South Asian Forum of Employers || SAFE :: Summary & Draft Report of last meeting at Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2nd & 3rd October 2012
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 Subject :Report part 01 - Introduction.. 09-01-2013 02:17:44 
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The sessions commenced with the welcome address delivered by Mr. Gotabaya Dasanayaka, Senior Specialist – Employers’ Activities, ILO/DWT – New Delhi. Welcoming participants to the 2nd meeting of the South Asian Forum of Employers, Mr. Dasanayaka stated that this was an initiative of the Dutch Employers’ Cooperation Programme (DECP) in collaboration with the Employers’ Activities Bureau of the ILO (International Training Center Turin). Recalling the first meeting of this group held in October 2011, he highlightd the objectives of the initiative : To enable through knowledge and information sharing representative and effective National Employers’ Organizational support, business growth and socio economis stability within and among the South Asian Nations and also to focus on effective Employers’ Organizations at National level and their collaborative engagement at sub-regional level.

In his address,   Mr. Donglin Lee ILO Country Director in Sri Lanka noted that the title of the 2nd meeting is highly relevant and timely and that the future is much about creating employment opportunities amidst fast global changes. He stated that approximately 75 million youth are unemployed and that the worst affected among them are women. He also stated that almost half of the world’s working  population lack social security and that problems such as child labour are still in existence. He further elaborated that youth unemployment is a global issue and that it is of vital importance that solutions should be developed to confront these challenges, and thereby strengthen the future of the private sector.

Chairman of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Mr. Rajan Britto speaking at the inauguration noted that the sharing of experiences among regional employers’ organizations had already begun, thanks to fora such as this, and also that sub regional corporation is vital for the application and interpretation of labour standards. He stressed that all members of this forum should echo one single collective voice on issues of importance to the region as a whole.

Mr. Jan Karel Bout, Special Advisor of DECP also addressed the gathering.  The DEC, he said, was a public/private partnership between the Dutch Government and the Employers’ Organizations in the Netherlands which is focused on promoting private enterprise through the constructive engagement of the private sector with the Government in socio-economic policy making and implementation. He echoed the thoughts of the previous speakers that the world is ever dynamic and fast changing; however, despite the recent slumps of the economy, signs of economic revival can be seen in some quarters. This, he said, will and should be a process which brings nations together, as we are all in the process of convergence of regions of the world. He further stressed that the private sector must urge their Governments and that the challenge will be to explain governments the importance of striking a balance between the priorities of all stakeholders in the interest of sustainable economic growth. He said that SAFE must be a ‘club’ of employers’ organizations which work together to improve economic conditions within their respective countries and also the region, and that SAFE can also act as a knowledge sharing base towards this end. He reiterated the importance for SAFE to work further on strengthening its collective role.

Mr. Arnout De Koster, Manager Employers’ Activities Unit, ITC ILO stated that the focus of the workshop is on South Asian economies in both the national as well as global contexts, and to equip employers’ organizations to meet the new challenges in the areas of internal processes, membership, mandates, services etc.

Recap– main conclusions of the 2011 Workshop and achievements of SAFE in the past  year – Mr. Gotabaya Dassanayaka

  • Whereas Asia has made significant economic progress in recent years more needs to be done and achieved to improve the investment/ business climate particularly in the South Asian sub region.
  • The sub region with a combined population of approximately 1.4 billion has enormous yet untapped economic potential.
  • Employers’ Organizations have a key role to play in influencing National Policy in relaxation to labour and employment in the context of overall National competiveness in the global market.
  • EOs need to expand the scope of activities to encompass trade and business aspects in a holistic manner for which coordination with other business organizations is critical.
  • EOs have a particularly important role to play in providing leadership and guidance to business on labour issues related to trade to facilitate trade competitiveness in the global market.
  • EOs need to focus on their lobby/advocacy role and develop/provide relevant services to members and business in general to facilitate investment and sustainable enterprises.

EOs in the sub region should work towards greater sub regional corporation in the mutual interest of the EOs and the sub region as a whole.


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