Ajith Nivard Cabraal
- Stresses need to have stable foreign reserves to do so
- Opposition Leader requests govt. to lift import ban on motorbikes
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardena
The government may possibly remove the current import restrictions gradually as and when the situation demands such a move, State Minister for Money and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Parliament yesterday.
Cabraal responding to a question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa as to when the government will ease the restrictions on imports said, the government should have stable foreign reserves to ease the restrictions.
“Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves were around US$ 8 billion prior to 2015. However it has been reduced to US$ 7 billion in 2019. We would have been able to manage without curtailing imports if our foreign reserves were around US$ 15 billion,” he said.
“The government is trying to maintain a stable foreign exchange inflow. Sri Lanka just like other countries faced foreign exchange inflow crisis with the COVID-19 issue. The other option available in these circumstances was to refrain from settling debts. We chose the option of curtailing imports instead,” he said.
Opposition Leader Premadasa requested the government to lift the import ban on motorbikes and to move to produce motorbikes locally. He said around 500, 000 people are risking losing their livelihood as a result of the ban on importing motorbikes and spare parts.
State Minister Cabraal who responded saying that the government is planning to move towards producing motorbikes wholly in Sri Lanka rather than focusing on setting up assembling companies.