Private sector welcomes stable Government, express wish list | Daily News


Private sector welcomes stable Government, express wish list

Sri Lanka’s Small and Medium Enterprises upbeat, ‘very hopeful’
Mahinda Rajapaksa takes oath as Sri Lankan PM for the fourth time from  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday.
Mahinda Rajapaksa takes oath as Sri Lankan PM for the fourth time from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday.

The Business community and trade chambers hailed the landslide victory in the August 5 general election and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the country’s Prime Minister for the fourth time.

Rajapaksa who was elected to Parliament with the highest number of votes ever recorded by a single candidate in Sri Lankan parliamentary history, (527,364) took oaths before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday at Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya. The new Cabinet is expected to take oaths on August 12.

The corporate top brass expressing their views with the Daily News yesterday they welcomed the new Government which they described as stable and expressed its wish list on what would be the priority for it for continued economic growth and development.

Following are some views expressed by Trade Chambers and corporate heads.

Chairman, IWS Holdings, Arthur Senanayake: We Congratulate the government on its victory and appreciate the mandate given by the people of this country to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who during this brief period of governance has shown that the people of Sri Lankahas inspired confidence in him. We will support his efforts to bring about a just Sri Lanka which will usher prosperity to all of us. From the sectors of automobiles, logistics, and leisure our fullest support is extended to achieve this goal.

President of Sri Lanka’s Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) Nawaz Rajabdeen: Sri Lankan SMEs have strong, newfound hope on the incoming new administration for their long overdue revival. We are certain President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will listen to our concerns and deliver within the next five years.

Rajabdeen who is also a past President of Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka stressed that he expects President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would receive the necessary backing from the newly elected Parliament to develop MSMEs, industries and business communities across the country.

“We are sure that the President together with the new parliament will support all citizens regardless of their castes and religions. His support to uplift and upgrade industries in all districts is the next viable step. We are certain President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will listen to our concerns and deliver within the next five years. We are hopeful of the new government on pursuing a medium to long term development strategy for our MSMEs and industries.”

National Chamber of Exporters Secretary General / CEO Shiham Marikar said, “It was very important for any government to look after the export sector as it is a major revenue earner as well, which was required for the balance of payments.

The Government must get the Sri Lankan foreign missions to actively get involved in promoting exports. He also suggested that the government should be getting digital marketing to promote exports.

The International Chamber of Commerce President Dinesh Weerakkody: “The ICCSL congratulates Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and leaders of the SLPP on their victory at the recent General Election. As a member of the world’s largest business chamber with over 45 million business organisations around the world, ICCSL looks forward to working with the new government”.

Chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum A. Sukumaran said: “While we congratulate the new Government We will be happy to work with them to take new policies forward which we will be proposing aimed at increasing growth in exports.”

Chairman of the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries Ruwan Edirisinghe congratulated the Government for creating stability and added that stability would also mean that the government should be able to raise more money and that too at concessionary terms.

He also said that the concessionary financing means that the Central Bank would then be able to disburse funds to commercial banks at around 2% which will also mean that ailing industries would be able to recover in the future.

Chief Executive Chairman Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) Aruna Alwis said, “Whilst congratulating the government on their resounding victory at the general election, I personally believe that the government should immediately embark on a few key areas to achieve President’s vision for the country. There should be an immediate implementation and monitoring plan for the economic revival.”

“The fundamental fact is that there can be many plans, but everything will fail if there is no implementation and monitoring system with who is doing what if I may say in simple terms. Secondly, the government must pledge and demonstrate eradication of corruption and waste for economic and socio development. Thirdly, momentum of digitisation which began with COVID-19 should be expedited than ever before to bring efficiency and productivity in every sector and government should support heavily for those respective sectors to fulfil this need,” he said.

Secretary General of Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Abeyratne Muthugala stated, “We hope that the new government would give due recognition and its fullest support to protect local industries and boost exports in a big way.”

Speaking further he emphasized the need for the government to consult and get inputs from local industrialists prior to entering into free trade agreements with other countries in the future. He also added that certain clauses of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Act needs to be revised to protect local industrialists from undue competition of foreign investors.

“There are few industrialists who can manufacture certain products here to cater to needs of the entire nation. Hence it is essential that the government facilitates and creates a conducive environment for them to conduct their businesses on a large scale,” he stated.

Speaking on Temporary Importation for Export Processing (TIEP) scheme which allows manufacturers, who manufacture goods for export or indirect export to import inputs without payment of fiscal levies, he said certain statutory laws and regulations need to be introduced and implemented with regard to TIEP scheme to enhance the competitiveness of export production and encourage expansion of production capacities and exports.

He further said that the CNCI intends to hold discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to discuss major issues faced by the local industrialists, in particular to raise their concerns pertaining to Free Trade Agreements.

