The Committee of Public Finance (CoPF) has called for an inquiry into the substantial profit of around Rs. 700 stemming from the sale of a bag of cement. This revelation by the CoPF highlights a considerable margin of approximately 700 rupees between the cost of cement upon arrival at the port and the final selling price, post-tax deductions.
During a recent committee meeting chaired by Patali Champika Ranawaka, standing in for the absent Committee Chair Dr. Harsha de Silva, the matter was brought to attention. The Committee Chair instructed officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction to furnish a report on this issue, owing to the apparent significant gap between the post-tax selling price of cement and iron.
A proposal to raise the Cess imposed on cement raw material imports by 2 rupees per kilogram was deliberated during the meeting. The Chair highlighted the potential ramifications of increasing the Cess levy on cement raw materials, particularly the potential impact on the construction sector.
It came to light that numerous housing projects, including those for low-income and middle-class households, have been halted due to Urban Development Authority-initiated housing projects. The need to provide a report detailing the repercussions on the construction industry was conveyed.
Officials also underscored that a house previously constructed at a cost of 12 lakhs would now require at least 24 lakhs. The Committee underscored the lack of proper evaluation regarding the social consequences arising from the Ministry of Finance’s hikes aimed at bolstering government revenue, expressing substantial concern.