Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

NCE slams CB for placing all exporters in one basket

„Says no reason for exporters to hold earnings outside SL „Urges CB to share findings used to reach this conclusion „Says exporters dishearten­ed and demotivate­d by CB claims „Stresses cannot compare Lankan exporters with regional peers

- By Shabiya Ali Ahlam

Sri Lankan exporters yesterday slammed the Central Bank for unjustly placing all exporters in one basket when the latter charged that exporters are not fully repatriati­ng and converting their proceeds within a reasonable timeframe.

The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) expressed its displeasur­e via a virtual press conference on the matter yesterday, saying that a blanket claim such as that, paints a negative picture about the exporter community and their immense contributi­on to the national economy, specially at a time like this.

“We are hurt and dishearten­ed by the statement made by the CBSL. They have put all exporters into one basket and stated that exporters are not bringing in their money. This has given a very bad message about us,” said the NCE membership.

Senior representa­tives of the chamber pointed out that since the Central Bank has already concluded that the exporters are hoarding foreign currency earnings, it is essential that the regulator also shares the methodolog­y used to come to such a conclusion.

The NCE stated that if the Central Bank has realised that a few exporters are not bringing their money back to the country,the regulator’s first responsibi­lity should be to identify the reasons for doing so.

“When we speak to our member exporters they share with us that there is no reason to keep their earnings in another country because they are working with very thin margins,” said NCE Secretary General Shiham Marikar speaking on behalf of the members at the virtual press conference that was attended by the NCE President Ravi Jayawarden­a, NCE Co-vice Presidents Jayantha Karunaratn­a and Indra Kaushal Rajapaksa.

Marikar elaborated that the pandemic has added to the troubles of exporters in terms of spiking operationa­l costs, which again affirms there is no reason to keep earnings overseas when they have to pay bills, procure raw materials, and comply with COVID-19 health regulation­s, all which have only increased the need for more funds at home.

The NCE also did not appreciate the Central Bank comparing local exporters with regional peers, especially those in India, given that the support extended by the two government­s to their respective export sectors is different.

“Indian authoritie­s are paying 50 percent of the freight costs. Also, their capitalisa­tion of currencies and their policies are very strong. To compare our situation with such countries is not very convincing.”

The NCE board also pointed out that at a time when tourism is hit and when remittance­s are on the decline, it is the exporters who are braving through the challenges to bring in the required foreign exchange to the country, and branding the industry negatively is demotivati­ng.

Instead, the NCE stressed that the Central Bank should motivate the sector to increase export volumes and look at ways to increase exports to cross the US$ 1billion mark on a monthly basis.

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