Sri Lanka renews tax on sprats, dried fish

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has maintained taxes on sprats and dried fish, and also charged a 10 percent tax on fresh fish, for six months from May 2018.

Sprats (small dried herring imported from countries like Thailand) are taxed at 1 rupee a kilogram while larger dried fish is taxed at 52 rupees a kilo.

In Sri Lanka poorer people eat sprats and also dried fish more than affluent consumers, as they cannot afford fresh fish or have refrigerators to store them.

Sri Lanka’s current administration has cut taxes on basic foods and moved towards freer trade though it is opposed by nationalists and protected producer lobbies.

Sri Lanka is also charging fresh fish excluding fillets are charged a 10 percent tax or 100 rupees a kilogram, whichever is higher.

Sri Lanka’s fishermen are generally not protectionist and do not seek to prey on the hunger of the common man by pushing the ruling class to push up import duties to make food more expensive unlike the farming lobby, analysts say.

Only several big businessmen involved in fish canning, try to push cheap food out of reach of the less affluent by making tinned fish more expensive.

The current administration has cut taxes on tinned fish, which is also a mainstay of ‘wadi-buth’ a type of rice and curry eaten by construction workers, despite pressure from predatory fish canning businesses.

However the rupee has collapsed under the current administration due to a flawed soft-pegged monetary regime, and a philosophy of unsound money, making all foods more expensive.  (Colombo/June15/2018)





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