‘Labour market reforms for economic growth’ | Sunday Observer

‘Labour market reforms for economic growth’

Calling for liberalisation of labour laws in Sri Lanka, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris said that the voice of business matters most for the economy and the UK will have a trade deal soon. He was speaking at the 24th National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) AGM, in Colombo last week.

“There will be a preferential trade system to minimise disruption. We look forward to a post Brexit future. We are engaged in addressing global challenges. A number of significant changes are taking place. As power always follows money there will be growing threats to democracy and values,” he said.

“We will want to build strong alliances and franchises in the countries and hope to present the third biggest development budget which will be underpinned by the values of democracy. We need to have shared values and be confident that we could defend them. The competition will stimulate innovation and encourage emerging entrepreneurs,” he said.

Highlighting the increasing significance of females representing company Boards, he said that diversity within Boards of Directors is extremely important for better sustainability.

The relationship between the UK and Sri Lanka runs over 200 years and we consider the UK to be a valuable and important trading partner. The Chamber is planning to discuss issues affecting trade and we envisage better times, President NCE Ramya Weerakoon said.

Sri Lanka was placed in 85th position in the Global Competitive Index, out of 140 countries, in 2018. We need to have strategies to develop exports, job market and skills pools while targeting annual export income of US $ 30 billion. The exporters try to adopt methods to achieve export targets without overly depending on the government’s support where sector specific proposals to develop the entire export segment is vital, she said.

“Labour is no longer cheap in the developing countries. The exporters are looking for newness and competitive advantage through value addition.The success in innovation, research and development, ethical practices and good governance are key for international buyers. We need to invest in human motivation which will play a vital role in economic development.The SME sector needs to move on their capacity, technological advancement and value addition.They need to be competitive to sustain their business operations. The need for environmentally friendly and green policies have become the norm where efficient participation in the export value chain is necessary”, she said.

“I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time, to preside over this period of change in both the macro and micro economic environment that effected the export community” Immediate Past President NCE Ramal Jasinghe said. The prospective dangers and genuine concerns surrounding the proposed FTA’s, the challenges of regaining and yet again the looming possibility of losing the GSP + concession, the rapidly depreciating Rupee against the US Dollar, and finally the political uncertainty which we all faced, would have had a pronounced effect on exporters, he said.

“I believe that it is these events both seen and unforeseen, that challenge our abilities in facing, overcoming, averting and most importantly managing such situations that brings out the best in all of us.

Through the crises that we faced, in the last year, focus was renewed on the fact that the value addition of most of our export items are below 43%, and hence the urgent need to emphasize Research and Development efforts to exploit a falling Rupee value through the import substitution of components of our exported items.

It is in this backdrop that the Chamber recently signed a MOU with the Sri Lanka institute of Nano Technology (SLINTEC) to avail its members of their state- of- the- art facilities available for R&D, for new and augmented product development, and product diversity, he said.

With the implementation of the National Export Strategy (NES) much work is left to be done in terms of winning the “Buy In” and confidence of the export community, through its practical implementation and benefits accruing to the exporter, which would be vital in terms of the manifestation of the promises that the NES holds for present and future exporters of the country. The Chamber is now engaged as a participant to the implementation process of the NES, with seats on the Advisory and Working Committees, Jasinghe said. 

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