By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The National Chamber of Commerce (NCCSL) acclaimed the road map for 2013 which was unveiled by the Central Bank recently.
With the mandate of safeguarding the interest of local entrepreneurs and businessmen, the NCCSL noted that the presented road map is commendable and ensures consistency with the national Budget 2013 presented by the Ministry of Finance.
NCCSL President Asoka Hettigoda, sharing his observations, told the Daily FT that the road map has identified growth areas that need to be stimulated and focuses heavily on SME development.
“The Central Bank Road Map for 2013 is a well balanced document. A strong integration between the road map and the Budget 2013 can be seen. On behalf of the chamber, I am happy to say that we are moving in the set direction, and the country will continue to grow and the economy will continue to strengthen,” he said.
Acknowledging the fact that Sri Lanka maintained a steady economic growth during 2010 and 2011, 2012 on the other hand saw a slight deceleration in the economic growth rate and this was attributed to the heightened global and domestic challenges.
The NCCSL expressed that the corrected policies adapted by relevant authorities have managed to keep inflation to a single digit, despite the supply side pressures being severe. The chamber welcomes the emphasis the Central Bank is placing on developing alternative non-inflationary sources of financing in years to come. “Unemployment reaching a historically low rate confirms the consistency in policies,” NCCSL Secretary Sujeiva Samaraweera added.
Bringing transformation to the country, direct results of public investment and massive infrastructure projects have transformed Sri Lanka through road development projects, airport development projects and ongoing rural infrastructure development projects. In reaching the economic goals of the country, the NCCSL pointed out that the efforts are in no doubt taking the benefits of the development to the rural areas.
Tourism is emerging as a key thrust industry and the five-hub concept introduced has been gaining ground. The maritime hub, aviation hub, tourism hub, commercial hub and knowledge hub identified by the Government is gaining momentum and NCCSL firmly believes that the five-hub concept should be changed to a six-hub concept, by introducing a ‘medical hub’, stating that Sri Lanka should be developed as a medical tourism destination along with the emerging tourism industry in the country.
The chamber launched mega exhibition events such as Ayuruweda 2011 and Arogya 2012 in view of promoting this concept in Sri Lanka.
The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka has been supportive in promoting the SME sector in the country from its inception, taking into consideration the very high contribution made by the sector towards economic development, employment generation and regional development.
“The Central Bank Road Map has clearly defined its policy measures in developing the SME sector. The development strategy will focus on business start-up advice, convenient funding, appropriate safety nets, management innovation, links with large businesses, meeting regional priorities, export market access and business revitalisation. The National Chamber of Commerce will continue to support the SME development activities on these lines,” said Samaraweera.
He added that overall, the NCCSL is appreciative of the consistency of the policy measures made by the Government and believes that it will certainly help in reaching the goal of US$ 4,000 per capita income and a US$ 100 billion economy.