A Bill calling for a total ban on the slaughter of cattle has drawn criticism from meat suppliers, many of whom belong to the Muslim community. They say their livelihoods would be affected if the ban became law.
The Bill has been presented to Parliament by Wijedasa Rajapakse.
Mr. Rajapakse said a ban on cattle slaughter would affect about 300 to 400 people engaged in the meat business, but would generate thousands of new job opportunities for local youth in the dairy industry.
The Council of Muslims of Sri Lanka, comprising more than 40 Muslim organisations, met on Friday to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, Parliamentarian Wijedasa Rajapakse maintained that the slaughter of cattle was one of the main reasons for the decline of the country’s agriculture and dairy industries.
He said that 90 percent of the slaughter of cattle was “done on fake licences obtained through bribes”, and that cattle-theft was a big problem. “In the Gampaha district alone about 300 head of cattle are stolen every month,” he said.
“We import 75 percent of our milk, and spend over Rs. 30 million a year on milk imports. India’s Muslim community represents 12 percent of the population, but cattle slaughter is banned across the country, barring just two states. India is also self-sufficient when it comes to milk supply,” he said.