By Sara Pathirana
"The Biyagama Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) comprises a much diversified industry profile. Be it food, tobacco, electrical components or apparels, it is important that we continue supporting these entities to ensure a conducive business environment for not only the investors involved but for the present workforce as well."
This statement was made by MIDAS Workwear Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. unit head, C. Radesh. Radesh delivered the message on behalf of the investors who were present for an investors' meeting which took place Friday at the BEPZ with the participation of BOI chairman Upul Jayasuriya and representatives from government organizations, BOI officials and a gathering of nearly 50 investors in the BEPZ.
The meeting was heralded as a significant event, especially for Jayasuirya, after assuming duties at the BOI in April this year. BEPZ Zonal Director Athula Jayasinghe disclosed that the BEPZ is one of the most developed EPZs that comes under the purview of the BOI, after it was established in 1986.
Jayasuriya said, "The BEPZ had been developed to its current capacity by siting 55 enterprises that are spread across 450 acres of land that are leased out to various industries. Productions taking place at the zone are mainly focused towards overseas markets where 16 factories are allocated for each specific sector. Some of the countries that have invested in the zone are Australia, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom to name just a few."
During the proceedings, investors received the chance to raise their issues and suggestions with to Jayasuriya. One investor specifically commended the initiative taken by the BOI to arrange the meeting as it was revealed that it was the first time in three years that a BOI chairman had managed to find time to conduct a meeting with investors as the previous chairman had not been able to allocate time for the investors who had begun to feel discouraged by this situation.
A number of issues were expressed by representatives from various industries, such as, rubber and apparels. One problem raised was the securing of labour which was cited as, overall, a huge problem for most of the companies in the zone.
Most of these companies were compelled to outsource labour. Some companies have even contemplated initiating outsource companies, especially in the North since potential in the area has been noticed.
An investor from the apparels industry took up the issue of a lack of organized public transport in the area, especially in the early mornings and late at nights.This setback is seen as prompting most workers to take extra leave due to the trouble involved in reaching their workplaces or their homes in time, hence undermining worker productivity.
Wrapping up the meeting Jayasuriya ensured that these issues and more would be addressed and the relevant authorities made aware of them. He added that more than words, a commitment from the BOI was essential.
Courtesy: The Island 28 June 2015