tax takes toll on importers
Jamila Najmuddin and Dharisha Bastians
UPFA government's overnight decision to increase import duty on
private vehicles has earned the ire of vehicle importers and
sections of the public as being unfair and a further burden on
middle income earning families in light of the escalating cost of
Finance Ministry, which issued a communique removing the existing 25
percent duty on imported vehicles, replacing it with a three-tiered
duty structure on October 14, has justified its move by saying it
was aimed at reducing fuel consumption, saving foreign exchange and
minimising damage to the environment.
environmentalists who spoke to The Sunday Leader said it was too
soon to say whether the increase in duty would have a direct bearing
on the environment, adding that the move was not principally aimed
at environmental protection, but additional revenue for the state
coffers instead. (See box for details)
officials at the Ports Authority speaking to The Sunday Leader on
condition of anonymity said that currently a great many vehicles
remained at the Colombo harbour awaiting clearance. The officials
said that the backlog in vehicle clearance had become an issue since
the government imposed the new duty structure.
Secretary, Dr. P.B. Jayasundara, explaining the government's
rationale behind the introduction of the new tax structure, said
that vehicle imports constituted 30 percent of the country's import
revenue, a figure the government considered far too high. Dr.
Jayasundara said that there were large numbers of vehicles entering
the country annually and this system was introduced especially in a
bid to reduce demand for petroleum products in the market which was
having an adverse impact on the rupee and the exchange rates.
Treasury Secretary was also quick to add that while the moves were
not aimed at completely stopping imports of motor vehicles, the
Ministry was hoping to curtail the number of vehicles entering the
country by implementing the new tax scheme.
government officials maintain that the new tax system will only
affect the high income earning sections of society, car dealers
argue that the middle class man's dream of owning a personal vehicle
is now almost completely out of reach.
new tax system imposes duties based on the size and engine capacity
of the vehicle imported, with a 30% customs duty on vehicles with
the engine capacity of less than 1 litre, 40% on mid size cars with
engines upto 1.5 litres and 60% for even bigger cars, according to
the Finance Ministry communique. The government's move to increase
duty on motor vehicles, came amidst widespread speculation that the
UPFA's maiden budget to be unveiled on November 18 too, would impose
further hikes in customs and import duties.
the new tax structure in place for the last two weeks, small and
medium scale car dealers and importers have expressed fears that
they would have to soon close up shop, since they were not only
unable to sell the vehicles currently in their showrooms, but they
also remained unable to clear vehicles ordered and stuck in the
harbour awaiting clearance because of a severe shortage of funds.
mixing up economic priorities" - economist
to The Sunday Leader, Principal Researcher, Point Pedro
Institute of Development, Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan said
this government appears to be mixing up economic policy
said that while he could understand the reason for raising the
vehicle import tax by the government in order to reduce the
number of vehicle imports, save foreign exchange which is fast
depleting as a result of soaring world oil prices and the
inability to get adequate foreign aid, the downside was that
lesser vehicle imports meant lesser government revenue by way
of import duty, VAT and excise duty.
the government may be saving foreign exchange as a result of
reduction in vehicle imports, at the same time it will also
lose valuable tax revenue which is critically needed.
Moreover, higher import tax would also spur greater
undervaluation of vehicle imports which would in turn reduce
tax revenue due to the govt. An indirect effect of this would
be heightened bribery and corruption at the customs,"
an alternative method to reduce vehicle imports, Sarvananthan
said that the government should charge the full cost of
petrol, diesel and kerosene to the customers, instead of
subsidising fuel, which would in turn reduce the use of
private vehicles. "This way government can achieve
two objectives/benefits out of one policy measure.
Selling petroleum products at world market prices would reduce
vehicle imports (particularly private cars) thereby
saving foreign exchange, and save the government the
fuel subsidy which is said to be about Rs.600 million a
month," he said.
added that while it was natural that vehicle dealers will pass
on the increase in import tax to the customers, it was
far-fetched to believe that this increase would hurt the
common man. "It is car imports that are mostly affected
by the increase in import duty and cars cannot be termed a
common man's mode of transport," Sarvananthan said.
car dealers eager to voice their opinion, The Sunday Leader
visited many 'sales' in the city and while a few have already
been forced to close their showrooms due to the lack of sales,
others claim that they wait eagerly each day for customers to
purchase vehicles in order to clear the new vehicles which
have already arrived at the Colombo harbour but remain there
due to the lack of money to clear these vehicles.
