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Red Cross raising funds to aid vulnerable communities in Sri Lanka



= 96% of more than 2,900 households surveyed have been affected by the current crisis in some way

=Launches urgent call for humanitarian financing until core economic issues are addressed by government

= Says humanitarian assistance for a certain period of time can mitigate risks of negative coping mechanisms

=Effort not seen easy as donors prioritize among other crises in the world

By Sanath Nanayakkare

A survey report produced by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provides first-hand evidence of how the most vulnerable people, who are already under the poverty line, are being driven further towards despair.The report gravely warns that without immediate humanitarian interventions, the impact on communities is likely to be long-lasting and cumulative.To meet the country’s spiralling needs, the IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance for 28 million Swiss francs in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross. The Island learned that 15% of the target amount of donations has already been received from donors in the U.K., Canada, Japan and a number of other nations that are empathetic towards Sri Lanka.

The needs assessment conducted by Red Cross in 11 of the country’s 25 districts has found that 96% of more than 2,900 households surveyed have been affected by the current crisis in some way—with food insecurity, health, livelihoods, and nutrition among the top concerns. Deteriorating physical safety and security, as well as violence against women and children stood out in the report.It uncovered worryingly high problem of access to food, either because of high cost, income stress or lack of availability. Runaway inflation and loss of livelihoods have doubly impacted people’s ability to cope with the record cost of living. Income loss is causing significant food insecurity, while inflation is driving up the cost of medicine and fuel costs are preventing access to essential healthcare.

Alexander Matheou, Regional Director, Asia Pacific of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who was on a visit to Colombo to meet with affected communities, government authorities and the diplomatic community said:

“The deepening economic crisis is forcing people to make heartbreaking choices between going hungry, buying life-saving medicine, or finding the money to send children to school. Our survey is not exhausted, so we cannot say it’s a final statement, but it indicated that vulnerability is being experienced evenly across the country and some groups are more affected than others.”

“I think that a survey like this one is going to help because it’s evidence-based. Our argument is widely accepted that in an economic crisis like this vulnerable communities’ income is affected, and so, the coping mechanisms tend to be negative. They sell their assets. Children may drop out of school, girls may get married early; these are all negative coping mechanisms from which it is very difficult to recover. Our argument is that humanitarian assistance for a certain period of time can mitigate the risks of some of those negative coping mechanisms. This is not a permanent solution. So we are always in favour of development financing, World Bank loans, ADB loans, debt restructuring and assurances from bilateral partners because ultimately the solution has to be found out at governmental level. We hope that friends of Sri Lanka will recognise that humanitarian support should be part of how they are trying to work with this country throughout this crisis; not the core issues, but the humanitarian aspects of it. We hope we will be successful in persuading donors. I understand that donors will have to prioritize among other crises in the world. So I don’t think it will be easy. But I think the argument is strong and this survey will help us make this argument in a more compelling way.”

“Hopefully this economic crisis won’t last forever. So we think if we can intervene for a year two for the most vulnerable people and can mitigate the risks of those negative coping mechanisms being adopted, that will be a good intervention.”

“The ideal intervention will be with cash distribution because cash allows people to make those choices. Should I eat? Should I take medicine? Do I fix my roof? What is posing the greatest pain and risk in my life? Sometimes you have to provide nutritional support for pregnant mothers and breast-feeding mothers. That will be one of the interventions we make. We may look at an agreement with the government for school feeding programmes which is a very good way to keep children in school. If any ongoing school feeding programme is stopped, that’s another area we can intervene. We are also very keen to find ways to have feedback mechanisms and raise awareness on the risks of sexual and gender-based violence because the prevalence of these goes up when poverty increases. We are keeping an eye on that as well. Anything we can do to mitigate that we shall try.

“Humanitarian action is particularly important which is by nature neutral and impartial. Humanitarian financing can alleviate suffering of vulnerable people in a non-political way and when that financing is released, it will not be politicised.”

“Our main priorities remain meeting humanitarian needs at its worst. Unless this is done effectively and quickly, people who are struggling now will find themselves on a demeaning pathway to destitution from which there is no escape. The time to act is now.” Swiss franc to US dollar exchange rate: 1.001 USD equals 1 Swiss franc.

