President Mahinda Rajapaksa is yet to fulfil the promise he made to the garment industry some 10 months ago that their issues would be taken up.
Rohan Abayakoon, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association Chairman, told this reporter, that prior to the January 26 Presidential Polls when they met the President to discuss issues facing the industry, he had promised them that these issues would be taken up at a forum.
“But that forum is yet to see the light of day,” said Abayakoon.
“Our primary concern was the Government not keeping up to its promise of providing cash rewards to exporters who did not retrench staff nor lowered their export quantum in the backdrop of last year’s recession,” he said.
Rewards amounting to millions of rupees are due to such exporters by the Government.
The GSP + issue was however not taken up with the President, that was not in the cards, Abayakoon emphasised. The GSP+ duty free concession that the garment industry enjoyed in exports to the EU was withdrawn in August for alleged human rights abuse by the Government in the final days of its war against the LTTE.
Garments is Sri Lanka’s largest export industry, both in terms of value and employment generation.
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