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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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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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