Consultant, Motor Vehicles Association, Siramasiri
increase in import duty of vehicles does not only affect the
importers. A lot of people depend on this industry as there
are over a 1000 people employed in this field and this
increase will affect them as well. A certain section of
society earns a living by importing vehicles from abroad.
finance minister claims that this increase will not affect
middle class society. How can it now? This increase affects
prices of non-luxury cars as well and it is the normal and
semi-luxury cars that the middle class can afford to purchase.
government has decided to increase the tax since they are
completely bankrupt. Due to this, importers are not going to
import vehicles anymore. How long is the government going to
run the country in this manner? With the high cost of living
how does the government expect us to pay such high taxes? We
can only pay if the customers buy vehicles from us. Before the
government declared this increase, we used to sell atleast 25
to 30 vehicles per month. However, since the day of the
increase we have not been able to sell even one vehicle and
our showrooms are deserted. Business is running at a loss.
government is under the impression that people who deal in
importing cars are all millionaires. This is not true because
a lot of importers remain in business by taking loans from the
association has decided that we will discuss this matter
further. Due to this we have asked for discussions with the
finance minister and the President. We are giving the
government a period of two weeks and within this time frame if
the government does not reach a decision, we will summon all
the motor vehicle dealers in the island and hold a massive
protest campaign in Colombo. Even after that if the government
does not reconsider we will stop the import of vehicles to
this country completely.
official from Ishara Traders, Colombo:
the day the government increased the taxes, we have not been
able to sell even one vehicle. How are we going to sell when
yesterday a vehicle which was available for Rs. 1.2 million is
now sold at Rs. 1.8 million? People are not foolish to
purchase vehicles at these prices.
though our showrooms are open, we do not have any sales.
Nobody comes to purchase vehicles anymore. Earlier for a
vehicle costing Rs. 1 million we had to pay 2. 4 million with
tax. However, now we have to pay 3.1 million for the same
haven't dealers been able to clear their vehicles from the
customs? To clear those vehicles we will have to sell all our
existing vehicles at the new prices and nobody is willing to
buy. We have had to increase the prices of all our old
vehicles by Rs. 300,000.
government says one thing and does something else. Now rather
than stopping imports, it is better for the government to
broaden the roads. The UPFA has not taken into consideration
the plight of the business community.
Vehicle Importers Association, Pushpakumara
to the increas in import duty, the entire motor vehicle
industry in the island will collapse. This is something that
we had never expected and we cannot bear such a high increase.
We have imported a large number of vehicles and to clear all
these vehicles we need a large amount of money. To gather
these amounts, we have no choice but to increase the prices of
all our old vehicles to the new prices. Due to this we have no
sales and are facing severe losses.
we cannot decide what the future holds for us as the
government has not reached a final decision as yet. It is not
only millionaires that depend on this industry. Today dealers
keep a profit of only 2% to 3%. Now due to this increase, we
will lose even that minimal profit.
have requested the authorities in charge to refrain from
applying this tax on vehicles that arrive at the port within
the next 14 days. This is an unjust and unfair decision by the
government. We hope to hold discussions with the minister and
the President in the coming weeks.
move was not for the benefit of the environment"
Sunday Leader also spoke to Environmentalist, Jagath
Gunewardene, about the benefits a reduction in the number of
vehicles entering the country would entail for the
environment. Gunewardane said that although there currently
was congestion, "we cannot refer to this decision as an
environmental friendly move as the government has taken these
steps to increase their income rather than to cut down on air
are other direct methods that the government can apply to
reduce air pollution, including the ban on old vehicles that
emit toxic fumes plying the roads. The increase of import
duties will only further affect the middle and lower middle
classes. It is too early to congratulate the government
claiming the move is beneficial to the environment as we will
have to wait and see whether the curtailment of vehicles on
the roads will finally impact air pollution.
and sugar deals raise eyebrows
Fernandopulle and Chairman, CWE, Upali Gunaratne
are being raised both here and abroad over Sri Lanka's import of
rice and sugar. The role of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle is being queried following import deals signed
by the government with Pakistani rice exporters and a Bharain
company to import sugar outside tender procedure. Both commodities
are being bought at extremely low prices causing concerns among
Pakistani exporters and Lankan traders.
