Sri Lanka: Government denies sugar importers’ benefit from levy increase

Colombo, Sri Lanka: President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Director General on Trade unions Saman Ratnapriya, has refuted what he termed as unsubstantiated claims by the Opposition regarding the recent increase in the Special Commodity Levy on sugar from 25 cents per kg to 50 cents per kg, effective from midnight on November 1.

Speaking to the media at his office within Lake House, the former UNP National List Member of Parliament asserted that, contrary to the Opposition’s exaggerated assertions, only 520 tonnes of white sugar were imported immediately before the adjustment in the levy. He dismissed the Opposition’s rhetoric as an attempt to create an issue, emphasizing that this matter did not warrant excessive attention.

When questioned about Cabinet Minister Manusha Nanayakkara (SJB) endorsing the Opposition’s accusations of a potential scandal involving the Special Commodity Levy, Ratnapriya stated that it was the government’s responsibility to investigate these allegations. He emphasized that if the investigations substantiated the allegations, appropriate legal action should be taken. Ratnapriya reiterated that the quantity of sugar stocks received in Colombo after the levy increase was insignificant when compared to recent imports.

Minister Nanayakkara has publicly called for an inquiry into the premature disclosure of the impending duty increase to sugar importers even before the Cabinet of Ministers was informed.

The Opposition has alleged that those who had benefited from the reduction of the Special Commodity Levy on white sugar from Rs 50 per kg to 25 cents on October 13, 2020, had made substantial profits as a result of the subsequent upward revision.


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