- Acting Ambassador inspires hope on resuming ODA projects spearheaded by Japan
- Hopes transparency and consistency will be enhanced through reforms
- Urges Sri Lanka to work on rooting out corruption and reforming SOEs
- Says Expo 2025 in Osaka can enhance attractiveness of Sri Lanka to the world
By Sanath Nanayakkare
Kotaro Katsuki, the Acting Ambassador for Japan in Sri Lanka said in Colombo on May 26 that the Japanese Embassy would follow through the bilateral economic cooperation and business discussions President Ranil Wickremesinghe had during his visit to Japan last week.
“President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed the 28th Nikkei Future of Asia Conference held in Tokyo. During this visit, President Wickremesinghe held bilateral discussions with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Minister of Finance Suzuki Shunichi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa and Minister for Digital Transformation Taro Kono. President Wickremesinghe also exchanged views with the business community at economic events, which we believe will lead to stronger bilateral relations and we will be following through the action items of these business and economic events,” he said.
The Ambassador made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech as Chief Guest at the ceremonial opening of the ‘Build SL’ Housing and Construction International Exhibition 2023, organised by the Chamber of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe during his visit to Japan last week engaged in a pivotal business roundtable on ‘Sri Lanka’s Economic Revival and Opportunities for Japanese Enterprise,’ where he presented the nation’s commitment to stabilising and liberalising the economy while earnestly inviting new Japanese ventures.
The Acting Ambassador further speaking at the Build SL launch ceremony said,” It is my great pleasure to be invited to the Build SL Housing & Construction Expo 2023 of Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka. I congratulate Sri Lanka on obtaining the approval of the IMF Executive Board on March 20th for its Extended Fund Facility. This came after a lot of work done by the Sri Lankan authorities and recognition from the international community on the reforms that have been carried out such as fiscal reform. We welcome this major step towards the revitalization of the Sri Lankan economy. The ‘Build SL’ exhibition comes at a very timely moment, which brings together companies in the construction industry with great potential to stimulate economic growth of this country.”
“Last year, Japan and Sri Lanka celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations established in 1952, and the construction of the Inginimitiya Irrigation Dam began in 1978 as the first Official Development Assistance (ODA) project.”
“In the 80s, development projects were carried out at the Colombo Port. In the 90s, Baseline Road improvement and Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Bridge expansion projects were implemented. In the 2000s, the Colombo International Airport improvement project and the construction of the Southern Expressway, the first expressway in Sri Lanka, and Colombo Outer Circular Highway as well as local road improvement and development projects added to the list. In the 2010s, consultations for Phase 2 of the Bandaranaike International Airport Improvement Project began, as well as major bridges construction project of the national road network and the landslide disaster protection project of the national road.”
“It’s a great honour to see some of the Japan’s iconic ODA projects adorning Sri Lanka’s currency notes in circulation blending with other distinct national symbols.”
“After my arrival in Sri Lanka in August 2021, the Golden Gate Kalyani Bridge, was completed in November of that year, This Bridge has become a landmark in the metropolis of Colombo and has contributed significantly to easing traffic congestion on surrounding roads, and is the first ever extradosed engineering design in Sri Lanka. We are delighted to have been able to transfer Japanese state of the art technology to Sri Lanka through this project.”
“The Japanese Embassy building in Gregory’s Road is currently undergoing refurbishing. In all of these projects, Sri Lankan construction companies have been good partners of Japanese companies in its implementation and the construction industry has made a significant contribution to the country’s development. However, we are aware that the entire industry has been severely affected by the current economic crisis, which has led to the suspension of public works projects.”
“Allow me to touch upon some contributions by Japan in response to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. In order to support Sri Lanka, the Government of Japan has provided up to approximately 93 million USD worth of inundated grant assistance to Sri Lanka since 2022.”
“Sri Lanka has been going through difficult times due to a series of adversities such as the Easter Sunday terror attacks in 2019, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ongoing economic and social crisis. However, now is a great opportunity to recover from this situation. To that end, based on the IMF agreement, we would be delighted to see Sri Lanka assiduously work on a series of reforms such as rooting out corruption and reforming state-owned enterprises.”
“Moreover, in order to make the economy more export-oriented and competitive as mentioned in the 2023 budget, it should entail further strengthening of the manufacturing industry across the board and promotion of the export industry by connecting it to the global supply chain. In considering future assistance to Sri Lanka, Japan would like to support Sri Lanka’s effort to make its economy more resilient.”
“In addition, it is essential to attract foreign investment in order to achieve sustainable and stable economic growth by way of improving the investment environment. We hope that transparency, efficiency and consistency will be enhanced through the reforms, which are taking place.”
“Now, I would like to catch up on future-oriented initiatives spearheaded by Japan that will lead to further development of both Japanese and Sri Lankan companies and collaboration between our respective companies.”
