JO demands Govt. policies change to help local industries

Saturday, 23 June 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says Govt. FTAs with foreign nations giving undue advantage to foreign traders
  • Govt. contends it has improved investment and entrepreneurship opportunities

By Skandha Gunasekara

Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group and MEP Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardana yesterday urged the Government to correct its bad policies of favouring foreign industrialists over local entrepreneurs and industries.

MP Gunawardana, making a special statement in Parliament yesterday, said the Government had increased interest rates of loans given to local industry owners.

“The Government is denying the opportunity for local industrialists to survive. Thanks to bilateral free trade agreements the Government entered into with foreign nations, foreign industrialists arrive in the country en masse to promote their industries. This is against the interests of our country. Foreign goods are overflowing the market. Local industries cannot compete with them owing to heavy taxes. Local industrialists do not have the tariff relief enjoyed by foreign traders. All industries are on the verge of collapse. Government officials and those responsible have not done anything for the local industries. Many local industries are being bought over by their foreign competitors. Small- and medium-scale industries are closing down. Thousands are added to the numbers of unemployed every day because of bad Government policies,” he said.

Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella and Minister of Commerce and Industry Rishad Bathiudeen at this point refuted MP Gunawardana’s claims, disagreeing that local industries were weakening.

However, State Minister of Plantations Champika Premadasa, going against his Government’s stance, agreed with the sentiments of MP Gunawardana.

“What the Opposition says is true. The local industries are suffocating.  For example, the beedi industry has collapsed. Beedi leaves are smuggled into the country through the Colombo Port. Those smuggled leaves come to the market at a lower price. The port officials support thieves to smuggle in beedi leaves. The beedi industrialists who pay taxes cannot compete with smuggled goods,” State Minister Premadasa said.