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Govt. to relax import restrictions of 708 items classified as non essential

Sri Lanka removed restrictions on imports to help ease shortages of everything from food to medicine.The 369 items on the list can now be shipped in without an Import Control License, the Finance Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

It also postponed implementation of open-account payment changes allowing the release allowing the release of all such cargoes considering the need to import essential food items to tackle the shortage

The Government will ease the restriction imposed on the importation of 798 items including 369 non-essential items providing relief for selected importers to bring down certain items after obtaining permits (import control licence) .

These 369 import restricted items included cosmetics, fish, dairy products, fruits, electronics including mobile phones, computer accessories, watches, household appliances, furniture, sanitary ware and toys.

The importation of these items is subject to applicable rules and regulations including duties and taxes at the time of Customs clearance of cargo / consignments, the Finance Ministry circular stipulated.

This decision taken by the Finance Ministry on the directions of Central Bank headed by Nanda lal Weerasinghe who came under severe criticism of former ruling party politicians including firebrand Wimal Weerawansa and SME associations.

The government will ease the import ban on some goods that have been temporarily suspended due to the prevailing economic crisis, Finance State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

A gazette notification was issued on August 23, 2022 suspending importation of number of non-essential items.

The minister said that import restrictions were imposed on the relevant goods on the basis that they can be produced locally or are not essential.

“Our foreign reserves are at a very low level. We need money to import essential items such as gas, oil and medicine. So we wanted to create a priority list,” he said

He said this during an observation tour at the Import and Export Control Department that the government had taken steps to suspend 1,465 items in the gazette notification.

However, taking into consideration the requests of various parties including Chambers of Commerce, the import restrictions of 708 items were removed.

He said further relaxation of import restrictions will be done in the future. He pointed out that the government’s expectation is to relax the import restrictions so as to be able to import the raw materials needed for local industries as well as protect the foreign reserves.

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