An organized group defrauds nearly Rs. 80 billion in excise taxes each year from fake safety stickers on alcohol bottles,

said SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva, while professionals and the masses are burdened with unbearable taxes.

He said at a media briefing in Colombo that the racketeers would not be allowed to escape.

The safety sticker was introduced in 2019 without a proper evaluation on whether it should be a digital code or a sticker, he said.

Now, 85 per cent of the alcohol bottles have a digital code, and only 15 pc are with a safety sticker, with around 100,000 bottles already seized with fake stickers, he said.

It is the view of many that excise officers are involved in the racket of printing fake stickers, at the rate of 10 to 15 per 100 original stickers, he said.

The state loses around 40 pc of excise income, said de Silva, adding that he would act against the racketeers.


Several proposals

He suggested several alternatives to prevent the fraud, the main one being that there should be a digital code only.

However, the digital code should be visible to the naked eye, since the one now printed can be seen with a laser torch only, he said.

Also, one bottle should contain two digital codes separately, which would make faking difficult.

Exposing another fraud, he said the printing cost of a single digital code was 20 cents only, but Rs. 1.90 is charged.

The money lost by the state due to that should immediately be recovered, he added.

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