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Sri Lanka, a window to larger markets of India & EU for agri products

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A programme to promote Sri Lankan agri products and processed food in the Indian market was launched in Mumbai a week ago to implement President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s export economic policy.

Accordingly, a webinar on “India – Sri Lanka Current Business Environment and Opportunities for Joint Collaborations for Agri and Processed Food Sector”, organized by the Sri Lanka Consulate in Mumbai in collaboration with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce [CCC] and IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IMC), Mumbai was held on September 29. This was the first online forum targeting to promote & diversify Sri Lanka’s agri products and processed food to the Indian market.

Addressing the webinar, Sri Lanka Consul General in Mumbai, Chamari Rodrigo said that the present business environment in Sri Lanka is conducive as Sri Lanka is successfully controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and the government is committed to facilitate & promote business climate in Sri Lanka. Highlighting the remarkable bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka, she urged the Sri Lankan agri & process food exporters to focus on non-traditional exports to Indian market and utilize the unique duty concessions offered to Sri Lanka for agri products under ISFTA. ‘Joint ventures between Sri Lankan agro industry & Indian post-harvest industry could yield many benefits for both the countries through technology transfers and advanced machinery’, she added.

The president of IMC Chamber Rajiv Podar in his remarks said that IMC Chamber has always encouraged healthy business relationships between India and Sri Lanka and feels that there are number of opportunities to create synergies between the two countries in the agri and processed food sector. He further said that India has improved its food processing technology & post – harvest technology and Sri Lankan business could benefit from it through joint ventures.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Manjula de Silva stated that Indian investors have vast experience in value addition activities and Sri Lankan agri sector, especially fruits & vegetables, can benefit from Indian investments. “Aqua culture, value added coconut products and confectionary are other potential sectors for value addition” he added.

Presentations on opportunities and strengths of the domestic agri & processed food sector were made by two Indian resource persons highlighting the fact that the demand for processed food has been growing substantially due to the increasing urban middle class in India and Sri Lankan exporters could utilize these untapped opportunities.

Chairman of Sri Lankan Agripreneurs Rizvi Zaheed, shared his perspective on diversified Sri Lanka’s agri & process food sector and the global recognition accumulated by Sri Lankan products through adherence to high manufacturing standards and innovation. Sri Lanka could be used as a window for Indian agri products to enter markets such as China, Japan and European countries by leveraging on the reputation of Sri Lankan agri products on a preferential basis. “Indian investment in value addition and storage facilities in the agri & processed food sector was welcomed”he said.

Q & A session and individual inquires on business opportunities were answered by representatives from each country. This webinar will be followed by B2B meetings between Indian & Sri Lankan companies in mid October.

Eighty two business representatives from Indian & Sri Lankan companies participated in the webinar.



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Central Bank to Deal with the ‘Elephant in the Room’

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CBSL has said that it would explain its position upon being offered the requested opportunity

Seeks opportunity to apprise parliament of substantial salary hikes to CBSL staff

By Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka embroiled in a controversy pertaining to about 70% salary hike for CBSL employees despite the ongoing economic crisis, has expressed its willingness to be answerable to an appropriate parliamentary committee in this regard.

Issuing a press release, the Bank stated that it seeks an opportunity to apprise the Members of the Parliament in this context.Reproduced below is the press release issued by the Central Bank yesterday.

Clarification by CBSL on Salary Hike

“Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has taken note of recent news reports in the media on comments and remarks attributed to some Members of Parliament at recent proceedings of the House with regard to the latest revision of remuneration of employees of the CBSL that were approved by the Governing Board under the triennial Collective Agreement entered into with the Trade Unions covering the period2024- 2026.”

“In this regard, the Governing Board at its meeting held on 21.02.2024, requested the Governor of CBSL, acting in terms of the Section 80 (2) (b) of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Act No. 16 of 2023, to make a written request to the President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, through whom the CBSL normally communicates with Parliament, to seek an opportunity to apprise the Members of the Parliament through an appropriate parliamentary committee of the process and rationale pertaining to the recent revision of remuneration of CBSL staff.”

“The Governor has accordingly made a written request on 22.02.2024.”

