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EY facilitates discussion on Digital Cities at the FITIS Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021 Forum

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Ernst & Young (EY) facilitated a timely discussion on Digital Cities as the knowledge partner at the “Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021”, the inaugural virtual event organized by the Digital Chapter of the Federation of Information Technology in Sri Lanka (FITIS) which was held in line with FITIS mandates on digital economy and regional hub and the 7-pillar digital strategy.

Themed Digital inclusion, the forum emphasized the need for citizen engagement in a digital society and its impact on digital inclusion and also discussed about Sri Lanka’s digital strategy, digitalization initiatives and the need to further enhance digital infrastructure to facilitate a digitally empowered ecosystem.

A major highlight of the forum was the discussion on Digital Cities held with the participation of Arjuna Herath Senior Partner and Head of Consulting at Ernst & Young Sri Lanka and Maldives and Amit Midha president, Asia Pacific and Japan and Global Digital Cities of Dell Technologies. The discussion between Herath and Midha provided deep insights on Digital Cities and laid the foundation for Sri Lankans to look forward to the concept, inspired by the digital models implemented by Singapore and other developed countries.

Herath laying the context for the discussion indicated that Cities have been centers for innovation and economic growth since the perennial times and as a result of that, more and more people migrated to cities in search of jobs and luxury lifestyles. He stated that technology has played a key role in the transformation of cities and that has led to the emergence of the Digital City concept. Midha exploring the topic said, “It is a City that thrives in the fourth industrial revolution”. Midha emphasized the fact that data and data related industries are going to be crucial within the next 30 to 40 years and that everyone needs to transform themselves to be successful in the digital sphere. He highlighted that digital jobs can thrive with new concepts such as Work from Home and Sri Lanka has the capacity to build on that. He also stressed on the importance of a Digital City in helping individuals and societies to transform themselves with access to economic growth, better living standards, better healthcare and education, mobility and new job opportunities, etc.

The discussion emphasized how new technology can be used to facilitate the everyday lives of people. The government’s role in this regard was perceived as vital because if necessary policies are implemented and infrastructure is provided, there is enough talent to build on those advantages and come up with new innovations. Midha emphasized that the private sector must join hands in the development efforts by alluding to the fact that ideas from different segments are vital in making progress.

A Digital City is expected to have streamlined services relating to transport, health, education, and all the primary services that people look forward to. The discussion went on to show a clear pathway where Sri Lanka can adapt the Digital City concept in the long run. According to the thoughts shared, safety is the top most priority for a city because if the city is not safe, people will leave that city. The next pillar is to streamline transportation within the city, from the city and into the city. The third pillar is the development of heath care and education which are considered as two of the primary needs of people living in a city. The next important aspect is the government to work as an app, conveniently assisting to fulfil the needs of people. The focus on sustainability, green energy, smart grid and solar was also highlighted as essential aspects in shifting to the concept.

The discussion also highlighted the need to focus on security when dealing with data and data related projects at a time when hacking, cyber-attacks and data thefts are abundant in the world. “In the process of digitizing cities, intrinsic security is a must have and we need to pay more attention to that going forward.” Says Midha.

Mr. Herath spoke about the opening Sri Lanka has in creating a Digital City with the new Port city in the making and the need to embedding the concepts that were discussed when creating the City including the required leadership and policies, operating models and processes and the community and the ecosystem which also need to be considered. Mr. Midha elaborating on this said “There has to be a vision that has to be built. A dream has to be put out there to get citizens buy in. In fact this is how cities take shape. There is plenty of money in the system. People will help make these cities happen. They need to be told what the dream is, how they can happen, then they buy into this, in fact any public project that makes livability better makes prices of all real estate in the city to go up. So, all the folks know that by doing things right, it is a significant economic return. They also want future generations to have better access to infrastructure and live in a better place.”

Providing a comprehensive outlook on Digital Cities, what advantages these cities have in store for the public and what needs to be done in order to shift towards the new concept, the discussion ended after sharing a wealth of knowledge while acting as an eye opener for the authorities to look forward to maximize the available technologies and embrace the Digital City concept.



