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Much-delayed, scheme of affixing foolproof stickers gets underway

The much-delayed, ambitious scheme of affixing foolproof stickers on legally manufactured liquor bottles now gets underway.

The delay was due to an attempt to hand over the contract to an Indian company, a top official, who declined to be named disclosed .

The sticker system announced in the 2016 Budget was scheduled to be introduced with the view to controlling the illicit liquor circulation in the country and to control the leakages, he said.

But the implementation was delayed due to alleged tender bending although the bidding process was completed in 2017, he added.

Excise Department has banned the sale of all brands of imported liquor without the new foolproof sticker introduced recently by the Department.

Accordingly, the possession, transportation, storingand the sale of imported liquor is illegal unless this newsticker is affixed on containers of foreign liquor.

The Excise Notice No: 4/2019 which was published under Gazette Extraordinary No: 2128/30 issued by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera in this regard under the Excise Ordinanceon June 20, 2019 has been in force effective July 20th.

When this tender was initially called in 2016, the technical committee headed by the then Excise

Commissioner General A. Bodaragama suggested to the cabinet to hand over the contract to an Indian company, Madras Security Printers Pvt Ltd, official documents revealed.

This tender was re-called on February 2017 following objections raised by other bidders.

However, a letter under the signature of a top Treasury official was sent to them stating that the technical committee has again recommended the Indian company to carry out the printing job.

Madras Security Printers had been selected despite the capabilities of the State Printing Corporation and other eligible local firms; several dejected bidders complained adding that this corrupt deal incurring a loss of Rs. 420 million to the state.

The loss in excise revenue due to the delay in implementing the foolproof sticker system runs into several billions of rupees.

According to tender documents, 384 million stickers will have to be printed per year and the contract is for five years.

(LI)

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