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Hard up fishermen win concessions

President backtracks on fuel price rises to appease struggling mariners

Trawlers in harbor Trawlers in harbor
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • March 5, 2012
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Aggrieved fishermen have won several concessions from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to offset hardships resulting from a recent increase in fuel prices.

The president promised during a meeting with industry leaders on Friday to increase fuel subsidies, crack down on illegal fishing, and remove tax on imported equipment and restrictions on imported fish.

He also asked officials to look into buying catches direct from fishermen to protect them from exploitation from merchants.

The meeting followed protests by fishermen who also refused to put to sea after the price of fuel went up on February 14 and a meeting between the president and Catholic Church leaders on Thursday.

The government has agreed to add an extra 125 liters of kerosene to the previously agreed subsidy on 250 liters for small scale fishermen, while an extra 100 liters of diesel is being added to the 2,500 liter subsidy for trawler owners.

However, fishermen’s leaders complained that the fuel subsidies will not come in to affect until next month

“We were not completely happy about the fuel concession agreed by the president but we had to agree to it,” said fisherman’s leader Warnakulasuriya Maxi Coonghe after the talks.

“It means fishermen will find it hard going this month,” he said.

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