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Govt. to cut ties with alcohol industry; sponsorships, CSR projects to be stopped

A national alcohol control policy intended to cut direct or indirect ties between the alcohol industry and both government and non-governments sectors is to be introduced soon.

Abolishing of the duty free import and sale of alcohol products is also among the far reaching changes advocated by the national policy which seeks to cut down the high prevalence of alcoholism in the country and reduce the social economic problems associated with it. The draft has been gazetted.

When implemented, the researchers and funders with direct or indirect links with the alcohol industry or its front-organisations, in the past or present, will be excluded from any initiatives related to this policy.

Also steps will be taken to phase out all Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects by the alcohol industry. This is because such CSR projects allowed access to and influencing of Government and Non-Government sectors.

There will also be a curb on sponsorship or support from the alcohol industry for development or implementation of public health, fiscal, education, trade, a youth, sports and other government policies and programmes. The policy also envisages new legislation and regulations to stop all forms of promotion of alcohol use through locally and internationally produced publications and entertainment programmes including television, dramas and cinema. Directors, translators, sponsors and the media organisations transmitting such programmes would be held liable for violations.

The policy also seeks to improve transparency of alcohol taxation to ensure that the the tax that the government receives from each price increase is made public. The data will also be made publicly accessible with steps taken to ensure that production volumes are not underestimated when computing the taxes due to the Government.

Tax concessions such as Board of Investment (BOI) status are also to be withdrawn for production, distribution and sale of alcohol within Sri Lanka.

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