Chambers call on govt to reach IMF
Given the insolvency of dollars in the banking sector the leading business chambers of the country called upon the government to reach out to the IMF in order to continue economic operations. The chambers further called for market mechanisms to take on the pricing of essential utilities. The chamber was of the view that a comprehensive debt restructuring was called for.
The Chambers made these views to the media on March 7 at the Taj Samudra. The chambers represented were namely the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Apparel, Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs, International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka, National Chamber of Commerce, Exporters Association of Sri Lanka, Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka, Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries.
Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Vish Govindasamy speaking on the unanimous consensus of the group called on the government to take decisive measures. He noted that there were less than 2 months of import cover in terms of reserves and that though it was not any single government’s fault it fell upon the current government to reach out and seek emergency financing to reduce the issues currently faced by industry.
Govindasamy noted that the issue of running major state corporations like the Ceylon Electricity Board, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, and Litro Gas at a loss was not in the long-term interests of either the state or its citizens. On the allegation that the import sector with particular focus on the pharmaceutical sector causing excessive drains of foreign exchange through speculative hoarding of medical supplies, the joint meeting called on the general public to look closer at the figures. Govindasamy said “Look at the volume of imports as opposed to the dollar value. Shipping costs and other things have escalated sharply in the recent period.” Members of the joint forum further alleged that control of importation had effectively been placed under the purview of the Central Bank due to their control on the release of dollar assets and that blame for any wastage lie with that institution.
National Chamber President Nandika Buddhipala noted that there could be a phased transition into a market-oriented pricing mechanism for major utilities. He further noted that subsidies should be better targeted and not be accessible across the board as is the case with the current system.