“The first initiative is related to climate change and decarbonisation. In October 2022, our two countries signed an agreement on a Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM). With the collaboration between Japanese and Sri Lankan companies and the support from the Japanese government, this Joint Crediting Mechanism will allow for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by harnessing decarbonisation and renewable energy technologies to Sri Lanka. With this program, it is hoped that Japanese companies will find it more attractive to invest in the field of renewable energies or decarbonization projects in Sri Lanka with their innovative technologies and solutions.”
“Japan is going to hold Expo 2025 in Osaka in April 2025. This event will present another great opportunity to attract attention and investment from Japan to Sri Lanka, in the field of trade, investment and tourism. The Sri Lankan government has already expressed its intention to participate in this event. I hope that both the private and public sectors of Sri Lanka will jointly make the most out of this Expo 2025 to promote the attractiveness of Sri Lanka to the world. I hope that these initiatives will bring about new business opportunities for both Sri Lankan and Japanese businesses.”
“In the future, the development of the construction industry in Sri Lanka will become increasingly important for the country to overcome the current economic crisis and achieve sustainable development. Japan will continue to be involved in the resumption of ODA projects, including the Bandaranaike International Airport expansion project, which is currently suspended due to the situation in this country and in order to move forward, it’s important for the Sri Lankan Government to work on restructuring its debt and to improve the economic and financial situation in a transparent manner working closely with the IMF, Paris Club and other entities.”
The Acting Japanese Ambassador concluded his remarks by expressing Japan’s determination to continue to stand by Sri Lanka as its partner, and to support Sri Lanka to reach its full potential towards building a strong and vibrant economy.
David Cameron to address Port City Colombo UAE Roadshow
Port City Colombo is set to launch a Roadshow in the UAE showcasing investment opportunities and incentives for global investors. This significant event marks the initiation of a key global marketing drive, inviting investors from across the world to explore the diverse investment prospects available at PCC.
Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron will address an exclusive, closed-door forum on the strengthening ties between the UAE, Indo-Pacific region and the role of Sri Lanka in this new trend gaining increased momentum. The discussion will showcase the UAE’s role as an international player that can concurrently engage with multiple partners, including in the Indo-Pacific region. Expected to represent more than 50 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2040, Asia is increasingly becoming the new economic global power centre of the 21st century. In this context, the UAE aims to strengthen its connections with the Indo-Pacific region and Sri Lanka will play a crucial role in this partnership with its trade and investment offerings particularly through the up-coming multi-billion dollar Port City Colombo development project.
Port City Colombo is a visionary FDI-funded mixed development project that aims to redefine Sri Lanka’s economic and social landscape. Built on reclaimed land, adjacent to the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, PCC will offer a cosmopolitan lifestyle, world-class infrastructure, and sustainable living. As a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), it also provides a range of incentives and benefits for businesses, making it an ideal destination for international businesses, hotel owners and operators to establish their presence in Sri Lanka. The SEZ’s independent governance framework, by way of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC), is also setting the stage for PCC to become one of the easiest places to do business in the region, further cementing its prospects as the Gateway to South Asia.
The Port City Colombo UAE Roadshow arrives on the heels of a significant milestone achieved by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC) recently gaining Cabinet approval for its Businesses of Strategic Importance (BSI) Guidelines, a move that underscores its commitment to transforming Port City Colombo into a globally competitive special economic zone.
Under the approved guidelines, primary and secondary businesses of strategic importance will receive a range of incentives, including exemptions from relevant enactments, favourable corporate tax rates, and enhanced capital allowances. These incentives aim to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive within PCC, further enhancing its appeal to investors. Among these incentives are tax breaks and regulatory mechanisms, aimed at facilitating seamless business operations and ensuring a favourable investment environment for both local and international entrepreneurs.
The CPCEC has worked closely with international advisory firms to benchmark its efforts, ensuring that Port City Colombo’s regulatory framework aligns with global standards. The result is a transparent and business-friendly environment that caters to the unique needs of primary and secondary businesses of strategic importance.
Accordingly, Port City Colombo presents a diverse range of business and investment opportunities that cater to various interests and sectors. Prospective investors can enter into sectors such as real estate development, regional trading and hub operations, luxurious residential and retail spaces, and more. This broad spectrum ensures that investors of all backgrounds can find their niche within PCC, fostering a thriving and diverse economic ecosystem.
Despite love and hate, National Carrier is a must-have for its economy: SriLankan CEO
By Sanath Nanayakkare
National airlines are usually the most loved and the most criticised operation in many countries and Sri Lanka is a clear example for this, Richard Nuttall, the Chief Executive Officer at Sri Lankan Airlines said at the Aviation College in Katunayake recently.
He said so while delivering the keynote speech at a workshop held for a group of media personnel who write, broadcast and telecast aviation news for their respective media organisations.
The two-day media workshop no doubt helped create more understanding of the aviation industry and why it’s important, and even more so how the National Carrier best serves its passengers and contributes to the economy despite having to deal with ill-considered and uninformed comments made in the main stream media and social media platforms.
“If you do a survey, you will find that the most favorite airline is the most hated airline at the same time, which is true for Sri Lanka too. Sri Lankans are in a state of having two opposing feelings at the same about the National Carrier, or are uncertain about how they should feel about it,” he said.
