The soft toilet tissue industry has been a well-established industry in Sri Lanka since 1982, with over 40 years of manufacturing essential soft tissue hygienic products such as toilet rolls, paper towels, paper towels for hands, paper handkerchiefs, paper towels, industrial napkins. and rollers and various other related products.
Although the hygienic soft tissue manufacturing industry is relatively small compared to other large industries, its products contribute significantly to the overall standards of personal hygiene and hospitality in the country.
Their “substitute import” production units, based in several regions of the country, and competing with global brands, save foreign exchange. Some of the local manufacturers also export these products to many neighboring countries, such as the Maldives.
All tissue paper products are produced locally, generating employment and income for over 700 people and their families, directly and indirectly benefiting over 5,000 families, including all island distributors, their employees and their families.
Although it is understandable to a certain extent the reasons for the recent temporary suspension of imports of almost 305 non-essential finished products according to Gazette 2294/30 of 8/23, there is no valid reason to suspend the imports of essential essential raw materials. for transformation into finished products in factories in Sri Lanka, with a value-added process.
The recent restriction is a major setback for factory owners and their employees, and has caused a ripple effect, shocking many households who use these essential and hygienic soft tissue products for their daily use. There is also a similar view among companies in the hospitality and tourism, apparel and food sectors, including hospitals and medical centers.
The Gazette indicates the restriction of the only two HS codes in Sri Lanka’s Customs Tariff which relate to soft hygienic tissue paper; rolls of raw material tissue paper and finished product under main HS code subheadings 4803.00 (no subheadings) and 48.18.00 with subheadings.
The first HS code number 4803.00 is a main heading, strictly reserved for the raw materials of large jumbo rolls of fabric with a roll width greater than 36 cm, used for the manufacturing process. These coils are not finished products and finished products cannot be imported under this main heading. Thus, all imports under this main heading are a raw material used for the manufacture of finished products. The second HS code 4818.00 has many subheadings, only one of which, 4818.90.20, relates to fabric raw materials, which are jumbo reels with a reel width greater than 15 cm to 36 cm and which are of heavy spools of raw materials and not finished products. The rest of the subheading under 4818.00 relates to the importation of finished products. These essential tissue products play a quiet but preventative role in keeping germs and viruses away, especially during the last two years of Covid-19 and have been used effectively and consistently to date. Health professionals and organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend that the public cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. The use of paper towels is also encouraged for drying hands after washing hands with soap and water. The toilet paper roll is an essential necessity in all public places, such as hospitals, hotels, shopping malls, government and private institutions, banks and factories.
All the local soft tissue manufacturers are concerned that this restriction will soon cause their ongoing factories to shut down resulting in complete shortage and unavailability of finished products for various institutions such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, hospitals , airlines, food and clothing factories. , public institutions, as well as the general public and households.
The tourism industry as a whole, which has just experienced a rebound, private healthcare facilities as well as many manufacturers have an obligation to provide such sanitation standards and procedures to its hundreds and thousands of workers, patients, customers, tourist guests. They will soon and brutally feel the shortage of these toilet paper sanitary products.
The current stock of raw materials is sufficient until the middle of this month.
This undoubtedly calls for important authorities and decision makers to write off or reverse the “TS” according to the HS codes given, to resume the import of tissue paper raw materials only in jumbo reels, so that the local Sri Lanka belongs to The factory can produce these important hygienic and essential cloth products to satisfy the basic hygiene needs of all Sri Lankans and tourists and guests visiting the country.