Sri Lanka should open up more than two sectors for ETCA: Prof. Samarajiva

Mar 29, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka should open up more sectors for the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperative Agreement or ETCA, a head of regional think tank said.

A former telecoms regulator and founding Chair of LIRNEasia Professor Rohan Samarajiva said at a seminar that the construction industry is a one sector that should be opened up for both countries.

“I disagree with this ETCA. I think we should open up more than two sectors. I think we should open up construction,” Samarajiva said.

As per the professional associations, ship building and ICT are the two sectors that have been included by Sri Lanka for the proposed framework agreement.

“Don’t think of people only coming here; you should go there. Everybody talks about Indians coming here,” he said.

“Commercial Bank has gone to Myanmar and Bangladesh. ‘Virtusa’ is a company which has got establishments on the Indian side. ‘Damro’ can go, he can make money but you people can’t.”

He was speaking to a group of professionals at a seminar organized by the Chamber of Construction Industry yesterday.

Samarajiva used his experience as a case in point to explain to the audience the motive for opening up for competition.

“When we were going to reform the Telcom sector, there were so many people who said fix the problems first. But we didn’t do that,” he said.

“We just opened the market; we committed to the gap; we got the investments; we created competition; now the pressure was on and we did certain things and SLT reformed.”

He said the idea behind creating a legal framework of this nature between two countries is to reduce the uncertainty and discretion when dealing with business activities.

“What we must care about is whether the people get good quality services. I think it will be done by creating incentives for companies to become more competitive,” Samarajiva said.

“We know that all export industries are under pressure. They have to improve their productivity.”

Samarajiva however stressed that the agreement should be well negotiated and crafted well.