Tipsy tussle Cabinet withdraws gazette notification Ban on sale of alcohol to women to remain

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By 2018-01-17

By Methmalie Dissanayake and
Ravi Ladduwahetty

Just a few days after Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera lifted the four-decade- long restriction imposed on women purchasing alcohol, the Cabinet yesterday (16), decided to withdraw the Gazette Notification overturning the 1979 law which prohibited the sale of any type of alcohol to women. Samaraweera, on 10 January, amended the schedule in the Excise Notification Number 666 of the Gazette...... Extraordinary of 1979, to allow females over 18 years to purchase alcohol and to allow women to be employed in licensed premises without prior approval from the Commissioner General of Excise. Furthermore, the business hours of all liquor stores had been revised by the Minister of Finance.

However, criticizing Samaraweera's move, President Maithripala Sirisena said that he will take steps to rescind the Minister's orders.
Informing the media of this decision during a press conference held at SLFP head office yesterday (16), Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the Cabinet had unanimously agreed with the President to withdraw the Gazette Notification signed by the Minister of Finance.

He said, "During the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, we discussed this Gazette Notification signed by Minister Samaraweera. He explained that his idea was to restore gender neutrality. Several other Ministers also explained their views on the matter. After that, the Cabinet unanimously decided to withdraw the Gazette Notification."
Samarasinghe said that, simplifying the laws imposed on alcohol is against the Sri Lankan culture. "We should protect our society and our families. Everything in the Western culture is not applicable in Sri Lanka. Therefore, removing bans as such cannot be accepted," he added.

The Minister also said that the Cabinet came to the conclusion that if a Minister wishes to amend State policies, he should inform the Cabinet about it before signing Gazette Notifications.

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