‘Uncalled for imports, major reason for currency depreciation’ | Daily News
Special island wide trade fairs to assist SMEs

‘Uncalled for imports, major reason for currency depreciation’

Chairman CBA, Ariyaseela Wickramanayake, presenting a specimen of the Media Loyalty Card to Secretary Minister of Mass Media, Jagath Wijeweera and Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella. Picture by Ranjith Asanka

Uncalled for imports for consumption was one of the major contributors towards the depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee, Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella addressing the launch of a special program by the Mass Media Ministry and Colombo Business Association to promote rural businesses and find them a market place in Colombo.

Under this program special trade fairs will be held from April 1 to 11 in Matara and also from April 8 to 10 at Rupavahini premises in Colombo 7. The Minister also said that both the British pound and US Dollars which were around Rs. 14 in 1972 has now increased to over Rs. 200 and import restrictions should be justified specially for products that can be ‘made in Sri Lanka’.

The Minister recalled that in 1972 to the then government banned the import of saffron and later the country was self-sufficient in it. “However later this ban lapsed and today the new government has once again banned saffron and once again Sri Lanka is moving toward self sufficiency in this area, saving millions of rupees from the nation’s import bill.”

He also said that there are several imbalances especially in the Agri Sector which has to be urgently corrected. “During the harvesting season one can see tomato farmers offering their product even free of charge due to the lack of demand. Similarly price fluctuations cannot be justified when it comes to prices of items like chilies and lime. “Also one year Sri Lanka exports rice and next year imports rice!”

He also appealed from the ‘Big players’ of the business sector not to have their ‘own empires’ but assist the SME sector as well. Commenting on the SME sector he said they lacked a good market place and this is the reason they launched this marketplace. “We will hold similar fairs all over the Island.”

Secretary Minister of Mass Media, Jagath Wijeweera said that Sri Lanka needs more and young entrepreneurs and appealed specially from Sri Lankans based overseas to come and invest in Sri Lanka. “The government has created the ‘right’ investment climate to them.”

Chairman Colombo Business Association (CBA) Ariyaseela Wickramanayake said that Sri Lanka has enough milking cows to make Sri Lanka self-sufficient from dairy. “Sri Lankans never consumed wheat over a century ago and they were healthier. But today people are eating bread which has resulted in a huge import bill to import wheat.”

The Regional Development Bank also offered a special loan scheme and CBA offered a privilege card offering discounts from over 500 sales outlets to the Media.