Written by Staff Writer
19 Jan, 2020 | 9:40 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion says that the European Union has agreed to provide the GSP Plus to Sri Lanka until the year 2023. The Ministry says that this was agreed upon during a meeting between officials of the EU and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga. According to a release sent out by the Ministry, there would be no change to the related observation process.
The announcement came following discussions with EU Sri Lanka’s head of Political, Trade and Communications section Thorsten Bargfrede today (January 19). The GSP concession is heavily enjoyed by the apparel industry of the country. Minister Prasanna Ranatunga had pointed out that apparel exports represent 43% of the country’s total exports. US$ 5 billion is added to the economy as export earnings from the apparel sector annually.
The Minister has thanked the member countries of the European Union for their support in this regard. However, Dr Harsha De Silva had this to say regarding the media release sent out by the ministry.
“I was instrumental in obtaining the GSP tax concession. When Mangala Samaraweera was taking care of the political side at the foreign ministry and I had to take care of the economic side. I went to Brussels. I am, therefore, very well aware of the GSP. There has been no extension. Sri Lanka has now gone to the upper middle income earning status. We will remain in that position in the coming years. Then this will go away. There is no extension. We will receive this until this gets updated. If these people create some trouble and lose that position, then we might continue to get this, other than that, we will not.”
Dr Harsha De Silva also commented on the current economic situation of the country.
“We have to repay US$ 6 billion as debt and related interest. Last week S&P made the country’s outlook negative. Fitch did it 3 weeks ago. Moody’s is the only rating agency that remains, their outlook will also be made public in the coming week or so. The government will have to either increase the taxes once again. But since they want to get a 2/3rds majority they won’t be able to do it. They will have to obtain foreign loans. Then we will have to pay a high interest as a result of the negative rating outlooks. The Central Bank has announced that they will provide further loan concessions for SME sector entrepreneurs. There is no issue in doing that. But when they do so, they will have to face certain issues in the banking sector.”
“The country has signed an agreement with the IMF. We have signed an External Fund Facility agreement, we have obtained 7 tranches. We have to obtain the 8th tranche. Before these people took over, they said these agreements will be torn apart, and said that these are of no use. They said they don’t care about the IMF. Now they are asking the IMF to stop and that they are sorry. They say now that they will continue this agreement forward. Now everybody understands that irrelevant of what was said in the political stage, the reality is that these people are in some way connected to these agreements that have been made.”
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