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Council for Business with Britain calls for policy stability and facilitation of trade with an FTA with the UK

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Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, Executive Vice President of John Keells Holdings, was re-elected as President of the Council for Business with Britain (CBB) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at a virtually held AGM on July 20, 2021.

Addressing the membership, she called for policy stability in order to facilitate business, build confidence among investors and attract FDI. She also called for a negotiation of an FTA between the UK and SL post Brexit.

“Sri Lanka provides significant opportunities for British companies looking to access larger South Asian markets that have some of the fastest growing economies as well as sizeable populations. In order to facilitate this, we are fully aware that SL needs to improve its ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index and it’s encouraging to know that our policy makers have made this a priority. We look forward to these developments and also volunteer to support the process in whatever way we can, at least in the UK-SL trade corridor,” she stated.

Over the past year, CBB has actively organised several business events such as investor forums, and webinars. It also gained membership to the British Chambers of Commerce, adding value to its members by enabling access over 60 British Chambers globally.

Dr Lakmini Mendis, Minister (Commercial), Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK said: “2020 was a challenging year for businesses. This compelled businesses to be more resilient and innovative while driving them to explore new markets. However, it’s been a remarkable year as total trade exceeded US$ 1 Billion, despite the pandemic.

“Apparel, comprising 70% of the export basket to the UK, was adversely affected but picked up later along with products such as rubber gloves, food items, coconut products, seafood, herbal teas, etc., stressing the importance of export diversification. In 2020 April we experienced a dip but increased sharply to record high growth in July, August, September, and October exceeding the figures of 2019.

“Brexit was another challenge we successfully overcame. Many representations and presentations were made by this Mission to the UK DIT in London. With their support Sri Lanka received similar market access as the EU for exports to the UK under the enhanced preferential scheme. During 2020, CBB, CCC, SL High Commission in London, British High Commission in Sri Lanka and DIT in collaboration promoted trade and investment. A stronger bilateral trade agreement is anticipated, noting that UK is our second largest export market.”

HE Sarah Hulton, UK High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, while congratulating the new committee said, “I want to reflect on how challenges can make us see new prospects, sometimes create opportunities to think or act differently, and maybe help us push towards positive change. So our thoughts have been turning towards building back better and moving towards that recovery from the pandemic, and I’d like to share some thoughts today on delivering change and in particular with an emphasis on climate action and clean growth, crucial areas of focus for both countries.

“How can we support countries like Sri Lanka in their economic growth and response to the global climate challenge? Clean growth is the core decarbonisation strategy. Supporting clean transport, energy transition and greener buildings together with green financing are areas of discussion we are having with the Sri Lankan government and businesses.

“Business leaders also have a role to play in delivering on climate action. I continue to encourage you to embrace and include energy efficiency and sustainable business practices as a key deliverable in your strategic business plans. I also hope you will work in partnership with the Sri Lankan government in playing your part to save our planet for our future generations.”

The 2021/22 executive committee comprises Linda Giebing, General Manager, Hilton Colombo Residences and Shirendra Lawrence, COO, MAS Holdings as Vice Presidents, Irfan Thassim, MD, Oceanpick, as the Treasurer and Mark Prothero, CEO, HSBC Sri Lanka & Maldives as the Immediate Past President.

New committee: Ameena Ziauddin, Development Director, Norfolk Foods, Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny, MD, Inter Air & Sea Logistics, Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson, Unilever Sri Lanka, Sarath Ganegoda, Director, Hayleys PLC, S Renganathan, MD, Commercial Bank, Arjuna Nanayakkara, Head of Shared Services, London Stock Exchange Group SL, Dougie Douglas, Founder, Point to Point Consulting, Indika Abeykoon, GM, Aitken Spence Travels, Gihan Jayasinghe, MD, Finlays Group, SL, and Derek Mansfield, Director & Plant Manager, Sri Lanka Currency, De La Rue.

Michael Fernandopulle, Head of Trade & Investment at the DIT, of the British High Commission, Maarya Rehman, Country Director, British Council will be invitees to the Committee. Representatives from the BOI and the EDB too will be invitees.

Further details regarding membership of the Council and its activities could be obtained from the Secretariat of the CBB at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, E-mail: dinithi@chamber.lk or Tel.: 011-5588861, 5588800, or via www.cbbsl.com https://www.facebook.com/CBBSriLanka/ and on Twitter @CBB_SL.



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Integrated solid waste management initiative coupled with tree plantation launched at Hambantota Port

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The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

 Hambantota International Port launched its first integrated solid waste management initiative on Monday 11th on the Company Day of China Merchants Group (CMG), the parent company of CM Port. The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.

