An independent trade adjustment commission also to be set up to address FTA concerns
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing a group of leading industrialists said last week that the government is planning to launch a new Development Finance Corporation through which funds would be made available for manufacturers and service providers to expand their operations, increase their productivity and achieve a larger global market share for Sri Lankan products and services.
“After we privatised development finance arms such as the NDB, it created a vacuum in this space, and now we are going to establish a new development bank in collaboration with the two state banks, with the two former development finance banks [NDB, DFCC] and with other commercial banks. Even before we form the company, we will be able to make Rs. 10 billion available through the stakeholders to ensure sufficient funds are available for industrialists to utilise this capital and upscale their products and services to meet highest international standards. There is lot of scope for us in the EU market. With GSP+, we have preferential access for 6, 000 product varieties. Currently we are doing only a few. If we can expand our export portfolio by another 6-7 product varieties short-to- medium term, that will help other companies also to grow exponentially”, he said.
Wickremasinghe made this remark speaking as chief guest at the Achiever Awards 2018 for Industrial Excellence, held by the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) at Galadari Hotel Colombo.
The prime minister expressed confidence that the funds would significantly increase as the corporation gets going, but didn’t divulge any information on its ownership structure.
He went on to tell the industrialists that new laws are being drafted to give investment guarantees to both local and foreign investors to safeguard them against any possible nationalization efforts in the future. “We know about your fears and worries. And this is true for both local and foreign investors. I can see some local investors even in this room who have undergone such excruciating experiences, he said.
“For those who are still worried about any adverse effects from FTAs, such as the FTA with Singapore, we are going to form an independent Trade Adjustment Commission where even your tariff concerns would be taken up and given redress for specific periods as the Commission recommends. In fact, what we will design is a trade adjustment package. It will also bring government agencies under the law to facilitate entrepreneurship. We all know how difficult it is to get a government agency to help set up a business. Getting land, water, power are the key issues that take too long. We are drafting laws to get it all going relatively smoothly. The Single Window Investment Facility is now in effect. But this is still an administrative instrument. We will be making the Single Window Investment Facility an instrument of law”, the prime minister said.