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Inland Revenue Department to crack down on profiteering traders.

By: Staff Writer

April 10, Colombo (LNW): The Inland Revenue Department is set to investigate undue profits by traders underscore the Government’s commitment to ensuring fair pricing and availability of essential commodities.

Trade, Commerce and Food Safety Minister Nalin Fernando revealed these measures which are underway, including potential intervention by The Inland Revenue Department to probe profiteering traders

The Minister reiterated efforts to curb profiteering by middlemen including issuing estimated price ranges and publicising price differentials from importation to retailing with the support of Sri Lanka Customs and the Finance Ministry through the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) every Tuesday.

The Minister apparently responding to the Parliamentary Committee on Ways and Means last week revealed the glaring disparities between essential goods market prices and import costs, shedding light on significant profits ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 1,000 per kilogram

The Committee on ways and means disclosed that since 2018, there has been a consistent decline in tax revenues generated from imported goods, attributed to a mismatch in the Special Commodity Levy (SCL) in accordance with the fluctuating value of the US dollar.

It also directed the IRD to take swift action to recover the Rs. 188 billion in tax arrears. Minister Fernando also said that special enforcement actions are also underway to curb price hikes, ensure product quality and deter market irregularities during festive seasons.

Minister Fernando also shed light on the economic challenges faced by Sri Lanka and measures undertaken to mitigate the impact on consumer prices.

He highlighted that despite economic challenges, the Government has effectively ensured an uninterrupted supply of essential goods to consumers, fulfilling its goal of averting shortages.

Fernando assured consumers of ongoing efforts to stabilise prices, highlighting successful interventions in the egg market where prices have been fixed between Rs. 35-40 per egg.

He admitted that the country witnessed a sharp increase in commodity prices in 2022, positioning it among the countries with the highest price levels globally.

Illustrating the inflationary pressure, Fernando cited examples of price hikes in essential food items.

“The price of bread skyrocketed from Rs. 85 per kilo in 2019 to Rs. 485 in 2022, before stabilising between Rs. 195-200 at present. Similarly, the cost of dhal surged from around Rs. 120 per kilo in 2019 to Rs. 585 in 2022, now retailing at around Rs. 295,” he explained.

He attributed the past price hike to the appreciation of the dollar and reduced bank interest rates. Explaining the reasons behind the recent onion shortage, the Minister revealed diplomatic efforts to resume imports from India, Sri Lanka’s primary onion supplier.

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