Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers has approved to amend the existing laws to ban cattle slaughter in the island nation in a bid to increase local agriculture and dairy production.
The Cabinet has given nod to amend five laws before presenting the proposal in the Parliament.
The Cabinet had last year approved a proposal to ban cattle slaughter, and subsequently the legal draftsman amended the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance and four other related laws and regulations passed by the local government institutions connected to cattle slaughter.
"The Attorney General has certified that the said bills are not clashing with the provisions of the Constitution. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval to the consolidated resolution tabled by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Minister of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government, and the Minister of Agriculture," Cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Dulles Alahapperuma told the media.
In February, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage had said that Sri Lanka produced only about 40 per cent of the annual liquid milk demand and about 300,000 village level suppliers contribute to it.
Sri Lanka spends around $300 million annually for the import of powdered milk and due to the ongoing shortage of foreign exchange and dollar reserves over the last two months, the country is facing a crisis in dairy product supplies. Consequently, the government had to relax the norms to allow the private sector to go for price hikes for dairy products.
However, some legal and human rights analysts are of the view that the government's decision is not about helping the dairy industry, but a distraction against the enormous economic struggles faced by the people.
They also argued that the decision is politically motivated, taking a racist view against the cattle slaughter industry dominated by Muslim butchers.
However, Buddhists, which represent over 70 per cent of the population, and Tamil Hindus accounting for more than 12 per cent, avoid consuming beef for religious reasons. The rest of the population include over 9 per cent Muslims and nearly 6 per cent of Christians.