May 19, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will make boats more expensive for fishermen in a bid to fatten the profits of boat builders, the island’s industries ministry said, in the latest in a series of move to restrict economic freedoms of citizens. Fishermen had won the freedom to import boats freely after a tsunami hit the island in 2004 devastating their lives and livelihoods.
“The duty free boat imports were allowed by the government in the aftermath of the Tsunami to re-build the fishing industry,” industries minister Rishad Bathiudeen was quoted as saying in a statement.
“But this has now adversely affected the overall boating industry since many vessels, including sub-standard boats, are imported duty free, dealing a blow to our 500 million dollar boating industry’s competitive advantage.”
The proposed taxes on boats are the latest in a series of trade restrictions imposed on citizens of Sri Lanka in recent years, with a resurgence of nationalism including economic nationalism in the island.
In recent years politically connected industrial oligarchs have also scuttled a deal to expand trade freedoms between Indian and Sri Lankan citizens.
Many Sri Lankan fishermen are poor and especially tho