Import of 600 Non-Essential Items Discouraged

World’s largest container ship ’Ever Ace’ arrives at Colombo Port in Sri Lanka

With the forex crisis getting worse by the day, a gazette notification is to be issued, discouraging 600 non-essential imports to save foreign reserves, Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila said yesterday (March 02).

Addressing an event where 11 coalition parties of the Government unveiled their proposals titled ‘Mulu Ratama Hari Magata’  to overcome the economic crisis in the country, Gammanpila said although discouraging such imports came a little too late, they could still be happy about it.

“We are paying for the consequences of not recognising our priorities and allowing non essentials to be imported. We have to accept that the country is facing the biggest economic crisis in the history of our country. This is because we have failed to sort out our priorities. If foreign reserves are limited, they need to be allocated for medicine, fuel, and raw materials for industries. But even now, non-essential commodities are being imported. There is a problem in our mentality. Given the current circumstances, we cannot import whatever we want,” he said.

Gammanpila said the Government needs to divulge the truth about the economic situation to the public. Before finding a solution, we have to first acknowledge that we have a real problem here. If the Government fails to do so, it would be impossible to avoid public riots against them, he stressed.

Speaking further, Gammanpila expressed his regret over top Ministers in the Government not paying heed to his continuous warnings about a forex crisis since the middle of last year.

“Last year I warned about a forex crisis. Instead of paying attention to that, some tried to insult me and suppress this fact that I pointed out. The day before taking the No-confidence Motion (NCM) against me into debate in Parliament, there was a meeting of Government members. Even on that day, I spoke about the issue. One of the top Ministers then said that there is no forex crisis in the country and they would be able to solve the issue within two weeks,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industries, Wimal Weerasansa spoke strongly about the conduct of Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa accused Rajapaksa saying, he (Wimal) was not sure whether the Finance Minister was waiting until disaster hits the country so that powerful countries could take advantage. The black market dollar economy is being promoted and it has weakened the foreign currency situation further, he added.

“Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Cabinet he couldn’t meet the Finance Minister for the last six months as appointments were not given. Cabraal said although he sent several letters and proposals, he did not get a single response from the Finance Minister’s side. How can a country solve an economic crisis when the Central Bank Governor and Finance Minister don’t meet?” Weerawansa queried.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Methmalie Dissanayake)