The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) in its proposals for the next Budget calls upon all foreign missions to appoint commercial officers to promote exports and to generate a report monthly on the quantity of exports that have materialised with their intervention and the report to be displayed on the EDB website to enable internal competition among countries.
The officers can be rewarded based on the efficiency which can be monitored easily.
The chamber proposed the move due to the difficulty, exporters face in reaching newer and non-traditional markets, due to limited information on credibility of potential customers.
The chamber proposes to reduce the number of holidays and repeal the age-old Shop and Office Act to suit the current business environment.
Under the present Act, Sunday is a compulsory holiday and those working need to be paid double the daily wage and be granted another week day holiday.
The NCE proposes the holiday to be given on the seventh working day without restricting it only to Sunday.
The chamber is of the view it would provide flexibility to export enterprises and the employees to use their time as per the current trends of the labour market.
It proposes that the current overtime hours limited to 60 for females be increased to 75 permitting female employees to receive extra income by way of OT as most of the companies are now forced to work extra hours due to the shortage of labour, which will help increase the labour force participation of females and provide them equal opportunity to generate income.
The chamber also proposes setting up of world-recognised testing laboratories in Sri Lanka.
Most companies spend large sums of money to test their products in overseas laboratories as requested by their customers. Having recognised laboratories in Sri Lanka will prevent a substantial outflow of foreign currency.
The chamber noted that steps should be taken to encourage exporting on our brand (label) so that brands can be established overseas and intellectual property rights can be established and it is a costly exercise.
It proposes that the EDB assists in the program so that premium prices can be obtained from exports and buyers cannot place orders elsewhere due to brand ownership. The move will increase the brand visibility of Sri Lankan products.
The exporters chamber recommends the creation of Export Houses (similar to the success stories in Japan, Korea and Malaysia) that will procure from SMEs and export SMEs products and services to global markets.
This will be an obvious way of enhancing production of SMEs, finding markets for their products overseas, receiving a fair price for their produce and uplifting the lifestyles of SMEs. Export Houses will buy from SMEs engaged in local farming and fishery industry, producers and manufacturers of goods, suppliers of other exportable products, service providers and Export Villages.