Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said he has instructed the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to cancel the Gazette notifications issued last week regarding liquor sales to women and the opening hours of licensed liquor outlets. Accordingly, the gazette notification issued by the Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera removing the ban on females from buying alcohol and working at establishments that produce or sell alcohol and the revision of the business hours of all licensed liquor shops in Sri Lanka will be void from 15th January. The President announced his decision to revoke the gazette notification at a Sri Lanka Freedom Party rally in Agalawatta today. Speaking at the meeting, the President said he learned about the gazette notification removing the archaic ban on women purchasing alcohol and time extension of liquor outlets through the media and the gazette notifications would be cancelled when the Finance Minister who is on a visit to India returns tomorrow.
“I expressed my view on the recent revision to the regulations on alcohol control to Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and the positive outcomes of my intervention will soon be seen,” he said in a Twitter post. Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera on 10th January announced that he amended the schedule in the Excise Notification no.666 of the Gazette Extraordinary of 1979 to allow females over 18 years to purchase alcohol legally and to allow women to be employed in licensed premises without prior approval from Excise Commissioner. Department of Fiscal Policy of the Ministry of Finance issued an extraordinary gazette notification on 11th January revising the business hours of licensed liquor shops. Finance Minister’s move changing the 1955 law banning women from buying alcohol was welcomed by many in Sri Lanka as a positive step towards equal rights for women. Minister Samaraweera last year said Sri Lanka’s archaic laws are an impediment to development and one of his key objectives as the minister in charge of finance will be to ensure that all the agencies of the ministry within a state-of-the-art legislative framework.