Vital to empower industrialists generating foreign exchange -Wimal | Daily News

Vital to empower industrialists generating foreign exchange -Wimal

The Top 10 Award winners in Extra Large Manufacturing and Service Category. Picture by Sudath Malaweera
The Top 10 Award winners in Extra Large Manufacturing and Service Category. Picture by Sudath Malaweera

Minister of Industry Wimal Weerawansa, said that the era of living happily with loans has come to an end and the time has now come to empower industrialists who can generate foreign exchange.

The Minister was addressing the 20th consecutive “CNCI Achiever Awards 2021 for Industrial Excellence” at Hotel Galadari, Grand which is annually organised by The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) to recognize and reward Sri Lankan industrialists for their performance excellence.

“The past year can be described as one of the most difficult in the history of industrialization in this country. Today, they are facing several problems such as difficulties in importing raw materials, rising shipping costs and higher production costs. Despite the epidemic, the inability of the industry to function normally and many new challenges, the industrialists of this country have successfully completed the year with great responsibility and commitment.”

Within the C-19 epidemic, only negative talk is often heard. But the past year has seen plenty of examples of our industrialists being able to overcome challenges in the face of adversity.

“Until Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves reach a significant level, the country cannot expect any ‘rating agency’ to elevate our country level to what it was and this will only happen if the ‘reserve position’ increases. Also ‘no one’ is willing to give us a loan when there has been a downgrade in ratings.”

Weerawansa said that the need of the hour was to reduce foreign expenditure and to give the banking system the space to build up foreign reserves. “Though we say that the tourism industry brings in a lot of foreign exchange, a large amount of foreign exchange also goes out of the country to facilitate visitors. Hence the amount of foreign exchange earned by the tourism industry cannot be accepted as the real amount.”

“In contrast, a major genuine role towards increasing reversers can be done through local Industrialists by way of local value addition, import substitution and exporters which I am pleased to see happening. We cannot lie. We cannot print dollars. If we want to earn foreign exchange, we must take necessary steps to reduce the amount of foreign exchange going out of this country. It cannot be done by paying Rs. 5,000 each.”

The central challenge today is to empower those who can attract foreign exchange. You, the industrialists, are the ones who can generate foreign exchange.

He also said that when Sri Lanka commenced the ‘open economy journey’ thought should have been given to protect local industries but this did not happen. “Since the introduction of an open economy our country was accustomed to enforcing the concept of ‘development of the country on foreign loans’ which resulted in a formation of a huge budget gap. It’s also sad to note that with the open economy and the emergence of a new middle class and a new way of life they preferred consuming something produced in another country rather than ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ products.”

“Therefore, we have to empower the industries of this country with the idea that ‘the era of borrowing and living happily ever after’ is over and turn our industrialists into the great force that generates foreign exchange. As a government we are committed to that goal.”

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