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John Keells launches Digital Learning Initiative to support online education of school children

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John Keells Foundation (JKF) launched the pilot of John Keells Praja Shakthi Digital Learning Initiative on 11th November 2021 in Ranala. As a medium-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to facilitate online based learning of disadvantaged school children who are preparing for public examinations in the midst of the pandemic and mitigate the increase in inequalities in accessing educational opportunities.

The pilot project involves the distribution of a total of 100 Samsung A8 tabs and data packages to selected O’Level and A’Level students in John Keells Praja Shakthi locations in Colombo 2 and Ranala for the duration of the respective course of study. JKF is partnered in this initiative by Deutsche Bank as co-funder and John Keells Office Automation (JKOA) and Dialog Axiata PLC as suppliers of devices and data packages respectively at concessionary rates. Elephant House was the logistics partner for the Ranala event.

During the simple event held at the Elephant House Factory in Ranala in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, 50 tabs were distributed to selected O’Level students from four government schools, namely, Dedigamuwa K.V, Dewamitta M.V, Munidasa Kumarathunga Vidyalaya and Philip Thilakawardhane M.V.

Addressing the gathering, JKF’s Head of Operations, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya said, “John Keells Foundation decided to initiate this project taking into account the numerous hardships faced by school children, especially in examination years, to pursue their education amidst the pandemic including school closures and the challenges in accessing online education due to the unaffordability of devices and data. We are delighted to be partnered by responsible corporates such as Deutsche Bank, JKOA and Dialog Axiata in this pilot initiative. Whilst all of us consider this as an investment on the education of our youth, we firmly hope that you, the beneficiary students, will optimize this opportunity to pursue your educational endeavours responsibly.”

The event was also graced by Chathura Mihidum, Divisional Secretary, Kaduwela, Ms. Anuradha Samarakoon, Divisional Education Director, Ranala, Daminda Gamlath, John Keells Group President – Consumer Foods, Sanjeewa Jayasundara, CCS’ Head of Operations – Supply Chain, Pasan Jayasinghe – Vice President Deutsche Bank and Harsha De Zoysa – Senior Sector Manager, Large Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC.

The distribution to Colombo students took place on 22nd November at Cinnamon Grand, the logistics partner for the event.

The project is designed so that tabs will be re-pooled after the completion of the recipients’ study course to benefit another cohort of deserving students. To ensure the due use of the device and enhance the impact of this intervention, JKF will be monitoring the educational progress of the students through the school principals as well as backend mechanisms.

John Keells Praja Shakthi is a sustainable community empowerment project initiated by JKF in and around the John Keells Group’s business locations through strategic interventions. The multistakeholder collaboration on the new project is a testament to the strength of partnerships in empowering communities through sustainable initiatives.

Education is one of the six focus areas of John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), a company listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 16 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative,

‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.



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Business

Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets

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Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Business

Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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