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SLSI has flouted rules like nobody’s business!

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There have been instances where the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) allowed the release of imported goods to the market prior to the issuance of test reports during the inspection of imported goods, the Auditor General has said in a report on the Role of Sri Lanka Standards Institution on Quality Product Sales in the Local Market.

There were also deficiencies in the issuance of the Certificate of Standards, management deficiencies, delay in conducting laboratory tests, minimum level of market inspections, reduction of awareness on the use- of pre-standards, and test reports, the Auditor General has said.

The Auditor General has recommended that “informing the relevant parties of the importance of obtaining the Product Certificate logo of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution to minimise the problems that may arise in connection with the above observations, further strengthening the mechanism for awarding the logo, strengthening coordination with other relevant affiliates and issuing product certification logos and this report makes recommendations on how to provide the necessary resources institutionally for conducting and laboratory testing and thereby expedite those processes.”

The report says the SLSI has been given the powers to inspect the quality of imported goods and that it is mandatory for imported goods to obtain the Sri Lanka Standards Certificate. SLSI has prepared a guideline on imported goods, it said.

According to these guidelines when a company imports a consignment of goods they will be allowed to be sold or used without inspection if there is a Certificate of Conformity obtained by that manufacturing company from a government agency, laboratory or testing institute registered with the SLSI in that country.

“However, only two foreign certification agencies for brown sugar were registered and certification agencies for canned fish were not registered,” the report has pointed out.

Moreover, the guideline says if the manufacturing company is registered with the Sri Lanka Standards Institution and obtains a Certificate of Conformity when importing goods, it will be allowed to sell or use without a sample test.

From January 2019 to June 2021, brown sugar was imported on 1014 occasions by 89 companies but no manufacturer was registered with the SLSI and obtained a Certificate of Conformity.

“From January 2019 to June 2021, canned fish was imported from 36 manufacturing companies on 1,522 occasions under 48 brand names. However, only five manufacturers and 20 brand names have been registered. 4,395,416 containers valued at US $ 92,205,253.54 were imported from 31 unregistered manufacturers.

Brown sugar has been imported on 31 occasions without adhering to any of the SLSI guidelines. However, they were allowed to be sold or used without inspection, the report has said. 6323.3 metric tons of brown sugar valued at US $ 2,391,388.95 has been released without testing, the report said.

“As imported goods are released to the market with the approval of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution, it is observed that the company does not have a proper guideline or methodology to ensure that the imported goods are not released to the market until the inspection report of the Standards Institution is received.”

Although a computer database was established in 2018 to keep tabs on imported goods, so far only the data up to the point of sampling has been included in the database.

The Auditor General’s Department has observed that after the sample test, approvals based on the test results, re-sampling, refusal of goods and recommendation for re-export are not made through the relevant database till the audit date of May 2021.

“It was observed that although there should be a good interaction between the Sri Lanka Standards Institution, the Consumer Protection Authority and the Sri Lanka Customs on all imported goods, but there is no such system in place. As a result, there is a high risk of substandard goods being released into the market and instances of such substandard goods being released into the market were observed during the inspection of Sri Lanka Custom’s files. The Standards Institution had not developed a suitable methodology for follow-up in this regard.”

The SLSI has Product Certification (SLS) to assure the hygienic quality of imported foods, however, this certification is not mandatory to import goods, the report says.

The report says, “As of December 2019, the number of SLS branded items was approximately 1105, but the number of market trials was relatively low and the estimated number of inspections carried out in 2016, 2017 and 2018 are 19, 39, and 35 respectively. Furthermore, market inspections were not planned for 2019 and as a result, the audit observes that low quality products are more likely to be released into the market.”



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code

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by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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