Interactive session between IMC and Lankan Consulate General in Mumbai
Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai and the Indian Merchant’s Chamber (IMC) organized an interactive session between the committee members of the IMC and the Mission officials recently (Nov 09) at the auditorium of the IMC in Mumbai. Consul General of Sri Lanka to Mumbai Dr. Valsan Vethody graced the event as the chief guest, and he was warmly welcomed by President Juzar Khorakiwala and Director General of the chamber Ajit Mangrulkar upon his arrival. The purpose of the event was to interact with the officials and the committee members of the chamber to explore possible opportunities in expanding trade, investment and tourism between Sri Lanka and the western region of India.
During the welcome address, the President of the IMC while highlighting the longstanding multifaceted bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and India, underlined some of the major promotional activities that IMC has successfully completed in collaboration with the Mission, such as the webinar on “India – Sri Lanka current business environment, opportunities for joint collaborations for Agri and Processed Food Sector” organized on 29 September 2020″ and about the business delegation from the IMC to Sri Lanka in 2017.
In the keynote address the Director General of the IMC sounded curious to know about the developmental reforms laid out by the Sri Lankan government, the sectors opened for the investments and about the present economic situation in Sri Lanka, especially in the context of various adverse media reports in the Indian media. He also underlined the IMC members’ interests for the participation in the economic development process of Sri Lanka on a win-win economic equation favorable for both the parties.
Addressing the gathering and answering the inquiries raised by the committee members, Consul General explained about the present situation in Sri Lanka. During his address, he highlighted the GOSL’s successful vaccination campaign, measures taken by the government to welcome the international travelers and to revive the tourism industry; the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka such as the pharmaceutical zone, textile zone, the port city, opportunities in fisheries & agro-sector; favorable investment climate; improving economic situation; air connectivity and the potential for furthering the trade and investment activities and he clarified the adverse propaganda on the Hambantota harbor, the Port City and on the ‘so-called Chinese geo-strategic interest in Sri Lanka’. He went on to clarify the adverse media reports on foreign currency issue in Sri Lanka stating that it’s not a structural issue, but only a short-term liquidity issue due to the covid pandemic and that the central bank of Sri Lanka has already begun the process of normalizing the situation.
When inquired about China’s growing geo-strategic influence in Sri Lanka, Consul General Dr. Vethody clarified that we Sri Lankans are proud of our sovereignty and integrity and we will never be subservient to any other nations, and the ‘so-called Chinese economic presence in Sri Lanka’ is purely due to economic factors. He cited the examples of how Sri Lanka finished the separatist war despite mounting foreign pressure from powerful nations and the incidents of how a Chinese ship with undeclared radioactive material was sent out of Hambantota harbor and the recent incident of Sri Lanka not accepting the fertilizer consignment from Chinese company as the samples were tested contaminated. He invited Indian investors to participate to capture the opportunities in Sri Lanka without making up presumptions afterwards. All the participants were invited to attend the upcoming investment seminar organized by the Mission in association with the Confederation of the Indian Industries (CII), Gujarat Chapter).
IMC is a long-standing business association with rich heritage in Mumbai. Most of the major business establishments and industrialists in Mumbai and the western region of India, such as Reliance, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, etc. are the members of the IMC. It has a membership base of over 5000 members and over 150 trade associations affiliated to it. The chamber was established on 07 September 1907 by few Indian Merchants, to fight for the rights of the local businesses’ interests. In recognition of the Chamber’s contribution to nation building, Mahatma Gandhi accepted honorary membership in 1931.The foundation stone of the Chambers’ building in Churchgate at Mumbai was laid by Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Chamber’s core function during the present time is to provide policy inputs and to promote interests of industry and economic growth of the country.
Consul General was assisted by Consul (Commercial) Sandun Sameera of the Mission during the visit.
Overtime gravy train for public sector back
Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.
The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.
Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.
Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.
Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.
Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.
One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.
Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.
Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.
Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.
The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)
Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.
The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.
They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.
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