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Govt urged to take pragmatic view on debt management

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

If Sri Lanka has the right policy mix to effectively carry on with its debt rollover and to maintain a surplus in its current account, the country can demonstrate that it has entered a path of debt sustainability boosting confidence of the financial markets, Nishan de Mel, Economist- Verite Research said recently.

De Mel, an economist with extensive academic, policy, and private sector experience said so while speaking at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative.

The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?, where Governor of the Central Bank Professor W. D Lakshman delivered the keynote speech at the virtual forum.

Speaking further de Mel said: ‘I beg to differ with the Governor that Sri Lanka doesn’t need assistance in this regard and can do this alone- if I heard that right. I understand the concerns that an IMF programme will involve conditions impeding our growth drivers. But we need to get our policy mix right and then we can show that we are effectively managing the debt rollover risk backed with a surplus in the current account. That will boost the financial markets’ confidence in our reserves. I think this is something we shouldn’t reject on ideological terms. We need to look pragmatically at how we can attract bridge-financing as well as reducing the cost of our debt. There may be an alternative approach, but we really need to look at the feasibility of managing our foreign debt stock in a way that it could move on a downward trajectory going forward”.

“We should not deplete our foreign reserves too quickly in the process of switching to domestic borrowings from foreign borrowings. We shouldn’t run the risk of markets losing confidence in the Sri Lanka rupee and its exchange rate in a scenario of depreciation affecting our ability to manage our debt stock. Low interest rates are important for Sri Lanka’s debt dynamics. The Central Bank has seized the opportunity arising from the pandemic to introduce a low interest regime. With low interest rates and a positive growth rate the government’s local debt stock could be well managed. Private credit growth is going to be the main driver in pushing interest rates upwards, so it has to be watched. If we keep our inflation and depreciation rates matched, we won’t have a very high level of risk perception. Then on the foreign debt side also Sri Lanka has a path of sustaining its debt,” he said.

Meanwhile, a First Capital research report issued on February 26, 2021 showed: Foreign reserves dipped by US$ 0.8 bn during the month of January 2021 to US$ 4.8 bn from US$

5.6bn in December 2020. Private credit increased by Rs. 25 bn in Jan 2021. Foreign activity showed net outflow of Rs. 3.1 bn in government securities over the past 2 months.



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2021 HUAWEI Women Developers Summit: Her Contributions

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HUAWEI Women Developers Summit was successfully closed recently, in which women from different fields and at different career development stages joined together and showed their empowerment. At the summit, several outstanding women representatives from science and technology were invited to share their technical knowledge, work experience, and personal stories, aiming to encourage more women to play a valuable role in science and technology in an active way.

HUAWEI Women Developers (HWD), the holder of this summit, empowers women developers to create world-changing apps and tools and encourages more women to join in with technological innovation by providing them with more resources, opportunities, and platforms for learning, communication, and self-expression, with the goal of building a more multiple ecosystem.

There are still many spaces and opportunities for women to develop themselves in science and technology. To eliminate the digital gender gap, Huawei has launched digital technology enablement programs for women in Ireland, Argentina, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa, and other countries or regions. The Operations Director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Developer Alliance gave a speech at the summit in which she said: “We really hope that more women can play a leading role in technological innovation with their own talents, values, and strengths.” As such, HWD will continuously provide more opportunities and support for women in tech.

Tang Wenjie, co-founder of Ladies Who Tech, participated in the topic Tech Has No Gender. She put forward her belief that the development of science and technology requires teams with gender diversity and more inclusiveness. Faced with existing gender stereotypes and strong prejudices, women need to be more courageous in designing and creating technological or digital products.

In the era of women’s startups, how women in tech balance the challenges and difficulties when starting up with a firm yet positive attitude has gained a lot of attention. Liu Yi, the co-founder of QIchat, encouraged women in tech to innovate and promote the advancement of science and technology by sharing her own experiences in the affordable and universal education domain.

Both the Product Director of HUAWEI Ads and User Experience Designer of Huawei 2012 Laboratories also discussed how women developers play a more important role in cross-technology fields from the perspectives of business thinking and technical practice. They insisted that women should attempt to make more contributions to the technology industry in different ways with an uncompromising and confident spirit.

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Innovative pipe borne LPG to Sri Lanka

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In the global energy landscape, LPG is considered the safest and the most environmentally sound choice suitable for a variety of functions – from household requirements to industrial consumption, LPG is increasingly emerging as the world’s preferred clean and green energy.

