National Chamber lauds Budget 2018
The introduction of the new concept ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ is praiseworthy and it would be a positive step to encourage the business development in the country.
With this concept the government is proposing the development of woman and youth entrepreneurship through the introduction of ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka Credit Scheme’ and agri sector development as well. Furthermore, a SME guarantee fund is also to be established, that is expected to expand the borrowing capacity of SMES.
Under the blue economy programme, the encouragement extended for deep sea fishing and infrastructure facilities development proposals for fisheries sector is also appreciated. The development projects proposed for Kandy, Galle, Anuradhapura and Jaffna would bring in economic benefits for regions. It would provide much needed equal development opportunities for the regions and would help establish national reconciliation in the country as well.
The proposals to develop the road infrastructure in the country will also have a positive impact on the economy and also the constructive proposals put forward by the government on managing the solid waste in the country, and reduction of taxes on all electric vehicles is commendable.
The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka observes the policy inconsistency in revenue streams of the government. The expectation of the business community was to have a consistent midterm policy on government revenue streams rather than short term ad-hoc revenue policies such as the debt payment Levy imposed on the banking sector and levy on telecom towers. Furthermore, it would be challenging for the government to provide enabling environment to implement the said proposals.
Additionally, the government is proposing to setup a development bank to support the financial needs of the SME sector by allocating Rs. 10 billion. The support extended for education and the emphasis placed in setting up additional vocational training institutes is a positive step and it would be helpful in providing skilled labour in the market place with the view of addressing the prevailing shortage in the industry sector.
The government is suggesting trade liberalization measures by introducing approximately 1,200 para tariff lines to be removed, which would bring in both a positive and negative impact on the economy.
The efforts taken by the government for trade facilitation by implementing single window system and trade information portal is challenging, but is much needed by the business community without further delay.
Meanwhile the budget speech has confirmed that the government would introduce anti-dumping laws in the near future, which would be a positive measure in protecting domestic industries. As the National Chamber, we appreciate the measures taken through budget in these areas which has been consistent emphasis of ours during last couple of years.
The Information Technology sector, has been given greater attention with the intention of increasing foreign earnings reaching US$ 5 billion in the years to come. Under this programme, small to medium IT startup companies are to be supported by allocating Rs. 3 billion over the next 5 years through the Export Development Board. It is noteworthy that the government is proposing to have a Budget Proposals Monitoring Agency at the Ministry of Finance with the objective of effective implementation of the proposals.
We sincerely expect successful implementation of these efforts by the government, which is an important imperative measure towards achieving the objectives of the budget, moving forward.
National Chamber officials expressing their views on the budget