The government's interim budget presented in parliament Thursday (January 29) has been commended for the measures introduced to boost the exports and investments.
The interim budget among other things, proposed creating a Business Facilitation Networking Unit (BFNU) consisting of several governmental institutions to provide a better service to the business community.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen praising the budget commended the efforts by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera to regain the GSP+ facility and re-start garment factories closed as a result of the withdrawal of the facility in 2010.
Minister Bathiudeen pledged full support of his ministry and himself to the proposed BFNU which is a "timely and welcome step to make our investment process credible and transparent."
The networking process of the proposed Business Facilitation Networking Unit will work as a one stop shop and will help an entrepreneur to seek relevant approvals within a period of 100 days from the date of submission of proposal.
Discussing the budget proposals with his Ministry officials, Minister Bathiudeen said the trade with EU in 2013 was close to US$ 5 billion and it could have been much more if Sri Lanka had the GSP+ facility.
He also praised the government for its measures to get EU fish ban removed and resume fish exports to the EU. Sri Lanka's fishery exports reached US$ 242 million in January-November 2014.
The EU suspended the GSP+ concessions to Sri Lanka in August 2010. GSP+ provided tariff concessions to Sri Lankan exports, especially apparel thereby giving tax free access to EU markets.
Total trade with the EU in 2013 was a steady US$ 4.95 billion, slightly rising from 2012's US$ 4.94 billion. Despite withdrawing GSP+, EU still continues with the GSP facility for Sri Lanka.
EU is Sri Lanka's single largest export market and has also been Sri Lanka's second largest trade partner for a long time. Total exports to EU in 2014 January-November provisional exports stood at US$ 3.21 billion-a 32% from the same period's total provisional exports at US$10.1 billion.