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SL outperformed international peers on economic performance in 2020, says Central Bank



by Sanath Nanayakkare

In 2020, the performance of the Sri Lankan economy beat expectations of multilateral agencies, a Central Bank report released to the media stated yesterday.

The IMF projected Sri Lanka’s GDP projection for 2020 at -4.6%, while the World Bank and Asian Development Bank projected it would be -6.7% and -5.5% respectively, but the Central Bank of Sri Lanka made its GDP projection at -3.6% which turned out to be the real figure for the year, the Central Bank said.

The second wave of COVID-19 posed further setbacks in October/November 2020, but the economy is steadily progressing as displayed in latest economic indicators, it said.

Some indicators and details gleaned from the report are as follows.

COVID-19 pandemic has been contained to a large extent with the reported 90,514 Covid-19 infection cases and 551 deaths to date, while the local immunisation drive is continuing in the country allowing space for the economy to progress steadily.

The country is experiencing the third consecutive year of bumper paddy harvest. Tea production has returned to the levels observed in 2019. Rubber production is on an upward trend.Coconut production has recovered to a great extent. Electricity generation has normalised.

Data usage has shown strong growth, highlighting continuity of economic activity through online platforms and work-from-home arrangements. Local cement production has shown strong growth, depicting positive sentiments in the sector.

Industrial production has reached pre-pandemic levels with purchasing managers’indices show positive sentiments across manufacturing and services. Export earnings recovered, while imports remained subdued. narrowing the trade deficit.

Also backed with a notable rebound in workers’ remittances, the external current account deficit improved.

Despite the setback in 2020, a strong pipeline of FDI inflows awaits, particularly with the introduction of the Colombo Port City Commission law.

Recent policy measures have enabled a gradual absorption of forex related to workers’ remittances and exports proceeds, towards building forex reserves.

Debt servicing obligations were duly met, dispelling adverse speculation and uncertainties caused by the unwarranted sovereign rating downgrades.

The Colombo Stock Exchange displayed its potential as business confidence has retuirned.

Given subdued levels of inflation and inflation expectations, the Central Bank conducted monetary policy with a focus on supporting the economic recovery.

Monetary policy easing measures have resulted in historically low interest rates, thereby passing the benefit of low inflation to entrepreneurs.

Credit to the private sector is expanding as expansionary policies have been supported by well managed inflation and inflation expectations.

The novel economic model of the government is focused on strengthening macroeconomic fundamentals to realize economic aspirations for 2021.

Macroeconomic aspirations for 2021:

GDP Growth 6%, Per Capita GDP US$ 4,000, Trade Gap US$ 4 bn, External Current Account Surplus US$ 500 mn, Official Reserves US$ 5.5 bn, Budget Deficit 8.9% of GDP, Foreign Share of Debt to GDP 35% of GDP, Private Sector Credit Growth Rs. 850 billion and inflation 4.6%.


President spearheads Sri Lanka’s economic revival and seeks Japanese investment




President Ranil Wickremesinghe actively engaged in a pivotal business round table on “Sri Lanka’s Economic Revival & Opportunities for Japanese Enterprise,” where he presented the nation’s commitment to stabilizing and liberalizing the economy while actively inviting new foreign ventures.

The event, jointly organized by JETRO, Japan-Sri Lanka Business Co-Operation, and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan, aimed to strengthen economic ties between the two nations.

During the round table, President Wickremesinghe fervently outlined the ongoing efforts undertaken by Sri Lanka to restore stability and openness to its economy, presenting an inviting climate for foreign investment. With a clear vision to attract Japanese enterprise, he discussed the various measures and reforms being implemented to create a conducive business environment for potential investors.

Recognizing Japan’s significance as a vital economic partner, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the mutual benefits that can be derived from increased collaboration between the two nations. Sri Lanka’s strategic location and skilled workforce were highlighted as key advantages, providing a gateway for Japanese companies to expand their operations in the region and leverage the country’s emerging economic opportunities.

As Sri Lanka continues its journey toward economic revival, President Wickremesinghe’s active participation in the round table, underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to attracting foreign investment and driving sustainable economic progress.

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Celebrating the artistry and essence of coffee



Lanka Coffee Association, in partnership with Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF) and Jetwing Hotels, successfully hosted the second annual Sri Lankan Coffee Festival on 19 May 2023.

The coffee sector in Sri Lanka witnessed a notable transformation and attracted a multitude of market actors leading to significant growth in the industry. This surge in participation has propelled the industry to new heights. Recognising the unique opportunities to support the sector, MDF, supported by the Australian government, began working in the coffee industry in 2017.

A key activity that marked the comeback of the Sri Lankan coffee industry was hosting the first-ever Sri Lankan coffee festival by MDF in 2022. Following the success of this inaugural event, the Lanka Coffee Association (LCA), in partnership with MDF and Jetwing Group, hosted the second Sri Lankan Coffee Festival on the 19th of May at Jetwing Colombo 07. The Colombo Coffee Company, Temple Grounds and Soul Coffee were gold, silver and bronze sponsors for the event.

The Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Paul Stephens, was the guest of honour at the festival and delivered the keynote address. He underlined Australia’s support to the growth of the specialty coffee sector in Sri Lanka and noted, “As a nation of coffee drinkers, Australia is pleased to see continued commitment towards developing the coffee sector in Sri Lanka on display here today.”

