By Lynn Ockersz
From a macroeconomic perspective, an accelerated economic revival post-COVID-19 through an inclusive national development strategy, debt refinancing and strengthening public finance, are among the foremost economic challenges facing Sri Lanka at present. Going forward, there will be a strong focus on agriculture in ensuring food security, along with more attention being given to local manufacturing and industries, CEO, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Manjula de Silva said.
Answering a series of questions posed to him by ‘The Island Financial Review’ CEO Manjula de Silva said, among other things, that energizing the local SME sector was one of the CCC’s core areas of concern.
The questions and answers were as follows:
* What are the main challenges facing Sri Lanka at present?
Main challenges from a macroeconomic point of view will be accelerating economic revival post-Covid-19 through an inclusive national development strategy, debt refinancing and strengthening public finance.
There are structural reforms required to ensure growth in several key focus areas such as digitization, health, education, food security, energy sufficiency and public enterprises.
* In what principal directions do you see the local economy evolving?
There would be a greater focus on agriculture in driving food security. We will also see more attention given to local manufacturing and industries. We hope the focus would drive competitiveness in the industry so these sectors not only cater to the domestic demand but also reach foreign markets.
* How best could Sri Lanka’s export sector be revived?
The continuation of the National Export Strategy by the government is welcome as it was a joint public and private sector strategy to drive exports. It can now be enhanced to look at the Post-COVID-19 opportunities as well.
We also need to resolve some of the domestic barriers to export that limit competitiveness. Key initiatives like the establishment of a National Single Window and a new Customs Ordinance, which have both been in the pipeline should be prioritized. This will support both domestic and international trade.
* What are your proposals for energising the local SME sector in the short and medium terms?
This is a key area for the Chamber and in our Sri Lanka Economic Acceleration Framework launched last year, we had several specific proposals. Some of these proposals include streamlining the state institutions catering towards SMEs, improving access to Finance and Markets and scaling up SMEs.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently established the Centre for SMEs creating a focal point for delivery of existing services the Chamber was providing to SMEs. The Chamber will continue to assist and guide SMEs through Capacity Building Initiatives, Business Advisory services and facilitating market and business linkages. We will continue to also work to resolve existing regulatory and compliance barriers faced by SMEs in both domestic and international markets.
* Any suggestions for further developing local entrepreneurship?
The Ceylon Chamber believes that promoting local entrepreneurship is key to accelerating economic development in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Hence, the Chamber will establish a Start Up Council soon under its umbrella to encourage and foster start-ups that have potential to turn into successful business ventures that will contribute to generation of both employment opportunities and export revenue.
‘A supermarket in your pocket’
For large corporates, understanding the pulse of one’s stakeholders assures longevity and relevance. From serving a few to serving many, Cargills has undergone numerous changes as a corporate entity throughout its rich history of over 175 years. Reflecting on its journey thus far, Cargills transformed from a primarily wholesale and retail business to a pivotal player across multiple sectors within the food and beverage industry in Sri Lanka.
From introducing the first bona fide supermarket, Cargills Food City which revolutionised modern retailing in the country, to acquiring long-standing food brands and elevating them to new heights, Cargills has never shied away from diving into new ventures.
At its core is a deep intrinsic understanding of its stakeholders, from farmers to customers across all 25 districts. While the looming pandemic in March 2020 sought to disrupt the normal, this same understanding, a pulse if you will, directed a new norm.
Like many other businesses, Cargills was compelled to adapt. While it has a wide network of supermarkets across the island which were in fact operational during this time, there were no customers to be served due to the imposed lockdown. Almost overnight, the Cargills Rewards website was transformed to a new system for customers to order their groceries. It was a simple solution, that leveraged its supply chain to help facilitate hyperlocal delivery for customer’s within a 5km radius of its outlets.
Furthermore, container trucks carrying well displayed groceries were dispatched to neighborhoods, pioneering Asia’s first mobile supermarket, ‘Cargills 2 Home’. This ingenuity was driven by the top brass, who too feel the pulse of their stakeholders and so brought the supermarket experience to the customer’s home.
Raddella Holdings launches first biotech insulin manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka
Raddella Holdings introduce yet another revolutionary first with the launch of Sri Lanka’s first and only biotech insulin manufacturing plant. The recently concluded groundbreaking ceremony was held on September18, at the Koggala Export Processing Zone. The landmark event was attended by a host of dignitaries and guests including the State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply, and Regulation – (Prof.) Channa Jayasumana, Minister of Tourism – Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Plantation – (Dr.) Ramesh Pathirana, State Minister of Rural and School Sports Infrastructure Development – Thenuka Vidanagamage and many more.
The operation of the new plant will involve a joint venture between the Premium International Injectable Company (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Raddella Holdings and the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC). All new products manufactured as a result of this venture will be done under the SPMC brand name, with full government supervision.
The biotechnology manufacturing plant is a Rs. 3.5 billion, 100% local investment, which will employ over 200 specialized and highly trained professionals. All technology used in manufacturing will be state-of-the-art and conform to the highest tier of European standardization. This new plant has the capacity to meet 100% of projected local demand for next 15 years. The surplus produced thereafter will be exported and provide a valuable source of foreign revenue.
The new plant will utilize world famous SCADA systems to monitor and control the plant, all equipment, and the entire manufacturing process. This will guarantee the highest level of quality control, where all records of manufacture are completely automated and thus tamper-proof. Other quality control methods include adhering to the European Union Goods Manufacturing Practice (EUGMP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), while also complying with the strict standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The extensive planning for the plant happened over the last two years, in this time all designs, technology transfers, and specialist training have been completed, with all approvals and certification having been obtained. With construction completed soon, the plant will commence operations shortly.
AIA Insurance Platinum Sponsor of Sri Lanka’s Most Admired Companies
AIA Sri Lanka is proud to partner as Platinum Sponsor, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) in presenting ‘Sri Lanka’s Most Admired Companies Awards 2020’.
This is the third year of the prestigious Awards ceremony for which AIA has been the Platinum Sponsor. The awards are intended at recognizing companies that are a cut above the rest in terms of not just their financial performance but also on the value they create in a sustainable and ethical way for their employees, customers, investors and the general community.
Companies that have been in business for over 5 years as at June 30 2020 and are 30% or more of Sri Lankan ownership are eligible to enter this Awards competition which is open to both listed and unlisted companies in Sri Lanka. (AIA)
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