ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is ending the practice of forcing companies to get ‘permission’ from near monopoly lubricant and ceramics sector players, before importing such items, enhancing investor freedoms and bringing the island closer to Singapore.
Companies such as Colombo Dockyard had to wait for long periods and go through administrative hassles to import specialist lubricant brands demanded by ship owners who bring vessels to be repaired and serviced in Colombo.
Ship repair firms in Singapore competing with Colombo had no such hassles.
"Presently the lubricant market is managed only by a few companies," Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said in a budget for 2016.
"Hence I propose to liberalize the lubricant market and I encourage the companies to venture into
more value added products with high investment.
"Further I propose to remove lubricants from BOI (Board of Investment) negative list."
The dominant player in lubricants is US-based Chevron Lubricants.
Though Sri Lanka got self-determination from British rule in 1948, a number of freedoms of poor citizens and even large investors were subsequently taken away through import duties to ‘protect’ domestic industries and licensing.
Karunanayake said a ‘negative list’ of goods which investors could not import ceramic items without permission from manufacturers who had to say that they did not have a such product available will also be removed.
"…I propose to remove tiles, ceramic, and sanitary ware, from the negative list of the BOI," he said.
Taxes on building several building material used by homeless to build their houses including ceramics and sanitary wear were removed.
During the Rajapaksa regime, the Sri Lanka Ceramics Council and industry body, lobbied and got the rulers to impose high taxes on toilets and other ceramic products, raising the cost of homeless people and forcing poorer people to buy imported and domestically produced factory rejects.