Beedi smoking is widespread in Sri Lanka, accounting for nearly 23% of the country’s smokers. The absence of a filter makes it an unsafe product exposing its users to nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. As such, this tobacco product is possibly more harmful to human health than other forms of smoking. However, beedi remains an underregulated product notwithstanding the provisions of the Tobacco Tax Act No. 8 of 1999. This blog argues that beedi taxation is a low-hanging fruit to boost government revenue and reduce the foreign exchange outflow with the added benefit of improving the health of Sri Lankans. An excise tax on beedi can benefit the economy in several ways: it would directly increase government revenue, lower beedi consumption, and decrease raw material import costs thus reducing dollar outflows. Lower beedi use would also lower smoking-related health issues, thereby reducing the government’s expenditure on health.
Sri Lanka’s edible oil market has garnered considerable attention in recent weeks due to a series of events including the banning of palm oil imports in a bid to promote the local coconut industry and the detection of aflatoxins in imported coconut oil. The edible oil industry is important for Sri Lanka with oils and fats being a major constituent of the typical Sri Lankan diet and a raw material in manufacturing, the food manufacturing industry in particular. According to the latest available data, there are around 5,057 establishments employing 332,828 workers in the formal food manufacturing sector which generate an annual output of approximately LKR 1.4 billion. This blog assesses the local edible oil market and its potential for import substitution.