Exporters hail Budget 2019 | Sunday Observer

Exporters hail Budget 2019

Exporters at a post budget forum in Colombo on Friday welcomed the 2019 Budget which promotes outward-oriented economic policies to create a vibrant export sector for the country.

Measures to further liberalise the economy and strengthen the market economy with consistency in policy were also commended by exporters who have been lobbying for stability and consistency in policy to drive exports.

National Chamber of Exporters (NCE ) Chairperson Ramya Weerakoon said the NCE welcomes the 2019 Budget as it reflects the government’s policy of pursuing an outward-oriented economy by reducing para tariffs and barriers to trade locally and internationally.

“The budget has proposed to phase out para tariffs while improving market access for exporters. We welcome the National Export Strategy (NES) and the Market Access program as they will help improve export performance and diversification of the export basket,” the Chamber chief said.

The Exporters Chamber stressed the need to integrate manufacturing with regional value chains to expand exports to niche markets. While commending proposals in the budget to promote Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and Singapore and overcome issues with the FTAs with India and Singapore, exporters urge policy makers to increase private sector participation in the negotiation of FTAs to ensure local industries are strengthened to face new challenges.

The Chamber also welcomed the support to key sectors of the economy, such as IT/BPO, fisheries, gem and jewellery and tourism.

“We welcome the trade adjustment package which will complement the anti-dumping legislation introduced in 2018. Setting up of a Trade and Productivity Commission will help exporters settle down during the phasing out of para tariffs over the next five years,” Weerakoon said.

Panellists stressed the need to expedite work on setting up a single window operation for trade which is essential to boost export competitiveness.

They reiterated the need to increase female labour force participation from the 36 percent while commending measures to promote day care facilities and flexible working hours for female workers.

“The NCE commends the proposals to increase allowances for the persons with disabilities and worker-friendly facilities in the budget,” Weerakoon said.

Export Development Board Chairperson Indira Malwatte said there is continuity in the 2019 budget which needs to be commended as this has not been the case in most of the past budgets. This will help the export sector and EDB to move forward to increase export performance.

‘The National Export Strategy and the Market Access program proposed in 2018 was continued in the 2019 Budget. We requested Rs. 800 million for the NES and received Rs. 250 million. NES cuts across all sectors while recognising the vast potential of the IT/BPO, tourist, spices, food and beverage and boat building sectors to contribute to the economy,” Malwatte said while urging exporters to make use of the export development programs to increase exports.