While commending the Export Development Board (EDB) for fast tracking initiatives to improve the country’s export income, the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), pointed out that a number of issues would need to be ironed out to pave the way for the private sector to take a leap further.
Calling exporters the lifeline of the economy, NCE Secretary General/CEO Shiham Marikar pointed out that the relevant authorities and stakeholders should be concerned of the ratio between exports and the GDP and the fact that regional peers continue to steam ahead while Sri Lanka struggles.
The NCE official noted that alongside diversifying Sri Lanka’s export basket and market,
much emphasis is necessary in increasing the number of exporters in the country, for which the first step should be encouraging entrepreneurship.
“When we go for events we see the same exporters; there are no new comers. With the 2000 exporters’ programme we would like to work closely with the EDB in that regard as we do have the experience with the NCE’s potential exporters programme,” said Marikar.
The EDB shared its aims to create the next level of local entrepreneurs and encourage them to be export champions with the 2000 Export Entrepreneur Development Programme.
The endeavor will be pushed by identifying and registering suitable entrepreneurs, and improving capacity via the Export Production/Processing Villages (EPV) and the One Village One Product (OVOP) Programme.
Marikar also called for further relaxing of the export earnings repatriation rule, which he said it would be ideal if it is extended beyond the current 180-day period.
In recent years, the government extended the 90 days earnings repatriation rule up to 150 days and then to 180 days. However, the repatriation rule in Sri Lanka is tighter compared to other countries where average of 300 days given to exporters to bring home foreign earnings. “Sri Lankan exporters are already finding it difficult to compete with prices, so credit is something we can offer to them (buyers) and an extension in this regard would be helpful,” justified Marikar.
With regard to the GSP Plus, the NCE said it would like to be kept informed on the initiatives taken by the government to deal with the Brexit as most of exports from Sri Lanka to the EU are via the United Kingdom.
Lastly, he stressed the need for greater cooperation and assistance to exporters by Sri Lankan missions overseas as it has been brought to the chamber’s notice that exporters are faced with a number of issues, including delays acquiring necessary information. (SAA)