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DateLine Sunday, 23 September 2007

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National policy vital to check widening trade deficit - SLCSI Chief



Aloy Jayawardene

Sri Lanka's foreign trade deficit has grown rapidly over the past seven years as there is no national policy to promote exports and support local industries, said President, Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industries (SLCSI) Aloy Jayawardene.

He said the annual import export gap is around US$ 4 billion and it is set to widen further in the next few years if the government does not provide incentives to exporters and impose restrictions on imports.

"The depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US Dollar and the Indian rupee is another prime reason for the growth in the foreign trade deficit", Jayawardene said.

The Chamber chief said every commodity imported is a loss of foreign exchange and an obstruction to emerging industries and the manufacturing sector.

The government should introduce more tariff taboos as India which has imposed strict measures to curtail imports. The national policy adopted by India has helped the country's export sector to grow at a rapid pace and today it is one of the fastest growing economies in the region.

The loss to the economy due to the growing migrant workforce is enormous compared to what a worker contributes in the country.

The contribution of a worker in the country to the GDP per year is US$ 7,550 whereas a migrant worker contributes only US$ 1,554.

While 3.63 million workers in the country contributed US$ 27.4 billion, 1.5 million migrant workers contributed US$ 2.33 billion in 2006.

"The country's workforce needs to be developed and utilised for industrial and export development which will have a greater impact on the economy", the Chamber chief said.

The Chamber will present its proposals for more benefits to local industrialists and incentives to promote exports in the 2008 Budget.

lalin@sundayobserver.lk

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