- Government to bring in import controls
- Import of non essentials to be taxed
By Sandun A Jayasekera
In the light of the Sri Lankan rupee drastically depreciating against the dollar -a result of the of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy- government has taken steps to impose a limit and or ban on specific imports, in an effort to stabilise the local currency.
Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Bandula Gunawardena said the decision was taken under the Import and Export Control Gazette issued last Saturday (18th). He emphasised it was a means to prevent the rupee from depreciating further.
“This gazette has specified the import limits and bans”, Minister Gunawardena said. He added “government does not have sufficient foreign exchange to spend at this point. Therefore,we have been forced to ban the import of certain items which could be produced locally, for a period of three months.
Among the banned items are vehicles, refrigerators, luxury goods, fruits and vegetables that could be manufactured in-country, including pepper, ulundu and other unessential items
“Among the banned items are vehicles, refrigerators, luxury goods, fruits and vegetables that could be manufactured in-country, including pepper, ulundu and other unessential items”.
Minister Gunawardana pointed out that through these steps, government aimed at reducing the quantum of currency leaving the country and increasing the inflow of foreign currency into the country.
With the aim of deterring the import of certain goods, taxes have been increased he said, but added all raw material required for small, medium and large-scale business operations and industries would be permitted to be imported without any hindrance.
The minister stressed that there would no shortage of consumer goods or raw materials required for industries.
He requested all exporters to submit an appeal to the Secretary Ministry of Finance in the event of facing any issues due to the current regulations.
Government has also commenced special bank accounts at the Central Bank to encourage inward remittance of foreign currency into the country.
He said those who hold their money in the account for a period of six months would receive an interest which is 2% higher than the regular interest rates and these deposits would be exempted from all taxes.
Minister Gunawardena called on Sri Lankans residing overseas and foreign nationals, to deposit remitances in
He said if foreign deposits flowed into the country, the value of the dollar could depreciate to around 185 against
Government has also taken several other steps as well to implement changes in order to get the country back on track and away from the negative consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Among them, he said was the setting up of an education television channel targetting the near 4.4 million school children and university students currently confined to their homes. He added the new channel from 8.00 am to midnight would immensely benefit these students.