In a significant move, a group of 17 civil activists has come together to file a fundamental rights petition before the Supreme Court, urging relevant authorities to take action in recovering overdue taxes from prominent liquor manufacturing entities such as W. Mendis, North West Distilleries, Randenigala Distilleries, Higa-Rana Distilleries, and others. The petition targets key figures including the Excise Commissioner, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Minister of State for Finance, Auditor General, and the defaulting liquor companies as respondents.
The activists also insist on the issuance of an order to suspend licenses granted to these liquor production companies until their outstanding arrears are settled. Emphasizing the financial impact, the petitioners reveal that the government faces a substantial revenue shortfall of 101 billion rupees in 2022, with 26 billion specifically attributed to uncollected excise duty. They assert that the failure to collect these taxes not only affects the country’s economic stability but also stands as a major factor contributing to Sri Lanka’s economic downturn, even in the aftermath of a financial crisis.