Sri Lanka regulating the traditional home-brewed alcohol to plug tax gaps

Vastavam web: Sri Lanka is to start regulating the traditional home-brewed alcohol known locally as toddy in an effort to increase its tax revenues, a government spokesman said today.Toddy, a popular alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the coconut flower, is not subject to taxes.Government spokesman Gayantha Karunathilaka said an easing of regulations on the industry six years ago had led to an increase in production, but tax revenues had declined because there was no mechanism for monitoring production.

He said the government would introduce new laws and start monitoring the quantity of toddy harvested in Sri Lanka, which heavily taxes alcohol.Sri Lanka once had around 50,000 toddy tappers, who climb coconut trees at dawn to collect the milky white sap from coconut flowers.

That has fallen to an estimated 7,000 and practitioners say the craft is dying as young Sri Lankans are put off by the low wages and high risk.