At a special virtual press conference yesterday he said that the mounting debt repayment is a major concern. “Hence all need a comprehensive and long term debt repayment plan spelt out by the government for two-three years ahead and communicated it properly. Due to the absence of this, several suggest seeking IMF assistance to which the government opposes.”
He also said that Sri Lanka has done better than most of the countries when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination process and they are now appealing to the government to speed up the vaccination process for people in the 20 to 30 age group, especially the working population.
Secretary-General and CEO, Ceylon Chamber also commenting on the vaccination drive said that they even made representations to the government seeking permission for the private sector authorization to purchase AstraZeneca vaccine when there was an earlier delay in importing it.
He also said that there would be tremendous investment opportunities that Sri Lanka can ‘tap’ from the Hambantota Parma, Eravul Fabric zone and other similar ventures and they should be ‘portrayed’ to the world in an organized manner. Chairman Govindasamy said that they also had very positive meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and requested a seat for the Chamber in the COVID Management Task Force.
“We also told the President that more data could be supplied by our Economic Research Division when formulating national-level policies.”
The Chairman also disclosed that during the subsequent meeting with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa they suggested exploring the possibility of an FTA with the UK which is one of the biggest trading partners of Sri Lanka.
“We also suggest to the Minister to launch a fresh tourism global marketing plan when the pandemic settles.”
In addition, we request him to ease the import of essential equipment as well.
“We have observed that one of the success stories of Vietnam is the ‘Export House network’ and a similar system should be adopted in Sri Lanka as well.
Another issue that was highlighted was the disparity in interest rates of US Dollar and Sri Lankan Rupee accounts and the request that 25 to 30 Basis points should be increased for Rupee accounts.
Deputy Vice-Chairman Duminda Hulangamuwa said that it was not fair to say some taxes were slashed to benefit the ‘rich’. “Due to this saving, companies are reinvesting and thereby economic activity has increased, also helping in new employment generation. He also said a ‘tight’ budget is expected this year with several ‘cuts’ expected in capital expenditure.