Imported canned fish: Local manufacturers call for duty increase | Sunday Observer

Imported canned fish: Local manufacturers call for duty increase

Sri Lanka spends US$ 64 million on canned fish imports. The country is surrounded by sea and we are draining valuable foreign exchange unnecessarily on canned fish imports, CEO/Director Tess Group of Companies, Shiran Fernando said.

“Support for the local canned fish industry is not forthcoming. If we are provided with some relief, we could develop the industry. Canned fish consumption is 175,000 cans per day in Sri Lanka. We have the capacity to provide 75 percent of the total requirement,” he said.

“We have prepared a five-year strategic plan for the Sri Lankan canned fish manufacturing industry and hope that the plan could be carried out for the benefits of the industry.

The strategy will boost the production capacity as well as the living standards of the fishing community,” he said.

“Four companies are engaged in canned fish production currently. Our capacities are under-utilised at present due to large stocks being imported from countries such as China, Chili and Thailand. However, we have purchased over Rs 100 million worth of fish from the local fishing community for the past seven months. This value and volume could further increase, he said.

About 250,000 people are engaged in fishing activities at present.

The market is flooded with 10 of the banned cans of fish and the authorities need to look into this matter as well.

“We have supplied stocks worth Rs. 12 million to Lak Sathosa and payment is still outstanding.

As for the entire industry, Lak Sathosa has to pay Rs 26 million. This has also become a stumbling block to our progress,” he said.

Despite being an island nation, Sri Lanka has imported canned fish since 1965. It is now considered as a staple food item and included in the basket of goods used to compute the cost of living index.

In February 2015, the government reduced the import duty levied on canned fish by more than 50 percent. This had a negative impact on locally produced canned fish.

Therefore, we call on the government to reconsider this decision and reimpose the duty to safeguard the local industry, he said.