Acceptance of e-documents an urgent matter: Sri Lankan companies

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Oct 24, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s trading companies say acceptance of electronic documents is a matter that requires urgent attention.

The Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Verité Research held a round-table discussion on “Acceptance of Electronic Documents: One small step for the government, one giant leap for businesses” at the Chamber premises on the 18th of October.

“The discussion that took place saw an emphatic union in the opinions of all stakeholders on the importance of identifying and resolving the existing bottlenecks towards implementation of e-signatures without further delay,” a statement said.

“One of the key bottlenecks that hamper successful implementation of a paperless trading platform is the non-acceptance of electronic documents due to the perceived inability to accept electronic signatures in situations where a signature is required for processing.”

The discussion featured key stakeholders from both leading private sector organizations and the various government institutions responsible for critical nodes in the trade process.

The discussion was based on findings of Verité Research regarding the benefits of the acceptance of electronic documentation facilitated via the acceptance of electronic signatures in government trade related processes.

The event, chaired by Dinesh de Silva, Chairman of the Import Section of the Chamber, sought to create a discussion between the private sector and the government on the growing gap in trade efficiency and competitiveness between Sri Lanka and its regional counterparts.

This efficiency is due to cumbersome trade processes and the low level of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integration.

Sri Lanka, traditionally a more efficient and low cost alternative to its South Asian competitors in terms of trade and logistics, has continued to steadily lose ground as a result.

The recent efforts to introduce a paperless trading platform to enhance efficiency of cross border transactions has had limited impact due to a lack of consensus and initiative among stakeholders.

The objective of the discussion was to understand the current status, bottlenecks and the way forward with regard to facilitating the acceptance of electronic documents by relevant government agencies.

The discussion concluded with the consensus that both public and private stakeholders have a role to play in remedying the non-acceptance of electronic documents and electronic signatures.

The Import Section together with Verité Research plans to create awareness of electronic signatures among key stakeholders and the public, towards facilitating a successful implementation and adoption of electronic documents as the default standard in key trade related processes.