Sri Lanka reinstates custom chief after businesses crippled - InfoNews

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Sri Lanka reinstates custom chief after businesses crippled

February 06, 2019 - 8:18 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka's government reinstated the ousted customs chief on Wednesday after a weeklong "work to rule" action by custom officials at the island's main seaport crippled business in the island's capital.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters that he has withdrawn a letter which shifted P.S.M. Charles from the customs service to a post in the finance ministry. He said that means she will revert back to her previous position.

On Tuesday, food importers and wholesalers shut their shops in Colombo, demanding the government swiftly resolve the customs strike.

Customs officers began the "work to rule" campaign on Jan. 30 to protest the government's decision to remove Charles and appoint a retired naval officer without customs experience.

Samaraweera said he decided to appoint the naval officer because he wanted to implement strict discipline in the customs operation to curb corruption and waste.

Following his announcement to reinstate Charles, the customs union called off its action.

Due to the strike, about 1,000 containers with perishable goods were stuck at the Colombo port, waiting to be released. Importers warned that if the dispute dragged on, increases in food prices would be passed on to consumers.

The government had blamed Charles for a drop in revenue last year. But on Wednesday, Samaraweera said it was not her fault, and instead blamed corruption, leakage and customs malpractices.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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