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ILO, UNOPS in joint exercise to protect MSMEs from virus

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From left: Lalith Silva of Akalanka Products, Thamara Ravimali Bandara, Development Officer, Small Enterprise Division – Panadura, P.K Pathirana, Assistant Director, Small Enterprise Division – Kalutara,  N.C.W. Jayasekara, Assistant Director, Small Enterprise Division – Kalutara.

 

* Begins with the delivery of PPE worth Rs. 47 million

* Initiative enjoys partnership with many government entities

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) together with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) have taken another initiative to assist the healthy socio-economic recovery of the micro and small enterprise sector of Sri Lanka (MSMEs).

The initiative will help MSMEs face the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to ensure that workplaces do not become places of COVID-19 spread.

In this bid, hundreds of MSEs in the Kalutara and Gampaha Districts, where a majority of such enterprises are concentrated, and are safe and healthy spaces to work, the IILO together with UNOPS purchased and kick- started the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth 47 million Sri Lankan Rupees.

With funding from the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN COVID-19 MPTF), this timely response is among the many interventions underway by the ILO to assist the healthy socio-economic recovery of the micro and small enterprise sector of Sri Lanka.

The distribution of PPE kits commenced on 18 November 2020 and is being carried out with the support of the Small Enterprise Division (SED) of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The PPE kits include handwashing stations, bottles of hand sanitizers, first aid kits, face masks, visitor record keeping books, cakes of soap, packets of paper tissue, packets of paper towels, hand-held digital thermometers, bottles of toilet sanitizer, hand gloves, bins with lids.
 

Simrin Singh, Director, ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives and Gayasiri of Lalith Bakery

 

The Gampaha and Kalutara district-based enterprises and their specific PPE requirements were identified through swift assessments carried out by SED officers, with the support of the Ministry of Labour. Assessments targeted enterprises, particularly economically hard-hit and women-owned, across various sectors such as tourism-accommodation, food and food processing, textile, craft and agri-business industries.

The enterprises are located in Kelaniya, Meerigama, Negombo, Katana DS Divisions in the Gampaha District, and Beruwala, Kalutara, Panadura, Bulathsinhala DS Divisions in the Kalutara District.

A further batch of PPE kit distributions are planned for before the end of the year, reaching all remaining divisions of the two districts.

The PPE kit distribution is being complimented by OSH risk assessment of MSEs; training entrepreneurs on how to implement OSH measures and how to use PPE; enterprise level training programmes with a focus on business development, psychosocial support, and facilitating access to finance. This will be coupled with a national campaign focussed on bringing awareness of the occupational health and safety (OSH) risks and measures for MSEs, psychosocial risks faced by MSE owners and workers, and how to access state provided financing.

The initiative enjoys solid partnerships with many Government entities for its effective implementation.


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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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