BOI ensures export manufacturing sector keeps ticking despite COVID-19 crisis

Thursday, 26 March 2020 01:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Several manufacturing firms providing gear and components for essential services function in EPZs
  • Discussions ongoing with stakeholders to explore solutions as safety of employees paramount
  • Commends relief measures introduced or being discussed for export-oriented manufacturers
  • Insists factories heed healthcare guidelines, notes process will otherwise be futile

The Board of Investment (BOI) yesterday said it was ensuring uninterrupted services utilising skeleton staff for export-oriented manufacturing companies, noting that some enterprises that cater to essential services were functioning with reduced staff.

BOI Director General Sanjaya Mohottala

“We are providing services required for zones to function with reduced staff right now, as manufacturing companies that are catering to essential services such as healthcare gear as well as a few apparel factories, for example those that are providing masks, are running with limited staff. The safety of these employees is paramount and companies have taken necessary steps to ensure safety of employees with the involvement of PHIs,” BOI Director General Sanjaya Mohottala told Daily FT.

“All essential or critical export-oriented manufacturing enterprises which have inquired if they could operate have been advised that operation of their enterprises can be carried out if they can obtain the required curfew passes from the regional Police station, and management in collaboration with PHIs can ensure a safety operating environment within the safety procedures outlined by the PHIs,” he pointed out. “We are in discussion with all stakeholders as this is a global issue, where safety of people is paramount,” he added.

 As the Government has identified Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara as high risk areas for COVID-19, Mohottala said it would be more strenuous for companies to restart operations within these regions.  

“We are having discussions with staff and various groups daily to come up with a viable solution that will not further disrupt the economy and its functions. A lot of measures have already been introduced,” he said. It was also pointed out that despite the islandwide curfew and given the constraints, BOI had continued to provide all essential services even with a skeleton staff. 

BOI has been facilitating exports and imports of BOI companies, through its CUSDECs in Orugodawatta and Air Cargo Village.

He commended the relief measures already introduced or being discussed by the Government, stating that they would come in handy for many export-oriented manufactures.

“As a small country we must appreciate the proactive measures that the Government undertook within days on the fiscal, healthcare and relief fronts and also to bring in discipline in society at large. If the discipline in the system derails, then the entire process will be futile. It is everyone’s responsibility now to work with healthcare officials and the Government to stop the COVID-19 spread in the country,” Mohottala said.

Acknowledging that there was a negative impact on Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), he however said that it was too early to say what the revised targets for the year would be as some of the major investors were now rethinking their manufacturing facilities after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is too early to predict. We need to see if it is going to be a ‘V’ or ‘U’ shaped recovery. Some of the major manufacturing companies are diversifying their supply chains, so the mix of sectors will change, where some sectors will thrive while others may stagnate. The entire world is in this together and everyone’s priority right now is the safety of its citizens,” he explained.


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