Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake last week announced the government has planned to implement the New Customs Ordinance with effect from January 2017 by enacting a new Customs Act in place of the existing customs ordinance of No 17 of 1869 as amended to suit the present day requirements in international trade activities. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Management – (CCEM) chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently granted approval for this enactment of the proposed new Customs Act through the decision No. 25/05/2016/05. However, the decision drew flak from Trade Unions of the Sri Lanka Customs, who alleged that the move would “safeguard and facilitate several business tycoons while reducing the powers of Customs Officers”.
“Discussions the government has had with all stakeholders in order to update the 150 years old Customs Ordinance have now become successful,” the Minister said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s largest business chamber, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce had last month submitted several proposals for the amendment of the Customs Ordinance. Accordingly the new Act is now expected to come into force on a date determined by the Minister and announced by a notification in the Government Gazette.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance last week responded to accusations that a certain brewery had been given outright concessions over the importation of beer thus severely affecting public finances. Issuing a statement, the Ministry said M/s Lion Brewery Company at Biyagama which was fully affected by the recent floods has been provided the opportunity to import beer with taxes and other levies applicable to that of locally produced beer.

The Ministry noted that this company, which pays excise and other levies of over Rs 25 billion annually to the government, was given permission following a request to the treasury for a tax concession for up to a period of three months until the new plant and machineries are installed for it to commence its normal production.