EDB Running Hidden Agenda Against New Port Tariff System: Issues Controversial Statement Slamming Ports Authority For Consolidating Tariff Scheme

The Export Development Board, which recently came under criticism from President Maithripala Sirisena for dismal performance in diversifying the export sector, has fired salvos at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) over the proposed tariff revision. 

"The initiative of upward tariff revision by the SLPA has become a controversial matter raising many concerns of exporters/importers during tough times, where Sri Lanka is trying to find its position back in the world map as a competitive exporter," the Export Development Board said in a controversial statement. 

“The industry perceived this as a unilateral and arbitrary decision taken by the SLPA in a situation where they are enjoying the financial benefits of the rupee devaluation as well,” the EDB added stating that the rate increase would become rubbing salt on the export sector's wounds as it is already hit by drought and power cuts. 

However. speaking to Asian Mirror, multiple sources within the EDB said the statement seemed suspicious and gave the impression that the heads of the institutions driven by a collateral agenda. 

"When there was an arbitrary tariff increase under the previous minister, the EDB remained silent about its impact on the export sector. Today, when the SLPA attempts to consolidate and rationalize the tariff system, the EDB has woken up from a slumber and raised serious concerns over the scheme," a source familiar with the matter said. 

"Sri Lanka's export sector has managed to remain afloat primarily due to the relentless efforts of the private sector. The Export Development Board, which comes under the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry, has failed miserably in diversifying our exports and providing adequate guidance. instead of rectifying its own issues, the EDB is now meddling with the affairs of other state institutions," the source also added. 

A senior official at the Export Development Board who wished to remain anonymous stated that there might be a 'hidden political hand' behind the EDB's controversial statement.

"There are indications to believe that the EDB issued the statement to satisfy certain 'political masters' linked to the board. They seem to have a problem with the new tariff revision which limits room for misdeclaration and other forms of malpractices.  They have apparently used the EDB as a cat's paw to paint a wrong picture about the new tariff system," the official added. 

The new tariff system was formulated last month after revising the tariff system which came into effect on January 01 2019, following a decision made by the 51-day Cabinet. 


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