A majority of the paddy stored in Mattala have been given to Liquor Manufacturer W M Mendis & Co. Ltd, according to the All Ceylon Peasants’ Federation.
The Mattala International Airport lost its licence after moving paddy into it. A shortage of rice also caused chaos in the markets, resulting in the importation of rice and increased prices in locally produced rice.
Therefore, the general public had to spend even more money on purchasing rice.
In such a backdrop, 4000 metric tonnes of paddy has been released to W M Mendis & Co. Ltd following cabinet approval, says the Paddy Marketing Board. The remaining stocks have been released to two major rice mills in the country.
“… They loot public funds to build distilleries and brew spirits….”, said Namal Karunaratne Chairman of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation.
According to the federation, Cabinet approval has not been granted nor has provincial council approval been granted. The ACPF says that even the subject Minister is not aware of it and there is no approval of the BOI.
“Where did they get the courage to do this? This is being done with the assistance of Ranil Wickremesinghe. If the rich can be entertained, why can’t they provide for the farmers? We warn the government, do not anger us…”, said the ACPF Chairman.
The Kalkudah Distillery controversy
The Left Centrealleges that the Chief Minister is not aware of the incident. They question how they obtained lands (to construct the distillery).
“We ask Malik Samarawickrama, on what basis did he give permission for W M Mendis & Co. Ltd chaired by Arjun Aloysius to construct a distillery in Kalkudah?”, questioned the Left Centre
Arumugan Jegan – the UNP Organiser for Kalkudah, who led the assault on the Shakthi FM reporter and a newspaper journalist recently said, “We gave the lands for the construction of the factory in Kalkudah. That is an ethanol factory. Ethanol will be produced here and moved to Colombo. You need paddy and corn to produce ethanol.”
Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed has released a statement on the matter. It reads that a unanimous decision was made by the Provincial Council against the distillery in September 2016. It adds that the Valachchenai Divisional Secretary and the Secretary of the Local Authority were instructed to obtain an injunction order against it.
Despite these measures, construction of this distillery continues…
The Anti-Corruption Front has questioned how the licence was extended of a company which evaded paying taxes. According to the Front’s chairman Venerable Ulapane Sumangala Thero, Rs. 460 Million were paid as taxes last week.
Incidentally, the tax payment comes following the ACF’s allegations on the company evading taxes.
“This is an operation taking place to launder the funds looted through the treasury bond scam. It is clear that the first shareholder of W M Mendis & Company Limited is a company owned by Arjun Aloysius. The second shareholder is also a comapny owned by the group led by Arjun Aloysius”, charged the Anti-Corruption Front