Johnny calls for probe into tomato import


By Lal Gunesekera

Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando has called for explanation from the Customs Department on how a large quantity of tomatoes was imported from India and cleared without the knowledge of the quarantine officials.

Government sources confirmed that the police had raided the Dambulla Economic Centre on Wednesday (6) and arrested one trader with 10,000 to 15,000 kg of tomatoes without any valid documents.

A consignment of 50,000 kg of tomatoes had been imported from India by a Colombo based businessman, sources said.

On an earlier occasion as well a consignment of green chillies was imported from Malaysia and cleared without approval from quarantine officials.

Additional Director-General of Customs P. A. Dias told The Island that the Food Inspectors had inspected the consignment of tomatoes and Customs officials had passed it. He said that the quarantine officials had not inspected the consignment and that an investigation was on to find out whether there had been any lapse on the part of Customs or quarantine officials.

Dias said that the there were no restrictions on importing food items and that the duty for the tomatoes had been paid by the businessman concerned.

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