More industry bodies are joining the chorus to urge the country’s political leadership to ensure stability and a swift solution to the current political stalemate situation to avert dire consequences to the country’s economy and its people.
The latest to join the bandwagon after the country’s key business chambers, travel and IT industry bodies, were the Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP) and Hub Operators’ Association of Sri Lanka.
The SLAMERP in a brief statement yesterday warned that the negative publicity Sri Lanka is getting from the current political crisis is pushing away global buyers, manufacturers and investors, which would affect the country’s export sector’s sustainability and growth.
SLAMERP President Prabhash Subasinghe said the rubber manufacturers and exporters seek stable government policies and a signal to the world that Sri Lanka is a country that is governed by rule of law to attract investors to expand the manufacturing-based export sector.
“We need to create a very strong image to the buyers informing them that we have a stable economy politically and otherwise and Sri Lanka is a strong and safe country for business investments,” Subasinghe stressed.
The SLMERP also expressed their concern about the 2019 budget process that is currently at a standstill and the inactive nature of many state institutions due to the ongoing political crisis.
Subasinghe cautioned that the export industry will have dire consequences if the current crisis is not resolved swiftly, highlighting that the rubber industry brings US $ 1 billion in export earnings and creates a large amount of rural employment.
“Sri Lanka has the potential to become a 10 billion rubber export industry in the near future, hence the SLAMERP calls the leaders to establish normalcy in the country without any further delays,” Subasinghe said.
Meanwhile, the Hub Operators’ Association of Sri Lanka, which is promoting Sri Lanka as a logistics hub for regional value-added services via free zones, also expressed its concern as the ongoing situation in the country would not help Sri Lanka to be an attractive logistics hub with a tarnished image.
“We need a lot of international confidence and stability in the destination to invite international cargo owners, buyers, logistics companies to use Sri Lanka as the preferred distribution centre for Asia and Africa,” Hub Operators’ Association of Sri Lanka President Rohan Masakorala said.
“I can confirm potential business opportunities are on hold and in most cases, the business travellers are reluctant to come and visit the island as the travel insurance premiums have gone up,” he added.
Masakorala said they have done a lot of work with the Export Development Board and National Export Strategy to start marketing Sri Lanka as the best geographical location for logistics and distribution.
“Very recently we introduced new laws for e-commerce and liberalized the small consignment handling environment (LCL) to attract investors.
We are in the process of doing promotional videos and destination marketing events overseas but given the current political impasse and the fractured political structure, all are coming to a gradual standstill and more worrying is that the country image is at stake as people take a wait and see approach.”
The industry association requested President Maithripala Sirisena to take utmost care to uphold the constitution, to restore normalcy to help the businesses environment and to take action to protect the country’s image as it will take a very long time to repair the negative perception.
The Hub Operators’ Association pointed out that it is the businesses and citizens of Sri Lanka that will have to face the economic consequences of these negative developments in the medium to long term.