- Urges authorities to intervene and solve labour crisis
The Free Trade Zone Manufacturers’ Association (FTZMA), the apex body of export manufacturers operating in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone, which largely consists of foreign investors, has hailed the National Export Strategy (NES) initiative to boost exports that was launched on 19 July.
This strategy, which was developed by about 750 private and public stakeholders through extensive consultations initiated by the Prime Minister last year, is expected to boost export earnings up to $ 8 billion by 2022.
In the same vein, FTZMA President Fazal Abdeen urged the Government to pay attention to the labour crisis which is currently faced by member companies of the FTZMA, which he said was affecting the output levels and export earnings of the country as a result.
“We think the National Export Strategy is a timely intervention and we salute the Government for this step in the right direction. However, one of the biggest issues faced by most exporters, especially in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone, is the severe shortage of labour. We urge the subject Minister, Malik Samarawickrama, to promptly intervene and help solve the issue,” he said.
Further, member investors expect consistency in State policies on foreign investment facilitation, tax regulations and tangible incentives as well as trade deals with the developed world which are mutually-beneficial in sustaining and expanding investments.
“There are about 5,000 vacancies currently and we think in order to meet this high demand, we might have to look outside of Sri Lanka for labour,” Abdeen added.
The FTZMA President is hopeful that the relevant authorities will take necessary steps in the near future to find a sustainable solution so that exporters could make the most of the current opportunities and momentum afforded through FTAs.
The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Export Development Board and Department of Commerce were engaged in consultations with the private and public stakeholders in the preparation of the National Export Strategy.
Founded in 1981, FTZMA comprises both foreign and local companies that have established export-oriented business in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone which is the first and largest EPZ in Sri Lanka. Over the years and so far the highest contributing unit in NFE of the country, the association has been instrumental in resolving various problems and issues with relevant authorities in a professional and expeditious manner on behalf of its member companies.