By Ashwin Hemmathagama, ‘Daily FT,’ Colombo, October 24, 2013
Our Lobby Correspondent
Losing the General Scheme of Preference (GSP) Plus benefits in August 2010 has caused closure of 25 apparel factories, forcing almost 10,000 people out of work, with the total loss to the country exceeding Rs. 782 million from apparel exports, the Government revealed yesterday.
Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena revealed the figures in Parliament yesterday, in response to a question for Oral Answers raised by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
“As a result of losing GSP Plus, 10 garment factories were closed in 2010, 11 factories in 2011 and another four were closed in 2012. Some of these closed factories were subsequently taken over by larger players in the garment trade along with the employees. In 2011 the workforce engaged in apparel sector was 283,526. This has increased to 291,209 in 2012,” the Minister said.
He said the country was facing a serious shortage of skilled employees in the apparel industry. “Currently, there is a requirement for 30,000 workers including the 12,000 vacancies found at the Katunayake and Biyagama Free Trade Zones,” he said.
The Minister said that the Government was monitoring factories in trouble closely and offering support. “In worst case scenarios, the Government intervenes to help workers to obtain their EPF and ETF dues,” he said.