Most Sri Lankans will not pay more to protect local industries – Advocata

Fifty-seven per cent of Sri Lankans are unwilling to pay extra to purchase food even if doing so would protect the local agricultural industry, according to a survey conducted by Advocata Institute, a Colombo based free-market think tank.

The survey conducted in April 2019 has covered the views of 855 respondents in 18 districts within eight provinces in Sri Lanka taking the demographic variables age, gender, educational qualifications, socio-economic class and monthly household income into consideration.

Issuing a statement this afternoon (02), Advocata Institute noted that willingness of people to pay extra amount for food decreased as the Socio-Economic Category (SEC) lowered.

‘The survey revealed that the lower the SEC, the less willing respondents were to pay extra for their food, to protect the local industry. SEC is the category an individual falls into based on their education and occupation. It was only in the highest SEC where 51% answered ‘yes’, agreeing to incur a higher cost of living at the cost of protectionist taxes. SECs following it were increasingly reluctant to pay more for food, even if it meant that local businesses were protected,’ the statement said.

The statement added that respondents from the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces were more willing to incur higher food costs in comparison to the respondents from other provinces.

‘The survey also noted differences across provinces. Respondents from the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces were more willing to incur higher food costs, with 64% from the North Central Province and 61% from the Sabaragamuwa Province answering ‘yes’. In contrast, only 22% of respondents from the Southern Province and 24% from the North-Western Province answered ‘yes’,’ the statement added.

‘Sri Lanka has a high cost of living compared to its peers in the region. Tariffs and protectionist taxes on food items, some close to 100% mean that consumers will continue to suffer at the expense of the ill-framed policy,’ Advocata quoted it’s Chief Operating Officer Dhananath Fernando as saying.

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