Oct 13, 2020

Cabinet approves Wimal's proposal to import bamboo for incense sticks Featured

The Cabinet has approved the importation of special bamboo sticks to be used for the manufacture of incense sticks.

Minister of Industries - Wimal Weerawansa has submitted this as a cabinet paper which was subsequently approved and tax relief has been granted for such imported bamboo sticks.

The decisions also mention taking necessary steps through the Department of Forest Conservation, Department of Agrarian Development and Mahaweli Authority to identify locations of this particular bamboo plant and to identify lands for cultivation.

Obtaining the assistance of the Industrial Development Board for the introduction of advanced technological devices for the production of incense sticks.

After being quizzed by a journalist, the minister said that he too, like the journalist felt upset, because this had to be imported to the country so far and it had been decided to stop this practice once it is produced locally.

100MT per month?

Although the Cabinet paper does not mention the size of the proposed consignment, reports say that measures are taken to import 100 MT of bamboo sticks per month.

The ministry of Industries has also sought the waiving off of tax which was at Rs. 270 - Rs. 300 per kilogram.

Thai Sumedha involvement

Sources also say that this proposal is being made on the want of the well known 'Thai Sumedha' Enterprise, which is a major player in the industry.

At a function held last month at the Raffles reception hall in Pitakotte, the company had announced their plans to extend their export reach to Canada.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardana and Industrial Development Board (IDB) had also attended the event as special guests.

At the event, CEO of 'Thai Sumedha' - Sumeda Elpitiya had said commended the Government's decision to stop the import of incense sticks while requesting the government to temporarily allow the import of bamboo sticks, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Incense Producers' Association.

Fumes of poison?

The incense industry, which until recently was a domestic household industry, is now manufactured in large factories.

A large number of these are reportedly used in fish and meat shops in Sri Lanka although it is said that the use of incense sticks at Muslim shops are quite rare.

Amid rumours that incense sticks are also made using ash of mosquito repellent coils, experts have also argued that the fumes are far from being harmless to humans.

In 2014, the EU imposed stringent laws on aromatic goods, deeming 1,326 chemicals to be harmful to the human body.