The Government intended to provide relief to the people by reducing tariff on sugar, but a handful of fraudulent businessmen pocketed the advantage, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, said.
He said that although our country has a large supply of minerals, a bulk of them is exported as raw materials. He said the country had lost the opportunity to earn a proper income from the mineral industry as a result.
“Every government has made some efforts in this regard. But, it is still difficult to export as value added products. Therefore, the Government’s objective in the future is to produce and export the resources of our country as value added products. For example, Calcite, which is used in many products including pharmaceuticals. But it is currently being exported to foreign countries at a price of around Rs. 3.50 per kilo. However, it has been decided to set up a factory in the Balangoda area to export the mineral resource as a value added product as calcium carbonate powder.
Accordingly, the President has instructed all Ministries to take steps to export all the mineral resources and other products of our country as value added products in exports, the Minister said.
When Journalists inquired from the Minister as to whether fraud had taken place regarding the sugar tax, he said, “The Government reduced the sugar tax to provide relief to the people. But the benefit did not go to the people. It seems that a group of leading racketeers in this country have pocketed that advantage.
We acknowledge that the Government has failed to provide that benefit to the public. We are also of the view that the perpetrators of this fraud should be investigated and punished.”
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