Although in house LPG cylinders have been used in Sri Lanka for a considerable period of time, the safest and the most modern option that is operational worldwide is pipe borne LPG that provides a safe and an easy accessible LPG solution, says Anil Koswatte, chairman & CEO of Litro Gas Lanka Limited & Litro Gas Terminal Lanka (Private) Limited, Sri Lanka’s national LPG provider.

As a measure of upscaling the LPG availability in Sri Lanka, Litro Gas Lanka will be introducing pipe borne LPG supply to households and consumers in Sri Lanka, giving them access to world class energy solutions, he adds.

“Litro Gas Lanka believes in delivering innovative and safe LPG solutions to our customers. Introducing the pipe borne LPG is a step towards ensuring the highest safety protocols in LPG supply – while also ensuring an easy and convenient way of delivery LPG to your home or work place. The LPG provided will be measured in litres, in keeping with global standards.”

Backed by a unique legacy that goes back 150 years, Litro Gas Lanka possesses a heritage that is rich with industry firsts; a part of that legacy was the network of gas pipes that delivered gas to households as far back as a century ago, installed by Ceylon Gas & Water Co, precursor of Litro Gas Lanka.

Today, as energy industry dynamics change with consumer demand, the company remains firmly committed to infusing change and transformation needed to meet changing requirements.

“We are taking the concept of LPG supply beyond that of bringing a cylinder home and stocking it in your kitchen. This will take the LPG availability to the next level, by giving our customers safe & easy accessibility to the energy they need on demand.”

“In keeping with the development goals for the energy sector outlined in H.E The President’s “Vistas of Prosperity & Splendour” economic vision, we believe that the Litro Gas Lanka LPG Pipeline Project would add value to customer proposition and enhance energy efficiency for all”, Koswatte adds.

Commenting on the project, Jayantha Basnayake, Director – Health, Safety & Environment/Professional Business – Litro Gas Lanka Limited says that the new project will optimize safety and improve convenience for the consumers – “LPG supply via a pipeline is the standard procedure for global LPG operations – we are introducing the same safety and ease of operations procedure to Sri Lanka with this.”

“As a Company engaged in the handling highly inflammable LPG as the core product, safety is a key value for us and for our customers. This process will rule out any compromises on safety given the fact that the installation is safely placed outside the living areas. We will be ensuring a 24/7 support service while also ensuring maximum safety levels”, he points out.

Litro Gas Lanka is a member of The World LPG Association (WLPGA); while adhering in all operational protocols to the global standards and parameters stipulated for the LPG industry, the Company will be deploying industry specific equipment, accessories and installations for its pipe line operation.

Litro Gas Lanka has obtained and following local and global standards of ISO (International Organization for Standardization), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), BS (British Standard), ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and SLS (Sri Lanka Standards Institute) along with other safety protocols required by local authorities.

Janaka Pathirathna, Director – Sales & Marketing at Litro Gas Lanka says that on demand model of LPG supply ensures an uninterrupted supply, while giving customers a hassle free, doorstep service that is convenient and easy to obtain.

“It promises to be a unique and a world class product that comes with international standards in safety and customer experience. There will be several product categories & packages that will offer various benefits to customers, based on their specific needs. We will also introduce attractive payment methods for the convenience of customers, “he adds.

Litro Gas Lanka plays a pivotal role in the country’s energy sector with a 75% market share and a network of 42 distributors, over 14,000 points-of-sale, 1,500 home delivery hubs and a seamless supply of LPG throughout Sri Lanka. The Company maintains a strong market presence with their Litro Gas Home Delivery Mobile App and a dedicated 1311 customer care hotline.

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Ceylinco Life donates High Flow Nasal Cannula

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Ceylinco Life recently donated High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) equipment to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital at Kalubowila, responding to an urgent need to enhance the non-invasive ventilator facilities for patients with severe hypoxic respiratory failure.

The HFNC equipment donated by the company will be used at the four-bed surgical High Dependency Unit (HDU) previously donated by Ceylinco Life to Ward 24 of the hospital. The High Flow Nasal Cannula is used by the medical team to bridge patients being weaned from invasive ventilation.

Ceylinco Life has built, equipped and donated High Dependency Units to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila, the National Hospital, Colombo, the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital and the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. HDUs are needed to upgrade a patient from normal care or as a step down from intensive care, helping release beds in the intensive care units. These units are used for post-surgery care, before transferring patients to the wards, or to treat an intensive disease.

Pictured here at the donation of High Flow Nasal Cannula equipment to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila are Ceylinco Life’s Senior Assistant General Manager – Alternative Channels & Emerging Business Lakshika Keragala (extreme left), the hospital’s Consultant Surgeon Dr Malith Nandasena, and medical and nursing staff of the hospital.

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