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SLRA wants consultative approach on national lockdown decisions, especially at short notice



‘Mounting multi-million rupee losses overnight due to ad-hoc measures’

Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA) has called for a consultative approach when taking national lockdown decisions, especially at short notice, as the sector has suffered mounting multi-million rupee losses overnight due to ad-hoc measures.

While endorsing the government’s drive to curb the COVID spread and assuring their ongoing support, SLRA stressed that implementation of COVID controls should not affect the continuity of the retail sector.

SLRA is a dominant grouping in Sri Lanka’s Organized Retail Sector (ORS), consisting of last mile retailers such as FMCG vendors, supermarkets, clothing, fashion & jewelry, household & consumer durables, footwear & accessories, e-commerce, healthcare & wellness, entertainment, restaurants and fast-food sellers, and shelter & housing providers.

ORS plays a significant role as a collective voice within the Sri Lankan market, SMEs and employment provision. It accounts for around one-third of the GDP and over 15% of employment in the country. Vibrant retail is an essential part in the robustness of the Sri Lankan economy since the retail sector value chains’ trickle-down effects extend to the very grassroots of the supply chains such as farmers, livestock breeders and SME suppliers.

During a virtual webinar organized by the SLRA on June 25, its representatives said the ORS is not a mere sub sector but an entire ecosystem of its own in the country, spreading out to multiple streams of sub economic strata, thus impacting on the very foundations of the country’s socio-economic fabric.

Emphasizing on the importance of the retail ecosystem’s functioning, Hussain Sadique, Founder/President of SLRA, said,

“Modern retail has come to stay in Sri Lanka. The retail industry contributes billions to the Sri Lankan economy and supports nearly one million direct jobs and many more indirectly. This sector is a major system for Sri Lanka’s employment and helps address the burden of youth unemployment. It is also a key industry on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis”.

The ORS shouldered the last mile delivery burden of essentials and food during the lockdown. Its economic significance is not only being the closest touchpoint system to Sri Lankan customers but also its impact in B2B levels. Annually, ORS invests multi-billion rupees for new infrastructure and pays significant property rental fees for premium high-street retail space that become a major revenue of the Sri Lankan real estate business, he explained.

“We are collectively calling for support measures that will enable the ORS to weather the worst of the crisis and be in a position to make a meaningful contribution towards economic recovery. The lockdowns implemented without consulting ORS has a very negative impact on it. No other country closes retail systems and supermarkets during a COVID lockdown but implement them along with controls such as self-distancing”, he said.

Due to sudden lockdown announcements, perishable stocks in ORS are destroyed overnight with multi-million rupee losses, which affect suppliers while retailers’ staff retention and turnover too becomes problematic. The demand in retail sub sectors such as ‘consumer durables’ has increased since more consumers are now staying at or working from home and lack of consultation with ORS in lockdowns hampers their deliveries too. Therefore, keeping consumer durables outlets open is vital for the customers as well. All these would operate much better if there are wider consultations with ORS”, Sadique further said.

SLRA representatives said that allowing retailers to operate even during lockdowns under pre-agreed guidelines, will help consumers and their families across the country as otherwise they find it difficult to access their basic needs.

To overcome the heavy financial losses from ad-hoc lockdowns and rupee devaluation, the ORS asked the government for a reduction in VAT and utility tariffs such as electricity which will support retailers and also help them to transfer such cost benefits to the customers.

An extension of moratoriums given to retailers’ business loans will be critical for the speedy recovery of the sector. Furthermore, as the employees and staff of ORS perform a COVID – 19 frontline role, they should be vaccinated due to the severe health risks they face, SLRA said.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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