July 05, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian and economist Dr. Harsha de Silva has called on the public to protest against bringing another tax on consumer products by the government to burden the people.
The MP said that effective 1 August, the Consumer Affairs Authority will require the manufacturers and traders of a range of common consumer items to obtain a special security stamp on their products.
The MP took it to the mini blog site Twitter to call on the people to "get a group going to protest this tax".
"STOP this TAX on people. Every sachet of shampoo, bar of soap etc. will need Government of #lka security sticker from 1 August. Who pays?" the MP tweeted.
Under the Consumer Affairs Authority Act, the CAA directs all manufacturers, distributers, traders and importers of the Products specified in the schedule to have a security stamp obtained through suppliers, especially selected by the CAA, which according to Dr. de Silva is another attempt for certain "chosen" few to profit from the new regulations.
The Gazette Extraordinary published on 24 February under the Consumer Authority Act stipulates that no products shall be manufactured, imported, distributed, transported or sold unless a security stamp obtained from the CAA is "affixed to each and every pack, container or wrapper".
The products in the schedule include Soft Drinks, Bottled Water/Bottled Mineral Water, Branded Edible oil, Toothpaste, All types of Soap, Shampoo, Paint, and Electric Switches, Sockets, Circuit Breakers.
According to the Gazette notification every manufacturer or importer of Products shall ensure that security stamps are affixed on each and every pack, container or the wrapper of such Products, prior to the release of such Products for distribution to traders and/or consumers.
Further, importers are required to ensure that security stamps are affixed on each and every pack, container or the wrapper of such Products by the foreign manufacturer abroad or by the importer at the customs warehouse, prior to the release of such Products to the Sri Lankan market.
Manufacturers or importers of the Products are directed to obtain required amount of security stamps from the Consumer Affairs Authority and declared the affixation of security stamps of each and every pack, container or the wrapper of the Products through a website nominated by the Consumer Affairs Authority.
The UNP MP has pointed out that insisting on the security stamp on the specific products, like toothpaste and shampoo sachets, will drive up prices and directly affect small merchants and the poorest consumers.