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IPS sees path ahead for Sri Lanka even as economic challenges mount

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Even though macroeconomic pressures and external challenges are weighing on Sri Lanka’s fiscal situation, the country has a path ahead for growth and sustainability if it puts its fiscal house in order over the next three years, Dr. Dushni Weerakoon, Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) said last week.

She made this remark while speaking at an online seminar after launching the State of the Economy- 2020 Report compiled by the IPS titled “Pandemics and Disruptions: Reviving Sri Lanka’s Economy COVID-19 and Beyond.”

Elaborating further she said, “Policy environment is critical to achieving resilient growth and economic stability in order to position Sri Lanka as a middle income country in the next 2-3 years”.

“Prevailing macroeconomic conditions in Sri Lanka are challenging. The debt overhang is the prime concern. This debt situation didn’t happen overnight, It crept up over the past decade or so. It hasn’t left room for more robust support packages for people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to rethink our policies not only to achieve a sustainable growth path, but we need to build a firewall to withstand any external shocks in the future”.

“Sound fiscal policy in order to put the public finances in order should be the focus of the upcoming budget and government policy in the coming years”.

“If a sovereign rating assessment goes against Sri Lanka in the offing, it could cause a sudden devaluation of the rupee and as a result of it, the size of our foreign currency loans will balloon”.

“The pressure on our forex reserves needs to be eased. FDIs need to be attracted to the construction and real estate sector to ease the immediate pressure and thereafter move on to a growth strategy driven by productivity and technology to become a middle-income country”.

“The minimizing of wasteful expenditure in the public sector won’t make much of a difference. The government will have to lead social welfare. We will have to spend more on health, education and social protection in the recovery phase”.

“The debt stock will persist in the next decade albeit a brief break in between. So, we need to shore up our forex buffers – not with borrowed funds but with investments that bring in manufacturing and services with knowledge transfer on technology”.

“The government has decided not to obtain large loans for infrastructure projects in the next 2-3 years to control the debt stock. Fiscal re-balancing and ensuring systematic tax revenue would be vital for medium-term stability”.

“We needed certain monetary policy stances and import restrictions to face the current situation, but we should see them as necessary short term measures only. Beyond recovery, we need a new system which is agile enough to integrate with the global supply chain and be part of that success as they jump start their economies”.

“We need to raise funds through international sovereign bonds, foreign term deposits etc. For the past one and a half decades, Sri Lanka has had experience on foreign funded projects. We have experience on capital spending, converting debt to equity in infrastructure development projects etc. We can learn from them and seek funding on our terms”.

“Wider fiscal space will also assist the government to provide better social welfare support to the poor. Sri Lanka’s budget deficit is estimated to be between 9-11% in 2020, and public revenue streams remain uncertain even in 2021, according to analysts. This together with low debt sustainability was partly why Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating was downgraded earlier this month by international rating agency Moody’s”.”Sri Lanka cannot afford to lose out by holding onto protectionist measures. A seamless tariff regime is needed to join international value chains, and as the world recovers, we must rethink our approach to trade”.

“On the back of Sri Lanka’s political stability, the country can rethink its economic policies and come through its macroeconomic challenges,” Dr. Dushni Weerakoon noted.



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Dialog Enterprise with Fortinet strengthens the security of its Managed SD-WAN Service for Sri Lankan Enterprises

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Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, announced the strengthening of its Flexnet managed SD-WAN service leveraging the Secure SD-WAN solution from Fortinet, a global leader in cybersecurity with broad and integrated solutions.

Dialog Enterprise pioneered the Sri Lanka’s first Managed SD-WAN service with the release of its Flexnet offering since September 2019. Two years after, most modern organisations are embracing digital acceleration, driving demand for greater agility in networks in order to stay competitive and deliver superior customer experiences. With the scale and variety of cyber threats continuing to grow, Dialog Enterprise enhances its Flexnet service with the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN. Fortinet Secure SD-WAN accelerates network and security convergence, aims at simplifying WAN architecture, and securing work-from-anywhere new normality with embedded ZTNA (zero-trust network access) Access Proxy for explicit per-user application access controls. It delivers integrated security and safer access to internal and external data and applications wherever they are residing, on-premises, or in the cloud.

