Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Mini-ster Prasanna Ranatunga has advised exporters not to cut jobs despite the challenging times posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He made these remarks at a special meeting this week with key officials of the Export Development Board (EDB) and Board of Investment (BOI) to discuss on the way-forward strategies of exports and investment promotion.
“The Government has taken a firm stand that not a single manufacturing facility should be closed down or lay-off its workers due to coronavirus,” he told the Daily FT.The Minister said that the BOI and EDB were given extended time till next week to submit relevant proposals and revival strategies after obtaining stakeholder inputs.Ranatunga last week told all institutions under the purview of his Ministry to submit revival proposals this week.
“I have told BOI and EDB to take immediate steps to solve the problems faced by the industrialists due to coronavirus and to ensure safety of the workers in the factories,” he added.
During the meeting, BOI Director General Sanjaya Mohottala has pointed out that 79% of the factories in the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) have already started production.
Of the total 286 factories, 249 have resumed operations in the 11 FTZs, while 50,749 workers have reported to work, which is the recommended 20% employees as per health authorities. Close to 140,000 workers are employed in the FTZs countrywide.
Mohottala has expressed that the number of factories will gradually re-open for operations in the near future.
Minister Ranatunga however stressed the need to comply with the recommendations of the Health Authorities as factories resume operations and advised the BOI officials to supervise whether they adhere to the instructions.
Ranatunga also directed the EDB to initiate a program to provide relief for industrialists and the need to explore new markets and new consumer opportunities for Sri Lankan exports.
It was also discussed at length how BOI and EDB will resume work on the recommendations underscored by the Government from 11 May.
Industrial Export and Investment Ministry Secretary Mapa Pathirana, BOI Director General Sanjaya Mohottala, and EDB Director General Jeevani Siriwardena were also participated in the discussion.