National Chamber of Exporters initiates action to prevent future ethnic clashes

Saturday, 25 May 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Members of the Council of the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) has discussed extensively the communal clashes that occurred in certain parts of the Country, following the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday. The Chamber, while condemning the terrorist attacks and communal clashes that occurred thereafter, expresses deep sympathy with all those who lost their loved ones, suffered injuries, as well as damage to private property. 

In a press release in late April, the Chamber requested the Government urgently engage the private sector in implementing an aggressive program to speedily rebuild the marred image of the country as well as business confidence.  Following this request, the Secretary General representing the Chamber participated at a meeting convened by the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, with private sector stakeholders to discuss measures to be adopted related to this tragedy.  At this meeting the Chamber, which looks after the interests of Sri Lankan exporters, reiterated the importance of building overseas buyer confidence and also highlighted the necessity of engaging Sri Lankan missions overseas in an aggressive program to maintain buyer confidence as urged in the previous press release. At a Council meeting held in May, the Chamber has also addressed concerns that have arisen following the communal-based incidents that occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist tragedy, which have heightened the security concerns of business establishments as well as the general public. 

The Chamber has particularly paid attention to the role played by social media. In this regard, the attention of the Chamber has been called by member companies to certain extreme and racial statements made on social media by unscrupulous persons, including some who are employed in reputed companies. The posts initiated by such elements are of an inflammatory nature and aimed at disturbing the peace of communities, leading to clashes. This is highlighted by recent reports in the media with the revelation by the security forces that two technical officers associated with a leading IT firm are alleged to have assisted the terrorists.   

In light of this, the Chamber has taken the initiative to communicate with all its member companies requesting they look after and closely monitor the activities of their employees, particularly their posts on social media. The Chamber has urged its members to take this extra step to ensure security, since there have been instances reported in the media where the names of certain companies have been associated with terrorist activities, and also in view of the fact that export-oriented companies have incurred substantial expenditure in building their company and brand images. Further, the Chamber has requested they co-operate closely with the security agencies of the country by promptly reporting any activities which are suspected to have an inimical effect on security and the safety of all communities, as well as business establishments, in order to nip any adverse developments in the bud.   

The Chamber will make a similar request to the responsible school authorities and universities, requesting they keep a very close watch on all persons under their purview. The Chamber is particularly concerned regarding the role that should be played by the responsible educational authorities and the heads of schools in inculcating proper values and discipline in students to prevent them being manipulated by extremist ideologies. This is particularly in view of the fact that students are a valuable asset for the future economic development of the country, who need to be employed in productive enterprises in a secure environment to make best use of their abilities.