High-powered Boards to be amalgamated | Sunday Observer

High-powered Boards to be amalgamated

The Board of Investment, the Export Development Board, Tourism Development Authority and several other high-powered boards and authorities may soon be amalgamated under the Agency for International Trade, which is now taking shape at the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade.

While State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe would not indicate a definite time frame for this agency to start functioning, the Sunday Observer reliably learns that it may be as soon as next month. The Agency is being formed under the Development (Special Provisions) Act which has already been discussed at Cabinet level and drafts circulated among select Parliamentarians for observation.

State Minister Senasinghe told the Sunday Observer said that a National Exports Strategy (NES) will also be presented to Parliament in June this year and will cover a number of important areas including Free Trade Agreements and Free Trade Zones.

He said that these zones will probably be in Kalutara, Monaragala, Hambantota, Galle and Matara.

This National Exports Strategy (NES) was discussed in detail at a two day seminar kicked off by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe at Temple Trees, last Thursday morning.

It intends to revisit the sectors and markets that needs more attention and needs to be diversified in the export sector and new skills that needs to be adopted to fit the identified industries.

The NES is expected to be a part and parcel of a national policy that will be developed under the Development (Special Provisions) Bill. The National Policy is also expected to be subject to Parliamentary approval and will become the national policy on development .subjects for the purposes of the second list on the 9th schedule to the constitution.

The Board of the Agency for International Trade is expected to include the Director of Commerce; Controller of Imports and Exports; Chairman of the Tea Board, Chairman of the Export Development Board and a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance and other members appointed by the Minister.

Its counterpart agency, The Agency for Development, will include board members representing the Board of Investment, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Information Communication and Information Technology Authority, the Mahaweli Authority and other development related boards and authorities.

The Act also envisages the creation of several other boards, namely the Board for Rural Area Modernisation, The Southern Development Board, the Wayamba Development Board, Central Development Board, Eastern Development Board and an Energy Policy and Development Board.

While the Act is still not in its final form, some government Ministers have expressed concern that powers, authorities and areas of function vested with their ministries is overlapping with those included in the Development (Special Provisions) Act.

Areas of contention include some of the objectives of the Agency for Development i.e. enabling Sri Lankan goods to enter the global value chain and compete in the global economy, ensuring consumer welfare, building management and technical expertise, providing access to finance, which these Ministers argue are areas that come under their ministry’s scope.