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Sunday September 24th, 2023

Sri Lanka to open baby banana export processing factory in Hambantota

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka plans to open a baby banana export processing factory in Hambantota to cater to the international banana market, the Agriculture Minister said.

“At present, our demand is mainly from Dubai. There may be other markets as well,” Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera, told EconomyNext.

“The bananas need to be cleaned and vacuumed before being packaged for export.”

Bananas have to be free of unnecessary branch, foliage and soil, quarantine pests and agrochemical residue before they are exported in accordance with international market standards.

Baby banana, also known as Lady Finger banana, is smaller than the more common commercially-cultivated Cavendish bananas.

They are valued for their small size (usually around three inches in length), sweet taste, creamy texture, and lack of discoloration when sliced.

The new processing factory is the third factory in Sri Lanka, with the first processing center established in Rajanganaya (800 acres) and the second established in Jaffna (400 acres).

Amaraweera said the new plant would process bananas cultivated on 800 acres of land in Embilipitiya, Hambantota and Sewanagala, in an investment of 65 million rupees.

“We currently export one container every two weeks,” Amaraweera said. “With this new plant, we plan to expand it to a container a week.”

When asked about the revenue that would be generated by this processing plant, the minister said that he could not remember.

According to the 2022 Central Banka annual report, “during the year under review, 41,526 metric tons of fruits, including banana and papaw, worth US dollars 37.6 million were exported. (Colombo/Sept15/2023)

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Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

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Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

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