By Cheranka Mendis
The much anticipated Presidential Awards will be held today at Temple Trees after a lapse of four years. The award ceremony known as the most prestigious award presented by the government for outstanding contribution by the export sector was last held in 2006. Today’s award ceremony will honour exporters for their performance in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The export sector, a key sector identified in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana - way forward’ hopes to build a revenue of USD 15 billion by 2015 and USD 20 billion by 2020. With the sector showing a fast improving growth record from the loss making in 2009 with a negative growth rate of 12.8%, the sector is expected to flourish within the next few years.
Chairman of EDB Janaka Rathnayake stated that the fast moving export sector creating encouragement within the industry will mark a better future for the sector as well as for the country. “In 2010 the export sector grew by 15% valued at USD 8.5 billion and records for the first four months of the year show that the increase has continued with a 45% growth rate with development across all sectors,” Rathnayake said. If the present trend continues Sri Lanka will be able to hit USD 10 billion with a 30% increase within the year.
“With the world recession now coming to an end and the positive environment in Sri Lanka backed by good prices in the world market for the likes of rubber and having exclusive branded garments manufactured here, the future for local exports certainly seems very good, Rathnayake noted.”
Claiming that this was the only Presidential Awards in the country, he said that the awards cover a wide field of the export economy which includes non-traditional export products, service sector, service providers and special awards for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the national export effort. He asserted that the award ceremony to be held next year will be a revamped, contemporary one with changes in award categories to suit modern times.
“The likes of IT exports, software exports will be added in, in the next Presidential Export Awards. It has been identified that the KPO, BPO and ICT as leading emerging export sectors and we are keen to include these in the long run. At present we are doing a value survey to capture the data relating to the sector, “he said, “However the award categories in these awards have been little changed since the initiation of the awards in 1981.”
By 2012, the EDB hopes to streamline the awards by completing the awards for 2010 and 2011. At the ceremony to be held today, 57 awards and 40 merit certificates are to be awarded.