Sri Lanka plans new round of liberalization in next budget: PM

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lankan government is planning another round of liberalization in the next budget, making doing business easier but companies need to share a bigger part of the gains with workers, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Companies will be made more competitive with the proposed free trade agreements Sri Lanka plans to sign with big markets like China, Japan and India, apart from the GSP Plus deal giving duty free access to the European Union, he said.

“GSP Plus is the lynchpin of building our outward-looking, export-oriented economy which will provide jobs and increase incomes,” Wickremesinghe told a business forum held by the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL) and the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives.

“We are entering the richest consumer market in the world. Global trade is going to depend on the EU, China, Japan and India.

“GSP Plus is the key to us – it will give us the ability to develop our economy and strengthen democracy. Open markets require open societies.”

Sri Lanka is well placed to take advantage of these new trends and being outward looking also means being the hub of the Indian Ocean, Wickremesinghe said.

Wickremesinghe said the challenge for Sri Lanka’s domestic investors will be how to use these opportunities.

He acknowledged that government regulations make it difficult for business.

“There are barriers to competitiveness, to productivity,” Wickremesinghe said.

The government is taking a fresh look at existing regulations in the next budget.





“There will be another round of liberalization. I hope to make an economic policy statement, followed by the budget,” Wickremesinghe said.

Productivity needs to be improved and that means a workforce dedicated to productivity, he said.

"Part of the gains must be shared with workers. Trade unions accept the need to increase productivity.”

Industries also need to pay better to attract the required workers or they will not be able to compete for labour, he said.
(COLOMBO, July 19, 2017)

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