Wheat flour tax raised shattering profit making aim of firms
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The government has done away with the permit system while raisng tax for importing wheat flour, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said today (Aug. 30).
The order, published in a Gazette Extraordinary, came into effect from midnight on Tuesday (Aug. 29), he added.
Siyambalapitiya further mentioned that the import tax on wheat flour has been increased from Rs. 16 to Rs. 27 per kilogram.
In June, wheat flour was gazetted as a ‘specified good’, pursuant to provisions of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act.
Six days ago the government has cut an import tax on maize, which has kept domestic prices artificially high, made eggs and chicken more expensive than the world and given large profits to collectors, which poultry farmers refer to as the ‘maize mafia’.
The import tax which was at 75 rupees a kilo was lowered to 25 rupees, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.
The so-called maize mafia is a powerful lobby which has political clout to push up food and protein prices in the name of self-sufficiency (autarky) and domestic production.As a result, the cost of production of eggs and chicken in Sri Lanka is higher than countries like India.
Sri Lanka also loses an opportunity to build an export industry in chicken related foods and eggs.
The finace ministry has taken this decision following the instructions given by the Committee of Public Finance instructed the officials of the ministry to announce that the selling price of a KG of wheat flour as Rs.198 so to avoid two major companies making additional profit and to protect the consumer.
This was discussed when the committee met on 15.08.2023 Chaired by. Patali Champika Ranawaka, who was appointed as the protem Chair in the absence of the Committee Chair Harsha de Silva.
Attention was drawn to the Regulations under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, No. 1 of 1969 published under the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2336/45 of 14.06.2023 which is to be approved by the Parliament.
The Committee Chair said that the officials of the Ministry of Finance said that the gazette published on 14.06.2023 was issued with the aim of preventing the various companies importing wheat into Sri Lanka by overstocking to make additional profit.
Therefore, instructions were given to provide accurate data on existing and current stocks of bread flour to confirm how far the desired objectives have been achieved through the gazette published on 14.06.2023. Thus, the Chair of the Committee pointed out that there will be space to find out if any irregularity has occurred.