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Norlanka Manufacturing Trincomalee receives LEED Gold Certification

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Norlanka Manufacturing Trincomalee was recently awarded the prestigious LEED Gold Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).Norlanka, one of Sri Lanka’s largest sustainable exporters of baby and kidswear, has an extensive ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) strategy and understands the responsibility it has concerning the future of a sustainable apparel industry. Therefore, ethical sourcing, in particular working with responsible supply chain partners has been a critical operational necessity.

The LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement, and it is backed by an entire industry of committed organizations and individuals paving the way for market transformation. It’s awarded for projects that have earned points by adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health and indoor environmental quality. Buildings consume energy and resources at an alarming rate, therefore the LEED rating system is the most widely used green building rating system, as it provides a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings.

LEED takes multiple areas into account with varying sub-criteria when certifying a building such as location, transportation, sustainability of the site, construction, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resource, waste management, indoor environment quality, innovations and more.

Chief Innovation Officer of Norlanka, Buddhi Paranamana stated, “This LEED Gold certification is a testament to our constant drive to improve our sustainability efforts. This award marks yet another milestone in Norlanka’s journey towards becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Since 2010 we’ve constantly been learning how to do things in a more sustainable way. I would like to congratulate our team for obtaining this certification. It showcases dedication towards achieving sustainable excellence while achieving our goals and providing customers with high-quality products.”

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People’s Bank celebrates 75 years of Independence by offering gifts to newborns

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People’s Bank celebrated Sri Lanka’s 75thNational Independence at a modest ceremony held at their Head Office which was followed by a series of island wide initiatives.People’s Bank’s ‘Birth of Freedom’ programme which commences on every Independence Day was carried out this year as well. Under this concept, People’s Bank gifts Rs.2,000/- worth of an ‘IsuruUdana’ Gift Certificate to every baby born between the 1st and 14th of February.

People’s Bank launched this programme in 2006 with the vision of instilling national pride and encouraging parents to plan for their children’s future. Parents can open an ‘Isuru Udana’ Children’s Savings Account at any People’s Bank Branch using the Gift Certificate.

Director of the Castle Street Maternity Hospital Dr. Ajith Danthanarayana, Director of De Soysa Hospital for Women in Borella Dr. Pradeep Wijesinghe, People’s Bank Senior Deputy General Manager (TB & OCS) Rohan Pathirage, Deputy General Manager (Retail Banking) Renuka Jayasinghe, Deputy General Manager (Strategic Planning, Performance Management & Research) Jayanthi Kurukulasooriya, Deputy General Manager (Risk Management) Roshini Wijerathna, Deputy General Manager (Banking Support Services) Nipunika Wijayaratne, Deputy General Manager (Channel Management) T.M.W Chandrakumara, Head of Marketing Nalaka Wijayawardana, Assistant General Manager (Retail Banking) Nalin Pathiranage, Assistant General Manager (Human Resources) Manjula Dissanayake, Colombo North Regional Manager S.L.M.A.S Samarathunga, Colombo South Regional Manager M.S Kanakka Hewage, Borella Branch Manager W.A.N Udayangani, Town Hall Branch Manager Tiral Pradeep, Deputy Director of De Soysa Hospital for Women in Borella, Dr. K.M Nihal, Administrative Officer of Castle Street Hospital for Women S.M.T.A.R. Bandara, Nursing officers along with hospital staff were also present at the event.In line with the above all People’s Bank branches across the country initiated ‘Nidahase Upatha’ activities island wide.

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SL bondholders ready for debt restructuring talks with authorities– with conditions

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Sri Lanka’s bondholders have told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they are prepared to engage with Sri Lankan authorities in debt restructuring talks consistent with the parameters of the global lender’s program.The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka bondholders conveyed its stance in a letter directed to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Friday (Feb. 03).

“The Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.”

The Bondholder Group acknowledged the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledged that such engagement has recently resulted in the Indian government delivering letters of financing assurances to the IMF, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India’s letter to the global lender.

Sri Lanka Bondholder Group Letter to IMF stated:

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as (i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032, (ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and (iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA. We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability. Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

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