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Women can now buy alcohol in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka’s cabinet on Tuesday unanimously decided to withdraw two gazette notifications which would enable women over 18 years to buy alcohol, as well as to work in shops selling or manufacturing alcohol beverages.

Minister of Ports and Shipping, Mahinda Samarasing, the decision was reached when the cabinet met for its weekly meeting.

The decision, she said,  comes after President Maithripala Sirisena said that he would call for a reversal of the two gazette notifications issued by the Finance Ministry.

The President said he had only found out about the move from the newspapers.

Sri Lankan Finance Ministry earlier lifted the ban on selling alcohol to women and prohibiting women from working in places where alcohol is manufactured or sold, for the first time in nearly 60 years.

The Finance Ministry later also announced that it would also allow liquor shops to stay open for business till 11 p.m.

Currently all liquor establishments in the island have to close at 10 p.m..

NAN reports that Sri Lanka reimposed the decades-old law banning the sale of alcohol to women, just two days after it was lifted.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera revoked the 1979 law on Friday.

“I spoke with the finance minister, …prime minister, and several other ministers and asked them to cancel the gazette immediately.

“The gazette will be withdrawn from tomorrow,” President Maithripala Sirisena said at an election rally on Sunday.

The move comes as the government’s main coalition partners, the center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party, are campaigning for long-delayed local elections.

Officials at the finance ministry said the ban was lifted after repeated requests from the tourism industry to extend bar hours and allow female tourists to buy alcohol.

The move was criticised by opposition parliamentarians who said the move would damage Sri Lanka’s Buddhist values.

Sinhalese Buddhists account for more than 70 per cent of the island nation’s 21 million population.

Sri Lanka will hold local government elections on Feb. 10. (

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