|Tuesday, 25 May 2004|
Lanka should woo USA to sign FTAs - Peter Harrold
By Shirajiv Sirimane
Sri Lanka should woo countries such USA to sign Free Trade Agreements.
Country Director, World Bank Peter Harrold said that this would be a solution to losing textile orders with the lifting of the quota system. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the workshop on Triple Bottom line implementation a path to corporate responsibility yesterday.
He said that with new FTAs being signed Sri Lankan garment manufacturing companies would be able to find direct orders," he said. He said that another way out would be to improve the quality of garment products. This would give an edge to Sri Lankan products. Most of the companies that would be affected are the firms undertaking sub contracts. "These companies simply use labour," he said.
Cambodia, one of the largest garment manufacturing countries charge 20% more for their products over China. "However, the demand for these high priced products have not reduced mainly because the Western countries know that there is no cheap labour involved and the enhanced amount contributes to social welfare," he said.
In Sri Lanka too more companies are involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. This is a very encouraging trend. In the early 1990's there were only 13% of countries, which had undertaken CSR programs and in 1999 it increased to 35% and last year to 45%. "It is no longer acceptable to be irresponsible," he said.
It is estimated that around 50 Sri Lanka companies are involved in this program and most of them from the corporate sector.
President, Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka, (FCCISL) Nihal Abeysekera said that CSR is not new to Sri Lanka. "Even centuries ago kings and Ministers visited villages to provide and check on their welfare," he said.
Executive Director Responsible Business Initiative Pakistan, Ms. Ambreen Waheed said that some companies think that providing a random donation to a hospital or school would be a part of their CSR. "This should not be a one time effort. If a company is really involved in CSR their annual budget should have an allocation for it," she said. She said that the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is the path to CSR. With TBL, businessmen would gain on the long run and it would contribute to an efficient and dedicated workforce. "If society does not gain, then business will fail," she said.
The three-day work shop conducted by Small and Medium Enterprise Developers (SMED), a project of the FCCISL and Friedrich Mauman Stiftung in Sri Lanka and National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) will conclude tomorrow.
Produced by Lake House