“CBSL will explain its position upon being offered the requested opportunity or on receipt of a request for information,” CBSL said.

On Feb. 19, The Island published its lead story titled, “Over 70% salary hike for CBSL employees: Gevindu demands explanation from Finance Minister.”

“Dissident SLPP lawmaker Gevindu Cumaratunga said on Feb. 18 that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government owed an explanation as to how the Governing Board of the Central Bank had approved a massive salary increase to CBSL employees at a time the country was experiencing a deep socio-economic crisis,” the news story said in its beginning.

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Govt getting bullish about prospects for Hambantota International Port

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The discussion centred around the theme,’ utilizing key infrastructure, particularly in Hambantota and Colombo to spur economic growth

Focuses on its connectivity to Myanmar, East China and Africa

In a recent discussion convened at the Presidential Secretariat, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has articulated his vision for economic development and infrastructure investment, particularly focusing on the master plans for strategic tourism zones in the Eastern Province, the Colombo City and the Western Region and Greater Hambantota, according to the President’s Media Division.

The President has emphasized the economic potential of Hambantota, envisioning it as a pivotal hub for infrastructure development and connectivity. He has highlighted plans to link Hambantota to the Myanmar port, with further extensions anticipated up to Chongqing in eastern China and down to Africa.

President Wickremesinghe has also stressed the importance of leveraging the extensive investments already made in infrastructure in Hambantota, despite previous challenges.

“We have spent a significant amount on infrastructure here, and despite facing crises, it is imperative to capitalize on these investments,” President Wickremesinghe has said.

He has disclosed plans for allocating thousands of acres of land for investment zones, with additional acquisitions sought in the Moneragala area.

Moreover, the President advocated for strategic expansion into new areas, including Avissawella and Eheliyagoda, to alleviate urban congestion and foster new city centres. Plans for a North Colombo port expansion and potential industrial and IT parks were also discussed, aiming to attract investments and spur economic growth.

“We must concentrate our efforts and funds on key infrastructure, particularly in Hambantota and Colombo,” President Wickremesinghe stated.

He expressed confidence in attracting investors for heritage cities like Colombo once land availability is ensured. However, he acknowledged the need for continued investment in Hambantota to propel its development, highlighting it as the next significant hub after Colombo.

The development of Trincomalee as a major investment zone, in collaboration with India, emerged as a priority during the discussion. President Wickremesinghe announced plans for a joint working group to implement development initiatives in Trincomalee, emphasizing the importance of bilateral cooperation in driving economic growth and regional stability.

President Wickremesinghe’s remarks underscored a strategic shift towards targeted infrastructure development, emphasizing the pivotal roles of Hambantota and the Eastern Province in economic growth and positioning it as a key player alongside Colombo in Sri Lanka’s development trajectory, the President’s Media said.

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Colombo Fashion Week 2024 to shine spotlight on sustainability

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Colombo Fashion Week will take place across multiple locations on Galle Road, it’s a new format”, says Ajai Vir Singh, Managing Director, CFW Holdings.

Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) returns from March 6th to 9th 2024, for its 21st edition, marking a significant milestone and promising a future brimming with innovation for the fashion industry of Sri Lanka. This year the platform focuses on multiple locations around Colombo to make the city come alive, as it’s also an apt time for travelers to experience the creativity and cultural richness of Colombo.

Since 2003, CFW has played a pivotal role in reviving, guiding, and building pride in Sri Lanka’s fashion industry. From humble beginnings featuring a handful of designers, it has blossomed into a thriving ecosystem embracing sustainability and empowering young talent. More than 80% of today’s leading Sri Lankan designers are the product of CFW’s development system, a testament to its impact.

Under the leadership of Managing Director Ajai Vir Singh, CFW has championed sustainability, introducing initiatives such as Ethical Fashion Day, the Responsible Fashion Summit, and the innovative tool, Responsible Meter. These efforts have positioned CFW as a leader in ethical fashion globally, attracting renowned designers from Europe, Australia, and South Asia, alongside esteemed Sri Lankan designers, fostering knowledge exchange, and showcasing the burgeoning talent of Sri Lankan designers alongside established industry names.

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