Sri Lankan industry told to face competition, no protection
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government is committed to further opening up the economy and industry must be ready to face competition, not demand protection, State Minister of Finance and Mass Media Eran Wickramaratne said.
“Your industry too has to face up to the issue of protection versus competition, that prices cannot always be controlled and it has to be competitive” he told the 48th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council.
Foreign participation is a necessity in an integrated and globalised world, Wickramaratne said.
“Liberalisation has worked in other industries like telecommunications and hotels.”
As state minister of finance, most of the people who come to see him are businessmen.
“Most of the time they come asking us to protect industry, with the argument that it protects jobs and protects incomes,” Wickramaratne said.
“Rarely does anybody speak for the consumer.”
Governments are always trying to maintain a balance between the interests of consumers and producers, Wickramaratne said.
While consumers want the best products at the lowest prices, businessmen want to protect their bottom line, he said.
“It is only competition that can deliver on both fronts, for consumers and producers.”
Wickramaratne said the government in on track to make Sri Lanka’s economy more liberal.
“That’s why in the last budget we removed 1,200 para tariffs. We expect to reduce them further. Already people are seeing me and warning that if we do, they might be exposed to unhealthy competition.”
The government also wants to change taxation policy and reduce indirect tariffs which hurt the poor more and raise direct taxes.
(COLOMBO, July 10, 2018)