217 BOI enterprises in operation despite COVID-19 crisis
Posted on April 24th, 2020

Dr Sarath Obeysekera CEO Walkers Colombo Shipyard    

  Apr 23 (FT) Over 200 enterprises in the Free Trade Zones, employing over 30,000 workers, are currently in operation and contributing to economic development, despite partial shutdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, Govt revealed. Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said 217 BOI enterprises are functioning after the Govt allowed resumption of economic activities in the FTZs, subject to companies following strict health and safety guideline  

  I manage a shipbuilding and ship-repair facility in Colombo which is one of the pioneering industry under national export strategy  I have lost millions of dollar income due to Corona Spread  Few million dollars worth jobs cannot be secured and also existing jobs cannot be completed due to restrictions imposed by the state  While maintaining  discipline in the country state  can help us in following manner Area police chief’s Whatsapp, number and email to be made available to all heads of industries who should have opportunity to contact them regarding issuance of passes for workers ,vehicle and parts materials which are necessary to complete the work
For an example, I wanted to get some  of the key engineers and skilled workers from areas with and without a curfew , but when they go to the police to get the passes they have to go physically to the stations endangering their health They often have to wait until OIC to return To office  from the field where they are busy  in  arresting curfew violators and illicit brewers and booking them They wait hours in the police station and  by that time ship is gone ( we say a train has left )  

Shops selling parts for Repair  based in Colombo are closed and they fear to supply materials due to possible  prosecution    One OIC of police in Galle area has said he cannot endanger Colombians going in and out because of fear of spreading    I should have been able to send an email or WhatsApp message with some electronic signature which is approved by Task Force  so that I can confirm the need   I fully agree with the need to control but police need to be told that we need to earn money for future    What Export Development Board can-do is to get CEO’s details forwarded to Task Force Corona  for prevention who can send them to area police officers or army officers whom we should be able to send a request to issue permits to travel   CEO should have right to contact with OIC in the case of doubts and get an officer to issue permit at his own justifiable discretion  
  I sent a WhatsApp message to area OIC reg my own permit and for the last three weeks, he has not even opened the message    World is developing depending on Digital Communication Tools where, we CEOs use Zoom Skype. Google hangout, Face time Emails, etc and we should be able to use them with law enforcement agencies to support the industries   

Dr Sarath Obeysekera
CEO Walkers Colombo Shipyard
Sri Lanka

One Response to “217 BOI enterprises in operation despite COVID-19 crisis”

  1. aloy Says:

    What I noticed in my attempts to get permits couple of times in two different places is that it is mostly WPCs who are handling this matter and they are very courteous. But, they cannot sit in one place more than couple of minutes and leave the desk perhaps for some trivial matter. This means police cannot focus on one thing until it is dealt with. Or is it lack of discipline in general?.

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