ICCSL says progressive budget but execution is key

Friday, 8 March 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) congratulates the Government for maintaining policy consistency and continuing on its economic reforms agenda.

ICCSL Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody 

ICCSL Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody noted that the 2019 Budget reflects the Government’s policy of pursuing an outward-oriented economy by reducing barriers to trade both domestically and internationally, through gradual phase out of para-tariffs, whilst improving market access for exports. These would go a long way towards improving our export competitiveness and bring depth and breadth to Sri Lanka’s trade with the rest of the world. 

Weerakkoday also noted that the 2019 Budget proposes to improve the female labour force participation currently at 35% through several new approaches. Giving multiple options for child care facilities is good move. Not all female workers are able to take their children to work, to be put in child care facilities offered by the employers. It is also encouraging to see that the Government is subsidising the wages of mothers on maternity leave. The proposed amendments to legislation to allow part-time work, flexible work, and work from home are also welcome, but needs to be fast tracked. The proposed investments in improving school infrastructure as well as teacher training are very welcome initiatives.

ICC Sri Lanka is also happy to note the incentives given to the gem and jewellery industry. The reduction of customs duty on the importation of machinery used in lapidaries, and on imported un-cut gems will be an incentive to the local jewellers, the statement went on to add.

Weerakkody however noted with concern the GDP growth estimates for the period from 2019-2024. With growth expected to gradually rise from 3+% in 2018 to 4.8% by 2024 in this key indicator of economic wellbeing and stability is certainly a cause for concern. There is little doubt that the country must persist with a multi-pronged reform efforts including revenue-based fiscal consolidation, improving the business climate, strengthen the capital market and regional economic integration.