from the commodities being bought at unbelievably low rates no
tender procedures have been followed. Instead, the suppliers have
been independently identified by the Consumer Affairs Ministry. With
regard to the sugar imports Chairman, Mushin Traders, Indrajith
Joseph told The Sunday Leader "I am doing this only for the
honourable minister, not for anybody else," when quizzed on how
he is bringing down sugar at such a low rate. (See box)
a rice deal signed by the government for the import of 2,000 tonnes
of basmati rice and 2,000 tonnes of white raw rice from a Pakistani
exporter has raised several questions due to the extremely low
leading Pakistani exporter clinched the deal for 2,000 tonnes of
basmati rice at the rate of US$ 350 per tonne duty free to Colombo.
Also, for 2,000 tonnes of white raw rice (irri) at the rate of US$
250 per tonne to Colombo. The very low rates have raised questions
in Pakistan as other exporters have said the rice deal at such a low
price may hurt exports in addition to questions over quality.
year, the average price for super basmati was over US$ 525 per tonne
and around US$ 480 for the 385 variety of basmati - the only two
known varieties grown in Pakistan.
the rate of US$ 350 per tonne to Colombo for pure basmati, exporters
say, is not possible. Fears are being expressed that the Pakistani
exporter maybe dispatching a blended variety to Sri Lanka which
would finally result in tarnishing the entire exports of basmati
rice for Pakistan. Chairman, CWE, Upali Gunaratne however insists
that 500 metric tonnes of basmati received from Pakistan so far have
not been blended, but is pure basmati.
serious concerns are being voiced in Pakistan that the rice deal to
Sri Lanka would bring down the prices of basmati variety globally.
For instance other importers of Pakistani rice like Oman and
Mauritius may now feel they have been cheated and also demand
Pakistan sell basmati and white rice to them at the same low rates
as it has done to Sri Lanka.
facilitate this order, Ministry Secretary, S. Wirithamulla
personally visited India and Pakistan to inspect the rice.
Wirithamulla later instructed CWE Chief Gunaratne to purchase 25,000
tonnes of sugar from Brazil - also at an unbelievably low rate of
only US$ 197 per tonne when the going rate is at least US$ 100 more.
If the sugar does arrive in Sri Lanka the government will be in a
position to sell a kilo of sugar at a nominal Rs. 25. If this is the
challenge Fernandopulle has set himself the country would certainly
like to see him meet it.
meantime as we reported last week has refused to comply with the
Ministry directive to buy this sugar from a favoured supplier,
namely Indrajith Joseph who was selected by Fernandopulle bypassing
tender procedure. Joseph is the local agent for a company based in
Bahrain which goes under the name, M/s Kingdom Trading International
based at 55th Floor, Dauhi Building, Municipality Building, Manama,
Kingdom of Bahrain.
is chairman and managing director, Mushin Traders as well as Ace
Holiday Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., which is located at Colombo 8. Gunaratne
took a firm stand on the issue after Wirithamulla wrote to him
telling him he must buy 25,000 metric tonnes of sugar from Mushin
Traders at US$ 197 per tonne. Gunaratne's bone of contention is that
when the contract was forwarded to him for signing he found a clause
stipulating the sugar can only be inspected at the point of loading
and not at the port of discharge. A load port survey is usually
conducted before and after items are sent and received in order to
make certain, before payment is made, they do not carry a shortfall
or are in violation of the specifications stipulated.
to ensure the transaction is fool-proof Gunaratne said he has now
written to the Kuwait Embassy seeking "feedback" on the
sugar supplier based in Bahrain. The CWE Chief further asserted that
any sugar exporter registered with the London Sugar Refinery
Association would not be in a position to sell sugar at this rate.
was unable to explain why and how the ministry has purchased both
rice and sugar internationally at such low rates. "I don't
know" he said confirming however that in both cases, the
consignments have been bought for prices less than US$ 100 and in
the case of basmati rice less than US$ 200 per tonne.
