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Sri Lanka and Indian Merchants’ Chamber discuss expanding trade ties amid geo-strategic concerns

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Indian Merchants' Chamber members expressed interests in the economic development process of Sri Lanka on a win-win economic equation favorable for both parties.

Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai and the Indian Merchant’s Chamber (IMC) organised an interactive session between the committee members of the IMC and the Mission officials on 09 November 2021 at the auditorium of the IMC in Mumbai.

Consul General of Sri Lanka to Mumbai Dr. Valsan Vethody graced the event as the chief guest, and he was warmly welcomed by President Juzar Khorakiwala and Director General of the chamber Ajit Mangrulkar upon his arrival. The purpose of the event was to interact with the officials and the committee members of the chamber to explore possible opportunities in expanding trade, investment and tourism between Sri Lanka and the western region of India.

During the welcome address, the President of the IMC while highlighting  the longstanding multifaceted bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and India, underlined some of the major promotional activities that IMC has successfully completed in collaboration with the Mission, such as  the webinar on “India – Sri Lanka current business environment, opportunities for joint collaborations for Agri and Processed Food Sector” organized on 29 September 2020″ and about the business delegation from the IMC to Sri Lanka in 2017.

In the keynote address the Director General of the IMC sounded curious to know about the developmental reforms laid out by the Sri Lankan government, the sectors opened for the investments and about the present economic situation in Sri Lanka, especially in the context of various adverse media reports in the Indian media. He also underlined the IMC members’ interests for the participation in the economic development process of Sri Lanka on a win-win economic equation favorable for both the parties.

Addressing the gathering and answering the inquiries raised by the committee members, Consul General explained about the present situation in Sri Lanka. During his address, he highlighted the GOSL’s successful vaccination campaign, measures taken by the government to welcome the international travelers and to revive the tourism industry; the investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka such as the pharmaceutical zone, textile zone, the port city, opportunities in fisheries & agro-sector; favorable investment climate; improving economic situation; air connectivity and the potential for furthering the trade and investment activities and he clarified the adverse propaganda on the Hambantota harbor, the  Port City and on the ‘so-called Chinese geo-strategic interest in Sri Lanka’. He went on to clarify the adverse media reports on foreign currency issue in Sri Lanka stating that it’s not a structural issue, but only a short-term liquidity issue due to the covid pandemic and that the central bank of Sri Lanka has already begun the process of normalizing the situation.

When inquired about China’s growing geo-strategic influence in Sri Lanka, Consul General Dr. Vethody clarified that we Sri Lankans are proud of our sovereignty and integrity and we will never be subservient to any other nations, and the ‘so-called Chinese economic presence in Sri Lanka’ is purely due to economic factors. He cited the examples of how Sri Lanka finished the separatist war despite mounting foreign pressure from powerful nations and the incidents of how a Chinese ship with undeclared radioactive material was sent out of Hambantota harbor and the recent incident of Sri Lanka not accepting the fertilizer consignment from Chinese company as the samples were tested contaminated. He invited Indian investors to participate to capture the opportunities in Sri Lanka without making up presumptions afterwards. All the participants were invited to attend the upcoming investment seminar organized by the Mission in association with the Confederation of the Indian Industries (CII), Gujarat Chapter).

IMC is a long-standing business association with rich heritage in Mumbai. Most of the major business establishments and industrialists in Mumbai and the western region of India, such as Reliance, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, etc. are the members of the IMC. It has a membership base of over 5000 members and over 150 trade associations affiliated to it. The chamber was established on 07 September 1907 by few Indian Merchants, to fight for the rights of the local businesses’ interests. In recognition of the Chamber’s contribution to nation building, Mahatma Gandhi accepted honorary membership in 1931.The foundation stone of the Chambers’ building in Churchgate at Mumbai was laid by Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Chamber’s core function during the present time is to provide policy inputs and to promote interests of industry and economic growth of the country.

Consul General was assisted by Consul (Commercial) Sandun Sameera of the Mission during the visit.



