Is it imported? Who cares. Put some chili on it.
Taxing imports is just taxing the poor, especially on food. Sri Lanka wants food independence, fine, but the cost for that political goal is more expensive food for everybody. Indonesia is one of the worst examples, propping up a few big rice farmers while everybody else pays through the nose. Now Prime Minister DM Jayaratne is calling for Sri Lanka to basically prohibit all fruit and wheat imports. It’s madness.
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne told Parliament yesterday that wheat flour imports should be banned completely. Laws should be formulated to ban the importation of wheat flour, the Premier said. Participating in the third reading of budget 2012, the Prime Minister said that price of bread should be increased more to discourage consumers from buying bread. He said there is enough land that could be used to cultivate paddy and rice flour would be an ideal replacement for wheat flour.
“We must encourage and promote rice flour instead of wheat flour which costs us heavily. The Prime Minister also called for the total ban of the importation of fruits to the country. All the arable land should be cultivated and must educate the public how not to become a burden to the economy by growing their own fruits. It is so unfortunate that the country is importing fruits which could be grown here,” he said. (Daily News)
This is retarded. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how else to put it. Does he seriously want to ban bread and get people to grow their own fruit? Of all the freedoms they could curtail, does it have to be the freedom to eat?
Why This Is Dumb
Borders are essentially artificial. Whether Sri Lanka is ‘food independent’ has little actual bearing on whether the average Sri Lankan gets a decent meal. That is more dependent on prices. Many goods are produced cheaper abroad and thus imported. If you tax, ban or inhibit those imports, the net result is just that the average Sri Lankan has a worse meal. 82% of older Sri Lankans (over 40) don’t consume enough fruit anyways, and making it more expensive won’t help (Sunday Times).
This is not to say that world food fluctuations aren’t damaging, or that promoting agriculture is bad, but you have to think about that meal. Less and less people are farmers, and even farmers are buy goods. What’s most important to anybody is having an affordable meal of their choice, not making a political statement.
They Serve Short Eats In Parliament
If you go to any government meeting, guaranteed they’ll give you short eats, so it’s not like they’re going to stop eating bread. They just want to make a point with other peoples meals. Keep prices low, work to make incomes higher, and let Sri Lankans compete where they are strong and eat what they want.
For further reading LBO has a pretty good takedown: Food Oppression