Sections of Sri Lanka’s export sector have come under threat, due to the escalating crisis situation in the country, mainly the implications stemming from the prevailing political instability in the nation. Failing to prioritise the establishment of political stability in the coming weeks could cause irreversible damage to the industry, the exporters cautioned.
The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) yesterday said the industry is “severely hampered”, due to the unfavourable conditions in the country. As the economic conditions continue to deteriorate, the export industry stakeholders, mostly SMEs, are on the verge of closing operations. The collapse of SMEs within the export sector would not only cost the economy foreign currency but would also burden the government due to higher unemployment rates, the NCE pointed out.
“Exports are vital, as it is the only sector currently bringing the much-needed foreign currency to the country, without which the country will further plummet economically. Hence, supporting to run and sustain exports is mandatory,” an NCE statement said.
While sharing concerns on what the outlook for the industry would be, the NCE stressed on the need for support to be extended to the exporters by the line agencies.
“Export value chain has to be continued, supporting all stakeholder organisations to provide uninterrupted service to exporters; continued riots will disrupt these services, paralysing exports, which will have mortal circumstances,” the NCE noted.
Following the implications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the woes of the export sector is the fast-depleting foreign currency reserves and shortage of fuel and energy.
The exporters are becoming increasingly worried about continuing to cater to the international market without falling back in the momentum.
The inability to buffer to withstand shocks and vulnerability was attributed to a lack of fiscal space, which in turn is the result of “wrong decisions” made by the political and public officials of the country, the NCE pointed out.
Furthermore, the NCE shared that the exporter fraternity is highly concerned about the statements made by several organisations with regard to the misappropriated assets of the country worth billions of dollars.
“The exporters endured numerous challenges even during the outbreak of the pandemic to earn the much-needed foreign currency income to the country and then to realise that such funds are being siphoned out illegally is causing worries,” the NCE said.
The NCE said it continues to be firm in its viewpoints on the remittance of export proceeds. As highlighted in many instances, the NCE stressed the need to streamline the processes and establish a strong monitoring mechanism to ensure the funds are remitted to the country within the stipulated time frame.
On the allegation of misappropriation of funds, the NCE called on the relevant authorities to investigate and take legal action on a high priority level.
“The authorities must coordinate with local and international agencies in seeking professional assistance to uncover funds that were illegally removed from the system and felons to be brought under the spotlight of the law,” it said.