Jaffna has the potential to become a bustling business centre in the country and this could be tapped. As industrialists we need to cater to this unmet demand, said Chairman, Shipping, Ports and Aviation Committee of the National Chamber of Commerce Sujeiva Samaraweera.
It is important to introduce the one stop shop concept in facilitating business opportunities. We want to be the catalyst and the coordinator between the relevant parties.
There is vast potential in the areas of logistics, banking, industries, education, transport, warehousing, tourism and especially clod storing post harvest technology, he said.
The National Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (NCCSL) will assist the Jaffna Women s Chamber of Commerce under the Business Processing Fund, a grant by the Netherlands Government. The fund will provide machinery and equipment to start business and nearly 50 recipients have benefited from this scheme, he said.
The fund will be used to upgrade production, create employment and contribute to the national economy. A delegation led by Deputy President of the NCCSL Asoka Hettigoda with 50 industrialists representing 25 companies visited Jaffna recently to hold a one on one meeting with the potential business community.
The visit had resulted in progress towards developing business ventures. Steps should be taken to attract industrialists to the food industry, banking, industries and wholesale sectors, he said.
We could expect major development to take place once the A 9 road is fully opened. It is important to identify the potential business areas as a great deal of businesses were closed due to the war.
We need to provide them grants to restart and regain the business ventures. This is where the Netherlands grant will help , he said.
The NCC also facilitates trade offers through its websites. The producers have the facility to advertise their products in the website and create trade links. We act as a match-maker, he said.
The economic development should not only be confined to Colombo where at present it contributes nearly 50 percent to the economy.
We need to spread to other parts too. We are very focused on providing assistance to other areas as well, he said.
The Ministry of Industries is planning to set up an industrial zone in Jaffna. This will boost the industrial sector. Five-hundred- and-sixty thousand hectares of land is available for cultivation. There is potential for the wine industry and we have the best vineyards in Jaffna. All signs are that Jaffna will be developed in the agricultural and industrial sectors, he said.
People in Jaffna are educated and hard working. Parents seek higher education opportunities for their children. We need to fill this vacuum. It is necessary to harness their talents and skills to develop our country, he said.
The Army is doing a good job in providing security in Jaffna. The Army is human friendly and movies closely with the community. This would create a conducive environment for development, he said.
We also face constraints. There are practical difficulties such as the need for better access to the road network. We need to improve air and train transportation.
Facilities should be provided for tourists to visit Jaffna. We need to address the issue of lack of accommodation. There are many opportunities for educational institutions for training and education, he said.
It is essential to have proper logistics from Colombo to Jaffna. The development of the Kankesanturai Port will be a boost to the shipping industry. There needs to be Government offices such as Customs.
A ferry service will be ideal to cater to the transportation needs. The fishing industry could be developed and we could set up an industry to export sardines to the global markets.
The Government is doing a tremendous job. The fast track phase to develop Jaffna would enable its fast growth, he said.