March 22, 2019

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    April 08, 2018

    The 13th Exporters Forum held at the Export Development Board (EDB) last week provided a platform to discuss many issues faced by the exporters. The issues ranging from certain provisions in the New Inland Revenue Act (IRA) to land allocation for export projects were widely discussed at the forum. Several exporters who were present at this forum raised questions on the IRA. They expressed their concerns on the removal of the provision that made import substitution deemed exports under the previous Act. The new Inland Revenue Act does not recognize import replacement as deemed exports that prevents a sizable amount of foreign exchange being drained out of the country each year widening the trade deficit further, they claimed.“Under the previous Act when goods are manufactured for the local market that impedes imports it was considered as deemed exports recognizing the value of import substitution that drains valuable foreign exchange from the country. However, under the new Act this provision has been removed,” an exporter said.

    State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said if only certain exporters are given benefits over other it is not fair. However, the minister said the matter needs to be taken up with the Finance Minister soon in order to find a speedy solution. “We want to encourage exporters to get to the next level of exports from where we are today and double the export turnover in the next couple of years. Any thing that hinders export growth will be addressed without delay,” Senasinghe said.

    However, exporters coming up with their grievances at the forum which is set up to give a patient hearing to the problems of exporters said bureaucratic red tape, inefficiency and lethargy by public sector officials are stifling export development.“Procedural delays are a huge disadvantage to the sea trail boat manufacture,” an official of Nell Fernando and Co Ltd said. The company faces procedural difficulties in carrying out sea trail boat manufacture for exports due to the delays in obtaining approval from the Navy and the Ministry of Fisheries.

    EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte said when the regulatory framework where the fisheries and leisure boats will come under is finalised and implemented, the matter will solved.Citing further reasons for the procedural delays the company representative said that the Navy lacked the technology to inform the checkpoints to complete the procedures and as a result customers get frustrated.This should be the other way about where the check points inform the central operation about the suitability to proceed.“Customers from Maldives for example will want to come in the morning and finish their trail and get back in the evening. But this is not possible due to the delays,” he said. The minister said, “this is the problem in this country where bureaucratic procedures and inefficiency of the public sector officials are a major obstacle to expedite implementation.”

    With regard to the HVA Farms (Pvt) Ltd’s issue on the land demarcation the minister requested the company for the time being until the matter is fully solved to keep one kilometer buffer zone to the Wilpattu National Park which borders the land in which the farm is being built.The company officials said operating the organic agri resort has been delayed due to inaction by the Puttalam Divisional Secretariat. The minster called upon all stake holders including the Wild Life Department, the Forest Department to hold a powwow and sort out the matter without further delaying. HVA Farms, a subsidiary of HVA Foods PLC initially sought 500 acres of state land in the early 1990s to build a US$ 4 million organic agri resort close to the Wilpattu National Park.

    Colombo Dockyard Plc made submissions for more lobbying for boat and ship building contracts from India through trade agreements and regional associations such as SAARC. The company officials said boat building tenders from India have been stopped from 2015 by the Indian government.“We have built four vessels since 2007 bringing a sizable amount of foreign exchange to the country. However we have lost this for the past three years,” a Dockyard PLC spokesman said

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