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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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SLTMobitel-PEOTV and DP Education launch ‘Videsa DP Education’

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider has teamed up with DP Education, to launch ‘Videsa DP Education’, a dedicated educational channel on CH.215 of SLTMobitel–PEOTV, ensuring school children from Grade Five to Advanced Level have access to a high-quality learning experience with Rewind TV.

The revolutionary services of SLTMobitel-PEOTV includes ‘Videsa’ a series of educational channels hosted on the platform, that comprise of 06 TV channels dedicated to individual grades covering grades 06 to 11, that enhance the knowledge sharing with curriculum-centered lessons from a panel of reputed teachers. DP Education, a unique online learning platform, leverages digital solutions to deliver quality education to empower students. Together, Videsa and DP Education, enrich the educational arena further with the ‘Videsa DP Education’ channel, a dedicated television space for the students at home.

This path-breaking partnership is a commitment by SLTMobitel–PEOTV to support the education of children, whose options are limited due to the challenges convergence posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will use the home TV screen and mobile devices as a ubiquitous medium to impart knowledge providing access to quality education for students across the country.

Commenting on the initiative, Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT said, “We understand that parents are now faced with the challenge of keeping their children safe during the pandemic as well as having to deal with the ongoing disturbances to their children’s education. As a solution to ensure that their learning remains uninterrupted, we have already introduced six different channels for Grade 6 to Grade 11 students through our Videsa digital platform. Our latest initiative and partnership with DP Education has now enabled us to launch a dedicated channel with unique learning experiences in key subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English for students from Grade 5 to Advanced Level with the Rewind TV facility. We are appreciative of the exceptional efforts extended by Mr. Dammika Perera and his team at DP Education and are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two learning platforms together in unison to create a revolutionary learning experience for our children”.

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Thornton and Dane’s combined projects portfolio tops Rs 5.9 billion

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Thornton Engineering, the Nextventures owned civil engineering company, has announced the acquisition of a 100% stake in Dane Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for Rs 350 million, creating a construction business with a combined portfolio of Rs 5.9 billion.

The new entity, Thornton and Dane Engineering, expects to add new construction projects with a cumulative value of Rs 5 billion within the current financial year, nearly doubling its projects portfolio, the Company said in its announcement.

“We are excited at the post-acquisition prospects for the new company, because we strongly believe that it is a good example for the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Thornton and Dane Director Dinesh Schaffter. “The combined strengths of Thornton and Dane create a formidable as well as extremely flexible engineering company that is capable of executing projects of varying scope and scale.”

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Capacity-building programs for SMEs

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Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body for SMEs in Sri Lanka has been at the forefront in supporting the SMEs during the pandemic. The chamber took several measures since the pandemic first hit the country in the first quarter of 2020. The Webinar series “Way Forward for SMEs” was a grand success among other initiatives, which was conducted with the participation of prominent scholars, leading business personalities as well as top rankers of state and private sector organizations.

The president of SLCSMI, Prof. Rohan De Silva said: “We are always there to represent and support the SMEs in the country and that’s our prime duty. During the first wave, we understood the need to share the knowledge and provide psychological support for the business owners to withstand the difficult times and that’s how the webinar series was born. Our initiative was well received by the businesses and our audience was not limited to Sri Lanka alone, as we witnessed participants from around 12 countries.”

Prof. Rohan further said that the chamber has looked at the possibilities of providing sustainable solutions to the SMEs beyond merely conducting knowledge sharing sessions and the Executive Committee has decided to introduce a range of Capacity Building programs to develop the SMEs. These programs include different solutions to address various gaps among the SMEs and the chamber intends to issue a valuable certificate for the participants of these programs.

The chamber has partnered with the Asia Pacific Institute of Money and Entrepreneurship Development (iMED) to design and deliver the programs and the details of the Programs will be unveiled at the launching event scheduled to be held on the 25th of September.

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