From left: Secretary to Treasury Dr. R.H.S. Samarathunge, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy, Minister Malik Samarawickrema and Minister Ravi Karunanayake

Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake says that trade distortions where one party is given concessions and the other party being provided with protectionism should be taken out of business when the country is fully transformed into manufacturing economy for which the process is underway.

Speaking at the ninth session of the Ease of Doing Business forum organized by his ministry at the MILODA Centre in Colombo, Karunanayake noted that the government expects more foreign investment that would promote more export-oriented businesses inclusive of entrepot trade.

“Sri Lanka wants foreign debts to be replaced by investment which is the policy of the government of President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ontrepot trade is one area that will be promoted with all necessary facilities and all irritants that are there on its way will be removed,” the minister said responding to a query raised by an ontrepot businessman who said that the facilities offered by the banks, SLPA and the Sri Lanka Customs on ontrepot trade is costly for them to engage in that trade.

The objective of the Ease of Doing Business Forum is to address grievances of businessmen by providing on the spot solutions by state institutions and officials present.
Minister Malik Samarawickrema, Central Bank Governor Indrajith Coomaraswamy, Secretary to General Treasury Dr . R.H.S. Samarathunge and officials from state banks, Sri Lanka Customs and other Regulatory bodies were associated with the Minister of Finance and representatives of line agencies to provide on the spot solutions to the problems raised by the business community.

Meanwhile, Central Bank Governor, Indrajith Coomaraswamy replying to a question on the facilitating the trade with Iran said that some sanctions on certain items have been revoked and the tea is one such item that could be now exported to Iran. When the exporter concerned pointed out the difficulty in the money transaction, the governor said that though the tea export does not come under the US sanctions, the ban on financial transaction has not yet been lifted.

The governor said that Central Bank officials in Washington had already approached the US officials in this regard and noted that according to Central Bank of Iran, there is a possibility for transactions of money through the Central Bank of Italy.

The governor asserted that once the ongoing discussions with US officials and the officials of the Italy bank is completed; it could be possible to pave the way for the transaction under the normal SWIFT arrangements.

“Sri Lanka’s endeavours to establish barter trade with Iran like what is practiced by India  did not materialize in the case of  Sri Lanka as the country does not have large volume of exports to Iran,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.