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Sri Lanka import competition controlled, crops banned, fish should be halted: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has already controlled imports competing with businessmen, farmers were protected, re-export of exportable products banned and imports of fish should also be halted, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said.

“After we came to power, competing imports were controlled to protect domestic industries and entrepreneurs,” President Rajapaksa said ceremonially addressing Sri Lanka’s newly elected parliament at its first sitting.

“We took steps to protect local farmers by halting the importation of exportable produce for re-export as well as banning the importation of crops that could have been grown locally.”

“In addition to halting the re-export of exportable products, we have completely stopped the import of crops that can be grown in this country to protect the domestic farmer.”

He said low-interest rates and tax cuts were given to entrepreneurs and fertilizer was given free to farmers, were given a high guaranteed price as part of creating a ‘production economy’.

“We are targeting massive progress in the fisheries sector,” President Rajapaksa said.

“We should halt the importation of fish into our country as our motherland is surrounded by the ocean.”

He said new technology would be given to farmers and fishermen and fishery harbours built.

“We will bring a halt to the plundering of our oceans by unlawful foreign fishing vessels,” he said.

In recent years Sri Lanka had developed a large solid rubber tyre industry and also gloves, which has run out of domestic supplies and is adding value to imported materials within the country.

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“In order to enact a reasonable price for rubber, local rubber industrialists will be encouraged to utilize local rubber,” President Rajapaksa said.

It is not clear whether further restrictions would be placed on raw material imports.

“We will take necessary measures to develop dairy and poultry industries,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s poultry industry is currently going through difficulties as they have been hit by the lack of maize at market prices with imports banned.

Chickens are also laying about 30 per cent fewer eggs, due to being underfed, industry officials say.

Dairy industries have also asked to be allowed to import a type of maize to boost milk yields to international levels.

Sri Lanka is now under severe import controls not seen since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of soft-pegs in 1971 after money printed in March and April led to a collapse of the rupee.

Private credit has since turned negative. However, credit schemes have been approved with central bank re-finance. (Colombo/Aug21/2020-sb)

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