Sri Lanka appoints new boss for trade control office

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has appointed Damayanthi Karunaratne as the new director general to the Department of Export and Import Control.

The Department is in charge of issuing licences to control imports of the people of Sri Lanka.

State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe, said the department has to work fast and give approvals efficiently as interested parties would otherwise use irregular methods to get results.

The Department of Import and Export Control was set up in 1969, as the country ran into foreign exchange shortages due to a soft pegged exchange rate in the run up to a break-up of the Bretton Woods system.

Critics say the Department is a symbol of the economic freedoms lost after self-determination from British rule which helping create conditions somewhat similar to what existed under the Dutch East India Company.

The Department of Export and Import Control was one of the agencies that was not abolished when the economy was re-opened and people’s freedoms were partially restored in 1977, allowing a so-called ‘license raj’ to continue to this day, promoting corruption in some case.

Licensing limits the supply of goods, allowing priviledged importers to earn excessive profits at the expense of the common man.

Licenses with quantity limits also restricts supply even more, giving extra profits to domestic producers, by ‘protecting’ the common man from low prices.

Other measures that promotes corruption includes foreign exchange controls and price controls, which results in shortages and black markets. (Colombo/June24/2018)





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