‘Once ridiculed garment industry has transformed into a prime success story’



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By Steve A. Morrell


'Post 1977, the government adhered to the open economy and its benefits were that Sri Lankan products were recognized in the international sphere . We exported tea and rubber, but the garments industry which commenced since that time expanded considerably. It is correct that we had foreign collaboration to establish the garments industry. Those who opposed the government at that time ridiculed us saying we sold the country to foreigners. But would those critics say that now? The garments industry is now thriving. Not run by foreigners, but thanks to our enterprising entrepreneurs we are competing successfully in most international markets, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.


He was speaking at the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka ( NCCSL) annual general meeting last week. Prime Minister Wickremasinghe as Chief Guest, in his keynote address, made pointed reference to the private sector and its vital importance to the economy.


He said before 1977 the private sector’s importance was stifled and the factual position was that commercial aspects of the economy were wholly state run.


Results of that economic structure were that we had no commercial progress. The economy was stagnant. The end result was that the country was in debt.


The Prime Minister added: 'Those in business and are commercially active, should develop your enterprise to fit global markets.


'Some 3.5 billion people are at our doorstep. For example, India, China, and most South East Asian countries are at hand and approachable.


'This is a substantial market open to our products. It is now necessary that the business community moves forward to establish your products to fit that market. Join the global economy. It is well known that Sri Lanka is blessed with a wide array of natural resources. Make use of what we have. During this next decade, open out, expand and grow.


'Take the example of Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand; those countries economies were behind ours. But in this current position they have got ahead of us. Why are we like this? It could be said that the pre ‘77 era was state controlled, which dampened private enterprise.


'You cannot say that now. We have, and would continue to encourage and support you. Establish the strength of the private sector. Take advantage of the free trade zone.


'The Hambantota harbor will be an expansive project , that would involve an outlay of 600 million dollars in investments.


'We would encourage the SME sector as well to forge ahead and move forward in their enterprises. We have not stifled your growth, come to us, will encourage you to get on with your enterprise.'


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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