Sri Lanka explores marijuana exports to support ailing economy

Sri Lanka explores marijuana exports to support ailing economy
# 14 November 2022 21:20 (UTC +04:00)

Unveiling the first full-year budget since the economic crisis hit the nation, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Monday the government will take necessary steps to establish the legal framework for the export of products containing marijuana, APA reports citing Sputnik.

“A special committee is to be appointed to explore the cultivation of marijuana for export purposes,” the president said.

Cannabis' use, other than for medicinal purposes, is considered criminal activity under the law which can lead any violator to prison and a hefty monetary fine.

In addition, to regularize the local tobacco (Beedi) industry, the budget has proposed to impose a tax of SLR 2 Per Beedi stick.

Wickremesinghe, who succeeded Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July, proposed increasing the personal and corporate income tax rate to 30 percent from 24 percent and several other reforms measures to bring the economy on a 7-8 percent of annual growth rate.

“I would like to define the new economy that we are going to build as a social market economy or an open economic system of social protection,” Wickremesinghe emphasized.

The new economy will be based on an export-oriented competitive economy, an environmentally friendly green, and blue economy, and a digital economy, the president added.

The budget estimated that the economy facing an unprecedented crisis may shrink 8.3 percent this year.

"This budget will present a political and economic way forward for the country," the government expects. As per the World Bank, Sri Lanka's economy is likely to contract by 9.2 percent this year and 4.2 percent next year.

The 22 million people of the island nation struggled to find essentials such as fuel as the government could not afford to buy them during the foreign exchange crisis.
Sri Lanka owes $51 billion in debt, primarily to US-based venture capitalists and US-dominated multilateral institutions. India, China and Japan are some of the countries which provided loans of around $18 billion.

The Ranil Wickremesinghe government reached a preliminary deal with the International Monetary Fund for a loan of about $2.9 billion in September.