CWE Chief also admitted that in the case of white raw rice purchased
from Pakistan the government has been "finding it difficult to
sell" due to available quantities of white rice already in the
market. Since basmati rice constitutes part of a rich man's diet it
remains to be seen how effectively the CWE will be able to market
meantime is also battling trade union leaders at the CWE. He said
some 500 employees at the CWE "have nothing to do"
following the closure of wholesale outlets. Salaries of all CWE
employees Gunaratne maintained are paid from Treasury funds and as a
result causing a huge burden on the government. "Only 150
people" Gunaratne said are currently required to serve any
purpose within the CWE. "The government will soon have to take
a decision," he asserted.
can only wonder why the JVP, in particular Wimal Weerawansa, Sunil
Handunnetti, and the PA's Mahindananda Aluthgamage who were
vociferous critics during the previous regime on the import of rice
are today silent. Surely these men, two of whom are presently deputy
ministers should be raising the matter and asking the same questions
they raised before? Not only has the Consumer Affairs Ministry
bypassed tender procedure, but also ignored local traders. Shouldn't
the JVP be referring to the 'Blue Book' prepared by President
Chandrika Kumaratunga detailing guidelines on government procurement
which Kumaratunga insisted the UNF too must follow?
men have previously waxed eloquent on state and private television
insisting such imports must be transparent. Why they are now silent
in the face of such a blatant lack of transparency and
accountability is a matter for this nation to now be judge and jury.
doing this purely for the Minister"
Mushin Traders, Indrajith Joseph when asked how he is selling
sugar at US$ 100 less than market prices said, "I am
doing this for the honourable minister, not for anybody
asserted that he has also not insisted on the government
opening a Letter of Credit as is the norm, but has agreed the
Ministry will pay him only after the consignment reaches the
port of Colombo.
trader can give that facility - it is always a risk - as the
government can backout after the goods arrive," he said.
Asked why he is prepared to take this risk, Joseph replied,
"I do it only because of the Minister. He is trying to
bring down prices and so I must assist him."
Anura Kumara Dissanayake had submitted a cabinet paper pertaining to
a scheme to recruit agriculture graduates to various ministries. The
cabinet paper detailed how these graduates could be integrated not
only into the Ministry of Agriculture but also to several other
Minister, Sarath Amunugama from the time he saw the cabinet paper,
appeared to be fairly displeased with its recommendations. The first
question about the recommendations therefore, came from Amunugama
himself at the cabinet meeting.
forgetting the contents of his own cabinet paper on the foreign
funded projects debated on so hotly only a short while ago, Dr.
Amunugama asked Minister Dissanayake how exactly he saw fit to make
decisions about the recruitment of graduates to ministries not
assigned to him.
replied that he was not attempting to force or influence other
ministries by his cabinet paper, but merely detailing the procedural
guidelines under which agriculture graduates could be integrated
into other sectors. Not satisfied with this response Amunugama took
the issue further, finally practically giving Dissanayake a lecture
on how a cabinet paper had to be presented.
it was President Chandrika Kumaratunga who intervened. "Anura
is right. As the Minister in Charge, he has a right to submit his
recommendations," she said, even going on to advise Dissanayake
to re-submit the paper as a basis for the recruitment of graduates.
cabinet meeting last week saw a battle between the President and the
Minister Rajapakse expressed his displeasure about the fact that
President Chandrika Kumaratunga had dissolved the board of directors
of the E-Sri Lanka Project. The Premier charged that Kumaratunga was
interfering with a subject that came under his ministerial purview.
But the President maintained that the project came under her
told you this for a long time now. That is my subject. It has been
assigned to you by mistake," the President explained.
the Premier insisted that when former Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe was in office, the project had been carried out under
him and went on to ask whether the President, being caught up the
way she was with so many other responsibilities, needed to concern
herself with yet another matter.
to this, President Chandrika Kumaratunga pointed out that the Prime
Minister already had to contend with the responsibility of the
Highways Ministry into which state organ massive amounts of funds
were being channelled. But Rajapakse replied that only 11,000
kilometers came within his jurisdiction and did not include roadways
all over Sri Lanka.
don't count the kilometers when I assign ministries. If you do as I
say, there will be enough and more money," shot back
content with this reply from the President, Rajapakse said: "I
don't know about all that. All I am saying is don't try to interfere
with my ministries. If you want to appoint someone to a particular
post, we can talk about it and reach some kind of compromise
arrangement. We don't have to discuss it here, we can do it
cabinet of ministers listened to this exchange with some amusement.