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BOI reports FDI inflows of US$ 713 million in first nine months of 2022



From left: Raja Edirisuriya, BOI Chairman, Dilum Amunugama, State Minister of Investment Promotion and Renuka Weerakone, Director General of BOI

Signs 123 agreements to the value of US$ 1.9 billion in first 11 months

The Board of Investments of Sri Lanka (BOI) has attracted foreign direct investment at record levels notwithstanding a spate of global and local volatilities with total FDI inflows amounting to US$ 713 million in the first nine months of 2022, which is 71% of the 2022 full-year target of US$ 1 bn, revealed State Minister of Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama.

Further, as of the first eleven months, BOI has inked a total of 123 agreements to the value of US$ 1.9 billion, which consists of US$ 1.5 billion in new projects and US$ 400 million in expansions.

New projects are from countries such as India, Japan, Norway, Hong Kong, the UK, the USA, and Singapore. Out of 41 new projects, the majority are for the manufacturing sector including apparel followed by ICT, Tourism, Infrastructure, Utilities, Services, and Agriculture sectors while most of the expansions of existing projects are from the manufacturing sector including apparel followed by logistics, telecommunication, ICT and Agriculture sectors.

Meanwhile, the export revenue of BOI enterprises topped US$ 7.9 Bn for the period from January to November 26, 2022.

Taking a look at the statistics related to merchandise exports, data from BOI Research & Policy Advocacy Department highlight that all export items except food, paper, and horticultural products have shown a significant increase in the given period compared to the corresponding period in 2021.

Accordingly, wearing apparel (excluding leather gar.) exports grew 8 % to US$ 4591.86 million in 2022 compared to the US$ 4261.48 million recorded in 2021, while rubber exports grew 3 % to US$ 1,052 million.

Also, other manufactured products (N.E.S.) exports grew 112 % to US$ 477 million, while PVC products grew 20 % to US$ 100.54 million.

In addition, export earnings from Jewellery & Lapidary increased by 16 % to US$ 134.99 million in 2022 while Leather Products (Including Leather Gar.) grew 72 % to US$ 16.32 and Footwear exports grew 146% to 2.6 million.

Apparel exports show the highest earnings in 2022 while footwear exports show the highest percentage in terms of growth.

The BOI has always been the forerunner of Sri Lanka’s export industry contributing over 65% to the country’s overall export earnings and 85% to the national industrial export earnings.

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Canisius Fernando re-elected CNCI Chairman for another term



Ceylinco Life directors and representatives of the senior management

The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) had its 61st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 25th November 2022 at Hotel Taj Samudra, Colombo. Thilaka Jayasundara, Secretary, Ministry of Industries was the Chief Guest while Chaminda pathiraja, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries was the Guest of Honour. Canisius Fernando, who had been the Chairman – CNCI for the past year was re-elected Chairman for another term at the AGM.

Fernando counts decades of experience in the private sector holding very senior and responsible appointments in reputed organizations in the country.

He has obtained his initial Degree in Management followed by a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. Currently he is holding the position of the Chief Executive Officer of Aqua Packaging (Pvt) Ltd. In addition to his responsibility as the Chairman CNCI, he also holds the honorary appointment of the Chairman of “Indexpo Certification Ltd” which is a Certification Body initiated by the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries together with the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka.

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Ceylinco Life continues green mission with new branch in Minuwangoda



The model of the new building to be constructed

Steadfast in its commitment to a greener environment, Ceylinco Life recently laid the foundation for its newest eco-friendly branch building in Minuwangoda, which will be the first of the Company’s branches to adopt a new low-cost precast concrete technology.

The new building will be built to the environment-friendly specifications adopted for all new branches on Company-owned land, and upon completion will be the 47th property to be owned by Ceylinco Life and the 32nd branch to operate in a Company-owned building.

The two-storey building at No 101, Veyangoda Road, Minuwangoda, will have 3,270 square feet of office space and seven dedicated parking slots.

As per the green mandate of Ceylinco Life, this branch will be powered entirely by a 20kW solar power system that results in zero consumption of electricity from the national grid, will have its own rainwater harvesting facility and a waste-water recycling system, minimising the use of pipe-borne water.

It will also be purpose-designed to make optimal use of natural light and will be fitted with energy-efficient artificial lighting and air conditioning systems. The precast construction method will also ensure minimal timber is used in the construction, the Company said.

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