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Oral Question Answers 1129-11 on 07th September 2011

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Questions in Parliament for Oral Answers
Question No: 1129/11 – September 07, 2011

Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, MP to ask from the Hon. Minister of Industries and Commerce

(a)     Will he state on per year basis for last five years;
(i)    the main importing items to Sri Lanka
(ii)     the volume and value of each item, and
(iii)    The main countries from which those items were imported.

Please see Annex 1 for Answers for the above questions.
(Kindly note that volume figures can not be indicated for the imports concerned, as measuring units differ among tariff lines, even though they fall within the same HS heading / product category).

(b)     Will he also state;

(i)    Whether any action has been taken by the Government to discourage  aforesaid imports, and
(ii)    if so, the actions that were taken

(i)  Yes, when appropriate

(ii)  Petroleum products, automobiles and machinery – the three main items, account for about 30% of the Sri Lanka’s imports.  While these products are not manufactured in the country, their importation is necessary for smooth functioning of the Sri Lankan economy.  However, the Government maintains high import duties on certain products.

Items such as cotton, fabrics, precious and semi-precious stones, man-made fibres etc., which account for about 15% of Sri Lanka’s total imports too can not be discouraged as domestic entrepreneurs need them as raw material for their industries.

The Government also imports certain food items, when a scarcity occurs.  To combat the regular flow of such imports, fiscal measures are put into operation by way of increased import duty, excise duty, cess, VAT and other levies and charges.  These charges increase the cost of importing into Sri Lanka considerably, in some cases by over 100% of the value of the product.  Tobacco products and motor vehicles face the highest overall import charges.

However, Sri Lanka can not impose restrictive measures to discourage its imports in an arbitrary manner, and the import duty is the main if not only instrument through which imports could be restricted or provide protection for local products.

(c)     If not, why? – Not applicable.