President responds to EDB’s stimulus request
• EDB to revert this week
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the Export Development Board (EDB) to submit a detailed proposal with the ideal stimulus plan for Sri Lanka’s economy, in particular with regard to its exports.
These instructions were given in response to a formal letter sent by EDB Chairman Prabhash Subasinghe to the President on 3 March, which was exclusively reported by The Sunday Morning Business, requesting a stimulus package and other assistance for the export sector.
These requests were made following the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic globally in February. The pandemic was affecting Sri Lanka’s biggest export markets leading to reduced demand while also causing delays in shipments of imports from China, the country’s largest source of raw material imports.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business on Friday (19), Subasinghe stated that the Government responded to his letter, requesting the EDB to recognise specific export sectors that require assistance through the stimulus package.
“We are formulating specific strategies on how we can help the sector in more granular-level detail. We have to get back to the Government with detailed strategies.”
Subasinghe confirmed to The Sunday Morning Business that the EDB would submit the proposals before the end of this week if the Government offices remain open, but that the details were still being finalised.
The original letter was sent on 3 March when there were no active Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka. However, since then, the island has been battered by the pandemic, with around 70 confirmed cases bringing the economy and social life to a standstill.
When asked whether the proposals would need to be amended if the situation in the country escalated, he said it would escalate and the proposals had taken that into account.
“The situation is going to escalate, the question is when. We are looking at a worse situation than now and working on the proposals.”
He said Sri Lanka’s exporters are only catering to the markets that are open at the moment as they wait for the markets which are closed to reopen.
“That is how the exporters need to balance the order books. This is an event that on this scale has never happened in the world. It is going to impact everybody. There is no question about it,” he added.