016; and ten in 2017 before the sharp rise last year.
The statistics were published in the Excise Department’s 2018 performance report presented to Parliament this week.
It also shows that tax revenue has fallen since 2017, recording a 6.87 percent decrease. But it picked up again last year, showing a negligible 0.8 percent increase from Rs 113,027 billion to Rs 113,936 billion.
There is a difference of Rs 900 between a proof litre of hard liquor and of malt liquor (beer), the report says. It observes that consumers of hard liquor have shifted to beer consumption owing to decrease of tax on malt liquor. Hard liquor income fell due to a decline in production after prices were increased.
Meanwhile, one licence issued for the manufacturing of cigarettes and 521 licences issued for beedi, cigars and pipe tobacco were renewed in 2018. Tax on imported tobacco has decreased by 30.9 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, the report adds.
The total number of detections of illicit liquour and drugs during 2018 was 49,312. This was an increase of 830 detections compared to the previous year. The Department collected Rs 253,629,165 in fines from detections last year.
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by sundaytimes.lk has not been edited by SLM staff).