(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Sri Lanka apparel manufacturing industry aims to achieve an exports value of USD 8 billion in year 2023 as a significant and dynamic contribution towards uplifting the Sri Lanka’s economy said Indika Liyanahewage, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eskimo Fashion Knitwear (Pvt) Ltd, newly elected Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA).

He said in order to successfully achieve this goal the apparel sector requires the fullest support from the government considering few specific areas such as taxation, free trade agreements, labour reforms, mandatory dollar conversions and D.O charges or lost recovery charges. Liyanahewage emphasized that the task is possible and the apparel sector is ambitiously willing to achieve it. The volume achieved up to September this year is over USD 4.3 billion despite many obstacles. This was announced at the 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA) held at Cinnamon Grand Colombo on Tuesday.

Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as the Chief Gust and Julie J Chung, US Ambassador in Colombo attended as Guest of Honour.

Speaking at the occasion Governor Dr. Weerasinghe, in response to a fact pointed out by Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA) said, that paying tax is vital for the country. He said the increasing share of tax revenue in GDP is an instrumental objective of economic development policy while Sri Lanka has not been successful in raising adequate tax revenue to meet its requirement. Elaborating on the importance of paying tax, governor revealed that tax is not a major barrier for the business growth. If we have had real tax revenue we would have been able to reduce borrowings. He said today’s debt crisis is due to heavy borrowings which is coming from a long period of time. Therefore he said paying tax is mandatory and urged tax payers to honestly disclose revenue and if there are any genuine issues, the government officials can be flexible to facilitating them.

The Governor also described that tax is not a subject under the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and is responsible for conducting monetary policy which involves in setting the policy interest rates and managing the liquidity in the economy. He said Central Bank play a crucial role in ensuring economic and financial stability while conducting monetary policy to achieve low and stable inflation.

Dr. Weerasinghe also happily commended the achievements of the apparel industry. He said the total value addition in Sri Lanka’s export records at 23% while the apparel sector has contributed 14%.

Suresh de Mel, Chairman Sri Lanka Export Development Board told Lankapuvath that “Sri Lanka’s apparel and textile manufacturing industry is entirely a private operated sector, vibrantly contributing to the Sri Lanka’s economy. Sri Lanka has built a reputation as a world-class apparel sourcing destination for the global fashion industry for over three decades while productivity and speed are hallmarks of the industry. Sri Lankan apparel industry has been known around the world for its adherence to ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices”

He further said that earnings from the merchandise exports increased to US$ 10 billion in September 2022 and was mainly due to the increase in export earnings from Apparel & Textiles, Tea, Gems & Jewelry, Electrical & Electronic Components and Spices & Essential Oils as per the data released by the Sri Lanka Customs.

Aroon Hirdaramani Director Hirdaramani Group and past chairman of SLAEA, Douglas E. Sonnek, Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of the United States of America, Rajitha Wijesuriya Treasurer SLAEA also spoke at the post business session while a large gathering of distinguished guests were attended from the apparel industry.

The Sri Lankan Apparel Exporters Association is the pioneer association representing the country’s apparel exporters. The Association has contributed to the formulation and implementation of government policy decisions that favour the continuance of the industry. Sri Lankan apparel has evolved from traditional exports and tailoring designs to providing sophisticated solutions, creativity and experience in BPO services, Fashion, R&D, and Innovation Centers, bridging the country’s gap between developing and developed. The association’s membership accounts for over 70% of the country’s apparel exports.

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