- Fear large-scale unemployment for thousands employed in industry
- Say move would also lead to low-quality products flooding local market
Joining the bandwagon on urging the government to do away with the import restriction are the office furniture importers, who stressed the need to lift the suspension with immediate effect, to cushion the sector from further impacts.
In a statement to the media, the Office Chairs and Furniture Importers Association (OCFIA) stressed that the impact on the industry and trade is catastrophic at this point of time and many businesses are experiencing massive levels of business interruption.
“The continued extension of the suspension of importation of office chairs and furniture will certainly affect the sustainability of the businesses. This in turn would result in possible large-scale unemployment for the many thousands employed in the industry,” the OCFIA said.
The association added that the import restrictions continue to affect a broad spectrum of secondary industries, including port staff, freight companies, clearing agents, architectural companies, construction companies and even the banking sector.
It noted that the supporting sectors may also experience job losses, due to the lack of business from importers.
The association pointed out that the loss of income in the secondary industries results in further decline in revenue to the government.
The OCFIA warned that the restrictions would also result in a monopoly in the country, which it stressed is “unacceptable in any developing country”. It added that the restrictions would also lead to low-quality products flooding the local market for higher prices.
The association asserted that all sectors of the country should be given access to the latest modern ergonomic office seating and furniture that has international certifications and meets international occupational health and standards as available overseas.
“The group collectively opines that this type of office seating cannot be manufactured locally at such short notice, due to limited technology and unavailability of the required inputs and components locally. Further, we do not warrant investing in manufacturing facilities to cater to a domestic market that is as small as our local market,” the
It justified that exporting such products may not be viable for Sri Lanka, as these products are manufactured mainly in Malaysia, China and Indonesia. The products are exported out of these countries in bulk and at highly competitive prices to the European, American and the UK markets.
The OCFIA stated that the industry is a key contributor to wealth and value chain creation and income generation of the country. It added that the industry’s contribution to government revenue via import taxes is considerable.