Dec 23, 2016

Cabinet approves tax exemption for rice imports Featured

The cabinet has approved a proposal to exempt the private sector from taxes to import 100,000 metric tonnes of rice.

The approval comes despite the availability of adequate stocks of locally produced paddy, reports reaching 'Sri Lanka Mirror' indicate.

According to rural economic affairs minister P. Harrison, Sri Lanka produced 2.5 million MT of paddy in the 2015-16 Maha season and 1.3 million MT in the 2016 Yala season.

Close to five million MT of paddy was reaped this year, and 2.7 million MT of rice produced from the stocks, he says.

As the country’s annual rice requirement is 2.2 million MT, there cannot be a shortage, he says, accusing major rice mill owners of having created an artificial shortage.

He charges that the said 'shortage' is artificially created.

Speaking to 'Sri Lanka Mirror' on the Cabinet approval granted to import rice, secretary of the Commerce ministry - T.M.K.B. Tennakoon said that the government had given the green light for the private sector to import 100,000 metric tonnes of rice. He added that the imported stocks would be released to the market under government administration.

However, 'Sri Lanka Mirror' learns that this would enable a group engaged in the rice mafia during the recent past to resume their operations in a legal manner.