Wednesday, 18 September 2019 06:09

Biz leaders urge clear direction to face global challenges

Key business leaders reiterated the need for maintaining policies, diversifying exports, expanding the tourism industry and increasing trade links for Sri Lanka to successfully face the global challenges and to build the economy in the next decade.

They made this call at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit themed, ‘Re-calibrating Sri Lanka’s economic trajectory towards 2025’ organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo yesterday.

Growth factor

Leading businessman Dhammika Perera, said, “Sri Lankan government should prioritize economic growth, education district wise, job generation, and precision poverty reduction and social development initiatives to realize the set targets in the country.”

Stressing the need for Sri Lanka to focus on creating district wise job generation that will help tackle poverty levels , he said 39% of people in Sri Lanka is in poverty level and poverty reduction programs implemented by various government are still not able to alleviate poverty effectively or not able to achieve the expected results in a big way.

Economic growth is certainly critical for Sri Lanka to get out of this debt crisis. if Sri Lanka’s is to become a US $ 12,000 per capita income country from its current level of US $ 4,000 and to be recognised as a developed country, he said Sri Lanka must embrace new technologies, which would open up fresh growth avenues as well as make existing industries more competitive.

He further said that policy makers also have to make policies for the next decade, not just for short- term period in order to garner more economic benefits.

Tackling global issues

Vish Govindasamy Group Managing Director Sunshine Holdings Plc said that Sri Lanka needs to have a single unit that will focus on global events, in order to react very faster than waiting until those possible events happen.

“We are yet to see fallout due to latest drone attacks on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia. I also see disturbances in Hong Kong which dragged for more than two months as an advantage for Sri Lanka’s financial and investment sector. I think Sri Lanka should have taken proactive measures to attract more investment from various sectors and countries during that time.

He further said that US China Trade War, Brexit, ongoing tense situation in the Middle East could create more opportunities for Sri Lanka.

“Vietnam has become a big benefactor of the US-China trade war, he said adding that in 2018, and Vietnam has grown by 7.1%, probably more than any other country in the world. China’s overall shipments in August have also dropped by 1%.

In the entire region, Sri Lanka’s port charges for both exports and imports are the lowest in the entire region. We should really take that advantage or maybe we should develop our ports keeping abreast with world class hub ports.”

He also pointed out that Sri Lanka’s tea prices continued to be affected due to US sanctions on Iran and as a result Sri Lankan government has really struggled in selling and taking the funds back from the international buyers for its tea exports.

“Nevertheless tea is not a sanctioned product. This is a huge disadvantage for tea sector, which is the largest foreign exchange earner in the country. We should really focus on how to get out from that debacle knowing that tea is not a sanctioned product. All these ongoing events around the world can have both advantages and disadvantages. In this context, Sri Lanka needs to really look at advantages and leverage on that.”

Moreover, he said Sri Lanka needs to move away from its traditional exports to newer products. In addition, Sri Lanka has high caliber medical professionals and have performed well on par with its global counterparts .He however noted that hygiene, aftercare facilities and skills development in nursing care facilities should be developed furthermore to become a leading health tourism provider in the world.

 

Tourism

Krishan Balendra, Chairman of John Keells Holdings speaking at the event said , even if there is some global uncertainty , it is unlikely to impact the growth projection of tourist arrivals into the country . He said further that tourism industry has recovered faster than what the industry expected following the unfortunate Easter Sunday attacks in the country.

“We projected that it would take one and a half years or possibly two years for the recovery. But the four months after the attacks, the growth numbers have recovered, however yields will be low as a result of number of discounts offered by the local hotels to attract more tourism into Sri Lanka soon after the tragic incident.”

Indian connection

Shri Suresh Prabhu, Former Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation of Government of India and Official Emissary of the Prime Minister of India in the G7 and G20 Forum Economic and Technology Agreement (ECTA) emphasizes the ideas for win- win situation for both countries.

When signing an agreement, bilaterally or unilaterally it is essential to make sure business interests of both counties are protected and we will work on agreements that will create more benefits for stakeholders, governments in both countries.

Noting that Sri Lanka as an investor friendly country, he said that respective authorities in especially in the Board of Investment have been very proactive when it comes to assisting foreign investors to establish their businesses in the country I think attracting FDI into Sri Lanka is obviously possible.

He however stressed that the Sri Lankan government should take necessary measures to protect the investors’ interest and to create an enabling environment to attract more FDI into the country.

(Daily News)

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