But since the President said that the matter could be discussed
later, the tension was eased somewhat.
were rampant in the political arena last week that a deputy minister
was engaged in an attempt to get JHU General Secretary, Ven. Uduwe
Dhammaloka Thero to cross over to government ranks by threatening
and intimidating the monk. The deputy minister had shown the monk a
tape and threatened him with it, the story went.
rumours made the main opposition United National Party (UNP) look
into the issue. The opposition was of the view that if indeed there
was a plot afoot to intimidate the monk into supporting the
government, it should be looked into immediately and prevented.
several senior UNPers met with the Thero last week and asked him to
confide in them if he was facing any such problems. They told the
Thero that if the government was indeed engaged in an attempt to
intimidate a member of the clergy into supporting it, the people of
the country could be kept informed. However, the monk maintained
that he had been subject to no such threats or intimidation of any
UNP political affairs committee meeting on last Monday, October 25,
was a stormy affair. After Colombo District MP Bandula Gunewardena
raised the issue of Milinda Moragoda's Gamin Gamata programme (See
Inside Politics, page 11) invited for discussion was former Minister
of Commerce, Ravi Karunanayake.
at the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee were UNP Leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Karu Jayasuriya, Professor G. L. Peiris,
Jayawickrema Perera, John Amaratunga, Lakshman Seneviratne, Tissa
Attanayake, Kabir Hashim, Malik Samarawickrema and N. K. Weragoda.
committee took up three motions Karunanayake had given notice of in
parliament. First was the scrapping of the pension scheme for
parliamentarians. Karunanayake took up the position that though the
JVP was trying to move the motion and take the credit for it, it was
he who had first taken up the issue.
pointed out that the public wanted to see radical action taken by
the party and was also not in favour of a pension scheme for MPs,
hence the motion. But Wickremesinghe was not in agreement saying
that the UNP policy was to provide MPs with a pension and this had
been so since the time of former President J. R. Jayewardene.
being told that it was party policy, Karunanayake referred to a
statement made by Kalutara District MP Mahinda Samarasinghe during a
TV programme sometime earlier to the effect that he was for the
abolition of the executive presidency when party policy was
otherwise. However, Wickremesinghe said that even on that issue,
party policy was clear and everybody had to fall in line with it.
back to the pension issue, Wickremesinghe said that Jayewardene had
been insistent that MPs should be provided with a pension facility
after they retire. "In fact President Jayewardene and I, though
not in need of a pension or the salary paid to MPs always decided to
take it and not even give it to a fund as some people are doing to
set an example for MPs to depend on their salaries as their source
of income. That is party policy," Wickremesinghe reasserted.
however continued to argue that public expectation was otherwise.
But eventually the political affairs committee decided that party
policy would have to be adhered to on this issue.
next issue to be taken up was a motion by Karunanayake to increase
the fine of Rs. 500,000 imposed on persons giving false information
to the Bribery Commission to Rs. 5 million.
again, the PAC said it has to be decided whether this was the
opportune time to take up the issue since it would lead to a mud
slinging campaign rather than the substantive issues being taken up.
however was insistent saying he was being vicitimised with false
allegations and wanted to clear his name. "I have no problem in
defending my position. I welcome the opportunity of confronting all
the issues. I should be allowed to debate the motion to clear my
name." Finally, Wickremesinghe said he would take a decision on
the matter in consultation with the committee and inform
Karunanayake in due course.
long after, the UNP trade union leaders, including Gamini Lokuge,
Rajitha Senaratne, Rohitha Bogollagama, Sirinal De Mel, Raja
Seneviratne among others were called in to discuss their activities.
the outset, Wickreme-singhe took up the issue of letters being
circulated to members of the political affairs committee and
cautioned against it, stating that such letters in future should be
addressed directly to him. Wickremesinghe went on to say that he
would then decide whether such letters need to be discussed at the
committee or not when it comes to organisational matters.
this point, Rajitha Senaratne referring to the incident last week
where a letter of his was circulated among the committee said that
he never wanted his letter to be circulated but had only given the
copies addressed to the party leader to Assistant Secretary, Tissa
Attanayake to take a decision on circulation. It was pointed out by
Attanayake however at this juncture that he circulated the letter
because it was addressed to the committee as well, through the party
Senaratne had another battle to fight. He charged that everything
that had been discussed at the committee meeting had appeared in the
press. He went on to say that he had heard from The Sunday Leader
that it was Mahinda Samarasinghe who had given this information.
