Sri Lanka’s Joint Chambers have issued a statement on the impact of the foreign exchange crisis on the businesses in the country and urged the government put Sri Lanka back on track to stage a strong post-pandemic recovery to reach vistas of prosperity and splendor as envisioned.
Read the full statement below:
We wish to draw the attention of the Government to the difficulties faced by our member companies and the broader private sector in obtaining foreign currency to finance much needed imports due to the prevailing situation with regard to the lack of availability of foreign currency. This will affect in maintaining the credibility of doing business with our suppliers and business associates with whom we transact in foreign currency. At present we face the difficulties in obtaining foreign currency to finance much needed imports due to the prevailing situation with regard to the lack of availability of foreign currency.
These range from not being able to obtain letters of credit to the inability to clear goods that have already arrived in the port due to delays experienced in honouring letters of credit. Further, this impact is also felt by indirect exporters and firms providing support services for exports. We are concerned that while the importers themselves will face immense financial costs in the form of demurrage and other logistics related costs, it will also affect longstanding relationships built with suppliers resulting in a serious and irreversible loss of confidence. Importers are also unable to secure orders due to the inability to agree on a firm payment schedule as required by suppliers. This will seriously impede the availability of essential products especially during the upcoming festive period during which consumer demand is typically high for most products. This can cause great hardship to the public at large and may result in a significant increase in the cost of living.
Further, the banking system will also face difficulties as a result of not being able to meet the needs of their longstanding customers and could eventually experience a serious loss of reputation if they are compelled to dishonor committed payments. The Government will also experience a loss of revenue due to a drop in import duties at a time when increasing government revenue is of paramount importance.
While appreciating the efforts being taken by the Government to mobilise short term funding from a number of sources by way of swaps and credit lines, we urge the Government to finalise the negotiations on some of these arrangements and announce them with certainty as soon as possible with a clear indication when such facilities will become available. If these actions as envisaged by the recently announced Roadmap by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka are not materializing within the anticipated time-frames, we earnestly request the Government to reconsider other alternative courses of action available to the country such as engaging with IMF to explore the funding options they can offer.
If these conditions that are critical for ease of doing business do not improve, we are concerned that it will result in many local companies looking to relocate their business operations overseas. It will also seriously constrain our ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country. Therefore, we wish to urge the relevant authorities in Government to take quick remedial action to avoid the negative consequences as outlined above and put Sri Lanka back on track to stage a strong post-pandemic recovery to reach vistas of prosperity and splendor as envisioned.
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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