Data from IPS, dumped into a Google Doc
Sri Lanka’s Institute For Policy Studies blog has an interesting post on booze consumption. One especially salient factoid was the jump in hard liquor consumption and the relative flatness of beer (graphed above). It’s also notable that the statistics are skewed because more people drink illicit liquor, which isn’t counted.
- The [legal alcohol] industry contributed around Rs. 23 billion in 2007 and Rs. 27 billion in 2008 as excise tax.
- It has been estimated that there are over 200,000 illicit brew retailers, compared to the 3,200 licensed retail shops (“wine stores”) in the country
For me the takeway is this: ” Political influences, weak law enforcement, and unaffordable prices of legal liquor are the determinant factors of the thriving trend of illicit alcohol. The argument articulated by the legal alcohol industry that controls and restrictions only serve to increase the consumption of illicit alcohol is very valid in the Sri Lanka context.”
Any discussion of Sri Lankan alcohol and alcoholism is pointless unless you talk about kasippu (home brew). The government has imposed taxation to curb consumption, but that doesn’t work if most people are consuming a completely illegal brew. All it does is make the illicit brew more attractive.
Here are some suggestions, off the top of my head.
- Drop taxes such that beer can compete with kasippu, then increase taxes once the kasippu industry is weakened.
- Crack down on kasippu dens and keep government officials and police out of the corrupt business of supporting them.
- Manage economic policy better such that men can find decent work and support their families with dignity
- Legalize marijuana.
Anyways, the full article by G.D. Dayaratne is worth a read.