Sri Lanka high tariffs hurting investors, poor: US envoy

Nov 30, 2009 (LBO) – High import tariffs maintained by Sri Lanka not only deter investors but also hurt the poor, the American envoy to the island has said. High import tariffs and an economically-damaging tax system hurt not only individual companies, but economic growth in general, said US ambassador Patricia Butenis.

“If a company here needs to import the latest technology to remain competitive in the global market, but the import tariff is 100 percent or more, a company may not be able to afford the equipment.

“What does this mean for Sri Lanka? Well, as an investor, it means I might just look elsewhere to do my business. As a business owner, it makes my product less competitive on the cut-throat global market.”

Butenis said the government understands the problem, and has been reviewing the tax and tariff system since August.

“Clearly the system, like many tax and tariff systems worldwide, should be simplified and created with an eye toward economic openness.”

The Economic Freedom Index of the Heritage Foundation, an American think tank, puts Sri Lanka at 111th out of 179 reviewed countries.

“With the war over and the