Government approves chemical fertiliser imports – Pathirana
By Rajiesh Seetharam
The Minister of Plantations Ramesh Pathirana stated the Government has granted approval to the Ministry of Agriculture to import chemical fertiliser. Addressing the media on weekly Cabinet decisions, he added that Chemical Fertilisers would be available at market rates whereas organic fertilisers would be provided at subsidised rates to encourage organic farming.
He said that on 27 September the Cabinet had granted approval to import one hundred thousand metric tonnes of rice from Myanmar to address the shortage of rice and maintain price stability. “Accordingly, based on the request from the Ministry of Trade, the Cabinet approved the importation of 20,000 metric tonnes of rice from Myanmar at a cost of US$ 460 per metric tonne,” said Minister Pathirana. The Minister expressed confidence that the Forex crises would normalise within three to four months. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire global economy has suffered.
The present Forex crises are due to various issues being accumulated over decades. We import more than what we export, leading to a wide trade deficit. In 2020 we had a trade deficit of US$ 6 billion.
To address the widening deficit, we imposed numerous import restrictions like the ban on vehicle importation. However, with the rising global fuel prices, our deficit remains static despite the import restrictions. We have also spent substantially to import COVID-19 vaccines. We were also deprived of the projected US$ 5 billion revenue from the Tourism sector for the past two years. Now with the successful vaccination drive, and also an imminent end to the pandemic globally, we expect the tourism industry to recover. Our exports have increased by 10% yoy.
Thus, we expect the Forex crises to be resolved in the next four months,” said Minister Pathirana Elaborating further he remarked that the Government endeavours to maintain stable fuel prices despite the Forex shortage and rising crude oil prices at the international market, adding that no decision has yet been made to increase fuel prices at this juncture.
Upon inquiry with regard to delays in paying salaries to estate workers by certain Plantation Companies, the Minister responded stating that due to inappropriate decisions taken by the then ‘Yahapalanya’ Government, some Plantation Companies are running at a loss. However, unlike the previous government, the present Government had issued a Gazette, sanctioning the payment of Rs 1,000 as basic salary per day to estate workers and that the Government would also sort out other issues in due course.