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Aitken Spence, the only Sri Lankan company in the Top 100 Global Companies for Sustainability 2022



Sustainability magazine, January 2022 | Publication Cover - Top 100 Companies in Sustainability

Aitken Spence PLC has been recognised in the global ranking of Top 100 Companies in Sustainability 2022, in an independent assessment carried out by the ‘Sustainability’ magazine which is an established international publication. Aitken Spence is the only Sri Lankan company to have been included in this ranking of global industry leaders such as Nissan, Lenovo, Novo Nordisk, Accenture, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, PWC, Ernst & Young and KPMG to name a few with Schneider Electric taking the highest position in the ranking. The DPD Group, who operates in Sri Lanka with Aitken Spence as its network partner, is also listed in this ranking.

The ‘Sustainability’ magazine is a trusted, leading voice on sustainability with a global platform, with a targeted audience of global executives. It is a digital community for the global sustainability space that connects the world’s largest sustainability brands and their most senior executives with the latest trends, industry insight, and influential projects as the world embraces technology and digital transformation. This is a matter of pride for Aitken Spence as well as the private sector in Sri Lanka for illustrating leadership in sustainability.

Commenting on this recognition, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayaka – Deputy Chairman & Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC said “At Aitken Spence, we manage the triple bottom line by controlling the fourth P – the processes we use to run our operations. This recognition is an appreciation to every single Spensonian who has passionately embraced the Group’s commitments to sustainability. It is their effort coupled with the unwavering support of the senior management of the company that has put our sustainability strategy on the global map. It is what kept us going as we worked through some of the toughest times, we have faced in the last couple of years without compromising on our commitments to sustainability. We are truly humbled by this recognition at a global platform.”

Aitken Spence took an integrated, systemic approach to sustainability more than a decade ago, well ahead of their peers. The company focused on institutionalising policies and procedures to ensure social and environmental governance and sustainability. The company’s comprehensive policy framework was developed in-house by the Group’s core sustainability team taking in the nature and scale of environmental and social impacts, stakeholder needs, lessons learnt, and experience gained across the Group’s diversified operations in 8 different countries. Despite the challenges of diversified operations with a plethora of diverse priorities, this policy ensured replicability across all their operations with its unique framework. It is no surprise that this policy framework has been classified as ‘Best in Class for Policy Coverage’ in local indices for corporate accountability as well. Aitken Spence is also the only company in Sri Lanka to have been ranked among the Top Ten Best Corporate Citizens of Sri Lanka by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for an unparalleled 16 consecutive years, showing their consistent commitment to create sustainable value.

Aitken Spence is credited for introducing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified architecture to the hospitality industry with Heritance Kandalama, the world’s first LEED certified hotel. More recently, the company introduced LEED architecture to the Maldives with Heritance Aarah. The company also owns and operates the first LEED certified, carbon neutral, green printing facility in South Asia which connects global brands to local printing and packaging solutions. Aitken Spence also marks 1 year since they launched Sri Lanka’s first waste to energy power plant amidst a global pandemic. This year, Aitken Spence will mark 20 years as one of the first signatories to the United Nations Global Compact in Sri Lanka. An active member of its steering committee, the company also leads the Working Group on Human Rights at the Workplace while participating in the Working Groups on Gender and Climate Action. Aitken Spence was also one of the first companies in the world to become signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

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Manudam Mehewara Initiative by Dialog, MAS, Hemas & CBL reach 10,000 families, invites all corporates to Join its countrywide emergency relief mission



Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts

In a mission to provide emergency relief to the most vulnerable communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative reached its first milestone of aiding over 10,000 families in-need.

 Joining hands with like-minded partners including its execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, Manudam Mehewara was initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, and CBL Group with the end goal of providing emergency support to over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country that do not have access to essential supplies and basic necessities. ITN, Siyatha, Swarnawahini, TV Derana and Vasantham are also supporting the initiative as media partners.

Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts, and the Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established through an effective recovery plan. Manudam Mehewara invites all corporates to join our shared mission to support over 200,000 vulnerable families across Sri Lanka.

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Ninewells Hospital raises awareness on thyroid disease in newborns to commemorate World Thyroid Day 2022



Ninewells Hospital, Sri Lanka’s leading woman and childcare hospital in the private sector, commemorates World Thyroid Day on 25th May by emphasising the significance of early detection and treatment of Congenital Hypothyroidism among newborns in Sri Lanka.

Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) is a condition affecting infants from birth, and refers to an absent thyroid gland or a thyroid gland that is present but is unable to produce adequate thyroid hormones. On average, 1 in 4,000 babies are born with a severe form of CHT in Sri Lanka, while milder forms can be seen more commonly. If left untreated, the condition can affect brain development as well as normal growth in children and adolescents. Conversely, if detected and treated early, the damaging effects of CHT can be reversed and prevented completely.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading private sector childcare health service provider, we want to draw attention to the serious implications of Congenital Hypothyroidism on World Thyroid Day this year. Congenital Hypothyroidism is a condition which has a detrimental impact on postnatal development. For this reason, early detection and treatment is vital and should ideally begin within the first two weeks after birth,” said Dr. Vibash Wijeratne, Chief Operations Officer and Director, Ninewells Hospital.

In 2021 Ninewells Hospital unveiled a Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) testing facility to support Sri Lanka’s national program for screening newborns for CHT and the country’s vision for a healthier population. Since then, the hospital has carried out over 8,000 tests in 2021 and over 2,000 tests between January and May of 2022.

With the unveiling, Ninewells Hospital became the first in the private sector to introduce a TSH screening machine and became one of the only two hospitals in the country to offer this screening service.

“The screening for CHT is a simple process that is performed using a heel prick test. At Ninewells, the test report following the screening is issued within a short span of three days which is unprecedented in the country. This allows healthcare providers to begin immediate treatment to avoid development impediments in newborns and infants,” Dr. Wijeratne also said.

Ninewells Hospital is Sri Lanka’s premier women’s and children’s hospital in the private sector, providing a variety of specialty services such as Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and Fertility. The hospital, which is backed by the Access Group of Companies’ visionary leadership, continues to push boundaries and raise the bar for women’s and children’s healthcare in Sri Lanka.

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SL plunges into worst economic contraction in the wake of dramatic currency collapse – CBSL Governor



By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka will witness the worst economic contraction in its history, as it reels from a currency collapse of the rupee from 200 to 370 to the US dollar and interest rates contracted above 20 per cent, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“Sri Lanka is going through severe fuel shortages and power cuts after the credibility of a soft-peg was broken by mis-targeted interest rates in the course of targeting an output gap (printing money to boost growth) under the Keynesian ideology, Weerasinghe said while addressing the Press Club of the Sri Lanka Press Institute. The event was held at the Colombo Hilton on Monday.

Weerasinghe added: “At this juncture we cannot make normal imports for the next three to six months. Industries are saying there is no raw material. Only essential imports can be made on a priority basis in order to maintain day- to- day activities.

‘Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.6 per cent in 2020 amid the Coronavirus crisis and it also contracted 1.5 per cent in 2001, after a soft-peg crisis amid a civil war.

‘The latest failure of the unstable peg with the US dollar came after the Central Bank printed over two trillion rupees over two years to mis-target interest rates, leading to a steep collapse of the currency and a correction of the interest rates back to around 20 to 25 per cent.

‘The economic crisis has also spilled over into a political crisis and social unrest.

‘The rupee’s 2022 fall to 380 to the US dollar from 200 to the dollar is the worst currency crisis created by the soft-pegged Central Bank in its 72- year- old history.

‘The money printing Central Bank created its first economic crisis and output shock in 1953, bringing down growth to 0.7 per cent after triggering a now famous “hartal”.

‘An Exchange Control Act was also enacted in 1952 as the printed money from the newly set up Central Bank scrambled to go out, in a phenomenon that was repeated multiple times over the next 70 years and dragged the country into 16 IMF programs.

‘The unstable Central Bank was set up by a US money doctor in 1950 in the style of Argentina’s BCRA, abolishing a Currency Board that had kept the country stable through two World Wars and the Great Depression, where money printing above the external anchor was outlawed.

‘The worst recorded crises in the country include the 1948 uprising against the then colonial administration which took place after the British railway bubble burst, commodity prices fell and the then colonial government upped taxes. However, there is no information on the economic contraction that year.

‘Sri Lanka’s citizens burnt the houses and property of the elected ruling class on May 9, after the unstable peg collapsed in a botched float where interest rates were not allowed to go up before the float and a surrender rule pushed the rupee down.

‘Interest rates were allowed to go up after my appointment as CBSL Governor and the economy is now slowing and the headlong crash of the rupee peg has slowed.’

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