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Passport Office collaborates with banks to boost international monetary transfers from migrants

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Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal hands over a new account to a young migrant worker which he opened at the new HNB counter at the Passport Office yesterday, where Jonathan Alles, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of HNB was present. Pic by Thushara Athapaththu

by Sanath Nanayakkare

People’s Bank, National Savings Bank , Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank of Sri Lanka yesterday established new banking counters at the Department of Immigration and Emigration, at ‘Suhurupaya’, Battaramulla.

The initiative is intended support the Central Bank’s ongoing effort to boost the country’s foreign reserves by offering migrant workers access for safe, official remittance channels from the time they obtain new passports or renew their passports for international jobs.

Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka who was the chief guest of the opening ceremony said,” A lot of Sri Lankans go overseas for jobs and send their hard-earned money to Sri Lanka. Sometimes they face various issues when remitting money. So we thought we should provide the opportunity for them to open an account as they obtain their passports at the passport office which they can operate with greater ease and trust when sending money to their families from abroad. The Controller of Immigration and Emigration, his staff, the officials at the Central Bank and at other relevant banks worked in unison to establish their counters here just within a week. This shows that government institutions can collaborate with the private sector and quickly accomplish any task for the benefit of the country and its people. Our hard-working migrant workforce will enjoy the convenience and reliability of this service. As a result of it, more foreign money will flow into the country and the nation will reap benefits from it,” he said.

Workers’ remittances have been a key pillar of Sri Lanka’s foreign currency earnings that has nearly 100 per cent of domestic value addition, providing a substantial cushion for external sector resilience of the country. Workers’ remittances have covered around 80 per cent of the annual trade deficit over the past two decades, and strengthening remittances inflows to the country brings several socio-economic benefits including the smooth supply of forex inflows to the formal banking system.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka established a new department named ‘Foreign Remittances Facilitation Department’ with effect from November 3, 2021 to facilitate and streamline workers’ remittances inflows to the country.

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SLT-MOBITEL powered SLIOT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020 fostering innovation

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider was the proud sponsor of SLIoT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020, championing innovation in Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics to reward and further develop a pipeline of tech talent and critical skills among Sri Lanka’s youth. The winners of the competitions were honoured at a special ceremony held recently.

SLIoT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020 was a collaborative effort between SLT-MOBITEL, the Department of Computer Science & Engineering of the University of Moratuwa and the IT and Computer Engineering Sectional Committee of Institution of Engineers of Sri Lanka (IESL). Recognising the value of promoting digital inclusion among youth and to develop new generation technology concepts, SLT-MOBITEL sponsored the event for the fourth consecutive year. Both competitions encourage technological innovation among youth which in turn provides avenues for SLT-MOBITEL to capitalize on its futuristic thinking towards a connected future.

The SLIoT Challenge 2020 theme centred around the current pandemic ‘Overcoming COVID-19 with IoT’ and over 77 submissions were received. SLT-MOBITEL comprehends that IoT is being widely embraced with the number of connected devices growing rapidly. SLT-MOBITEL recognizes that driving an IoT competition for Sri Lankan youth allows students to unleash their potential in the IoT domain and acts as a gateway to support the country’s evolution towards digital transformation.

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Akshata launches unique new tea blends

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Akshata brand, a pioneer in promoting health and wellness the traditional way presents herbal tea alongside honey/jaggery as an alternative to sugar, redefining tea consumption.

Akshata ‘Ranawara’ herbal tea which promotes clear skin and health benefits for the body is dedicated to Queen Soma Devi who was acclaimed for her beauty, bravery, and sacrifice to save King Valagamba in 77 BC.

Managing Director of Grains N Green, Roshan Perera says, “In addition to the myriad of health benefits, consumers are encouraged to experience a taste of nostalgia with each sip of Akshata herbal tea. Today’s health-conscious consumers increasingly buy items that support their nutrition and fitness. Sugar is no longer included in this list due to its negative impact on one’s health. That’s why we have introduced healthy alternatives for sugar. Putting honey or jaggery in tea is a much healthier choice than using sugar as it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly, and with our product you can get the tea as well as

the sweeteners all in one pack. This saves time, money, and is a healthier alternative to drinking tea with sugar.”

Akshata herbal tea with bees honey/Jaggery is available at Spar and Glomark supermarkets and can also purchase online at askshatastore.com

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