In the midst of the series of Minneriya Army Camps dotted along the road, a few years ago a new complex was built which included a swimming pool, a alcohol serving PUB some rooms for guests to stay, and two shop fronts that were rented out to Perera and Sons and Singer company.
I believe this is on state land, and I am not sure whose funds were used to do the construction, but I suspect it was part of the defence budget, that went for the construction. I have gone through the defense budget and investigated the categories and have come to the conclusion that the income or net income from the trading of this complex either goes to the Army Welfare or is siphoned off as a slush fund to share amongst a select few and keep the recipients, happy loyal and keep mum that the taxes of the General Public are spent on personal benefits of a select few.
So let us take the PUB. Who granted a liquor license and on what basis?
A LIQUOR LICENSE HAS A VALUE GENERALLY OF RS 25M GIVEN FREE in this case!
I have seen a successful clampdown in the illicit moonshine, or kasippu trade in the villages of Gal Oya, Rotawewa, Maha Ratmale and Ratmale and so the people go to the Gunners pub to satisfy their cravings, as it is the nearest place to buy liquor.
Furthermore, if one looks at the liquor license it was granted so that people could come there and have a drink in an environment surrounded by the swimming pool etc. At its inception, people had to be properly attired to enter the area, in shoes trousers and shirt! I presume that was the basis on which the license was granted, primarily for service personnel who off duty to could imbibe in what they consider life’s pleasures.
Now Beers, mainly cans are sold, at prices above normal retail price that a “wine shop” would sell at, as that is what they say they can sell in for. The needy consumer buys at the higher price, or goes a further 12 KM to the nearest wine store to buy at the price on the label.
Similarly a bottle of arrack is sold at least Rs150 above normal retail price.
I have therefore calculated that the gross profit (the difference between the Cost of liquor and the Selling price) of the Pub is at a minimum of Rs 200,000 a day. Excluding Poya Days and certain public holidays when liquor cannot be sold, this place makes an annual Gross Profit of Rs65M. This is absolutely astonishing!
Who takes this money? Who shares the spoils? These are questions that don’t have answers as they are not in the Army costs and revenues books and are in a kitty of their own under the control of the regiment or high ups in that regiment who only know what is going on.
What is even more sad is that a villager in Maha Ratmale, who had a row with his wife last night, came to the Gunners Pub, had a few drinks and got on his bike, and was killed instantly just outside the Gunners, being knocked down by a passing vehicle, and as the man was drunk, is just another statistic to the greed of the initiators of the PUB. It was not set up to be patronized by such types, and a young life was lost to it. He had moved in with his women or wife only a month previously.
Is there anyone with collateral responsibility for his death? This is an illegally operated pub, which as it is the Army’s no one would query. This is just another way the Army ranks make money courtesy of their position in the forces, and at the expense of the people of Sri Lanka they are honor bound to protect.
The whole premise of the Mahinda Chinthana was to remove licenses to sell alcohol, in an orderly manner, and NOT increase their numbers in the Country.
It is sad that NO ONE investigates this treachery against the Country, and people are permitted to profit from other people’s weaknesses. It also horrifies me that knowing this fact, that the temples and priest who habit them don’t utter a word about it. Is it because the Army pay them off by helping them out from time to time?
The fact that this place profits even more from higher prices, and are not subject to the same rules as a wine shop is, further proof of a sinister conspiracy at work within the defense establishment of protecting and profiting from illegal activity in a huge way. How many more instances is this fact replicated in this country with people completely unaware of the extent of the money being made this way?
I mentioned that the liquor license was worth Rs25M but in this instance with the blatant disregard for the law, and the basis on which this license was granted, and the super profits made, the license given free is worth at a minimum, Rs100M another fat wad denied the State and thereby the people.
It is time the facts are highlighted and action taken to protect the Sri Lankans from being fleeced by the underworld, who now wear Army fatigues with rank! and are also protected by the state, which is complicit in the crime in this case above it is murder too.