The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE), which exclusively serves and represents Sri Lankan exporters, yesterday expressed dismay over the apparent move by the government to remove cess on imported products hitherto imposed as a protective measure for local enterprises.
NCE, which has over 600 export-oriented enterprises in its membership across all product sectors and many services, which are represented by over 40 sectoral heads in its council said moves are afoot to remove cess on imported products, as a part of policy reforms related to free trade.
“The chamber is concerned that in spite of assurances given at various times by the Prime Minister and the relevant subject ministers, that the private sector will be consulted before making any significant policy changes, the purported move to remove cess across the board on imported products, will have severe adverse consequences on local enterprises in many sectors, which need a certain amount of protection for their sustainability and growth,” NCE said in a statement.
“In the above context, the NCE is strongly of the view that an opportunity should be provided for the various sectoral heads to assess the implications of such a move on local enterprises in their particular sectors, and make suggestions regarding remedial measures before any action is taken to remove the cess on imported products, which have a direct consequence on local products,” it added.
NCE also expressed concerns about a similar suggestion to remove the export cess imposed currently on exports of certain basic raw materials, which encourages value addition domestically.
The chamber proposes to conduct a brainstorming forum in the near future with representatives of the relevant product sectors to discuss this issue, with a view to propose remedial measures, and urges the concerned state authorities to defer any moves to remove the existing cess on imported products, as well as the export cess imposed on the export of certain raw materials without proper consultations with the private sector.