Chairman and CEO at Serendib Horticulture Technologies, Dilip de Silva said, “With a stable government now at hand and a policy for encouraging exports, floriculture industry is looking positively at expanding the industry in the coming years.

He also emphasized the need to attract investments to the floriculture Industry as Foreign Direct Investments as well as through local entrepreneurs.

“We are planning on having an International Conference and Exhibition on Floriculture by 2022/2023, which is bound to give a boost to investments. The Strategic Plan we are developing now will include all stakeholders including, pot plant and cut foliage, tissue culture laboratories, small growers throughout the island and researches in Floriculture, who will become part of our export strategy,” said de Silva.

He also requested the government to reduce the import of flowers and plants gradually over the years, so that the local industry will flourish, giving more employment opportunities and encouragement for the researches and producers to introduce new varieties, which are accepted by the global market.

He said further that floriculture exports which consists of rooted plants, cut foliage, tissue culture plants, and flowers has earned the country over US $ 20 million in 2019.

The global floriculture industry was worth US $ 20 billion in 2018 and has been increasing at a rate of 8% annually.

Managing Director Debug Group of Companies, Abbas Kamrudeen: “I would first like to congratulate the government on their victory at the general election and specifically, I would like to commend the effective utilisation of technology during the lockdown period. On a long term point of view, we would like to see implementation of a digital economy where effective use of technology within every element of the economy, be it public sector, private sector, exporters, SMEs or the general public which will result in a contribution of 7% growth to our GDP over a period of 3 years.”

“Further, as an industry we request the government’s support to help software product companies to support them in becoming global players and contributing towards the export revenue target of USD 3 billion.”

Chairman of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Sanath Ukwatte said that the recovery of COVID 19 was going to take up to another two years and requested the Government to extend the moratoria which were given to the industry, which was to lapse in September 2020, by another 6 months. He said that the decision of opening the Airports was a matter for the Government to take.

He also said that he and the industry would not put pressure on the government to open the airports, claiming that the health aspects of the country were more important.

President of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators Mahen Kariyawasam said: “SLAITO would like to congratulate the PM elect and the new Government on their achievement of forming a stable regime. Considering the impact the tourism industry has on our economy, it’s vital that the government considers appointing a united and efficient team of officials who will steer our industry forward together with the private sector.

We in the private sector are ready to offer our fullest support under one voice one industry”.

ASMET President M B Jayarathna said: The Association of Small & Medium Enterprises in Tourism Sri Lanka (ASMET) congratulates Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna on being re-elected as Prime Minister.

“We would continue our support to the government in fulfilling its objectives to make tourism the leading industry of the country and increase foreign exchange earnings. ASMET wishes to strengthen the relationship and work closely with the government to develop and protect the small & medium entrepreneurs in the industry.”

CEO Shippers Academy Rohan Masakorala said that given the strong mandate given by the people of the country to the newly elected government it is a suitable time period to make long term decisions on the shipping industry. Masakorala said that industry stakeholders look for consistency and that the government with the election result is in a very strong position to provide that consistency. Masakorala notes the lack of historic consistency in policy for the industry and cites it as a major cause behind the lack of sustained development in shipping on the island. Masakorala commended the peaceful nature of the election.

Founder and Former President Sri Lanka Retailers Association Hussain Sadique welcomed the stability brought in with the recent election results. Sadique was hopeful that the developments to the port city would be expedited so as to bring Sri Lanka to the status of a regional retail hub. Sadique noted that Sri Lanka was beginning to bounce back from the COVID epidemic and that the election was carried out with every precaution for health and safety.

Chairman of Chamber of Industries and Commerce Yalpanam (Jaffna) Stephen Leonard was happy to see that the election was peaceful.

He said there was much and calm quiet during the election period.

The Chamber is happy to work with any government towards the development of the region. Leonard noted that credit to the region was vital for development.

President Sri Lanka Canned Fish Manufacturers Association Shiran Fernando: “We congratulate the resounding victory of the new government at the election. The government is with the view of developing local industries such as the canned fish industry in the country which is surrounded by the sea and there is no need for imports. We pledge our fullest support to see the development of this industry under the new government.

President of the International Business Council, former FCCISL President and Vice President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kosala Wickremanayake said that it was indeed heartening to note that the voters provided their wholehearted support for the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and requested Prime Minister Rajapaksa to take the country forward in all spheres which also includes economically as well.

He said that the expectations were high from the Government in solving the economic issues such as the high cost of living and increasing the GDP growth, also other allied issues such as affordable housing and certain other issues such as effective educational policies. He also said that among the other priorities were policy reforms to boost the economy and boosting GDP growth.

He also said that it was important that special emphasis be laid on the development of the SME sector as it accounts for 75% of the employment and 50% of the GDP.

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