A special permit procedure will be introduced to import sugar required for the production of bakery and confectionery products, a top Minister confirmed yesterday.
“Following discussions and requests made by the confectionery and bakery stakeholders, as well as the current shortage of sugar in the market, approval was given to allow sugar imports required for the two sectors,” Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena told the Daily FT.
He said the submissions made by the industry were vetted by the Finance Ministry and the approval was given after noticing pleas made from export-oriented confectionery manufacturers stating that their consignments were impacted due to unavailability of ‘quality’ sugar in the country. The development was also confirmed by the Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers Association (LCMA) and the All Ceylon Bakery Owners Association (ACBOC). The two were lobbying for this in unison and had even made written submissions to the authorities.
“We were given the green light to import sugar quantities required for manufacturing purposes at a meeting held with the Trade Minister last Friday,” LCMA President S.M.D. Suriyakumar and ACBOC President N. Jayawardena told the Daily FT.
They said the decision was a result of continued discussions that were held with Trade Minister Gunawardena and State Minister of Consumer Cooperative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna for several months.
The confectionery industry alone requires around 5,000 to 6,000 tons of sugar monthly, whilst the bakery industry requires around 600 tons.
The two associations said the members will start applying for the licence this week onwards.
Noting that there is no outlined mechanism yet with regards to the licensing they said, the authorities will issue licences considering their past records and financial viability.
Sugar quantities will be imported from India, Thailand and Dubai.
The LCMA President said members were facing difficulties due to unavailability of quality sugar as available stocks either had too much moisture or were not up to the standard.
“Some of the export consignments were postponed,” Suriyakumar said.
As per LCMA, the formal local manufacturing industry is worth Rs. 85 billion and with the SMEs, the sector’s value is around Rs. 95 to Rs. 100 billion. Separately Sri Lanka exports $ 150-200 million (between Rs. 30 and Rs. 40 billion).
He also said the move will allow them to import required high quality refined sugar types like Icumsa 45 and Icumsa 90.