Regional Chamber Presidents’ Conference 2009 reaffirms its commitment to economic development

The second Regional Chambers Presidents Conference concluded successfully at Earls Regency Hotel, Kandy with Chamber Presidents reaffirming their commitment towards economic development of the country but reiterated the importance of reasonable tax reforms for them to ensure an rapid growth. The Chief Guest of the conference Hon. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella addressing the gathering said that private sector is the engine of growth of the country’s economy and that we should be happy that we could go forward in this development path as a united country without any fear and instability and cited the fact that the presence of Northern and Southern Chamber Presidents at this forum as a clear evidence of this. He added that he is a strong believer that Sri Lanka could become a highly developed country in the Asian region as we have removed the backwardness from our minds and the policy of the Government supports the private public partnership in development efforts.

This conference was an initiative by the Amal Piyathilaka, President of the Anuradhapura district Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (ADCCI&A) and was fist held in Anuradhapura in October 2008. It is facilitated by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) under the Regional Chambers Sri Lanka Project supported by the Governments of Norway and Sweden and The Asia Foundation. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Central Province (CCICP) along with the Anuradhapura District Chamber of Commerce jointly organized the Conference in Kandy.

Addressing the gathering and extending a warm welcome, President of CCICP, Anuruddha Warnakula President CCICP, noted that the Chamber Presidents Conference is undoubtedly will be very beneficial for the industrial and the business sectors in the country. This he cited as an important forum to address regional economic development strategies as well as address all obstacles and ways of handling them. Anuruddha Warnakula subsequently took over the Chairmanship of the Presidents’ conference from the outgoing Chairman Amal Piyathilaka.

Hon. V. Radhakrishnan Minister of Industries of Central Province, addressing the Chamber Presidents said that he appreciates the unity of Chamber Presidents all over the country. He added “there are no more minorities in country now. Businessmen should work on a professional and well planned manner to develop their enterprises. Development of the enterprises is the backbone of our economy. Government will give the fullest cooperation towards the enterprise development carried out by the local entrepreneurs”.

L B Aluvihare Mayor of Kandy was of the view that with the third generation business heads, a revolutionized business approaches have been introduced with strong business notworks established which is vital for any businesses. He added that the chambers have the responsibility of working with the Government in broadening the existing tax payer base ensuring no undue pressure and burden applied on existing regular tax payers.

President of FCCISL Kosala Wickramanayake said that FCCISL is always committed to uplift the regional economies and with the right peaceful atmosphere created it is the overall business responsibility to strengthen the regional economies and contribute to the national economy. He added that this gathering of North South East West Chamber heads in a common gathering is a very positive sign of a prosperous Sri Lanka.

S J S Chandraguptha Additional Secretary Ministry of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion expressed the importance of the role of the SMEs in the country and said the Ministry is taking all possible steps to address their issues.

The technical sessions were lead Niroshinie Nayagam , Technical Advisor on Economic Policy Advocacy of The Asia Foundation. The chambers voluntarily grouped them into four key groups to handle Business Development Services, Institutional Issues, Infrastructure and Utility Services and Peace & Security. These committees which comprises of a across-section of the chambers would meet frequently to identify issues and also strategies to address such issues in consultation with FCCISL.
The network of District and Provincial Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka represents the Trade and Industrial Community including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which form the backbone of the economy of Sri Lanka. These Regional Chambers play a crucial and pioneering role in regional economic and business development process, working in partnership with the public sector and political authorities at district, province and national levels.

S J S Chandraguptha Additional Secretary of Ministry of Enterprise Development and Enterprise Promotion, P B Dissanayake Chief Executive Director of the ADCCI&A, Amal Piyathilaka President ADCCI&A also address the gathering. Nilan Fernando Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, Sam Stembo Assistant Secretary General of FCCISL also graced the occasion.