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Female apparel workers demand dignity and recognition

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Female apparel workers commended the efforts taken by the country’s apparel industry to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce which makes the biggest contributions to Sri Lanka’s economy.

The female representatives of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters (SLCGE), member of Joint Apparel Association Forum, made these remarks during a press conference held in Colombo on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The press conference focused on the welfare and betterment of the living standards of women engaged in various occupations in the apparel industry in Sri Lanka and the representatives emphasized the importance of taking steps not to limit the recognition of the role of women in the garment industry, the biggest strength of the national economy of the country, to Women’s Day.

Women make up about 85% of the workforce in the apparel industry in Sri Lanka, especially in the rural areas and is one of the key employment generating sectors to strengthen the economy of women. A female apparel worker said that the garment industry in Sri Lanka has become a leading partner in the flow of women’s employment, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for women and giving them the opportunity to play a leading role in the country’s economy.

It was also noted that the apparel industry itself is significantly contributing to the uplifting of the living standards of women involved in it while working towards enhancing their lifestyle.

Many women delegates who attended the press conference were of the view that women in the garment industry have a high standard of living and play a dignified role in strengthening their economy and improving the lives of their family members.

“The media, teledramas etc. always showcase the female workers in the apparel industry as an underprivileged and less fortunate group of people. This is not entirely true,” a representative said.

“The women in the garment industry have the opportunity to successfully strengthen their future by receiving promotions and pay rises based on the quality of their work, and the opportunities and privileges available to them are immeasurable,” an apparel worker said.

In the garment industry, mainly dominated by females, employers pay special attention to their problems and make a significant contribution to making their economy self-sufficient by providing incentives, attendance allowances and other benefits in addition to the monthly salary, free uniforms, transportation, etc.

A spokeswoman for the apparel industry said that the entertainment, annual outings and free meals were a big boost.

The speakers also commended the management of the garment industry for taking necessary steps to address the day-to-day economic problems of their employees and taking steps to pay the salaries and other incentives on time, even during the COVID-19 pandemic which has greatly affected the industries around the world. The women delegates who participated in the event highly commended the employers for focusing more on the health of their employees, adhering to the rules and regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health during the pandemic times, and for setting the stage for the continuation of the manufacturing process and securing their jobs. The garment workers also expressed their gratitude to the management for setting up special quarantine centers for their employees who have been infected with COVID-19, and also their close associates.

While the whole world celebrated Women’s Day, the apparel workers in Sri Lanka were of the view that the value, importance and the attention given to women should not be limited to just one day.

They added that it should be the same throughout the year and that the government should intervene to secure the role of women in this patriarchal society. The importance of creating an institution in the garment industry for women to pursue higher education relevant to their occupations was also emphasized.

“On media all you see is the condemning of the professional dignity of women entering the garment industry. Through works of art and other means of media, it is necessary to give a correct picture and take steps to avoid that situation,” the women delegates who attended the press conference added.



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Cabinet approves rationalization of VAT exemptions and abolition of SVAT System

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The Cabinet of Ministers granted concurrence to the resolution forwarded by the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to remove most of the releases from Value Added Tax (VAT), further retaining releases that ease the pressure on low – income families to secure the fundamental sectors of the economy as well as the releases for sectors such as education, health and agriculture, as well as to revise the provisions applicable for the Value Added Tax (VAT) act so that the Simplified Value Added Tax (SVAT) methodology can be canceled with effect from 01.01.2024 by introducing a more formal methodology for repaying the Value Added Tax (VAT) and to instruct the Legal Draftsman to prepare a draft bill for the purpose.

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Venora Lanka Power Panels to set up assembly plant in Australia

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Sagara Gunawardene

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka- based, export- oriented manufacturer, Venora Lanka Power Panels (Pvt) Ltd, with a state of the art electric panel factory at the Export Processing Zone, Biyagama, will set up an assembly plant in Australia.

“Once we set up the electric panel assembly plant in Australia, we will export all our panels from Sri Lanka and that plant will do 30 percent value addition to the product to supply that market, the company’s chairman/ Managing Director, engineer Sagara Gunawardena told The Island Financial Review.

Gunawardena said that the company is a value- addition assembly plant and he would be investing AUS $ 2 million for the project to be set up in Melbourne and hire 100 engineers and other professionals. He explained that the venture has enormous potential.

Venora Lanka provides power panels to mega projects in Sri Lanka and exports to Bangladesh, Maldives, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles and Myanmar. Panel assembling is strictly in compliance with IEC 61439 standards, it was explained.

Gunawardena added: ‘I firmly believe that, being a truly customer focused organization, every employee and every process in the organization has to be aligned behind delighting customers. Therefore, at a time when the country is facing a major dollar crisis, my company would be aiming at bringing dollars into the country, while providing employment for local professionals, especially engineers.

‘At Venora Lanka we do not try to change customers’ mindsets. Instead, we take time to understand what they really want and focus our brand on delivering that. Venora is values- driven first and cost- driven second – creating a unique brand proposition.

‘Since the US dollar rate has come down, it is our concern that importers and suppliers do not change their prices, which is really affecting the manufacturing sector.

Company sources added: ‘The company has several wings of operation, such as local and overseas projects, switch board assembling, telecommunication infrastructure installations, earthing, lighting and surge protection, incorporating world renowned brands.

‘Venora Lanka Power Panels is the first Sri Lankan company to receive the licence, in accordance with the UK Trade Mark Act 1994, to use the trade mark “Best Enterprise”. It won a global award at the event, ‘Golden Awards for Quality and Business Prestige’, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2015.

‘Within a short span of time, with the perfect blend of progressive thinking and expertise, Venora Group has expanded to consist of, Venora International Projects, Venora Telecom, Venora Industrial Solutions and Venora Lanka Power Panels (BOI approved). Further, Venora has established its overseas presence through Venora Engineering Kenya and Venora Engineering Myanmar.’

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Share market moves into positive territory; indices up

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading got off to a positive note yesterday but during the last session of the day the momentum slowed. However, the market is now moving towards positive territory following the Central Bank announcement of a downward trend in interest rates, market analysts said.

Amid those developments the market witnesses improvements in both indices and in the turnover.

The All- Share Price Index up by 12.8 points and S and P SL 20 rose by 6.97 points. Turnover stood at Rs 710 million with one crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH which crossed 430,000 shares to the tune of Rs 60.2 million; its shares traded at Rs 140.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; JKH Rs 212 million (1.5 million shares traded), Access Engineering Rs 44.7 million ( three million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 34.5 million (264,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 28.6 million (5.3 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 23.8 million (4.7 million shares traded), Capital Alliance Rs 22.9 million (615,000 shares traded) and First Capital Holdings Rs 19.2 million (574,000 shares traded). During the day the 31.4 million shares volumes changed hands in 9000 transactions.

Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 285.16 and the selling rate Rs 298.85.

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