Sri Lanka Finance Minister urges traders to import rice quickly

Sri Lanka Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake today requested the rice traders to take advantage of the reduced import taxes and import rice quickly to provide the relief for the consumers.
Addressing a media briefing on Thursday, Minister Karunanayake said on a request by the President and the Prime Minister the government reduced the import taxes on rice but the traders have not used the opportunity to import rice and relieve the people of the shortage and high prices.
"I am sad to say that that benefit has still not gone down to the consumers," the Minister said. "You can bring rice from India for 50 rupees and sell at 65 rupees," he added.
Karunanayake said taxes were cut last Friday and it takes only about four days to bring rice from India to Sri Lanka.
The government earlier last month completely removed the Rs. 50 import levy, the Value Added Tax of 15 percent, the 7.5 percent customs duty and the 2 percent Nation Building Tax on rice to arrest the escalation of prices in the domestic market. Instead the government allowed the special commodity levy of 15 rupees in place of the previous taxes imposed on imported rice.
The government further reduced the on tax imported rice from Rs. 15 to Rs. 5 with effect from Friday, January 27.
The Finance Minister questioned as to why the traders have not passed the relief provided by the government to the consumers yet and requested the traders to release their hidden rice stocks to lower the escalating rice prices.
The Minister requested the media to use their influence and inquire why the traders are not yet passing the benefits provided by the government to the people.

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