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Sri Lanka businesses have bigger market, lower costs with war’s end: Chevron Lanka chief

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s businesses have a bigger domestic market and lower operating costs after the end of a 30-year war in 2009, head of Sri Lanka’s Chevron Lubricants unit Kishu Gomes said.

Gomes told a forum of business executives and professionals in Colombo that with the North and East of the country being freed from the grip of Tamil Tiger separatists, markets have expanded by 15 percent.

Sri Lanka’s domestic market is too small and companies are always on the lookout to export and compete but during the war even parts of the domestic market was closed or access was reduced, he said.

In the north he said the Tamil Tigers tried to extract ‘illegal taxes’ from Chevron, which he refused to do.

"But we know that our business partners in these areas had to pick up those costs, otherwise they could not operate," he told a forum where President Rajapaksa, and his brother defence ministry secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa were key speakers.

He said businesses had other costs with goods being unloaded and reloaded at checkpoints and prohibitive insurance fees.

In addition, the rebuilding of roads by the current administration after the war had speeded up delivery and reduced business costs. Expressways had speeded up travel times and had reduced the load on other roads, speeding traffic along those routes as well, he said.

Gomes said economic stability has also been brought and stability was important for businesses to grow.

He said "there are certain issues like in any other country that has to be addressed."

Gomes said he was confident that there was intention to correct some of the issues.

Already gross domestic product was expanding at a rate of around 8 percent a year from the 6 percent seen during the war.

Sri Lanka is heading for Presidential polls in January with Maithripala Sirisena – the key opposition challenger to President Rajapaksa – promising to re-establish rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the police and public service and end nepotism.

Sirisena had also promised to abolish the executive presidential system within weeks if he came to power.
 

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