Nine leading liquor manufacturing companies in Sri Lanka will get their license suspended, if they fail to settle a massive tax arrears of Rs.6.2 billion within a 14-day ultimatum granted by the Department of Excise with effect from last week, the Daily Mirror learns.
Owing to the tremendous pressure mounted on them with continuous criticism by many stakeholders including the political authority, for not collecting the due taxes on time, the Department of Excise has issued a 14-day ultimatum for top nine liquor producers in the country to settle their arrears up to Rs.6.2 billion or face the threat of getting their license suspended.
A senior Excise official exclusively told the Daily Mirror that they were left with no other option but to issue this ultimatum to collect this staggering amount of tax arrears within such a short period, although one could interpret it as ‘unrealistic’.
According to latest figures and out of the total arrears money of Rs.6.2 billion, a sum of Rs.2.5 billion has been calculated as the tax arrears and the balance of Rs.3.8 as the late payment fees for the aforesaid tax arrears.
The arrears of Excise taxes and late payment fees by some of the said nine companies would date back to 26 years (from 1997 to 2023), while some companies have defaulted its tax payments for the past couple of years.
The controversial liquor manufacturer W. M. Mendis and Co. which got its name tangled with the infamous ‘Bond Scam’ stays in the top for not settling its arrears amounting to Rs.3.4 billion out of the total due moneys.
Also, eight other companies including three liquor manufacturing companies in ‘Wayamba’ belonging to a prominent government politician, Kalutara Distilleries, McCallum breweries and three other companies are in arrears of this payment.
When contacted Excise Spokesperson Additional Commissioner General Kapila Kumarasinghe told the Daily Mirror that these nine companies are currently either going through court cases for defaulting their payments or they have come to terms with the Department of Excise to pay their arrears as much as possible.