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Sri Lanka budget liberalization measures non-negotiable: Finance Minister

Nov 15, 2017 06:23 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT – Initiatives to further open up Sri Lanka’s economy and reduce protectionism outlined in the government budget for 2018 are non-negotiable, Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera has said.

Referring to various suggestion made by different sectors of the economy on the budget, the minister said that he was willing to listen to suggestions where there may be mistakes to correct, according to a ministry statement.

“But the main theme of the budget, ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ and liberalizations are non- negotiable,” he stressed at a post-budget forum.

Samaraweera announced sweeping reforms when presenting the budget to parliament last week, including removal of para tariffs, mainly in the form of a port and airport levy, on 1,200 items.

He also proposed opening up the shipping and logistics sector by removing foreign ownership restrictions in ship agency and freight forwarding firms, to try to make the island a shipping hub like Singapore and Dubai.

The move has been opposed by the domestic ship agency and freight forwarding sector which has begun lobbying to retain foreign ownership restrictions.

 “Starting with this budget, we want to unlock the barriers to investment, trade, and enterprise,” the finance ministry statement quoted Samaraweera as saying.
Access to land, labour, and affordable capital are the major impediments to the creation of new businesses and to expand existing ones, he said.

A series of legislative changes will be implemented to address the difficulties in access to these factors of production.

Archaic laws such as the Agricultural Lands Act and the Shop & Office Employees Act will be modernized to provide more flexibility to the market.
(COLOMBO, November 15, 2017)


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