This was building on the submission made to the President on a Shared Vision for Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery.
The sectors included in the document covered immediate, medium, and long-term proposals across all sectors, from agriculture, to digital economy and capital markets.
Developed with input from Chamber committees and experts in each respective sector, the recommendations under sector and Tourism focus areas are as follows:
The sector urgently needs a Government backed wage support scheme through a grant for 6 months to support employees with a monthly salary of Rs. 40,000 and below.
If not, regulatory changes/amendments to the labour laws (as per submissions made to the labour commissioner) to be actioned immediately for a specific period to sustain the tourism industry until normalcy return.
Medium to Long Term
- This is an opportune time to establish procedures for better visitor management considering the current and the past issues. Private sector is willing to work together in this regard.
- Identification of safe zones for the early start of tourism. This can be done through ring fence zones in low risk areas (especially districts which have had no report cases of infection) and maintain restricted movement several months in advance so as to create marketable micro-destinations for identified segments.
- Focus is required to develop the tourism product for the future by improving the infrastructure around tourist sites (rest rooms, signboards, souvenir shops, cafeterias, etc)
- Offer lower rates at the airport, landing, handling, catering etc to attract airlines to fly into the country at the opportune time.
9. Trade including Manufacturing and International Logistics
- Now is an opportune moment to take advantage of shift in global manufacturing trends with companies looking to diversify their geographical risks. Recently, the Japanese government announced large incentives to its companies that are moving out of China. Sri Lanka is best placed to leverage this. The Hambantota Industrial Zone should be heavily promoted as an alternative base ready to accommodate these Japanese companies and other investors.
- Encourage local manufacturing by not introducing ad-hoc taxes and Special Commodity Levies (SCL) on key raw and packing material that will discourage domestic manufacturing. Provide concessions for organizations with 90% local agriculture supply chain (e.g. Energy/Logistics/tariff in value adding materials such as flavours, seasonings etc.). If a company is using 100% local raw materials, there should be tax encouragements.
- There is opportunity for the Colombo Port to establish itself as a storage hub and transit storage to enhance the country’s importance in the global shipping network by leveraging on the hub and spoke model. Given that most ocean carriers are looking for opportunities to consolidate cost, the need for hubs has never been felt more meaningful. Thus, government should fast track the already delayed East container terminal construction and build deep draft port capacity to attract ultra large ships to the Port of Colombo. Due to COVID-19, most shipping lines will find it feasible to consolidate their loads into hubs and use larger ships for main markets to reduce per unit cost.
- Consult relevant stakeholders including Chambers of Commerce when amending/enacting laws and regulations affecting businesses impacted by COVID – 19. Eg. The Gazette notification 217/5 of 16th April 2020 needs careful scrutiny and amendment. Govt. should set up a ‘review’ panel consisting of representatives of all stakeholders who are easily accessible for review suggestions and recommend amendments to Government.