‘Start making use of benefits given to industries’- Minister Rishad Bathiudeen

The Island

19/07/2013

‘Start making use of benefits given to industries’- Minister Rishad Bathiudeen

Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry & Commerce-centre) and Dr PB Jayasundara, (Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning-right) at the Forum on 'Government Strategy for Industrial Development of Sri Lanka' on 16 July held at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3.

Industrialists should make the maximum use of the many facilities and benefits given to them by the government. "To develop our industry sector, the government has given many facilities to our industries and industrialists should start making maximum use of them. As the facilitators of industry development of Sri Lanka, we thank Dr PB Jayasundara, the Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning for directly meeting our industrialists on 16 July and successfully explaining and updating them on the government policies on industries" said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce on 16 July in Colombo, as quoted in a press communiqués issued by the ministry.

Minister Bathiudeen was acknowledging the speech and the assistance of Finance and Planning Secretary Dr Jayasundara at the Forum on ‘Government Strategy for Industrial Development of Sri Lanka’ held on 16 July at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3. The Forum was attended by more than 95 leading exporters, Chamber representatives and industrialists of Sri Lanka. In addition to clearly portraying Secretary Jayasundara’s views to the crucial industry and export community, the two hour long, in-depth forum, also successfully resolved several sector specific issues raised by various industry sectoral reps present at the session.

"There are many tax concessions given to the industries. Also recent budgetary measures by HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa has resulted in many new industrial initiatives that our industrialists should explore. Dr Jayasundara illustrated these to the Industrialists well" Minister Bathiudeen added. "The biggest obstacle we had for our development, the war, is over. In post conflict era, the biggest beneficiary is the private sector. There no more security worries, long transport delays in checkpoints and the additional security related insurance costs that you were once burdened with" said Dr PB Jayasundara, at the 16 July Forum.

Speaking on Taxes, Secretary Jayasundara said: "Under the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, you all have got a bonus. He took a policy decision to rationalise tax. On the other hand, I ask exporters-if you can’t pay 12% export tax, then why export? Our taxes for SMEs are 12%, so is for the tourism sector, at 12%. You need to get your (export) products in good shape and make Sri Lanka the wonder of Asia."

Speaking on recent economic growth, Secretary Jayasundara said: "The government is criticised by some people on recent policy decisions but we took painful decisions and managed to keep the balance in the economic system. Also, our economy is strong. The Bank of Ceylon raised $ 500 Mn at short notice. And the Central Bank has done a first class job with the Rupee. For the fourth consecutive year, we have a declining budget deficit, last being 5.8%. The long term signal of this trend is that more ‘good money’ will come to you. And I am very optimistic about how Sri Lanka’s environment will turn out. But I am not sympathetic on change in rates of taxable computed profits. Taxes should be paid. Please help us to protect this tax regime since the government needs money to provide facilities. Countries will prosper, if tax rates prosper, and country will slide, if taxes fall."

Stressing that the export competitiveness, Secretary Jayasundara said: "We have to look for export markets elsewhere. The strategy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to ask for markets. ‘Don’t worry about competing there once you get there. First, ask for unrestricted market access from trade partners’ he said. We simply met Chinese and showed our product list, that’s all. China has responded to us very positively. Under Mahinda Chinthana we need to give a Sri Lanka brand identity in the sense that a few products are coming ONLY from Sri Lanka. This is the kind of vision that we all should share. You can continue to talk theories on exports as well as on export competitiveness. But as practitioners, you should understand that exports need not always be aimed at only lucrative markets. For example, there is a food import need in several African countries through the UN or WHO due to famine etc. Also, I believe that we need to deepen our economic ties with both India and Pakistan. These two markets provide unlimited potential if you are ready."

Anura Siriwardena, Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said: "We need to appreciate the support from the Treasury for their on-going initiatives to uplift our industries. Without the assistance of the Treasury, our industrial development could lag behind."