Garbage scam : 5 year old document rendered Customs powerless?

Garbage scam : 5 year old document rendered Customs powerless?

Written by Staff Writer

29 Jul, 2019 | 9:30 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) – State Counsel Charuka Ekanayake appearing for the Attorney General stated at the Court of Appeal today (July 29) that over 1000 undeclared freight containers are held by the Ports Authority.

The Appeal Court ordered the Director-General of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to open all suspected freight containers and investigate if they contain any waste material.

The Appeal Court instructed the Government Analyst to investigate and submit a report on the freight containers with waste material which were imported to Sri Lanka.

The court called for an immediate report on the existence of waste material which is hazardous to the human body and the environment by inspecting the freight Containers held by Customs and those at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.

The matter was taken up in the presence of Court of Appeal President Yasantha Kodagoda and Justice Arjuna Obeysekera.

The Centre for Environmental Justice filed a petition on the 22nd of this month, seeking a court order instructing the Central Environmental Authority and the Director-General of Customs to send back the freight containers with waste material to the countries of origin.

The petition will be further examined tomorrow (July 30).

Meanwhile, News 1st investigations led to the revelation of how the freight containers with waste material ended up in Sri Lanka. 

A gazette, carrying the signature of the then finance minister, introducing a new company named Hub Operation, was issued in 2013.

The main operations of this business was the re-export of imported products, which were subject to a value addition process in a special storage facility.

The containers with waste material were imported to Sri Lanka using the respective rules and regulations of this process.

According to the gazette, the Customs were permitted to inspect the goods imported by this entity.

Speaking to News 1st the present Director-General of Customs P.S.M.Charles confirmed customs officers were empowered to inspect goods imported through hub operations.

However, according to the order issued to the staff of Sri Lanka customs on the 7th of July 2014, products imported through hub operation, can only be inspected by the Additional Director General of Customs or any officer above that rank.

The document containing this order was signed by then Additional Director General of Customs, S.Rajendran, who is in retirement now.

Did the customs purposely evade from their responsibilities by using this 05-year-old document signed by S. Rajendran as a scapegoat, despite claims made that Customs can actually inspect the goods imported to the country for re-export purposes?

Or were there restrictions imposed on the Customs by this particular order?

 

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