SLAEA urges cashless scheme as substitute for SVAT
The proposed abolition of SVAT poses a significant challenge and the government should introduce an appropriate cash-less scheme as a substitute for SVAT as a cash-based system will lead to corruption and malpractices. The garment industry will collaborate with the government for any trial of a new cash-less system, Indika Liyanahewage re-elected Chairman of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association (SLAEA) told the 41st AGM held in Colombo.
He said that at present the Sri Lanka apparel sector is going through a hard time. Mainly, 40% of garments are exported to the US market whilst 30% to Europe and those markets have slowed down. Therefore, he stressed the need to expand the apparel market to other parts of the world, mainly to Japan, East Asia and India. Reflecting on his tenure as the Chairman over the past year, Liyanahewage opined that last year was very challenging due to the slowdown of the markets. He said Japan imports USD 26 billion worth of apparel annually but only USD 35 million is imported from Sri Lanka and that there is an opportunity to expand the Sri Lankan market to Japan. In this endeavor he sought the support of Katsuki Kotaro, Minister/Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Japan who was the chief guest at the event to get a free trade agreement with Japan.
Least developed countries benefit from tax schemes, but Sri Lanka does not qualify for this and sought the support of friendly nations to cooperate on free trade agreements with Sri Lanka. The Chairman emphasized that the Sri Lankan apparel industry is very compliant and abides by rules and regulations. He highlighted that the Sri Lankan apparel industry is known as ‘garment without guilt’ and extended his credit to the members of the garment industry.
The SLAEA chief further noted that inspection bodies could visit any factory at any time as the garment sector is fully compliant with international standards.
Liyanahewage observed that Sri Lanka is now recovering and showing strength in economic recovery.
With regard to the export to India, he indicated that while the quota to India from Sri Lanka is set at 8 million pieces of garments per year, the imported raw material from India amounts to a value of 1 billion. He requested the support from India to get free trade agreements as the Indian market is very vast and that Sri Lankan designs, and innovation have attracted Indian customers.
He stated that this AGM serves as an opportune moment to explore potential partnerships with both India and Japan. In relation to issues faced by the Sri Lankan garment industry in Sri Lanka, he sought support from the Sri Lankan government officials to enhance efficiency to expedite processes required by the apparel sector. In terms of electricity, the cost in Sri Lanka is very high compared to competing nations and tariff duties play a significant role in terms of exporting garments. However, he thanked the CEB for allowing a one-time roof top solar agreement change.
He further highlighted that the garment industry faces uncertainty in the ensuing year, but Sri Lankans have the ability to work in uncertainty and are determined to ensure recovery. Liyanahewage added that out of the GDP in Sri Lanka, about 7% is attributed to the garment industry and stressed that the Apparel industry should be assisted in all forms by the government officials whilst exploring new markets, research, innovation, and development would be taken care of by the members of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association.
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