By integrating Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution to its Flexnet managed SD-WAN service, Dialog Enterprise will enable its customers the ability to cost-effectively eliminate security gaps in their network while gaining the benefits of advanced routing and self-healing WAN capabilities to ensure superior quality of experience for their users, and an increased business uptime. Additionally, an improved connectivity and user experience can be achieved through an integrated security by prioritizing network traffic and reduced latency. As well as the benefit of an integrated security by prioritizing network traffic is achieved by offering, unified thread management, SSL inspection and proactive security threat prevention.

“With the recent shift to remote working, cloud adaptation and SaaS usage accelerating SD-WAN adoption with organizations, many of our customers in the government, finance, retail, services and manufacturing industries will benefit from Dialog Enterprise’s Managed SD-WAN based on the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution. It provides us with an integrated, one-stop management and orchestration console to ensure that connections, configurations, advanced routing features and protections are easily configurable. Being the only Fortinet Managed Security Service Provider in Sri Lanka, we have already been able to provide Secure SDWAN solutions with Fortinet in over 1000 locations across the island.” said Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer – Dialog Enterprise at Dialog Axiata PLC.

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SLT-MOBITEL completes first phase of Amazon Alexa integrations for Home Broadband customers offering exciting digital lifestyles

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The first phase of fully integrating Amazon Alexa for SLT-MOBITEL Home Broadband customers was successfully concluded recently. Now customers can seek help from Amazon’s virtual smart assistant Alexa and obtain a range of information on SLT-MOBITEL services such as Voice, Broadband, PEO TV services etc. ensuring subscribers experience exciting new intelligent built digital lifestyles.

Pictured Dilshan Boteju, Chief Executive Officer of The Connection Workshop, handing over the report on the concluded project to Prabhath Dahanayake, Chief Marketing Officer SLT. Also present were Lathika Weerasinghe, Administrative Coordinator, Anup Silva, Lead Developer Alexa program of The Connection Workshop, Ayoma Wickramaarachchi, Deputy General Manager, Product Development & Management of SLT, Ruwan Rekogama, Engineer-Product Development & Management of SLT.

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Loops wins big at SLIM DIGIS

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Award-winning creative-led integrated marketing agency, Loops Integrated, received 6 recognitions, including a Gold, at the SLIM DIGIS Awards, held on the 25th of January 2022. Loops Integrated received the only Gold DIGI in the Banking and Finance category for Softlogic Invest’s “This Could Be You” campaign, a Silver DIGI in the Performance Marketing category for British Council’s IELTS programme, and another Silver DIGI in the Best Use of Branded Content category for Sri Lankan Airlines. In addition to these three prestigious awards, Loops Integrated also received 3 finalist awards for the Banking & Finance, Performance Marketing and Best Use of Branded Content categories.

Discussing the awards, CEO at Loops, Wasaam Ismail said, “We work with our clients as partners, therefore it’s important to say a big thank you to them for having faith in us and letting us take their campaigns to town. Putting together creative-led campaigns amidst working from home during periodic lockdowns is nothing short of a herculean undertaking, which would not have been possible without our stellar team. Therefore, I must also acknowledge and appreciate our exceptionally talented, committed, dedicated and mind-blowingly fun team here at Loops, without whom none of this would be possible. A big thank you also to SLIM for ensuring that digital marketers in Sri Lanka have a national platform upon which to be recognized.”

The SLIM DIGIS awards is organized by the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) and recognizes and celebrates Sri Lanka’s best digital marketing work, innovation and talent. SLIM is the national body for marketing in Sri Lanka and the SLIM DIGIS is among Sri Lanka’s most prestigious awards programmes that recognize innovation and budding talent in the digital marketing space.

Loops is an award-winning Creative Led Integrated Marketing Agency with operations in Sri Lanka, Qatar, Malaysia & Australia. The agency has worked with over 250 brands in 15 countries and has over 50 awards for its efforts in creative and digital excellence, awarded by both international and local bodies. Visit www.loops.lk to learn more.

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