Govt. reviews blanket ban on chemical fertiliser


Regulations relaxed for shipment finalised before May 5; import licences for some products

The Finance Ministry has issued a gazette that, without completely banning the import of all agrochemicals, allows for some items to be brought in after May 6 this year subject to special import licence regulations.

The gazette also effectively permits any shipments of agrochemicals that were seaborne on or before May 5 to arrive, be cleared and distributed. In the chemical fertiliser, pesticide and other agrochemical sectors, sources expressed confusion at the development this week as they had been told a total ban would be imposed with immediate effect.

“We are waiting till Monday to clarify this with the Controller General of Imports and Exports and relevant authorities,” one private sector source said. “The directions are not clear cut.”

Gazette 2226/48 of May 6, signed by Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister, is available on the website of the Department of Imports and Exports Control but is yet to be released via the Government Printer. It says the regulations shall only be applicable to the importation of goods which have a date of bill of lading or airway bill on or after May 6, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Department issued operating instructions to commercial banks stating, among other things, that: “Commercial banks shall not proceed with any payment in respect of the importation of items shipped on or after May 6, 2021, mentioned under regulation No 3 of Gazette Extraordinary No 2226/48 of May 6, 2021, without a valid Import Control Licence (ICL)”.

“Sri Lanka Customs shall not release the items which shipped on or after May 6, 2021, specified under regulation No 3 of the Gazette Extraordinary 2226/48 of May 6, 2021, without a valid Import Control Licence (ICL),” the letter, addressed to the Chief Executive Officers of commercial banks, states.

“There is no impediment to the clearing of any shipments from the port if they were seaborne before 6th May,” Imports and Exports Controller General T V D Damayanthi S Karunarathne, said. “Anything after May 6 must have a valid import licence.”

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Sunday Times, 9 May 2021