Trade, Commerce and Food Security Minister Nalin Fernando pledges a significant reduction of 75% in the cost of living burden on the people by the end of the first quarter this year. 

He attributes this positive outlook to the initiation of 2024 with a positive economic growth rate.

Minister Fernando expressed his commitment to enhancing consumer rights by introducing a new program for the Consumer Authority, aiming to provide greater security for consumers.

The Minister’s remarks were made during a press conference at the Presidential Media Center (PMC) on January 03, under the theme “Collective Path to a Stable Country”.

He acknowledged the impact of India’s halt on big onion exports, which has reverberated in Sri Lanka. However, the minister assured that the situation will be sort within the next two weeks when India relaxes its restrictions on onion exports.

Minister Nalin Fernando further commented:

“We embark on the year 2024 with a positive economic growth rate. Notably, by the end of the first quarter, the cost of living burden on the people is projected to decrease by 75%. The existing tax policy assures continued relief for citizens in the future.

While some argue against levying taxes for government income, it must be emphasized that such statements are counterproductive to the country’s economic growth. Citizens bear the responsibility of supporting government investments in the country’s future using tax revenue. 

Critics often cite high taxes as a reason for leaving the country. However, taxation in our country stands at a modest 12%, significantly lower than the 38% to 43% in countries attracting emigrants. These nations have thrived due to their tax policies.

The interruption in big onion exports from India has impacted our country, but resolution is expected within the next two weeks when India relaxes export restrictions. Improper publicity surrounding tax amendments, including VAT, has led to unwarranted price hikes by intermediaries and some companies, placing pressure on the people.

In the first quarter of 2024, Lanka Sathosa aims to open five new mega stores and ten regular Lanka Sathosa stores. By year end, the plan is to expand the Lanka Sathosa outlet network to 500 outlets. 

Expanding the network to 500 outlets serves the primary goal of enabling consumers to purchase goods at government subsidized prices without shortages. In 2024, the goal is to increase the total income of Lanka Sathosa Company to nearly Rs. 70 billion, achieving an operating profit of nearly Rs. 1.5 billion. 

The company aims to secure a net profit of Rs. 500 million amidst the economic challenges.

A new program for the consumer authority is anticipated in 2024, aiming to enhance consumer rights. The Department of Measurement Units, Standards and Services will be fully computerized to meet people’s needs in the first four months of the year.”