Lift restrictions - Importers | Sunday Observer

Lift restrictions - Importers

Urging the Government to lift all restrictions to enable the full resumption of industrial operations, importers said  import dependent companies will go bankrupt by the time restrictions are lifted in January next year.

Think tanks and import industry bodies have been repeatedly lobbying for the elimination of  import controls on consumer goods and raw materials since such measures would distort production and raise the prices of commodities. “We have lobbied for the easing of import controls but no favourable response has been received so far,” an importer said, adding that campaigns to lift restrictions had failed. Import controls imposed by  Gazette No. 2176/19 of May 22, 2020 have been extended by another six months from  July by Gazette No. 2182/10 of June 2020. The import of vehicles, household appliances and  luxury goods have been curtailed by the regulations.

Import restrictions were enforced due to the acute shortage of foreign exchange, consequent  to the sudden decline in exports. As export buyers commenced ordering there  has been a gradual revival in exports. However, the biggest constraint according to exporters is the lack of orders. Consequent to import restrictions from  April 16 there were three more Gazette notifications, the last on July 16, where certain concessions were granted on the restrictions.

“This proved that the original Gazette had been issued without considering all stakeholder views and especially importers and imports had been viewed only as a means of busting foreign exchange,” importers said, adding that imports declined resulting in the decline in government revenue, by way of losses in duty and taxes on imports.

Importers said the Export Development Board and affected 'value added' industries lobbied and obtained   concessions to enable exporters to operate somewhat normally. But the process of obtaining licensing has been  cumbersome and certainly 'kicked' the ease of doing business index out of existence. This is the current problem for exporters. Local producers are impacted even now as for raw material a value addition of 35 percent on CIF cost must be certified by a Chartered Accountant.

 Deferred payments up to six months must be obtained from foreign suppliers. For categories that are totally banned (temporary suspension?), the import dependent businesses and their workers and dependents are ignored and micro economies are destroyed, they said.

With regard to the lifting of restrictions for export oriented industries,  importers said imports are allowed but with much hassle and bottlenecks created at the Import Control Department and the Customs. “No clear instructions are available and recent Gazettes and a Gazette published in 2012 must be referred to, to get the correct picture.