ECONOMYNEXT – The new head of Sri Lanka’s exporters association said its members were disappointed some of their proposals to improve trade have not been implemented despite being accepted by government, and worried about new security measures raising costs.
Chrisso de Mel, newly elected chairman of the Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (EASL), said they recently did an exhaustive study, identifying key areas for improvement and action.
The study led to the EASL publishing two strategy documents that were given to the finance ministry and other key government institutions.
“Though some proposals have been well received and even incorporated to the national budget, we must say that we are disappointed that the proper implementation of the same has not been done, leaving us stranded in our blocks and not helped us to move forward,” de Mel said.
“We have not seen the intent and commitment on the part of the government to fire all guns in order to grow exports,” he told the 22nd annual meeting of the association.
Exceptions were the ministry of development strategies and international trade, ministry of ports and shipping and, since of late, the science and technology ministry, de Mel said.
“The trade cannot afford to entertain sudden changes in procedures and processes without proper planning and dialogue and without explaining reasons for the same, as done on many occasions in the recent past,” de Mel also warned.
“Arbitrary increases of charges due to ad hoc procedural changes cannot be afforded without proper value addition to the supply chain. These measures will only make Sri Lanka uncompetitive.”
De Mel also raised concern that a new procedure to be implemented with scanning of cargo will cost the trade additionally for exports and imports brought in for export.
“While we are fully in support of the introduction of scanners and other modern, intelligent security devices, we feel the trade should not be taxed or burdened,” he said.
“We already have sour experiences in the past where several levies have been imposed under the guise of development and international marketing but have eventually been used for entertainment or a totally different purpose from what it was meant to be.
“Sri Lanka must be mindful and be sensitive to capture the transactional cost when pitching in with other efficient origins.”
(COLOMBO, 29 July, 2019)