 “The idea is to collect all biodegradable material including garbage from vessels calling at the port that can be converted into compost, and process it.  The processed product will be used as manure for trees that will be planted within the Port and Industrial zone,” says Jeevan M. Premasara, Senior General Manager HR & Admin at HIP.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

The launch of the sustainability drive under the theme ‘Healing the Environment’ coinciding with CMG’s company day, was done under the leadership of CEO Johnson Liu. The program also includes the planting of 500 trees of different varieties, recommended by the Hambantota dry zone Botanical gardens. Twenty-five trees were planted as part of phase 1 of the project, and the port plans to grow and nurture endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

“As we launch the first phase of this tree planting and waste management/recycling projects, we will take into consideration planting different types of endemic plants that will thrive in the sandy soil of the Hambantota area in the next phases of the project.  Apart from that, we understand the importance of proper waste management systems and hope to partner with the district’s main waste recycling projects in the future.  As we expand into various industries in the zone, we hope to make our surroundings greener and environmentally friendly, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming an entirely green port,” added the Senior General Manager HR & Admin.

 HIP’s global partner CMPort’s parent company, CMG’s company day commemorated 149 years of sustainable operations this year.  CMG, which is involved in numerous projects to protect and sustain the environment, spreads its sustainability mission across all its members, partners and associate organisations. The ‘Healing the Environment’ project undertaken by HIP is an extension of their international partner’s sustainability drive.

 The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

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Douglas & Sons Great Place to Work® Certified

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Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd (DSL) announced that it is certified as a Great Place to Work® by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. DSL earned this distinction based on extensive ratings received by its employees in an anonymous survey that was conducted by Great Place to Work®.

Commenting on the certification Saroj Perera, Chairman/Managing Director of Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd said, “We are extremely proud to receive this certification, as it comes amidst a challenging time for businesses in general, when there is a considerable amount of pressure put on both employees and employers to perform at very high levels. We believe that our employees are our strongest asset, and this certification further reconfirms that we are certainly an employer of choice, enabling our employees to reach their full potential, whilst contribution to the growth of the company.”

“We applaud DSL for seeking employees’ feedback and the opportunity to certify itself,” said Kshanika Ratnayake, CEO of Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with DSL should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to the Great Place to Work® study, 92% percent of (total number of employees 372) employees say we are a great workplace,” said, Rohan Ariyawansa, Senior General Manager – Human Resources. “345 of our employees completed surveys, resulting in a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 5.”

Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd was established in 1986 with a vision to deliver excellence across the board and has today grown into a strong, diversified conglomerate with a passion for innovation that cares for the environment in the markets in which it operates. Its diversity and close ties with stakeholders in all key aspects of the economy forms the bedrock of its success in the country. Its access to key global players enables it to display and market Internationally reputed auto parts, tires, batteries and agricultural implements funnelled through its island-wide network of dealers.

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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“DFCC Bank’s new ‘Auto Loan’ scheme provides affordable avenues for purchasing your dream vehicle”

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In its latest step to drive economic and social value creation, DFCC Bank, the pioneer in commercial banking, announced the launch of the ‘DFCC Auto Loan’ facility, an innovative vehicle loan scheme that enables greater affordability for consumers interested in purchasing automobiles.

The new DFCC Auto loan initiative introduces loan facilities of up to LKR 10 Mn, with an extended payment period. The facility provides the borrower with leverage to afford a vehicle of their choice, through a structured repayment plan, inclusive of a residual value. It also includes an embedded rollover option that enables the client to continue the loan for an extra few years without settling the residual at the end of the loan period subject to a maximum overall tenure of 8 years. The borrower thereby receives the option of settling the residual by disposing the current vehicle and obtaining a fresh loan for a new vehicle, instead. The prime goal of the loan scheme is to enable customers to buy their dream vehicle, through an affordable monthly instalment plan with reduced risk and an increased loan period.

The loan facility will be applicable only for all cars, vans, SUVs and double cabs that customers choose to purchase.

DFCC Bank firmly believes that it is of paramount importance to enhance the affordability of vehicles as a path towards uplifting the standard of living, while securing economic growth and the financial stability of its customers. The lack of access to affordable customer-centric loan facilities, and severely restricted cash flows due to stagnant economic conditions in light of the pandemic, have proved to be a significant hurdle in the path of economic development. Having noted the existing economic issues faced by customers, DFCC Bank’s ‘Auto Loan’ scheme, which extends to a significant portion of society, stands to have notable positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

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