FCCISL tells President to take drastic action to contain COVID-19 outbreak

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 01:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCILS) has urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take drastic actions to contain the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The following is the letter written by FCCISL President Shirley Jayawardena to President Rajapaksa.

(a) The FCCISL being the apex body of the Sri Lankan chamber movement which represents 63 national, sectoral chambers, business associations and institutes wish to express its sincere appreciations to you and your Government for all the measures taken so far to protect the economy and people of Sri Lanka, including foreigners who are in the country. 


(b) We wish to encourage the Government to take all the drastic and legitimate actions needed at this point in time to contain the spread of the virus and would like to request you to kindly consider declaring essential leave for seven consecutive days initially for all those in the government and private sectors, excepting those who are engaged in essential services such as health services, defence, energy, seaports and export- and import-related services, water, food, etc. Then monitor the situation and if circumstances warrant, extend it further by another seven days. 

(c) We also wish to request the Government to impose a temporary travel ban on Sri Lankans leaving the country. We are also fully aware of the need to impose a proper quarantine for all Sri Lankans and other nationalities arriving right now to identify if there are any infected persons and take them separately for treatments respectfully. 

(d) We envisage that our country is likely to experience considerable financial and economic losses due to the present virtual shutdown of some sectors of the economy. However, we are of the view that as a country it is better to take this calculated loss and risk rather than facing a near calamity, which is now being faced by some European countries. 

(e) It is our request to the Government to seriously consider a mass-scale program for disinfection of public utilities such as buses, trains, stations, restaurants, cinemas, etc. in all major cities. 

(f) We also wish to request the Government to look into the possibility of getting the expertise of the Ayurvedic medical sector in addition to Western medical services to improve the immunity of those who are already affected. 

(g) During this time when the entire world is affected by this disease, it would be helpful if we set up an information centre at our foreign ministry supported by a proper mechanism through our foreign missions to know about the fate of our Sri Lankan workforce living abroad for the benefit of their relatives in Sri Lanka. 

(h) We also wish to commend you and wish to place our appreciation on record for joining the SAARC state leaders’ video conference for a possible joint action plan to combat the spread of the virus within SAARC countries and call for closer economic cooperation within South Asian countries. The FCCISL being the chair and lead chamber and country focal point of SAARC’s chamber of commerce and industry in Islamabad, Pakistan will certainly rally the support of the private sector of all SAARC countries to any future collective action plan of SAARC heads of state. 

(i) The FCCISL being the chair at the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement Chamber of Commerce and Industry (APTA CCI) in Beijing - China, we are also in touch with its brother trade chambers in China to know more about their expert opinions, and experience in sharing information on enterprises and state agencies on health sectors and demand for protective materials, etc. We will be vigilant and promptly share all information made available to us with the health sector both within the state and private sectors in Sri Lanka, which hopefully will enable us to control the spread of the disease and eradicate it completely. 

Furthermore, we would like to extend our fullest support to all legitimate efforts taken by the Government at this critical point in time to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in our country.