Insisting that beer prices should not be reduced as proposed in Budget 2018, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that the Finance Minister was furnished with the wrong information on liquor consumption by a researcher.
“Colombo University has not done a study. It was one academic who has done analysis based on census and statistics data in his personal capacity. He too has not conducted any research but done the analysis based on secondary data. So this has become unreliable,” he said.
Refuting the data in the said analysis, Senaratne said that illicit liquor consumption in the country was less than 10%, while hard liquor was also below 50%.
As the Health Minister of the country, Senaratne said he was opposed to reducing the prices of beer.
“Beer is consumed by children and those in the Below 25 Years age group. Beer is what children consume as they experiment with alcohol. If we allow prices to reduce, we will be making alcohol more accessible to children,” he claimed.
Speaking of the good reputation the country has earned in following an anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol policy, the Minister said he was not ready to compromise the hard work done through the health sector by reducing beer prices.
Further, he highlighted that all professional medical organisations were also against slashing the price of beer due to concerns linked to public health.