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SL ranked second in South Asian region for ease of launching startup businesses



Sri Lanka is ranked second in the South Asian region for ease of launching a startup business, the 2021 edition of the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), launched by global innovation policy advisory and research firm Startup Genome states.

The report , which is a country validity study, features, among other matters, Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem and the way forward for it, after working closely with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka.

A press release states: The global innovation policy advisory & research firm Startup Genome launched the 2021 edition of the Global Startup Ecosystem report (GSER), in which Sri Lanka’s Startup Ecosystem was featured along with key insights and its way forward after working closely with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka as a country validating study. Published annually, the report analyses 280 entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems and 3 million startups and includes the ranking of the leading 140 ecosystems in the world, breakdowns by continent with regional insights. The GSER is widely known as the most comprehensive and widely read research on global startups.

The Information and Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) through a membership agreement with Startup Genome has been working together since 2016 to explore the untapped potential of the local startup ecosystem and find ways to develop it. Exploring the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem in 2021, the report underscores that the ecosystem is evolving rapidly with measures being taken to nurture local talent, improve business climate and foster international connections that bode well for the ecosystem in the long run.

The report highlights that Sri Lanka is ranked second in the region for ease of starting a startup business, given the recent developments and new laws designated for Colombo Port City as a Special Economic Zone and government’s nod to establish five new technology parks around the island and international collaborations for startup funding. The rapid growth of the ecosystem is backed by the government incentives and timely measures to strengthen the ecosystem.

The report sheds light on the strengths of sub sectors such as Cleantech and Agtech and New Food sectors being highlighted for their density of talent, support resources and startup activities as key drivers of economic growth. The fast-growing stock market, reduced corporate income tax and knowledge driven economy along with ranked as #3 in the Asian region for affordable talent and featured in the top 30 Asian Ecosystems in Bang for Buck are some of the cited reasons a startup should move to Sri Lanka.

Among the key findings of the report, the total value of the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem as at 2021 with a growth of 13% from last year, during the pandemic and creating USD 132 million, total early-stage funding – USD 26 million, Median Series A Round – USD 1.06 million, Median Seed Round – USD 50,000, and Software Engineer salary – USD 6,000.

“Sri Lanka is implementing a holistic and reliant approach to developing our startup ecosystem. Provision of infrastructure through state-of-the-art technology parks, startup-friendly laws and policies, creation of a venture fund, entrepreneur visa, facilitating regional startup hubs are a few of many initiatives that will be implemented in our start-up development strategy.’’ said Jayantha De Silva, Secretary, Ministry of Technology.

“As per the Global Startup Ecosystem report (GSER) findings, the overall growth and performance in Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem has been impacted by the pandemic. However as the facilitator for technology startup development in Sri Lanka, ICTA will continue to work closely with Startup Genome alongside a strong collaboration between both local and global organisations to further empower and accelerate the start up ecosystem in the country. It is imperative that priority focus is provided for local startups where the performance of the startup eco system would be pivotal in realising the vision of a future digital economy in Sri Lanka as well as position Sri Lanka globally for world class technology products” said Oshada Senanayake, Chairman of ICTA.

For international businesses looking to enter the Sri Lankan shores, the country offers a 5 to 10-year tax holiday to private companies while maintaining a 0% corporate tax rate for the tech sector. There is zero capital gains and zero dividend withholding tax for foreigners. In addition, ICTA’s recent partnership with PwC Sri Lanka provisioned an alternative Credit Evaluation Framework specifically designed for tech companies to expand financing opportunities through local financial institutions. The continuous efforts towards a startup friendly government saw the Ministry of Finance in October 2020 introducing a procurement policy requires any application software bids for the government under a value of LKR 2 million to exclusively go to tech startups. In 2021 the Digital Nomad visa program was introduced, enabling foreign individuals to work remotely from Sri Lanka for 1 year.

ICTA is actively working with the Startup Genome, government bodies and partner organizations to achieve its vision of establishing 1,000 tech startups by 2024.


‘Govt. lacks mechanism to recover USD 40 billion spirited out of SL from 2008 to 2018’




By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The government doesn’t have any mechanism to recover the USD 40 billion that was siphoned out of the country illegally from 2008 to 2018 by Sri Lanka’s business elites, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Peradeniya Dr. Kalpa Rajapaksha said.

“Most people think that the IMF loan is a victory for Sri Lanka without knowing its risk factors. These are exceptionally high because one of the main impacts would be for the banking sector whose liquidity is due to weaken on account of high tax impositions and certain economic reforms, Dr. Rajapaksha told The Island Financial Review.

Dr. Rajapaksha added: ‘The tax relief given during President Gotabaya Rajapaksha’s tenure triggered this issue, which cost government coffers more than Rs 450 billion. However, Sri Lanka has to carefully follow IMF recommendations taking its history into consideration. It is said that Greece and Ethiopia and several other countries absolutely failed by following IMF recommendations in the past.

