Sri Lanka is implementing comprehensive unilateral trade liberalisation including the rationalization of para-tariffs which add costs to business and consumers.
At a press conference held at the Finance Ministry on Wednesday, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that para-tariffs on imports will be phased out over five years, while products related to tourism, manufacturing, and construction will be free of para-tariffs over three years.
Clarifying certain misinterpretation of his 2019 budget proposals, Minister Samaraweera noted that Sri Lanka will abolish para tariffs in around 1000 items but will help domestic industry to reach international markets.
The Treasury is expected to give up LKR 6 billion in revenue with the removal of para-tariffs, he said adding that 10 per cent of all HS codes, considered to be sensitive items, will not be subject to a complete para-tariff phase-out.
“In fact, 1,200 para tariffs have been removed in the last budget and we have committed ourselves to removing all the 3,000 odd para tariffs while gradually phasing it out para to encourage competition and reduce the cost of living,” the Minister pointed out.
Budget 2019 proposes to replace the 2.5 per cent existing stamp duty with 3.5 per cent Nation Building Tax (NBT) on overseas payments using credit cards.
Minister Samaraweera said that this will not affect local online transactions of companies like TAKAS.lk, or WOW.lk.