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Twenty five per cent decline in apparel exports expected this year

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by Hiran H. Senewiratne

The decline in our total  apparel exports would be by 25 percent this year on account of the pandemic. This would make a considerable dent in the US $ 4 billion foreign exchange earned annually through apparel exports. But the apparel sector will be able to come out of this crisis stronger than before due to government support, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) chairman A.Sukumaran said.

Sukumaran was addressing a media round table conference on Tuesday at the Movenpick hotel in Colombo.

He said that JAAF expects further demand contractions that could result in reductions in apparel exports by an additional 30-40 percent after June, in its best-case scenario. 

Sukumaran said that Covid 19 affects the apparel supply chain, the export market and due to that the industry is unable to fulfil certain obligations. 

” Our industry also builds on three pillars;  one is being a reliable supplier and all business practices follow high ethical standards.”

‘The apparel sector is the single largest exporter contributing seven percent to the country’s GDP. When it comes to industrial exports it contributes 59 percent. The industry’s total export earnings is 49 percent, he said.

 ‘Following this, the social stigma surrounding apparel workers too was expected to have an impact on the apparel sector, Brandix chairman Ashroff Omar said.

He said that  his Minuwangoda factory is functioning on a small scale even after detecting the first Covid 19 patient in October. ” We are looking after all employees and  police,  CID, PHIs, Labour Department and other relevant parties are closely watching our operations, which follow all Health Ministry protocols, Omar said.

‘Most of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the sector depend on fabrics and accessories supplied from China and the disruption of the supply chain due to the global outbreak of the virus affected exporters severely in the first half of this year, former JAAF chairman Noel Piyathilake said.

He said that there are 81 factories out of which 37 are direct exporters and 41  subcontractors, which provide 25000 employment and 15 percent export earnings. “The SME sector is also supporting the informal sector as well. If the SME sector is affected those informal sectors also suffer, Piyathilake said.            

Sri Lanka last year earned US $ 5.3 billion from apparel exports, an increase of 5.1 per cent  from 2018. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the industry originally expected a 6 percent  increase in exports for 2020.

Export earnings from apparel and textiles in October declined by 18.93  percent to US $ 356.52 million and by 21 percent  to US $ 3.6 billion in the first 10 months of 2020 from a year earlier. 

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Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments

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Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.

Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.

The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.

“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”

“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.

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Taking cashless transactions across the country

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.

Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.

The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.

Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.

The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.

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SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers

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SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.

Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.

Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”

Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.

 

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