Comments /874 Views / Monday, 21 November 2011 00:12
Following the successful signing last month of two MOU’s between the EFC and the regional chambers of Hambantota and Jaffna, a panel of senior members from the EFC travelled to Hambantota last week as guests of the District’s Chamber of Commerce to meet with the local business community.
Speaking about the day long event, Director of the District Chamber of Commerce of Hambantota Suresh D. de Mel said: “This is the first time that a programme like this has been introduced to the regions with senior members of an organisation like the EFC reaching out to the regional business community. It has made a huge impact.”
When asked what the initial purpose of the workshop was, de Mel stressed the importance of making regional businesses aware that there was support for them.
“A one-stop-shop like the EFC which can advise on labour law and employment issues is critical. Most businesses in this region are structured very informally. Many don’t pay EPF/ETF taxes. By affiliating themselves with the EFC they can clean up their act and learn how to employ people in the proper manner. With the right structures in place expansion and growth need not be such a painful option,” he added.
The initial workshop held in Hambantota by the EFC and the Chamber was very much an awareness exercise where the EFC were given the opportunity to introduce itself and its services to regional businesses to show how they could be of use. The intention is to have similar workshops in other regions across the country.
The senior panel from the EFC was made up of the Federation’s Director General Ravi Peiris, Deputy Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe, and the EFC’s Vice Chairman Sunil Wijesinha who is an award winning specialist in the area of business productivity and whose promotion of productivity in Sri Lanka and the Asia Pacific region has been recognised by the Asian Productivity Association.
Wijesinha’s presentation was particularly well received by the workshop participants who continued to take advantage of his specialist knowledge in productivity well into the lunch hour.
His reflections about the day were very positive, “Participants who were very successful entrepreneurs had many issues pertaining to labour laws and good employment practices, and were able to receive good advice.”
Wijesinha was also heartened by the spirit of collaboration and support he noticed between regional members, “The interaction amongst participants themselves was also very valuable,” he said, “Some participants explained how they have handled issues raised by others in the group.” What was especially noticeable from the day was how quickly Hambantota’s businesses engaged with the panel in the Q&A session on issues like labour productivity, disciplining staff and staff attendance and attrition. The programme concluded well after its scheduled time.
“It was great to be associated with the business community in Hambantota through the Hambantota Chamber,” EFC’s Director General Peiris said. “We had a very productive session of interaction. We noticed that some of the small and medium enterprises were extremely keen to follow good business practices and needed our assistance. We are encouraged and will certainly do more for them in the future.”
As a result of this active participation the next workshops will be designed with a more interactive, forum based approach where attendees will be invited to send in questions beforehand so that they can be discussed and debated at length.
de Mel said the onus will be on the regional chambers to ask their members what topics they would like to discuss with the EFC.
Buoyed by the success for the workshop, the EFC’s Deputy Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe said, “The positive feedback that we have received is a good omen for the SME’s integration into mainstream economic and business activities, particularly in view of the ongoing development drive in the regions. This is bound to create more opportunities for regional businesses to further contribute towards the national economy and be competitive when linking up globally.”
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