Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), incorporated by an Act of Parliament, as the apex body for SME sector in the country, initiated several measures to assist the SMEs, being the most affected sector due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, during last few months.
The actions included collaborating with other chambers and government institutions in identifying the affected businesses and providing assistance to overcome the challenges, negotiating with banks and financial institutions to ease the loan terms and extend credit facilities and lobbying government institutions including the Central Bank to roll out various relief measures including the extension of the moratorium.
Among the measures, the webinar series organized by the chamber was well received by the SME community and the Chamber gained overwhelming commendations from multiple stakeholders including several foreign agencies and enthusiasts. The webinar series covered a wider range of topics addressing the vital issues faced by the SMEs in the prevailing circumstances and the resource persons included top officials of government agencies, senior officers of leading banks, eminent personalities in the industry, representatives of various chambers and highly acclaimed scholars. The webinar series was moderated by Chaaminda Kumarasiri, who is the strategic adviser to SLCSMI, a leading management consultant as well as a strong advocate of MSMEs and entrepreneurship in the country.
The Chamber recently organized an event at The Kingsbury Hotel – Colombo, to pay tribute to the parties who joined hands with the Chamber in executing its activities during the difficult times. A key item in the event was the felicitation ofthe Minister of Small & Medium Business and Enterprise Development, Industries and Supply chain Management, Hon. Wimal Weerawansa for his yeoman service to support the SME sector and foster entrepreneurship in the country during the last several months, amidst the pandemic.
The President of SLCSMI Prof. Rohan De Silva, on behalf of the SME community, conveyed his gratitude to all the parties who worked hard in supporting the SME sector starting from H.E. the President Gotabaya Rajapaksha, Hon. Minister Wimal Weerawansa, government agencies, banks and other like-minded institutions and people. He emphasized the importance of having a National Policy for the SME sector and pledged his fullest cooperation to the government in driving the sector. Prof.Rohan De Silva also brought to the notice of the minister that, this is the first time in the history SLCSMI felicitating a minister, as the Chamber felt it’s necessary to appreciate the outstanding contribution made by the Hon. Minister to resolve many long overdue issues and his prompt intervention to initiate several policy measures to save the local industries.
Hon. Wimal Weerawansa pledged his commitment to make H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s mission towards a people-centric production economy a reality and commended the outstanding contribution of SLCSMI to the SME sector in the country. He highlighted several measures recently taken by him with the blessings of H.E. The President to save and serve the local industries; such as establishment of the inter-ministerial task force on industrial and enterprise development, curtailment of imports to protect local industries and resuming of operations at the state-owned Valaichchenai Paper Mill.
He further, indicated the government’s intention to establish a dedicated Bank for SMEs, with low interest rates on concessionary provisions and appealed the cooperation of the Chamber and other stakeholders in these endeavors.
The strategic adviser to SLCSMI, Chaaminda Kumarasiri emphasized the importance of the policy consistency between those ministries and government agencies working towards developing the local industries and those in the running of commercial activities, quoting an example from the history where commercial institutions had taken steps to import rice, while another set of agencies striving to protect local farmers. He also highlighted the importance of undisturbed flow of activities within government agencies based on an established road map, which is often hampered due to haphazard changes in the leadership mostly owing to shuffling of ministers.
Emeritus chairman of D. Samson & Sons (Pvt) Ltd.and a past president of SLCSMI Deshamanya Nandadasa Rajapakse, Chairman of IDB, Upasena Dissanayake and Chairman of NEDA, Anushka Gunasinghe also addressed the gathering while representatives of government agencies, banks, chambers, professional bodies, resource persons of the webinar series and over 60 leading industrialists in the country graced the occasion
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
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
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
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.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
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.