‘We are in the dark as to the method of economic recovery because the government is attending to deeper, burning issues in the country, such as reduction of poverty and ending economic inequities.

‘The imposition of heavy taxes on people, especially professionals, via a wealth tax and a heritage tax by 2025 and the increasing of direct taxes, such as VAT, on low income classes, without taking into account the need for a wage hike, will iraise the poverty level and widen wealth inequalities.

‘Inflation at the global level is very high and strategies are required to increase exports and cut down the heavy import dependency of the economy. This is a prerequisite to address all economic woes.

‘The previous ruling party squandered and stole billions of dollars but the present government not having any plan to recover that money is a tragedy. Therefore, promoting neo- liberal principles is impossible under the current corruption scenario.

‘Further, the IMF has set the target of reducing the debt to GDP ratio to 0.7 per cent in 2023, along with their recommendations. Many people doubt the achievability of these aims.’

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Global banking sector instabilities affect local bourse



By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading got off to a positive start but later turned negative yesterday due to huge selling pressure. The reasons being investor worries over a domestic debt restructuring mechanism after having secured the IMF loan and the negative global scenario when it comes to the banking sector, market analysts said.

According to analysts, during the last week strategically important banks in the global economic system went through credit default swaps, especially Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and Credit Suisse Group AG. But another leading European Corporate Bank possibly facing a credit default swap, created some ripple effects for economies like Sri Lanka, analysts said.

The All- Share Price Index went down by 134.1 points and S and P SL20 declined by 51.6 points. Turnover stood at Rs 871 million with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in NDB, which crossed 1.2 million shares to the tune of Rs 51.6 million; its shares traded at Rs 43 and Aitken Spence 772,000 shares crossed for Rs 47.1 million, its shares traded at Rs 61.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, SLT Rs 82 million (717,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 52.8 million (8.2 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 50.1 million (298,000 shares traded), Tokyo Cement (Non- Voting) Rs 36.5 million (388,000 shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 33.6 million (251,000 shares traded), ALC Cables Rs 33.3 million (406,000 shares traded) and Sunshine Holdings Rs 27.2 million (633,000 shares traded). During the day 45.4 million share volumes changed hands in 15000 transactions.

The market is generating revenue from SLT over news of it being divested; moreover, there has been interest for the hotel and tourism indexes, since tourist arrivals and earnings have been attractive, an analyst said.

It is said that Treasury bond yields opened steady on Monday, while the rupee opened weaker at spot market, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond was quoted at 30.75/31.00 per cent on Monday, up from 30.90/31.20 per cent on Friday. A 15.09.2027 bond was quoted at 28.00/70 per cent, up from 28.00/50 per cent from Friday. The Sri Lanka rupee opened at 322/325 against the US dollar, weaker from 320/325 a day earlier.

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Holding ‘Raid Amazones’ for second consecutive year in SL, a rare honour for her – Head of Marketing Srilankan Airlines



Flying start to ‘Raid Amazones'

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

More than 250 female French athletes arrived in Sri Lanka for the challenging ‘Raid Amazones’ adventure event that took place last week in Kandy. They arrived in Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year, which was a big achievement for the country when it comes to the tourism sector, Head of Marketing SriLankan Airlines Saminda Perera said.

“For the first time in ‘Raid Amazones’ history they selected one country for two consecutive years, which could be considered a great honour for Sri Lanka. This would enable more French tourists to arrive in Sri Lanka in the future, Perera told the media recently during the event in Kandy. ‘Raid Amazones’ will hit the streets of the fabled hill capital, Kandy, with the participation of over 250 female athletes.

‘Raid Amazones’ is a well-known annual destination adventure event originating in France, which features female athletes competing their way through a range of challenges, such as, orienteering, mountain biking, canoeing, riding, running and archery.

“Sri Lanka was chosen over rival destinations by the event’s founders due to the unparalleled warmth of its people and support on the ground to pull off a successful event. Their decision is also due to SriLankan Airlines’ tireless marketing efforts to secure the popular trail on successive occasions for Sri Lanka in its hour of need for international tourism support, Perera said.

Saminda Perera

Tourism sources added: “During the 21st edition of the trail, the participants will be able to connect with a potpourri of natural and historical highlights as they trek through the Kandyan plateau in Central Sri Lanka.

“Their journey, though, would begin from the moment that they step onboard SriLankan Airlines to fly from Paris to Colombo, on an aircraft dedicated to ‘Raid Amazones 2023’.

“Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kandy, the iconic setting of ‘Raid Amazones 2023’, is renowned for two of the most recognizable cultural symbols that define Sri Lanka.

“SriLankan Airlines partnered Raid Amazones in 2022 soon after recommencing operations to Paris.

“SriLankan Airlines, together with Connaissance de Ceylan, the official ground- handling partner of the event, will go all out to ensure that the French group experiences the best in Sri Lankan hospitality.

“This event will especially help create more awareness of Sri Lanka as an adventure travel hotspot among French travellers and the rest of Europe, where ‘Raid Amazones’ is sought-after and attracts adventure-seekers.”

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