Garbage Import : Finance Minister to check if criminal charges can be filed against perpetrators

Garbage Import : Finance Minister to check if criminal charges can be filed against perpetrators

Written by Staff Writer

26 Jul, 2019 | 9:53 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): Speaking in parliament about the recent consignment of garbage that was imported to the country from the United Kingdom, Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said that 241 such containers were brought to the country between 28th of September 2017 and the 02nd of March 2018. He further said that while 111 containers out of the total were imported by ETL Colombo that Ceylon Metal Private Limited has been identified as the notifying party. The Minister says that 103 containers have been cleared from the port by Hayleys Free Zone Limited and was later confirmed that the consignment contains waste products that were imported in violation of the BASEL convention while also adding that the process did not have the approval of the Central Environmental Authority.

Explaining about the condition of the consignments he said that when the Director-General attempted to inspect the containers, that the waste inside it was already rotting and infested with worms which also consisted of matresses and old carpets covered with mud. He further said that the feathers of birds inside the pillows had been infested with worms and glass fragments. The Minister went onto say that he considers this event as a national tragedy since they have violated sanitary regulations and violated the provisions of the Customs Ordinance.

Minister Mangala said that as per the investigations that out of the 130 containers that Hayleys Free Zone reportedly re-exported 18 containers which weighed a total of 2,964,850 kg. He said that when re-exporting these containers that it should definitely be sent to the country it was imported from and not to any other country. The Minister also mentioned about the investigations that have been launched in the UK over the same incident.

He further said that a proper investigation will be conducted into this incident by the customs and that legal action will be filed against those found to be a part of the import under the Customs Ordinance. Minister Samaraweera says that the current law orders fine at three times of the values of the containers, but since he thinks this is insufficient, he had also instructed the lawyers to look into whether criminal charges can be filed against them.

“Regulations were imposed on the activities of economic centres the gazette No. 118/30 dated on the 7th of July 2013, and the monetary act no. 12 of 2012 as amended by the Monetary act No.12 of 2013. While there are no observations to suggest a need to annul this, proposals to further strengthen it can be included” the Minister added. He also spoke of the action to appoint a Ministerial committee from the Finance Ministry and Ministry of Investment Promotion by next week, while adding that they also hope this committee would make recommendations on the legal measures to be taken and the required amendments to the law.

Meanwhile, the Chief Organizer of the Opposition MP Mahinda Amaraweera speaking on the matter requested for an investigation to be conducted by the CID since the incident was pre-planned one. UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardene also thanked the Finance Minister for giving a comprehensive account on the incident in parliament. To this, the Minister replied that they do not wish to blame anyone for the incident. He continued to say that according to the gazette notification that although some might import this with good intentions that certain parties tend to misuse it from time to time. He added that due to this situation that there is a need to regulate it.

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