Trade Ministry to import items; compete with private sector

The Trade Ministry is to seek cabinet approval to obtain a bank guarantee of US$ 10 million from the Treasury to get into the business of importing essential items including building material to end the monopoly of the private sector.

The objective of the ministry is to set up a government arm in importing goods and thereby releasing stocks to the markets while competing with private sector prices.

For this purpose, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena will seek cabinet approval to revive the now defunct State Trading General Corporation. The establishment was to be closed down, but due to the inability to find a liquidator, the process was not completed and its registration still remains.

The Minister told the Sunday Times the revived establishment would be made use to import essential items such as sugar, dhal, chicken, coconut oil, onions, chillies and potatoes.

The establishment would also import tiles, iron, building material, cement, pipe fittings and cables, he said.

The minister said the policy would be to import items whenever the prices were high in the private sector.

An Importers Association spokesman said the Government should be handling administrative matters, instead of getting into business which was currently handled by the private sector.

He said the Government was likely to face practical problems in handling imports. “Previous governments have tried to handle imports and failed. But let it enter the business and see the challenges,” he added.


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