(Toddy drinking in Jaffna has doubled!)
A five-fold increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages in 2013, in the Jaffna Peninsula, underscores the higher level of alcoholism gripping the North.
According to informed sources there has possibly been a two to three-fold increase in alcoholism according to estimates at the beginning of this year alone.
R. Jeyasegaran, President of the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce, said alcohol consumption was rapidly increasing after the war ended in 2009 and cautioned the public to be careful about this trend. According to the Excise Department, beer consumption scaled 4,056,999.25 litres in 2013 compared to 762,610 litres in 2009.
Statistics also revealed a huge 800% increase in the consumption of foreign liquor in the year 2013 compared to the consumption in 2009.
In 2009, foreign liquor consumption stood at 6,598.015 litres while in 2013 it shot up to 61,134.430 litres.
The statistics on arrack consumption indicate a jump of more than 2 million litres (2,019,434.450) in 2013 over 567,756.440 litres in 2009.
Toddy consumption had doubled in 2013 at 5,663,060.380 litres compared to 3,051,959.750 litres in 2009.
Jeyasegaran told Ceylon Today the introduction of alcohol and drugs in northern society was a systematic attempt to turn away the customary mindsets of Jaffna youth into social evils.
He added that in Jaffna on Friday most of the winners of business excellence certificates and awards at an award ceremony hosted for businessmen who brought in sound turnover in tax, were liquor shop owners.
He said that during the Rajapaksa regime, they failed to observe law and order and awarded liquor licenses to persons who had political influence.
Liquor shop owners opened wine stores near the kovils, schools and close to important institutions in open defiance of the law .
On the growth of trade and business, he pointed out that there is some improvement in the trading sector but observed that the ruined industrial sector needs soft loan facilities and compensation as they were destroyed during the war.
He went on to say that the second oldest Inland Revenue Department branch was opened in Jaffna in 1950 and although the Jaffna traders contributed below the national average during the war, they have since the end of war in 2009, contributed to the national economy immensely.
“We need the government to recognize our contribution and continue to help boost the economy and development so that industrialists and the mercantile sector can reap greater profits to help boost the national economy,” he added.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan / CT