Global relocation could galvanize Lankan growth | Daily News


 

Global relocation could galvanize Lankan growth

 Suresh Shah
Suresh Shah

CEO Lion Brewery Suresh Shah said that global restructuring of production chains could help galvanize Sri Lankan growth. He said that Sri Lanka should actively court producers looking to leave China.

Shah was speaking to LMD TV on 29 April.

Shah said Sri Lanka should be the first country to court foreign manufacturers as this would help the country into a significant growth phase. Sri Lankan industrialists are also looking to take advantage of the low oil prices seen globally. Shah said “I think the lockdown approach is the right one. It is extremely challenging from an economic perspective.” “The lockdown should continue until we eliminate COVID but I don’t know if we can afford it.” Lion Brewery has mapped out its production processes and is looking to begin immediately once the go-ahead is given.

The company is looking to implement temperature checks, hand washing stations at entrances, disinfectant spraying, and increased sanitization of commonly held surfaces such as doorknobs. Staff will be expected to wear masks while at work, avoid public transport where possible, and be heavily discouraged to come into work if they are unwell.

Shah predicted difficulty in getting people to and from places of work given the high reliance on public transport and the limitations of implementing social distancing within it.

Shah said that the manufacturing sector sans certain export and essential services had been shut down since 20 March. “The entire Food and Beverage Sector other than the milk sector has been shut down.” Due to significant pay cuts across the economy the company is predicting sluggish demand in the medium term. Shah warned that any opening up was increasing the risk that it could spread but said staying closed incurred severe economic hardship. Shah called on society to be more conscientious in dealing with the virus. He said, “if people are aware of the damage put on the country we can start to make them more responsible.”

Shah said that companies were considering retrenchment of staff and that daily wage earner had been particularly hard hit. He said the government had limited fiscal space and reserves to do a more aggressive economic response. “Margins are likely to erode. Businesses are aware that demand is going to be sluggish going forward. People aren’t going to have too much money in hand,” he said.


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