Imported food products manufactured using banned ingredients are seen flooding into the local market risking the health of the Lankan consumer but the authorities have done little to nab those unscrupulous traders, the association representing the confectionery manufacturers charged.
The Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association (LCMA) expressed its surprise at the manner in which these importers, who could be hundreds in number, have been importing and selling such confectionery items made out of harmful and banned ingredients, with impunity.
“Today we see imported food products specially confectionery in the market, which do not comply with the local regulations,” said LCMA Chairperson Shanasz Hakeem.
Last year, the association even went to the extent of listing down those outlets selling confectioneries made out of banned ingredients to the Health Ministry and the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA)— the government’s consumer rights watchdog.
“But sad to say, even today we see these outlets in operation violating the law of the country,” Hakeem said addressing their 24th Annual General Meeting.
While the health hazard posed by these confectionery items will have an irreparable damage to people’s health, these traders cause further harm to the country’s economy by increasing the import bill, which has already reached unsustainable levels.
These unscrupulous traders mostly target the children as they can easily fall prey to these sweet confectionary items. With the absence of anti-dumping regulations, Sri Lanka has become an easy dumping ground of any and every imported product manufactured any and everywhere. It was only recently Mirror Business reported a certain business figure with close links to the incumbent regime is said to be acting to block the passage of anti-dumping laws. At a time when the government is expediting the process to sign a deeper goods and services agreement with India and another few trade pacts with several other countries, the local industrialists have begun to fear of their survival should the required safeguards are not put in place.
Meanwhile, it has also come to light that the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) only carries out random testing on imported products, a practice which does not suffice to tackle the dumping of hazardous imports.
“We have advocated before and we advocate now that they should study the system in operation in our neighbouring countries such as India and follow a system of charges that these countries make on testing of all imported products into their countries prior to the release of these products inwards by their Customs,” Hakeem said.
While the proposed practice will ensure such imports adhering to the food standards, such will also enable the government to increase its revenues.