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Tackling the urgent challenge of parallel imports for accelerated economic and industrial recovery

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Thushara Rathnaweera

By Thushara Rathnaweera, Head of Mobile Experience at Samsung Electronics (Sri Lanka)

In the intricate web of today’s global economy, a burning issue demands our immediate attention, which is the challenge of parallel imports, often referred to as ‘grey goods.’ As the Head of Mobile Experience at Samsung Sri Lanka, I consider it my duty to delve into the intricate ramifications of parallel imports and propose strategic measures imperative for fortifying our nation’s economic resilience. The implications of parallel imports extend beyond mere surface observations, compelling us to explore their deeper repercussions. But first – what exactly is considered ‘Parallel Imports’?

Parallel imports, known as ‘grey goods,’ involve branded products entering markets without brand owners’ authorization and these genuine items lack consent for specific market distribution. Often sourced from countries with lower prices or different packaging, products are re-imported into other markets. This arises due to price disparities, regional market variations, and import taxes. Parallel imports offer reduced prices, attracting cost-conscious consumers.

The gravity of these parallel imports lies in their direct threat to Sri Lanka’s economic stability. These unauthorized imports divert substantial revenue away from legitimate channels and contribute to significant tax losses. For instance, Samsung incurred around LKR 330 million losses from 2020 to 2023 due to such imports, in stark contrast to the legitimate tax contribution of LKR 3,802,408,685. Authorized competitors contributed LKR 5,081,089,154 in taxes, highlighting the disparity between legitimate channels and parallel imports. Notably, parallel imports also led to job losses—2500 direct and 500 indirect—which impacts families and the industry.

Moreover, while parallel imports might offer seemingly alluring products at lower prices, this apparent affordability conceals a more sinister cost. The proliferation of these unauthorized products erodes consumer trust in authentic brands, discouraging investments in research and development. As consumers are enticed by these seemingly budget-friendly alternatives, the potential implications for authorized businesses loom large.

Furthermore, the challenge of parallel imports is not limited to economics alone; it has the power to induce a shift in consumer behavior. This shift can lead consumers away from legitimate distribution channels, inadvertently fostering a preference for cheaper alternatives. Such behavioral shifts disrupt market equilibrium and pose significant challenges to established businesses. These shifts have the potential to send ripples through the economy, leading to far-reaching consequences.

Addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by parallel imports requires a united effort spanning all sectors of our society. Strategically navigating the challenge of parallel imports necessitates collaborative efforts from all corners. To counteract the influence of parallel imports, we must establish and enforce robust Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) frameworks. These frameworks should comprehensively protect brand owners and their trademarks. This entails implementing stringent legal measures and penalties to deter involvement in parallel imports and trademark infringement.

Additionally, the power of knowledge is pivotal in combating parallel imports. Public awareness campaigns can illuminate the importance of supporting authorized distribution channels while shedding light on the potential repercussions of purchasing unauthorized goods. Furthermore, fostering productive dialogues with governmental bodies can amplify the understanding of the far-reaching consequences of parallel imports. By articulating the negative impact on our economy and society, these conversations can pave the way for stringent regulations and robust enforcement mechanisms.

We strongly advise customers, not just Samsung’s but of all brands’, to exercise caution when dealing with unauthorized sellers offering below-standard warranties, such as 6 to 3 months or shop warranties. Samsung Sri Lanka for example emphasizes authenticity and quality by exclusively partnering with authorized dealers. This strategic collaboration ensures strict adherence to Samsung’s rigorous standards, delivering peace of mind to our customers. When you purchase from our authorized dealers, you enjoy the exclusive benefits of a one-year comprehensive warranty. This warranty underscores our commitment to product excellence and serves as a testament to our confidence in the durability and performance of our devices.

Opting for Samsung’s official channels guarantees that you receive the full benefits and protection that come with a genuine Samsung device. Furthermore, at Samsung Sri Lanka, we exclusively offer TRCSL-approved products. TRCSL (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka) certification signifies adherence to local regulations and standards, ensuring quality and compliance. We encourage all our customers to verify the TRCSL certification status of their devices before making a purchase, which can be conveniently done by sending an SMS to 1909 with the message “IMEI (Space) IMEI Number.” On a broader level, these are some steps we take to ensure maximum safety and satisfaction for our customers.

Championing Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity amidst the challenge of parallel imports is a shared responsibility. The urgency of addressing this issue surpasses economic concerns; it embodies our commitment to innovation, consumer confidence, and sustainable growth. As a leader in Samsung Sri Lanka, I am steadfast in guiding our nation towards an economy characterized by resilience and strength. By harnessing strategic collaboration and unwavering determination, we can navigate the intricate landscape of parallel imports and forge an economic environment that enriches the lives of all Sri Lankans.



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges

Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.

The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.

The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.

Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.

The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.

Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.

As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.

Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.

Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.

To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.

The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.

Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to tharakam@ips.lk on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.

HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.

OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.

BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.

Important Dates

30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals

01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists

23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner

Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/

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