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Council for Business with Britain to strengthen the UK-SL trade corridor

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Roshanie Jayasundera Moraes addressing the membership. Also in the picture are Linda Giebing, VP, Dinithi Dias, Secretary, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Ameena Ziaudeen, VP and Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny, Treasurer, CBB

The 20th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Council for Business with Britain (CBB) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was conducted on August 27.

During the course of proceedings, Roshanie Moraes, Executive Vice president, John Keells Holdings PLC became the first woman to be elected as the president of the Council for Business with Britain.

“Moving forward our efforts will primarily be focused on enhancing business and trade between the UK and Sri Lanka as part of wider government-led efforts to support post-COVID economic revival. We believe that women will also play a greater role in driving this recovery, and to that end, we will also be launching an initiative to improve female labour force participation and gender parity across Sri Lanka’s business environment,” she stated.

Exports to the UK from SL is around USD 1 b and imports from the UK, around USD 370 m. UK is one of the two largest apparel buyers from SL.

Commenting on developments during his tenure, outgoing president, Mark Prothero, CEO of HSBC, Sri Lanka & Maldives said: “As we all know, it has been an unfortunate and difficult period for Sri Lanka with two “Black Swan” events in a row in 2019 and 2020 which brought with it unprecedented challenges to our economy and particular hardship for our tourism and leisure sector.

“However, it is encouraging to see that despite these unique challenges, there are other sectors of Sri Lanka’s export economy which have rebounded sharply in a strong v-shaped recovery. This serves as one of many indicators as to the resilience of the Sri Lankan people and we can be confident that under a united president and government there is still strong opportunity for Sri Lanka to develop and prosper in the years ahead,” he said.

Having served as president during the 20th anniversary of the CBB, Prothero went on to express his gratitude to fellow Committee members – including some of the largest domestic corporates and multi-nationals – for their support and senior-level engagement in the CBB.

Over the past year, CBB organised multiple discussions and events focused on relevant and timely topics, covering financial and forex markets, responsible marketing, urban development and the significance of architecture and sustainable development. Among the other key highlights in the CBB’s calendar over the past year was the launch of the SL-UK trade and investment report and the hosting of a special event to felicitate former Sri Lankan cricketer and captain, Kumar Sangakkara on his appointment as the Chairman of the MCC.

Additionally, the council has also been actively supporting the training of English Language in partnership with the British Council for over 15 years. During this time, the CBB has funded the training of 2,300 teachers countrywide and positively impacted over 300,000 students.

Reading a statement issued on behalf of High Commissioner to Sri Lanka from the UK, Sarah Hulton, Lisa Whanstall, Deputy High Commissioner for the UK said: “I would like to thank the outgoing President Mark Prothero and the CBB committee for all their hard work and for the time they have spent sharing insights and working together with me in my first year in Sri Lanka. I also wish to congratulate incoming President Roshanie Jayasundera Moraes, together with the new office bearers and other committee members, with whom I look forward to working closely in the year ahead to support UK businesses in this challenging time. I understand that we have a first for the CBB on the gender representation front, which is also very exciting, and I am keen to explore activities and initiatives around this as well.”

The 2020/21 committee comprises of Linda Giebing, General Manager, Hilton Colombo Residences and Ameena Ziauddin – Development Director, Norfolk Foods as Vice Presidents, Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny, MD, Inter Air & Sea Logistics, as the Treasurer and Mark Prothero, CEO, HSBC Sri Lanka & Maldives as the Immediate Past President.

Newly appointed committee members include: Shirendra Lawrence, COO, MAS Holdings, Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson, Unilever Sri Lanka, Sarath Ganegoda, Director, Hayleys PLC, S Renganathan, MD, Commercial Bank, Nikhil Hirdaramani, Director, Hirdaramani Group, Arjuna Nanayakkara, Head of Shared Services, London Stock Exchange Group SL, Irfan Thassim, MD, Oceanpick, Dougie Douglas, Country Manager, Etihad Airways, Indika Abeykoon, GM, Aitken Spence Travels and Gihan Jayasinghe, MD, Finlays Group, SL.

Michael Fernandopulle, Head of Trade & Investment at the DIT, of the British High Commission, the Head of the British Council and Shaameel Mohideen, MD of Spillburg Holdings representing SMEs will be invitees to the Committee. Representatives from the BOI and the EDB to attend the meetings as invitees every quarter.

Further details regarding membership of the Council and its activities could be obtained from the Secretariat of the CBB of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, No. 50, Navam Mawatha, Colombo 2. E-mail: dinithi@chamber.lk or Tel.: 011-5588861, 5588800. CBB also could be contacted via www.cbbsl.com https://www.facebook.com/CBBSriLanka/ and on Twitter @CBB_SL.


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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka

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SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.

The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.

Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.

SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce

 

 

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Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.

“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.

“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.

“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.

“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.

The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.

The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’

Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.

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CSE on the rebound; indices close positive

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.

 The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said. 

It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable  parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank  and HNB.

Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor  confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.

Further,  Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.  

Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.

In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions. 

During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.

Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.

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