- Industry still in the dark, awaits written commitment from authorities
Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday told Parliament that a special permit procedure will be introduced to import palm oil required for the production of bakery and confectionery products. The move comes after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had on Monday instructed that the import of palm oil be banned with immediate effect.
Gunawardena said with the new permit bakery and confectionery industries would not be affected by the ban. “If anyone wishes to import palm oil, they can submit an appeal to the Finance Ministry Secretary on the matter,” he added.
Responding to a question raised by MP Kumara Welgama, he also pointed out that if the products are up to the required standards there will be no impediment to the production process.
Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers Association (LCMA) Chairman S.M.D. Suriyakumara speaking to the Daily FT said that no official statement has been issued by authorities in this regard.
“We also know the general endorsement made by the Trade Minister at the Parliament yesterday and LCMA too is waiting for a written commitment on issuing a license to continue our businesses,” he added.
The LCMA on Tuesday requested in writing that President Rajapaksa reconsider the ban given the negative impact it would have on the industry and its dependents. When asked if there was any response to their request, Suriyakumara said that verbal confirmation had been given yesterday for the association to meet with the high-ranking officials.
The annual palm oil requirement for the entire confectionary industry is around 18,000 metric tons, with the monthly requirement about 1,500 metric tons. Industry concerns primarily centred on the fact that present palm oil stocks would only last for about two to three days.