Sri Lanka’s Harry Jayawardena calls for milk imports curbs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should restrict imports of milk powder and dairy products as the island was cable of meeting most of its needs domestically, Harry Jayawardena, chairman of Stassen group, who also heads several other firms, has said.

“We spent millions of dollars to import milk powder and dairy products,” he said.

“And ultimately we went to buy cows but all those cows were sick. We are wasting so much money on these things and we should stop this.

“We can produce these products in our country for consumption and also to export,” Jayawardena told a forum held by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka.

“We have all the resources we need inside the country. We have everything we want to build our economy. The problem is why we haven’t done anything yet.”

In export markets however there are no governments to restrict freedoms of children and others to drink milk, and big dairy businesses have to compete with similar firms in other countries to win business.

Jayawardena gave the example of Ceylon cinnamon which he said was seen as the world’s best cinnamon.

“ . . . but what we do is we import them and resell. These things happen because decision makers do not take decisions correctly.”

Jayawardena said the main problem in the country is politics.

“It has corrupted everything including me.”

He also criticized lack of consistency in government policies, saying it was bad for business.

“There are no fixed policies, policies change every five years. There is no discipline.”

Jayawardena said the reason neighboring countries are ahead of Sri Lanka is that they have got their act together with their politicians have understood what their countries need.

“So the first thing we must have is proper policies and laws that don’t change from time to time.”