Sri Lanka spice producers press for removal of export cess

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan spice producers are pressing the government to implement a proposal in the 2016 budget to remove a cess on spice exports, saying the charge was unfair and hurt farmers.

The Spices and Allied Products Producers’ and Traders’ Association (SAPPTA) had lobbied for the removal of the export cess and was happy the government had included it in its budget proposals, said Vernon Abeyratne, chairman of SAPPTA.

But since the budget was announced on November 20 there appeared to be interests who want to try to get the cess continued, he told a news conference.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in his budget speech said that to encourage export of spices, cesses imposed on, pepper, cloves and nutmeg will be removed.

Gulam Chatoor, former chairman of SAPPTA, said that if the cess was removed as proposed, cultivators would get more money and would be encouraged to increase production.
 
“The requirement is for the government to help farmers to boost production,” he said. “One way to do that is to not tax them in any way. That’s why SAPPTA proposed that the cess be removed.”

SAPPTA was also pleased the government had also accepted another proposal to give state land for cultivation, Chatoor said.

“Contract cultivation should be encourage. In our view give land to people and let them produce – that’ll increase production.”

M.C.M Zarook, another former chairman of SAPPTA, said they were also seeking clarification on the fertilizer subsidy which the government said would be given as a cash grant and not in kind.

“Use of fertilizer is important to raise productivity,” Zarook said. (Colombo/December 11 2015)
 

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