Finance State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya’s statement that a tax of Rs.25 will be imposed on a litre of imported coconut oil in order to protect local coconut oil producers has created a stir.
A Special Customs Levy of Rs.15/- is already being charged for a litre of imported coconut oil.
However, State Minister Siyambalapitiya has made the new statement when stocks of nearly 10,000 tons of coconut oil imported are stored in bonded warehouses.
According to the economic experts, the coconut oil to be released to the local market in bonded warehouses will be exempted from the new tax and the importers will only have to pay the old tax of Rs.15/=.
Meanwhile, the price of a litre of coconut oil had decreased by Rs.40 in the last few weeks to Rs.535 due to the depreciation of the US Dollar.
However, the price of coconut oil has increased to about Rs.565 rupees per litre, with the US Dollar appreciating again from 302 to 333 rupees.
At present, no tax is paid at the port on imported coconut oil and palm oil to Sri Lanka, and a tax is paid when they are being released from bonded warehouses.
Therefore, the government has to collect taxes from imported coconut oil intermittently.
When ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ inquired about the companies that operate bonded warehouses of imported coconut oil, it was reported that Asian Company, Narada Agro and Pyramid Wilmar operate bonded coconut oil warehouses.
Meanwhile, National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection President Ranjith Vithanage said that increasing the tax on imported coconut oil will not bring any relief to the consumers.
He expressed these views at a news briefing held yesterday (25).
Lanka Sathosa slashes prices of 6 essential food items
Lanka Sathosa, on Wednesday (20 Sep.), reduced the prices of six essential food items.
The price reduction will be in effect from today.
Accordingly, the prices of the following goods have been reduced:
• Soya meat – Rs.580 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.45)
• Local Potatoes – Rs.290 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.40)
• Thai sprats – Rs.1,100 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.30)
• Garlic – Rs.620 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.30)
• Big onions – Rs.195 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.15)
• Red lentils – Rs. 299 per kilogram (reduced by Rs.06)
X to go behind paywall?
Elon Musk has suggested that all users of X, formerly called Twitter, may have to pay for access to the platform.
In a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the billionaire said a payment system was the only way to counter bots.
“We’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the system,” the Tesla and SpaceX boss said.
The BBC approached X for further details but has not yet received a statement from the company.
It is unclear whether this was just an off-the-cuff comment, or a signal of firmer plans that have yet to be announced.
Mr Musk has long said that his solution for getting rid of bots and fake accounts on the social media platform is charging for verification.
Since taking over Twitter last year he has looked to incentivise users to pay for an enhanced service, which is now called X Premium.
This has been done by giving paid subscribers more features, like longer posts and increased visibility on the platform.
However, users can currently still use X for free.
Although there is a clear financial interest for the company to charge users, Mr Musk insisted that getting people to pay for the service is aimed at tackling bots.
“A bot costs a fraction of a penny” to make he said. “But if somebody even has to pay a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost to bots is very high”.
X Premium currently costs $8 (£6.50) a month in the US. The price differs depending on which country a subscriber is in.
The world’s richest person said that he was now looking at cheaper options for users.
“We’re actually going to come up with a lower tier pricing. So we just want it to be just a small amount of money,” he said.
“This is a longer discussion, but in my view, this is actually the only defence against vast armies of bots,” Mr Musk added.
However, a risk is that by putting X behind a paywall it may lose a large chunk of its users. That in turn, could drive down advertising revenue, which currently accounts for the vast majority of the company’s income.
Mr Musk’s conversation with the Israeli prime minister also touched on antisemitism on X.
The platform has been accused by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) campaign group of not doing enough to stop antisemitic content.
In a statement, the organisation said that Mr Musk was “engaging with and elevating” antisemites.
Earlier this month, he said that the company would sue the ADL to “clear our platform’s name”.
In the conversation with Mr Netanyahu, Mr Musk reiterated that he was “against antisemitism”.
Mr Netanyahu accepted the balance between free speech and content moderation was a challenge but urged Mr Musk to get the balance right.
“I hope you find within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only antisemitism… but any collective hatred of people that antisemitism represents,” he said.
“I know you’re committed to that”, Mr Netanyahu added.
France halts iPhone 12 sales over radiation levels
France has ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12 for emitting too much electromagnetic radiation.
On Tuesday, the French watchdog which governs radio frequencies also told the tech giant to fix existing phones.
The ANFR has advised Apple that if it cannot resolve the issue via a software update, it must recall every iPhone 12 ever sold in the country.
But the World Health Organization has previously sought to allay fears about radiation emitted by mobile phones.
It says on its website there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to humans.
The iPhone 12 was first released in September 2020, and it is still sold worldwide.
Apple told the BBC it was contesting the ANFR’s review, and said it had provided the regulator with lab results from the tech giant itself and third parties which show the device is compliant with all the relevant rules.
It said the iPhone 12 was recognised as being compliant with regulations on radiation levels worldwide.
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