Posted on August 9th, 2018

Dr Sarath Obeysekera 

Government of Sri Lanka ( GoSL ) aims for a predictable trade promoting trade –led growth driven by export-oriented foreign direct investment .New National Trade Policy recommends the design of an  export strategy consisting of policy Tools ,specific tools .specific projects ,sector-specific time –bound targets ,expected results and a monitoring mechanism.

Under the NES, boat building, wellness tourism export of spices, export of electronic equipment, IT related product development and export etc were taken up at a Forum chaired by the Ministry of Foreign affairs with a view of providing assistance from the missions of GoSL aboard.

Additional Secretary /Economic Affairs and Trade   chaired the session which was attended by many state institutions and private sector representatives to find an effective way of using the Trade Ministers within the Diplomatic Missions to effectively spearhead the NEC abroad.

Export Development Board, Department of Commerce, BOI, and Tourist Board, were among the state sector participants.

As representatives of Boat Building and Nautical tourism sector I participated in the forum .After a lengthy discussion about the six sectors   within NES focus was aimed at exporting spices etc. . . .

We were little startled to see the Representatives from Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) who were also present at the forum .They wanted the trade missions to increase MAN POWER export to earn foreign currency.

At the end I raised a question to the Chairman of the forum and   protested against inviting the FEB for the forum where NES does not include EXPORTING SKILLED PEOPLE from our country II reiterated that INDUSTRIES like ours are suffering to find people in Sri Lanka to work. (I jokingly said that we should export non-productive Tuk Tuk drivers to other countries rather than exporting skilled people!)

When I met the FEB representative outside the forum , he was taking about curtailing foreign workers coming to Sri Lanka under tourist visa and working in Sri Lanka .He was of the opinion that GoSL should put a stop to this !He also suggested that we should retain the locals  by paying more and increase production capacity in our companies

What is the option we Industrialists have?

If the skilled workers are exported, and the lethargic law makers do not encourage new entrepreneurs to start new business and existing ones to expand by relaxing bureaucratic laws and tax laws, how can we start new businesses to retain the Skilled Workforce drain?

We are on the wrong track

Dr Sarath Obeyskera

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