No warehouse fees paid, but sugar containers released?

President Maithripala Sirisena has inquired from ports minister Arjuna Ranatunga if the Customs had cleared 150 container-loads of sugar for which warehouse fees had not been paid.

This relates to a complaint received by the president that two powerful ministers had received Rs. 200 million to get the cabinet’s approval to clear the consignment.

The duo, at last week’s meeting of the ministers, warned of a possible sugar shortage and an escalating price during the upcoming festival season and stressed the need to release the sugar without delay.

Thereafter, the cabinet agreed to release all sugar consignments excepting those imported from Brazil and from which hidden cocaine had been recovered.

The 150 containers with 32,500 metric tons of sugar had been at the port’s warehouses for two months and the warehouse fees due for them is between Rs. 800 million and Rs. 1,000 million.

When contacted, a senior port official said the subject minister has not yet instructed them officially to release the sugar without a warehouse charge.