W.M. Mendis and Co is in the process of constructing an alcohol distillery in Kalkudah, Batticaloa. Incidentally, the firm is owned by Arjun Aloysius -who has been implicated by the Parliament Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in the Central Bank bond controversy.
A report from The Sunday Times newspaper says that the company may receive a major tax concession for the construction of this distillery under a budget proposal effective in 2017.
Arjun Aloysius’ liquor manufacturing firm is likely to receive a 100% capital allowance for locating its proposed four billion-rupee alcohol distillery at Kalkudah. – according to the Sunday Times.
According to the newspaper, approval to set up a grain-based Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) distillery was granted to W M Mendis well before the 2017 budget proposals were announced.
The paper trail shows that authorisation was given just 18 weeks after a presidential election that was won, among other things, on a premise of eradicating drugs and alcohol.
The report say the Fiscal Policy Department wrote to the Excise Department on the 13th of May 2015 saying the ENA distillery was approved as a pilot while the latter gave the requisite clearance a record two days later.
The newspaper points out that both departments were — and still are — under the purview of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
According to TNA MP S. Viyalendiran, Batticaloa has the most number of liqour shops in the country. He pointed out that there was a demand from the people requesting that no more liqour shops be opened in Batticaloa.
“But, after the Good Governance came into power, not only liqour shops, an alcohol distillery is being opened in Kalkudah under the Chairmanship of Arjun Aloysius. The cost of this project is 4.5 billion rupees.” the MP said.
Viyalendiran says that the construction was opposed by the District Secretary, the Divisional Secretary, the Pradeshiya Sabha and even the Divisional Secretary in Valachchenai. He added that the project is continuing without the Pradeshiya Sabha approval.
A News 1st camera captured the footage today (March 19) of the ongoing construction of the alcohol distillery in Kalkudah, Batticaloa, as claimed by the MP.