Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Hospitality Industry fears complete shut down due to import ban

The proposed import ban on over 300 items By the Finance Ministry on the recommendation of Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe put a significant number of businesses that are dependent on imports in a difficult situation.

These business men and and women noted that top government s who were behind this import ban without conducting proper survey on its impact among SMEs and small businesses affecting millions of dependants or consulting affected parties should bear the responsibility for the present plight of the people.

The most crucial impact will be on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises dependent on imported inputs for their production process

The livelihood of street vendors, businesses dependent on selling raw materials and the construction and apparel industries will face severe hardship as a result of these import bans. Also affected will be Sri Lanka’s tech industry as a result of the ban on the importation of electronic equipment.

The Hotel Suppliers Association (HSA) President Azad Mansoor said that 95% of its members are of SME category providing 200,000 direct employment and a further 500,000 indirectly and the latest import ban spells doom for the industry.

It was pointed out that items such as food and beverage, toilet rolls, paper napkins, facial tissues, hand towels, operational goods such as glassware, cutlery, kitchen and bar utensils and certain types of table top equipment such as blenders and toasters, kitchen equipment such as high pressure stoves, cookers, ovens, refrigerators, chillers, etc., laundry equipment such as washers, dryers and flatbed irons, chemicals such as greases, cleaning tablets and liquids, linen such as towels, duvets covers, and fabric for manufacturing bed sheets, etc., are among hundreds of items brought under the import ban.

Mansoor said the ban will stifle the smooth functioning of the hotel industry and maintain service stands.

“HSA members had placed orders and shipments are in transit and unlikely to reach by the stipulated 14 September deadline for clearance whilst some are yet to be shipped out. Most of the hotels had begun placing their orders and most of these goods are not available in the market,” Mansoor added.

HSA recommends a special window for clearing of products already ordered for the hospitality industry.

The latest ban comes at a time when the industry is gearing to welcome more tourists following relaxation of travel advisories by UK, France, Switzerland and Norway and upcoming winter season.

“A successful hassle-free season will help quicker revival of the tourism industry which has been battered by multiple crises starting from 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, COVID pandemic and political and economic crisis,” HAS President Mansoor emphasised.

The Government last week slapped a temporary ban on the import of products from over 360 categories in a bid to save foreign exchange and support local manufacturers.

The move was announced via special regulations under the Imports and Exports Control Act by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies.

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