The 2023 Sri Lanka Coffee Festival showcased the quality and diversity of local coffee and emphasised the importance of promoting investment in this growing sector. The event featured various activities, including panel discussions on the “Upward Journey of the Coffee Industry in Sri Lanka: The Challenges Faced and The Way Forward”. Moreover, the festival provided an excellent platform for coffee growers, processors, and roasters to showcase their products and network with potential buyers and investors.

At the mini exhibition, Colombo Coffee Company, Temple Grounds, Soul Coffee, Helanta Coffee, Elpitiya Plantations, Valli products presented their coffee, allowing the public to experience the unique taste and aroma of locally grown coffee. Concurrently, the finals of the LCA Barista Championship took place.(Regional barista championships were hosted in Dambulla, Galle and Negombo regions throughout April). MDF has actively supported the coffee industry by collaborating with the private sector to improve production and the coffee quality while promoting the industry internationally.

Maryam Piracha, MDF Sri Lanka Country Director, expressed her delight at the successful completion of the 2023 Coffee Festival. She emphasised that MDF has made significant strides in developing and promoting speciality coffee through these events in collaboration with the LCA. MDF is confident that the coffee sector is on track to position Sri Lanka as a global coffee destination.

The audience experienced the unveiling of “Sri Lanka’s Coffee Renaissance: A Guide to the Speciality Coffee Industry” at the festival—a game-changing report by MDF. This report unlocks invaluable insights into the local specialty coffee sector and reveals key investment opportunities. To build on the synergies of coffee and tourism, Jetwing Group, Sri Lanka’s leading hotel chain, was the platinum sponsor for the event. Chairman of Jetwing, Symphony PLC, and The Lighthouse Hotel PLC, Hiran

Cooray added, “Tourism and coffee are like two perfect blends, each complementing the other in creating a unique and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking to discover the beauty and coffee culture of Sri Lanka. Being a part of the 2023 Coffee Festival was a great opportunity to showcase the growing coffee culture and its link to tourism.”

Rinosh Nasar, Chairman, Lanka Coffee Association mentioned, “The Sri Lankan Coffee Festival hosted by the LCA, is a celebration of our rich coffee heritage and the incredible opportunities ahead. At the LCA, we are focused on pushing the growth of the Sri Lankan coffee industry from plant to cup and uplifting the livelihood of our coffee farmers.”

The Australian government’s support has played a pivotal role in ensuring the success and rise of specialty coffee in Sri Lanka. MDF’s collaboration with coffee players in the sector has enabled the Australian government to strengthen bilateral ties between Australia and Sri Lanka, set to impact the global coffee community significantly.

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Pelwatte Dairy continues saving valuable foreign exchange



Pelwatte Dairy, the leading local dairy brand in Sri Lanka that produces a range of dairy products and saves valuable foreign exchange, has unveiled its new corporate office in Colombo 3. Pelwatte Dairy’s new corporate home is located at one of the most central and highly accessible locations along the well-known Galle Road within the precincts of Kollupitiya, Colombo 3.

Addressing the opening event on, Ariyaseela Wickremanayake, Chairman of Pelwatta Dairy reminisced about his entrepreneurial journey in the dairy industry. “When building up Pelwatte, I was not sweating for myself but was striving for our struggling dairy farmers who badly needed a fair price for their produce. As I worked for a better standard of life for our farmers, I was driven by a simple but important vision; to make Sri Lanka self-sufficient in dairy and to reduce the country’s dependency on non-local supplies thereby saving valuable foreign exchange.”

Driven by this vision, the company began to grow, and due to our high-quality dairy and competitive pricing in the market, the Pelwatte brand was able to forge ahead. The hard work of the Pelwatte Dairy Industry Ltd (PDIL) family and their commitment drew the company from strength to strength, and as a result of this, Pelwatte today has become the leading local dairy brand in Sri Lanka. Pelwatte is focusing on leveraging its cadre of youth staff to drive it forward in time to come. As such, I am pleased that the youth of the PDIL family are driving many key functions in today’s PDIL. At Pelwatte, the future belongs to the youth” Mr. Ariyaseela Wickremanayake said.

Managing Director of Pelwatte Dairy Akmal Wickremanayake said: “Building PDIL to its present ranks has been hard work and without the commitment of the PDIL family, it would have been even harder. I wish to thank the staff of PDIL for their teamwork and commitment that sometimes went beyond their working hours and roles. Especially all work during the national COVID shutdown period was completed smoothly thanks to the dedication and team culture among our staff. Dairy is a product consumed by people of all ages, and many times a day. Also, different consumer segments, acting as different touchpoints, demand a variety of dairy products. As a result, matching different products in our portfolio to each customer segment ensured PDIL’s success. On my part, I was able to complete the customer needs matching process with our portfolio and distribute accordingly with the support of our team. Realizing the urgency of the need for continued dairy supplies during the lockdown, we expanded production levels to our maximum and succeeded in meeting the market demand.”

Pelwatte Diary’s new corporate office is located at No 234, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03 just a turn from the well-known Galle Road. The opening event was also joined by PDIL’s Board of Directors, suppliers, clients, and staff.

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