umbrage at this allegation, Samarasinghe denied it adding that
Kalutara issues should not be raised in that forum. But Senaratne
did not let go, saying that talking of Kalutara issues, Samarasinghe
had told the newspapers he was not leaving the Kalutara District and
going to Colombo, but that Malik Samarawickrema had informed him
that Samaraesinghe wanted to contest from Colombo.
however said that he had made no such statement. In an attempt to
defuse the verbal battle, Wickremesinghe said that they should
discuss matters pertaining to the trade union movement and not
this time, Samarasinghe refused to let the issue go, insisting he be
given an opportunity to clear his name. He said "The Sunday
Leader can be asked in everyone's presence whether he had anything
to do with the information published," adding that he was
challenging Senaratne to do so.
Senaratne was equally insistent saying that Karunanayake had given
him that information a short while back.
Samarasinghe strongly denied the charge, insisting that the Leader
be asked whether this was in fact so and asked Senaratne not to
attempt to take cheap political advantage by making such
Wickemesinghe intervened and advised both members to stop the
exchange of words and to focus on trade union activities, which they
then proceeded to do.
a subsequent meeting on Wednesday, Wickre-mesinghe had informed the
committee that he had made his own inquiries with regard to the
source of the leak and learnt that Samarasinghe had nothing to do
with what was published in the Leader.
is the 10th year Chandrika Kumara-tunga has served as Head of State
and President of Sri Lanka. The SLFP has decided to organise a
series of ceremonies to mark this decade.
series has been titled 'Battle for Development' and commenced in
Anuradhapura. But the JVP ministers had problems with the ceremonies
because it appeared that the party had been totally left out of the
programme and only invited for the ceremony. So the JVP MPs had
decided at an unofficial level not to attend the opening ceremony in
letter from President Chandrika Kumaratunga asking Minister Anura
Kumara Dissanayake to explain why he made remarks against Minister
Sirisena at Matale within a period of a week had also been given to
Dissanayake the day of the opening ceremony.
usual, the crisis was discussed between Minister Dissanayake, JVP
Propaganda Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa and Ports Minister, Mangala
a result of the discussions, Minister Dissanayake attended the
opening ceremony in Anuradhapura the next day. He travelled to the
site of the ceremony in Minister Samaraweera's vehicle.
religious ceremonies were held at the Sri Maha Bodhi, Minister
Dissanayake went there too with Samaraweera. But at the sacred
temple, it was obvious that Dissanayake was having some trouble
facing the President and tried to remain inconspicuous and away from
Kumaratunga's sight throughout the ceremony.
behaved the same way during the opening of a new provincial council
building in the area. Having noticed Dissanayake's behaviour during
the ceremonies, President Kumaratunga turned to Samaraweera and said
"Is Anura hiding in corners because he is scared? People will
notice. Tell him to stop being silly and come in front and sit with
ready to oblige, Samaraweera proceeded to take Dissanayake's hand
and lead him to a chair in one of the front rows. Soon afterwards,
the crowd moved towards the public grounds where Minister Sirisena
too was to sit on the main podium.
Dissanayake took his seat in a back row. Seeing this, Kumaratunga
called out to the JVP Minister, saying, "Why are you hiding in
corners? You are also a minister. Come and sit in front."
Dissanayake humbly walked up and took his seat.
the fact that Minister Lalkantha is extremely popular in the
Anuradhapura area, his absence at the ceremonies was conspicuous.
Many people present were heard to mumble that it indicated the rift
between the newly appointed 'ministers' and those who remained
'comrades' within the JVP.
cabinet meeting went on till about 10:30 that night. The cost of
living also came up for intense discussion during the meeting, with
the President suggesting that the prices of essential items should
be controlled through the cooperative system.
several ministers felt these moves would prove futile, since there
were no cooperative outlets in urban areas. But the President
disagreed. "The people in Colombo don't have a problem. It is
the people in villages who can't cope with the prices. Find ways to
develop the cooperative system. We need to stregthen this
system," she asserted.
President's plan received cabinet approval.