Confectionary manufacturers were a group of entrepreneurs to suffer the trauma of Government impotence to deal with substandard imports of confectionery and allied ingredients. Shocking revelations were declared to the press yesterday at a press briefing where leading confectioners grouped themselves to unanimously complain that cheap imports were permitted from dubious sources. This had its debilitating repercussions universally which affected manufacture of confectionary and unerring results would likely be that workers would be retrenched if the industry crashed.
Chairman Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers Association R. S. Wickramasinghe said there were approximately 200,000 people dependent on this industry. This number was representative of the actual persons directly employed or who were small time entrepreneurs. Already about 30 percent of them had now sunk to the ranks of penury, and it would not be long if bigger industrialists laid off their workers because of closure and insolvency.
Director Customs, Policy Planning and Research Division, P. D. K. Fernando said there were checks and balances already in place but implementation of laws and connected bureaucratic implements were relatively inadequate to completely halt these questionable trade practices. He said data systems were being revised and updated. Completion of systematic approaches would take some time. There was a dearth of trained manpower to adequately implement relevant strictures to prevent such imports.
Simultaneously implementation of the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) structure would need to be implemented by the Ministry of Finance if meaningful steps are to be taken to curb such imports.
Treasurer LCMA Dhamika Gunaratne said such imports were not subjected to customs inspection maintaining expected standards of inspection. This has resulted in substandard products being allowed in which could endanger the lives of children.
It could not be ruled out that Mad Cow or Anthrax could enter the local food market through these imports.
Apart from this aspect to this debilitating situation, ingredients imported for the confectionary industry being inspected for contaminants are passed for use only after inspection. Attendant costs although prohibitive could be absorbed if such manufacturers did not have to face unfair competition from importers from sources such, for instance, China.
They urged greater government intervention to curb such imports or else results would not be laudable.