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Double digit growth in taxi-hailing industry 

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With fuel prices at the pump increasing and commodities set to take another bump, PickMe says it is vital not to take our eyes off the ball. “Despite all shortcomings, the wheels of the economy must not stop turning,” says Zulfer Jiffry, CEO of PickMe.  The company has increased incentives to their driver partners in order to stay focused and strengthen their service offering as they are seeing an increase in demand for their services.

The PickMe CEO says, “It is only logical that people stop using private cars, and fuel guzzling 4 wheel drives by switching to a more economical form of travel.  This is where our ride hailing service will play a significant role in stepping up to manage the crisis we are facing in the transport sector.” The company is of the view that owning cars to manage one’s transport is becoming a thing of the past. “Today one has to have more community solutions that are not only a saving on the family budget but would also have a macroeconomic impact, especially now, in terms of our dollar spend.”

Global stats say the taxi-market which was at $ 69 billion in 2019 is expected to hit $120 billion by 2027, registering a compound annual growth rate of 12.3% from 2020 to 2027. These numbers clearly point to a rise in demand for ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, and a rise in demand from online taxi booking channels, indicating that the surge in cost of vehicle ownership is fueling the growth of the global taxi market.

CEO of PickMe says, going by global trends, the expansion of this industry in the country is inevitable.  However, the only impediment they see in Sri Lanka  is the stoppage of commercial imports of all vehicles to the country in the last two years.  “We are seeing a double digit increase in demand for PickMe services but only a single digit in supply in terms of new driver partners joining PickMe. And this is mainly due to the lack of new vehicles coming into the market.” Sri Lanka has built a network of highways with the goal of improving the country’s transport and logistics industry.  However, for it to become a reality there has to be the movement of commercial vehicles transporting people and goods.

An efficient transport system allows easy movement of labour from households to workplaces, goods and services between suppliers, homes and workplaces.  There is a direct correlation between their GDP growth and this sector. “While we understand the need to cut down the imports of vehicles into Sri Lanka currently, vehicles especially motorbikes, three wheelers and small cars should be the first to be released from restriction when the country opens up!”



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Business

Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets

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Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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