Rs. 600 billion spent on non-essential imports – Amaraweera

Mahinda Amaraweera

Around US$ 600 billion has been spent in 2021 on importing non-essential commodities, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

He said that the majority of products brought into the country are non-essential items that can be produced in Sri Lanka and that 150 tonnes of honey is imported each year.

Imports of mobile phones totaled US$386.73 million in 2021.

“The primary challenge our country faces today is the US dollar crisis. When we earn US$100, we must pay off US$115 in debt. The funds obtained by the country are insufficient to pay off the country’s debts. I have gathered data on non-essential commodities brought into our country in 2021,” he explained.

Citing figures, he stated that in 2021, US$ 6 billion was spent on non-essential food imports such as cheese, butter, vegetables, fruits, ice cream, chocolate, and sauces.

Expenditure for 2021 grew by US$ 447.05 million, from US $3401.66 to 3848.71 million, and expenditure on vegetable imports climbed by US$ 31.41 million, from 352.86 million to 384.27 million. Sugar and confectionery cost US $ 277.13 million in 2020 and in 2021US$ 288.84 million was spent onSugar and confectionery.

“As a result, spending has climbed by US$ 11.71 million, and despite being able to rare bees in our country, we have imported US$ 0.85 million worth of honey by 2021. Every year, 150 tonnes of honey are imported. Expenditure on grain and grinding products has reached all-time highs,” he noted.

According to figures, spending increased from US$ 33.55 million in 2020 to US $ 97.35 million in 2021, with dairy items like cheese and butter costing an additional $17 million. The cost of oil and fat imports has risen by US$ 77.21 million, from US$ 106.86 million in 2021 to US$ 184.07 million in 2022.

“Despite the fact that the country has facilities for growing vegetables, US$ 384.27 million was spent on vegetable imports. This represents a $ 31.41 million increase over 2020. US$ 58.14 million has been spent in 2020 to purchase fruits such grapes, oranges, and pears and the Government has spent US$ 67.56 million by 2021, despite import limitations,” he said.

In addition, he said that the largest cost is for mobile phone imports which are around US$266.96 million in 2020 and by 2021, US$380.73 million worth of mobile phones had been imported.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Thameenah Razeek)