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Rubber industry urge Government to make rubber an essential sector

Business News: Rubber exporters have made a request from the Government to make it an essential service during this crucial time as the sector provides its products to the medical industry and the agriculture sector.

“We call upon the Government to make rubber manufacturing sector an essential service as locally and internationally the demand for medical gloves and other protective gloves are increasing and also and the industry needs to supply the tyres of the agricultural and heavy vehicle sectors within and outside the country,” says a letter signed by Chairman, Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP), Ravi Dadlani and Director General Rohan Masakorala to the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva who is also the head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID 19 Outbreak.

Masakorala said the sector which brings in around US$ 1 billion to the economy, has not yet been consulted or spoken to, whereas we learn that other sectors have already been spoken to by the government.

“We expect a downturn of about 40% of rubber exports this year and a large number of SMEs are going to get affected through the supply chain. If our exporters are not given the proposed moratorium of six months repayment of loans and working capital loans at 4%, the impact could be even worse.”

He said, we need the Government to facilitate the production of the rubber industry, as our members provide medical gloves that has a local demand as well as international demand as hospitals need the products, “Also we need the agriculture supply chains to move and we produce agriculture tiers and we need to get these supply chains moving,” he said

Closure of operations will hit day to day wage earners of the sector as companies will have to re-structure production. We have already got reports that tapping of rubber is slowing down. Thousands of farmers will get affected if the production is halted. Things are not easy for the rubber industry and we expect government to treat all exporters (direct & indirect) in a fair and an equitable manner, through a sustainable policy on export sector, he said.

“Our members have expressed disappointment as the government has failed to look at the traditional export sector. We have written to the Minister of Plantations and Industries to get their attention to these vital sectors of the economy just as the other export industries,” he added. “In fact our industry is also supporting the government by supplying medical gloves to the Ministry of Health to fight Covid 19 in Sri Lanka,” the DG explained.