June 09, Colombo: In an effort to accelerate trade facilitation commitments and bolster the business landscape in Sri Lanka, a high-level review of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) was conducted Wednesday (7).
Chaired by the Secretary of the President at the Presidential Secretariat, the meeting involved the participation of committee members representing 12 government agencies and 7 private sector Chambers, along with the Secretaries of the Ministry of Investment Promotion and Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Food Security.
The review focused on assessing the progress of trade facilitation commitments and scrutinizing the performance of the NTFC Secretariat. The private sector also voiced their views on expediting actions to ensure the completion of measures ahead of the projected timeline of 2025-2030.
In order to streamline compliance and optimize performance, several directives were issued during the meeting. Firstly, it was decided to establish the NTFC Secretariat under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. Secondly, immediate measures will be taken to address the staffing requirements of the Secretariat.
Lastly, the budget allocated for the NTFC Secretariat in 2023, currently under the Department of Customs, will be transferred to the Ministry of Finance to prioritize pending actions such as the development of the NTFC website and progress reporting system.
During the meeting, deliberations took place concerning the proposed National Single Window, a system aimed at simplifying and expediting trade processes. The participants agreed to expedite the submission of the proposal in a sequential manner to ensure its swift implementation.
Representatives from the private sector stressed the need for a higher-level authority to oversee the efficient functioning of the NTFC Secretariat. They also emphasized the importance of establishing a formal reporting mechanism to track the progress of commitments by each agency.
The high-level review of the NTFC’s performance underscored the urgency of taking decisive action to enhance the business environment in Sri Lanka. By addressing key issues such as staffing, budget allocation, and the implementation of the National Single Window, the government aims to expedite trade facilitation commitments and promote a conducive atmosphere for businesses in the country.
Chairman of the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries Mr Canisius Fernando, Vice Chairperson, Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce Ms. Gayani De Alwis, Assistant Secretary, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Ms Manori Dissanayake, Deputy Director, Department of Commerce of the NTFC Secretariat Mrs Prashadi Boomawalage, Director Strategic Affairs Division of the Presidential Secretariat Mrs. A. Kavita and several other officials participated in this meeting.