87TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
25th May 2022 at 3.30 p.m.
Vis Microsoft Teams Application
ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN
Keynote Specker Mr. Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Distinguish Invites from all state Departments, Authorities, Institutions, invitees from chamber associations & special invitees. CEO, Assistant Secretary Generals and Officials of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Immediate Past Chairman, Past Chairmen, Vice Chairman, Dep vice chairman, Executive Committee Members,
Dear Members, Ladies & Gentleman,
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Immediate past chairman, and the outgoing committee for placing trust on me and appointing me as the chairman of the Import section of the Ceylon chamber of commers at the 87th AGM, a prestigious association of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce with a proven track record since 1935.
Let me thank the management committee and the membership of the Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for all the assistance given in carrying out the Association activities under challenging business conditions, during last year.
I was fortunate to have the assistance, from a dedicated management committee, representing a vast section of the industry representatives, which included, consumer, intermediary & investment goods importers, during the year in review.
I would like to thank the outgoing vice chairman Mr G. Rajendren for the assistance rendered to the association on behalf of the management committee and the membership.
We, the importers, are an integral part of the economy, driving the economic growth of the nation. Importers contribute to the economy by supporting and providing inputs to manufacturing industries and bridging the gaps in the domestic market, especially the essential food & pharmaceuticals supplies.
Needless to state that from the State revenue approximately 54 % is collected by the Sri Lanka Customs and 99 % is from the importers.
During the recent past the Importers were the severely impacted sector, hence had to face multiple challengers in continuing and sustaining the businesses due to external and internal pressures & disruptions. The Foreign currency reserves management & availability at commercial banks, to facilitate payments, exchange rate instability and devaluation of currency, requires urgent attention, which has a national impotence to stabiles the economy as well.
Frequent gazette notifications with short notice, to limit and discourage of imports, were major hurdles and concerns. At times, when the consignments are delayed at the port, due to cut off dates that are practically not possible to adhere, have Caused heavy demurrage, electricity charges and at times penalties, which has an impact to the final price to consumer.
The high freight rates, shortage of equipment and irregular line connectivity, increase of fuel price and transport cost, world market prices of goods and shortages are causing major challengers to consumer price, shortages and gaps in the market, also a challenge to defend margins, which are some of the factors linked to resent increase in inflation.
The Import Section voiced our concerns with the authorities, and always factually and rationally heighted the importance of greater engagement with the association and members who are willing to share insights, possible impacts to business and consumers.
Being the experts in the trade and respective sectors, we conveyed our willingness and ability to suggest alternative ways to address the issues which will not disturb the businesses and adverse impact on consumers, during the meetings we had with the authorities.
It should be noted that our request was accepted to serve in certain consultative committees, which we see as a positive move and hoping to pay the way for management committee members to serve in such committees based on their expertise knowledge in the respective sectors.
On behalf of the membership, we will continue to request the authorities to engage with our Association prior to implementation of policies, to ensure that the right course of action is taken, to prevent any possible losses to businesses.
The Import Section promotes, ease of doing business initiatives, the implementation of National Single Window, digitization with the aim of paperless transactions and hard copies & documents to be submitted only once to any authority and to be able to retrieve by all the relevant authorities for verification purposes. This should be fast tracked and fully functional to the betterment of the trade. In line with the WTO commitments, we look forward to seeing the relaxation of import restrictions and regulations that are barriers in carrying out businesses in a meaningful manner once the economic situation improves.
As a key stakeholder the Import Section will continue to maintain its close association with the authorities related to trade activities, and consultative committees where the Import Section will be able to make significant contributions towards the betterment of trade practices.
I assure you that the management committee and myself will be always available to take up your needs with the authorities. We would like to thank the membership for approving the amendments to the rules of the association, proposed by the management committee today at the SGM.
With the amendments, the management committee will be strengthened by having a Deputy vice chairman, which will help to strengthen the functioning and efficiency of the Association.
Also, Imports Section will be able to invite companies who are members of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, approved business councils, trade associations and Associate Members of the of the Ceylon Chamber, as ASSOCIATE MEMBERS, which will ensure the Imports Section having a wider representation and a stronger voice.
The management committee proposed to increase the annual subscription fees to Rs. 10,000/- to strengthen the financial position of the association and would like to thank all the members for positively accepting the revision.
On behalf of the management committee, I wish to highlight the urgent need and the importance to ensure, economic, social, and political stability in the country to ensure safe and conducive business environment for investors, employees, and all stake holders, especially the importers.
I will be failing in my duty if don’t thank Sajani, Ushani and Manori from the secretariat for the contribution made to function the management committee and association activities very effectively.
Also the members of the secretariat of the Ceylon Chamber for providing the administrative and advisory services as and when required.
Due to the prevailing situation, we were compelled to hold this AGM virtually.
Let’s look forward to meeting all in person later once the situation returns to normal for networking and fellowship.
Until then, stay safe and healthy!
The Import Section of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce