President refuses to reverse restrictions on imports

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today asserted that he will not reverse restrictions imposed on imports following the coronavirus pandemic, in order to strengthen the rural economy.

The President’s office quoted Rajapaksa as saying appropriate measures will be taken to reduce the cost of living by implementing the decisions already taken while adhering to a consistent policy without moving backwards.

He said that prices of several consumer goods, including turmeric, have risen due to a decision taken by the Government to uplift the local agricultural industry and the farming community.

President Rajapaksa pointed out that if turmeric and other commodities are imported to control or bring prices down, the desired objective will never be achieved.

The President said that even though the public faced difficulties for a short period of time, measures that have been taken to strengthen the rural economy and uplift the farming community cannot be reversed.

The President made these remarks at the first cabinet sub-committee meeting on the cost of living held at the Presidential Secretariat, today (31).

During the meeting, the impact of the rise in prices of the several essential commodities on the economy of the urban middle class was discussed in detail.

‘In order to earn a stable and strong income for the rural farmers who make up about 40% of the population, we need to develop confidence that they would get a high price for their produce and assure a stable market for them,’ the President said.

The President added that without taking such measures the Government cannot encourage rural communities to engage themselves in the agricultural sector.

The President said that in order to control foreign exchange parity rates and to get rid of high debt burden on farmers, imports should be restricted. The President pointed out that countries such as India and the United States have also imposed import restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President also highlighted the need for proper procedures to address the issues faced by the middle class in the suburbs due to inflation.

“Promoting the economic condition of the people in remote areas and reducing the cost of living burden of the people in the suburbs should be addressed simultaneously,” the President stressed.

The President advised the officials to update him once a week on the market status. (Colombo Gazette)