Sri Lanka’s construction material higher than region, need depoliticized tax policy: Mangala

ECONOMYNEXT – Cement prices in Sri Lanka are higher than in more develop markets and in south Asian countries with border tax policy needing to be depoliticized to benefit consumers, finance minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

“Our export sector has been crippled by para-tariffs caused by businessmen influencing politicians,” he told the opening of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit.

“This has also led to large increases in prices. For example, last year cement cost more in Sri Lanka than in Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

“This affects construction of both factories and houses. As envisioned in the Budget, we need to go back to the simple, non-discretionary three-band tariff structure that we had in the early 1990s by eliminating non-tariff barriers,” Samaraweera said..

“This will de-politicize our border tax-policy and bring huge benefits to exporters and consumers.”

For Sri Lanka to become prosperous requires the country to move even more decisively in the direction of more depoliticization, more openness, more competition and more reform, Samaraweera said.

Sri Lanka also has high taxes on steel, tiles and some construction material including electrical items which push up construction costs, analysts say.

However cement is sometimes hit with price controls as global prices go up.
(COLOMBO, 17 Sep, 2019)