‘Sri Lanka is a gateway to almost 3 billion people in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific and is located close to some of the busiest trading routes in the world. The country is therefore well positioned to become a leading trade and maritime hub in Asia, ambassador of Norway to Sri Lanka Trine Joranli Eskedal said.
The ambassador was addressing the 19th AGM of the Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 21 as Chief Guest.
At the meeting Prasath Mahalingam of 99X Technology Limited was elected unanimously as the president of the Council.
The ambassador noted that the promotion of business cooperation between Norway and Sri Lanka, including increased trade and investment, is one of her key priorities.
The ambassador added – ‘The Sri Lankan – Norwegian bilateral relationship has withstood the test of time and is stronger today because it has always been based on mutual respect and cooperation. On this occasion, I want to make special mention of the ‘Match-Making Programme’ funded by NORAD, and very successfully implemented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, a few years ago. This project aimed at encouraging Norwegian businesses to invest and initiate commercial co-operation with Sri Lankan partners. Over a 15-year period, it mobilised interest amongst 330 Norwegian SMEs in commercial operations with and in Sri Lanka. This programme had its roots in the embassy support for the Hambantota Integrated Rural Development programme carried out from 1979-1999. ‘Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which is managed by the Norwegian Central Bank, had a total of USD 114 million investments in Sri Lankan stocks at the end of 2019, investing in 20 Sri Lankan companies.
The ambassador further noted that at a time when traditional development co-operation is on the decline, increasing trade and commercial co-operation will emerge as prime areas of interaction between Norway and Sri Lanka. There are many new opportunities for Sri Lanka to expand trade and investment by identifying new niche markets and products. She concluded by saying that the Royal Norwegian Embassy looked forward to continuing the partnership with the NORDIC Business Council and supporting Sri Lanka on its development journey.
The outgoing president, Merrick Gooneratne appreciated the support extended to local exporters through the ‘Sri Lanka – Norway Match – Making Programme,’ managed successfully by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and requested Norway’s support to initiate similar programmes for further developing trade and investment between Sri Lanka and the NORDIC region.
Prasath Mahalingam, 99X Technology Ltd. was elected president of the Council, and Jehan Perinpanayagam, of Infomate (Pvt) Ltd., and Andre Fernando, of MAC Holdings (Pvt) Limited were elected Vice Presidents. The Committee members representing Aitken Spence Travels (Pvt) Ltd., Indika Abeykoon, Alpha Industries (Pvt) Ltd., Sarath Weerasuriya, Columbus Tours (Pvt) Ltd., Bobby J. Hansen, John Keells IT Ousman Anthony and Wilhelmsen Meridian Navigation Limited, Maleena Awn, were elected to serve for the period 2020 – 2021.
The Bilateral Business Councils, an integral part of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, play a vital role in the promotion of international business. The main activity of the Councils is expansion of business between Sri Lanka and the partner country. The Ceylon Chamber operates 20 Bilateral Business Councils with the prime objectives of promoting of trade and investment, joint ventures, services including promotion of tourism between Sri Lanka and the respective countries. The first Business Council, Sri Lanka – Japan Business Co-Operation Committee was formed in 1979. Since then, 19 more Business Councils were formed to fulfill the primary objectives.
The Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council was inaugurated in 2001 to promote trade, tourism investment and services between Sri Lanka and Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and vice versa. The Sri Lanka – NORDIC Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce continues to act as the vital link between Sri Lanka and the partner countries, to develop new initiatives and areas of cooperation in terms of trade, tourism and investment. The Business Council membership comprise a wide spectrum of companies engaged in infrastructure, logistics and services, financial services, tourism and leisure, import and export trading, manufacturing, ICT and telecommunication.
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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.