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Rubber industry calls for govt. assistance

25 March 2020 11:02 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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• Wants govt. to make rubber an essential sector • Highlights industry’s importance due to medical gloves and tyre manufacturing • Says concessions announced not extended to rubber sector • Govt. yet to talk with rubber industry despite having consulted other industries • Rubber sector brings about US $ 1bn to national economy per annum. The rubber exporters call the government to make it an essential service as the sector provides its products to the medical industry and agriculture sector. When queried, Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP) Director General Rohan Masakorala said their sector, which brings in around US $ 1 billion to the economy, has not yet been consulted or spoken to, whereas they had learnt that other sectors had been consulted by the government. “We expect a downturn of about 40 percent of rubber exports this year and a large number of SMEs are going to get affected through the supply chain. If our exporters are not given the proposed moratorium of six months for repayment of loans and working capital loans at 4 percent, the impact could be even worse,” Masakorala said. “We need the government to facilitate the production of the rubber industry, as our members provide medical gloves that have a local demand as well as international demand, as hospitals need the product. Also, we need the agriculture supply chains move and we produce agriculture tyres and we need to get these supply chains moving,” he added. Masakorala further pointed out that the closure of operations would hit the day-to-day wage earners of the sector as companies will have to restructure production. “We have already got reports that tapping of rubber is slowing down. Thousands of farmers will get affected if the production is halted. Things are not easy for the rubber industry and we expect the government to treat all exporters (direct and indirect) in a fair and an equitable manner, through a sustainable policy on the export sector,” he said. Masakorala also expressed disappointment as the government has failed to look at the traditional export sector. “We have written to the Plantations and Industries Minister to get their attention to these vital sectors of the economy, just as the other export industries. In fact, our industry is also supporting the government by supplying medical gloves to the Health Ministry to fight COVID-19 in Sri Lanka,” he said.
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