Importer got licence under Imports and Exports Act – Customs

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 12:10 AM Jun 11 2021

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Sri Lanka Customs said on Wednesday (9) that the importer of organic fertiliser from Madurai, India, has obtained a licence under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act No.1 of 1969. Usually, it is the Department of Agriculture that has the authority to allow or disallow the import of organic materials. 

Three 40-foot containers of organic fertiliser imported from Madurai, South India, had arrived at the Colombo Harbour on 2 June and they are currently at the Orugodawatta Customs Yard. Customs Spokesman Sudattha Silva told Ceylon Today that they are awaiting final approval from the Plant Quarantine officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Imports and Exports Controller before issuing clearance for the organic fertiliser to be removed from the yard. 

The importer, Taian Organic Fertilizer, has obtained the licence under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act and submitted a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Department. 

On 1 June, Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, when queried whether the imported fertilisers are in a favourable condition to be used for the local organic needs of the country, responded “by submitting the regulations issued under the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, No. 1 of 1969 to the Parliament for approval, the Imports and Exports (Control) Act is expected to be amended to minimise and limit the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers and to eventually convert them into organic fertilisers.” Under the Plant Protection Act of 1999, importing organic fertiliser, which is in reality garbage, is prohibited, as such fertiliser carries microorganisms and various other fungi that may be harmful for local use.

 “We went to the site and leant that the imported organic soil has been taken for testing awaiting results,” said the Customs Spokesman. He added that Imports and Exports Control is a separate department that has the power to issue the licence under a special category. 

Meanwhile, Director General of Agriculture, Dr. W.M.W. Weerakoon, told Ceylon Today that he did not issue the licence to import the organic fertiliser, although it is his office that issues licences for agricultural products. According to information, the Plant Quarantine Act, Animal Quarantine Act, and Biodiversity Secretariat have to consent, before the DG of Agriculture approves the permit to import organic fertiliser.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 12:10 AM Jun 11 2021

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