Further speaking SriLankan CEO said,” Most often what is get reported is about ‘I had to wait an hour at the airport, or a flight turned back due to technical fault, but the reality is we are carrying 5 million passengers a year, and when you have 5 million passengers a year, it means 1,500 passengers through 15 desks in an hour. Such trivial things happen everywhere in the world and there are lot worse places in terms of such occurrences. Everywhere you would see a flight turning back or something happens on a flight and the airline says,” we don’t continue and we need to go back to base’. If you Google and search, you will find that it happens to any carrier in the world. So, what we want is to let the conversation move beyond instead of talking about small things; how we handle 5 million passengers a year on thousands of flights to many destinations. For example, if a Hajj pilgrim at the end of his life unfortunately passes away on a flight, it is not news. It is a general incident. This is why we want to lift the conversation and the understanding to a different level and see whether we could get the people who are really interested in aviation to see how the industry works so that we can have more informed views about the big picture of the industry. Aviation is a very complex business and it requires a lot of commitment and many, many skills. Sri Lankan Airlines has many personnel with a huge amount of training. For example, it takes years of hard work to become a pilot. It takes years to become an engineer. Like everybody else, we have IT experts, accounting professionals etc. We have about 100 IT systems integrated into our operational system. We have personnel who do revenue management, who set prices and plan where the aircrafts go. In addition, we have Catering, Ground Services and we provide maintenance for other carriers. Some of them stay with SriLankan for longer periods and others choose to work for other airlines. So, this is a huge, complex industry and SriLankan Airlines is a big company. We are highly regulated and we need to get permission from various governments where we arrive. And we need to operate in compliance with the safety protocols of not only the Civil Aviation Authority in Sri Lanka but also of civil aviation authorities from across the world. Everything we do in flying and on the ground is regulated and if we don’t follow these procedures, we might not be allowed to fly to Europe tomorrow. So it is more important to have an understanding of how SriLankan Airlines maintain these highest standards rather than anything else.”
“Aviation is probably worth about 5-6% of GDP for most countries and if we didn’t have aviation, that contribution wouldn’t be there. We employ 6,000 people. Around the ecosystem, there are many other people employed in civil aviation, in airports, as travel agents, as cargo agents etc. Hotels and tourism industry which directly and indirectly supports 10% of the population wouldn’t be able to operate if we didn’t engage in connectivity. If you look around the world at strongest economies, they all have a strong airline. What’s the hub in the Middle East? It’s Dubai and it grew on the back of Emirates. Etihad, Qatar, Saudi Arabia flights go there and their economy is driven hand in hand with Emirates. The financial centres of the world such as London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Hong Kong, and New York, all have major airlines based there with flights going in all directions. All regional airline offices in Africa are based in Nairobi. Kenya Airways is based in Nairobi. So aviation and airlines are really, really critical to any given country’s economy, businesses and tourism. This is why countries need to have strong airlines and all the reasons for having a strong national carrier for those important networks to work seamlessly. Today SriLankan flies to 35 destinations and as a ‘oneworld member’, we connect to hundreds of destinations across the world. How many people in this country have connections with Australia? If we don’t have an airline based here, nobody would fly nonstop to Australia. The reason for that is those flights are filled with 40% of the passengers coming from India. If we didn’t fly to Australia and didn’t fly to South East Asia maybe 50% of the flights that we fly on Indian routes won’t be there. There are so many people who say that if SriLankan is not there, somebody else will carry that route. That’s not correct. If you get somebody else to fly on maybe 30% of the routes, you just have to go via somewhere else and you will end up paying a lot more airfare. So if you want to build an aviation hub here, grow your tourism, scale up your industries, you have to have a strong national carrier.”
Dialog enables 5G for Apple iPhone users for first time in Sri Lanka
Dialog Axiata PLC, the first telecommunications service provider in the South Asian region to demonstrate 5G capabilities in 2018, has once again achieved a 5G milestone in the country by becoming the first to extend 5G connectivity to Apple iPhone users through its 5G Trial Network.
Users with Apple iPhone models 12 and above and the latest version of iOS (version 17) can now experience the power of 5G and the lightning-fast download and upload speeds of up to 1Gbps on Dialog – Sri Lanka’s largest 5G trial network with over 70 locations island-wide. This service is available in Colombo and select cities nationwide, with locations listed on – www.dialog.lk/5g. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Dialog is offering monthly 5GB free data for its Apple iPhone customers to explore the capabilities of 5G on Dialog’s 5G Trial Network.
This announcement follows a range of 5G milestones and firsts in South Asia and Sri Lanka, including the deployment of the region’s first 5G trial network, the first 5G Standalone (5G SA) network trial, and the first standards-based 5G fixed-wireless pilot transmission in December 2018. Dialog remains committed to pioneering technological advancements in the nation and the region in line with its brand promise of delivering ‘The Future. Today.’
Customers can visit www.dialog.lk/5g to stay updated as Dialog expands its 5G trial network to more locations.
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