National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) President Ramal Jasinghe, Secretary General Shiham and other relevant officials called on Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to brief him on the activities of the chamber for the current year, and also to discuss other export related issues of relevance in the current context.
The minister was updated regarding the current activities related to the key role played by the NCE to support Sri Lankan exporters, and the overreaching activities of the chamber this year extended to provincial enterprises with export potential, particularly SMEs, with the objective of increasing the number of entrepreneurs and export enterprises to diversify the products and services exported from Sri Lanka.
The officials also brought the Finance Minister’s attention to the importance of branding Sri Lanka in the international market place, as in the case of Taiwan and Japan related to Information Technology and hi-tech products.
The active role played by the chamber in the steering committee setup for this purpose by bringing on board the Universities of Sri Jayawardenapura and Kelaniya as well as the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing related to their expertise in the field of marketing was noted.
With regard to export financing, the officials briefed the minister of the active role played by the chamber in promoting the setting up of an EXIM (export and import) bank as proposed in the last budget was noted. The NCE officials requested the minister to fast track the implementation of the proposed bank.
The chamber also conveyed the request of its member companies to continue the (SVAT) Simplified Value Added Tax system until such time the necessary legislation is in place to implement the proposed Revenue Administration and Management Information System (RAMIS), which will enable the conduct of export transactions online.
The minister was also briefed regarding the difficulties faced by member exporters in finding skilled labour and the need to establish a ‘skills development fund’ to support the activities undertaken by the private sector enterprises in the field of skill development.
With regard to insurance coverage for the floriculture and horticulture sector, the chamber brought to the notice of the minister the lack of insurance cover for structures including green houses and planting material which are affected during adverse weather conditions.
Since some entrepreneurs are moving out of the sector due to the high risk, the chamber requested that arrangements be made to provide suitable insurance cover to mitigate the risk.
Karunanayake was further briefed that the chamber will conduct several forums and discussions with member exporters to identify both macro issues and other operational issues faced by them to develop exports which will be sent to the Ministry of Finance as proposals for consideration to be included in the next national budget.
The NCE’s plan to conduct forums during the month of June to discuss bottlenecks related to the implementation of the previous budget proposals specifically related to international trade and exports was briefly discussed and the minister was invited to address the members.