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Illegally imported medicine, footwear in Customs net

Customs officials inspecting the illegal consignment. Picture by Sarath Peiris.

The Sri Lanka Customs had seized a stock of medicine and women’s and men’s footwear valued at around Rs 12.8 million that was being illegally imported as fabrics from India.

The consignment imported as lose cargo was packed in 99 packages weighing 4000 kg in total.

The consignee is registered as a person from Colombo, while the goods which had arrived in February were examined at the Pettah warehouse by the Customs officers.

The packages included 200,000 Tramadol tablets valued at Rs. 1,600,000, ladies and gents slippers (8,500 pairs) valued at Rs. 7,200,000 and 4,000 pairs of ladies and gents shoes valued at Rs. 4,000,000.

Customs Director and media spokesman H.K.M.S. Jayaratne said imported footwear is being taxed in order to safeguard the local footwear industry and it is being illegally imported as fabrics as fabrics are duty free.

“Around 45% tax is imposed on imported footwear in addition to the around Rs. 600 cess charged on every pair of shoes. There are many cases of illegally imported cases that are being detected on a daily basis. Some try to import goods with higher import duties under the disguise of duty free items to evade paying import taxes.This is a great loss of revenue for the country and also impacts negatively on the domestic industry.”

He said this consignment of pain killers and footwear has been imported as fabric, due to fabrics being classified as duty free. ‘Tramadol’ is a pain killer and is sometimes used by drug addicts. Initial investigations have revealed that the fraudulent importer of these goods had imported them using a legitimate importer's name. Initial investigations are currently underway,” he said. The Customs Director noted that the stock of tablets would be destroyed while the footwear would be auctioned subsequent to the completion of investigations.