SL spending $ 100 million on polythene from Dubai despite clamps on non-essential imports

Top industry specialists charge:

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka has spent more than US$ 100 million from January to November 2022 to import all varieties of polythene and polythene related raw material mainly from Dubai, despite there being a restriction on non-essential imports, top industry specialists said.

“Due to this there is an oversupply of polythene in Sri Lanka which has also resulted in the complete closing down of the Sri Lankan ‘polythene recycling business’, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the local requirement, members of the Sri Lanka Polythene Recycling Association told ‘The Island Financial Review’ recently.

“This segment also employs around 3,000 people from around 60 companies and their livelihoods are now at stake. But at this juncture when most of the industries are facing a crisis, only polythene imports have increased dramatically in the recent past, which is like a mafia, an Association member who preferred anonymity said.

“With the import restrictions taking effect, some local companies that operate in Dubai purchase this raw material through US $ telegraphic transfers and send it to Sri Lanka and once this material reaches the port, clearing agents under- invoice and pay less taxes to government coffers, Association sources said.

These sources added: “Due to local polythene recyclers opting out of the industry a major environmental hazard is looming as disposal of used polythene has become an issue. Recyclers collect and buy used polythene from homes, factories and collectors and due to cheap imports this business will come to a stand-still.

“With no recycling happening, used polythene will pile up and soon become a major environmental issue. Neither the environmental authorities nor the Central Bank are paying attention.

“When most non-essential imports are regulated we are surprised as to why polythene imports are not regulated as there is an oversupply in the market, which drains around US$ 100 million in foreign exchange per year.

“It is also very surprising that the import duty on polythene raw material (especially virgins) is around Rs. 10 per kilogram, when for some essential food items it is over Rs. 20- 30.

“The total responsibility for this has to be taken by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) which has turned a blind eye towards regulating the imports and thereby saving around US$ 100 million for Sri Lanka.

“The CEA, way back in 2020, was in a major hurry to ban some polythene material used for the food industry. However, it’s highly questionable as to why that enthusiasm is not being shown by the CEA towards curtailing the free flow of polythene imports.

“What the government should do is have a temporary ban on polythene imports or impose a suitable tax structure because Sri Lanka has had an adequate supply of polythene for almost one year.

“The government can also look at imposing a higher tax for polythene imports, which will reduce the supply to a great extent.”

ISOBAR Sri Lanka sweeps the boards at SLIM Digis 2.2 as the Most Awarded Agency

Adding yet another milestone in 2022, ISOBAR Sri Lanka, the digital arm of the premier advertising agency group, Dentsu Communications, recorded a historic win as the Most Awarded Advertising Agency in Sri Lanka at the SLIM Digis 2.2 awards for 2022.

The digital agency recorded a stellar performance by securing 15 awards, with its Grand Theft Kottu (Sera Kottu Kottu) campaign being bestowed with 6 key awards at the ceremony – making it also the most awarded single campaign at Digis 2.2. It is the first gaming campaign to be awarded a Gold award in Sri Lanka. ISOBAR Sri Lanka’s clutch of 15 key awards at the SLIM Digis 2.2 event comprised of 2 Golds, 7 Silvers, 1 Bronze and 5 Merits; ensuring that the agency broke many records in the history of the SLIM Digis awards. Amongst the winning campaigns were Sera Kottu Kottu, Softlogic Life, FriMi, Elephant House Beverages and YouLead.

Commenting on the win, Mohenesh Chamith Buthgumwa – Vice-President, Dentsu Communications said, “We are constantly recalibrating our understanding of where consumers are, and we always take a step back to understand and learn as we go and explore what we can do differently in the future. The overwhelming success of our campaigns demonstrated the importance of being in the right place at the right time with the right message. It is because of this understanding and rigour that ISOBAR Sri Lanka is easily the most awarded agency in Sri Lanka for 2022.”

Adding further, Neela Marikkar – Chairperson, Dentsu Communications stated, “ISOBAR Sri Lanka’s victory at SLIM Digis 2.2 leaves no doubt that our digital agency has catapulted ahead to the forefront of the industry in terms of its digital innovation, ideation, and implementation within a short span of 4 years. As the Dentsu Grant Group we have always embraced the new and pre-empted trends, which are reflected in ISOBAR Sri Lanka’s industry-best campaigns, which are delighting clients and winning awards. I applaud the ISOBAR Sri Lanka team on their triumph and our valued clients for placing their trust in us.”

ISOBAR Sri Lanka is the only Sri Lankan agency to receive a Global Rank of 93 amongst the TOP 100 agencies in the world in the Effie 2021 Global Rankings and is featured as No. 24 in the Top 25 APAC List. The Effie Index identifies and ranks the most effective agencies, marketers, brands, networks, and holding companies by analyzing finalist and winner data from Effie Awards competitions around the world.

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