The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce welcomes the proposals put forward by the Prime Minister in the national budget 2021 which are business friendly, production oriented and demonstrative of policy continuity. The budget has focused on boosting economic growth by enhancing exports, providing investment relief for key thrust sectors supplemented by public investment proposals, promoting capital markets and supporting the growth of Startups and SMEs.
The emphasis on tax policy continuity and measures announced to strengthen tax administration demonstrates a strong commitment to policy consistency while strengthening and broad basing revenues. The Chamber in its pre-budget proposals highlighted the importance of the government maintaining the current tax laws and rates at least for the next five years or so thereby providing the necessary consistency in tax policy. The adoption of a consistent tax policy under national budget 2021 would not only provide a platform for proper planning for business but would also help the government in long term cash flow planning and strengthening fiscal consolidation.
The Chamber also welcomes the tax relief for investment in machinery and equipment for domestic manufacturing and exports and the relaxing of import restrictions on certain sectors in line with past recommendations by the Chamber. Proposals on enhancing digital governance, investments in technology and infrastructure including rural connectivity to facilitate digital inclusion are also notable.
We trust the commendable proposals in the budget will see timely implementation and will continue to involve private sector consultation. The Chamber looks forward to the facilitation of further stakeholder engagement with respect to holistic labor reform and the placement of the proposals related to the extension of the retirement age and the contribution of 0.25% on turnover towards an insurance fund, within the context of the said broader reform agenda. With respect to wage reform, the Chamber recommends that reliance continues to be placed on the time-tested mechanism of collective bargaining which has so far been adopted consistently across industry sectors and encompasses factors related to productivity and worker welfare, and as such that the government reconsiders the budget based wage intervention for the plantation sector. The incorporation of productivity linkages within the proposal to increase wages of plantation sector workers is also a subject which merits further consultation.
The Chamber trusts that the positive benefits accrued from the macro stability set out by national budget 2021 will provide a foundation for sustainable growth acceleration over the medium and long-term as envisaged. The Chamber is also hopeful that the government will pivot on the growth foundation established, to continue its progress in reforms on several key agendas including but not limited to those related to local and foreign investment, debt management, export promotion, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), capital market and productivity enhancements in the public sector.
The Ceylon Chamber in its capacity as the premier representative of the private sector, looks forward to an ongoing engagement with the government, and for the opportunity to play a meaningful role alongside the private sector at large, with respect to the implementation of the budget proposals. The Chamber will continue to support the Government’s initiative to effectively execute a public-private shared vision for accelerated economic revival and social sustenance.
Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments
Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.
Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.
Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.
The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.
“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”
“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.
Taking cashless transactions across the country
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.
Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.
The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.
Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.
The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.
SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers
SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.
Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.
Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”
Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.
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