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Pathfinder and Visa team up to help Micro & SME sectors to meet post-Covid challenges

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Tourism/inbound & leisure supply chain will also benefit

Mr Rajendra Theagarajah, Senior Visiting Fellow, Pathfinder Foundation led a small work group to examine the implications of the April 2019 terror attacks and subsequent Covid-19 Pandemic on the Micro and Small & Medium Enterprise segment (SME) and tourism/ inbound leisure sector related supply chains.  

The study also took the opportunity to examine the current state of the ‘startup’ ecosystem, specifically the Fin-tec and Agri-tec players, and the opportunities for this sector to energise the MSME/SME segment in contributing meaningfully towards the economic revival of Sri Lanka. Visa, the global leader in digital payments, joined Pathfinder as a strategic partner in bringing local and global insights relating to the role of ‘digitalisation’ in the above conversation, a Pathfinder news release said. 

“Knowledgeable and experienced persons ranging from policy makers, private sector and business chambers were invited as panellists at the three workshops moderated by Mr. Theagarajah as a part of the study,” it said.

The Pathfinder Foundation earlier submitted a comprehensive list of recommendations for consideration by the Government in July of 2020, which was captured under “Beyond the Box: A New Economic Vision for Post Covid-19 Sri Lanka.”

This Report, which was handed over to newly appointed Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa at his ministry, focuses on identifying essential elements and “pain points” for Micro/ SME enterprises, new generation of emerging Fin-Tec and Agri Tec entrepreneurs and businesses involve in tourism/ inbound travel related ventures.

It suggests ways and means of how “digitalisation” can contribute towards energising these businesses and fostering Sri Lanka’s future economic revival. The knowledge and expertise of a global leader such as Visa in the area of digital payments further strengthens the recommendations identified, the release said.

The report also takes cognizance of some of the macro strategic recommendations made in the Foundation’s July 2020 submission. The six key recommendations identified in the report are categorized as short-term operational interventions and medium / long term policy interventions.

A copy of the report can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/pathfinderfoundation

 

 



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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