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WB: Lanka projected to grow by 3.3% amidst uncertainties

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Faris Hadad-Zervos, WB Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s economy is projected to grow by 3.3 percent in 2021, but the medium-term outlook is clouded by pre-existing macroeconomic weaknesses and the economic scarring from the COVID-19 pandemic, said the World Bank on Thursday (7).

A gradual recovery will likely lead to corresponding improvements in labour market conditions.

Most countries in South Asia are far from pre-pandemic trend levels, says the World Bank in its twice-yearly regional update.

The latest South Asia Economic Focus titled Shifting Gears: Digitization and Services-Led Development projects the region to grow by 7.1 percent in 2021 and 2022.

While the year-on-year growth remains strong in the region, albeit from a very low base in 2020, the recovery has been uneven across countries and sectors.

South Asia’s average annual growth is forecast to be 3.4 percent over 2020-23, which is 3 percentage points less than it was in the four years preceding the pandemic.

COVID-19 has left long-term scars on the region’s economy, the impacts of which can last well into the recovery. Many countries experienced lower investment flows, disruptions in supply chains, and setbacks to human capital accumulation, as well as substantial increases in debt levels.

The pandemic is estimated to have caused 48 to 59 million people to become or remain poor in 2021 in South Asia. Sri Lanka’s poverty at $3.20 per day poverty line is projected to fall to 10.9 percent in 2021, which is still significantly above the 2019 level of 9.2 percent.

“Sri Lanka has done well to vaccinate more than 50 percent of the total population so far and the Government is now focusing on targeted measures to prevent further COVID-19 waves, which could dampen the economic recovery,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Director of the World Bank for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

“The pandemic has brought unprecedented disruptions to education and the learning losses will be a drag on the country’s human capital gains. Targeted policies to reverse trends of long-term inequality and reduce gaps in equity are priority to realize growth prospects.”

In Sri Lanka, continued macroeconomic challenges, particularly the high debt burden, large refinancing needs, and weak external buffers will adversely affect growth and poverty reduction over the medium term.

Despite increased policy rates and price controls imposed by the government, inflationary pressure is expected to remain strong amid partial monetization of the fiscal deficit, currency depreciation, and rising global commodity prices. Food insecurity could worsen and poverty reduction slow if food prices remain elevated and shortages continue.

As countries build back, they have a chance to rethink their long-term development models. With the emergence of new digital technologies, South Asia has an opportunity to shift gears from a traditional manufacturing-led growth model and capitalize on the potential of its services sector.

In the medium to long term, digital technologies could become an important engine for job growth in Sri Lanka. However, despite widescale ownership of cellphones in Sri Lanka, the digital revolution will fall short of expectations without expansion of high-speed networks and accessible data on the whole island. Sri Lanka could provide new opportunities for economic mobility through policies that expand or universalize access to digital infrastructure, and investments in digital literacy are a prerequisite for widely shared benefits from these new opportunities.

“Countries in South Asia have a strong comparative advantage in exporting services, particularly business processes and tourism, whereas they have struggled to break into manufacturing export markets,” said Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for the South Asia Region. “To realize the potential of the services-led development, the region needs to rethink regulations and establish new institutions to support innovation and competitiveness.”



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CIPM to host World HR Congress 2021 from December 6 – 8 in virtual mode

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Officials at the head table (L to R): Priyankara Seneviratne-Hony. Secretary CIPM, Dhammika Fernando-Chairman World HR Congress 2021, Jayantha Amarasinghe-President CIPM, Prof Ajantha Dharmasiri-Co-Chairman, World HR Congress 2021 and Chairman-Technical Committee World HR Congress 2021, and U. A. C. Obeysekera-CEO, CIPM

CIPM Sri Lanka – the Nation’s leader in human resource management together with the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) and Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management (APFHRM) announced that the world’s most premier people event “World HR Congress 2021” will be held from December 6 to 8 2021 as a virtual conference experience in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The theme of the congress “Exalting People Professionals Amidst a Planetary Pandemic: Explore, Expand and Excel” is aptly selected as the people factor is at the pinnacle of limelight amid the planetary pandemic. The 3 value-packed days will deliberate on digitalization, disruption, diversity, and diligence regarding the distinct dimensions of human resource management with a select panel of world-renowned speakers lined up to share insights and thought-provoking ideas enabling thought leadership in the new world of work. The prospectus, registration, numerous sponsorship opportunities available, and more information can be found at https://wfpmacongress.com/ which is the dedicated website for Word HR Congress 2021.

“We take pride in hosting this prestigious people event in Sri Lanka. In a world disrupted by the pandemic, we need resilience as well as inspirational leadership to proceed into the future. New expectations and challenges have emerged in a new world of work and life. Innovation, best practices in people engagement, and trust are critical to achieve sustainable growth and rebuild our future. The World HR Congress 2021 is the apt place to deliberate the challenges and opportunities to strategize the New HR Agenda” said Jayantha Amarasinghe-President, CIPM Sri Lanka.

“The World Congress is an opportunity to bring together the continental federations and the national associations of 93 countries which make up the WFPMA. As the premier federation of people management associations, we are a globally recognized authority to support the people management profession throughout the world. Blending thought-provoking speakers with networking opportunities, this is a ‘must-attend’ congress that presents some of the best and brightest minds in the global people profession who will share the latest practices, research, and innovations to develop your knowledge and help you shape your organization’s future” said Bob Morton – President, WFPMA inviting people professionals and business leaders to participate in the Congress.

The virtual conference will consist of 4 plenary sessions, 4-panel discussions, and 4 rounds of concurrent technical sessions. The line-up of 21 experienced international panel of speakers, presenters, and panelists includes Johnny C. Taylor, Jr – President and CEO, Society for Human Resource Management-USA, Peter Cheese – CEO, Chartered Institute Personnel Development-UK, Sunita Bhuyan-Violinist & HR Practitioner on Wellness, Prof. TV Rao – Chairman, TVRLS-India, Paul Mills – Chief People Officer Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, and Dr. Archana Arcot – Assoc. VP HR Business Leader, Infosys McCamish-USA amongst many more experienced speakers.

“The World HR Congress is being held at a very crucial juncture of mankind. We are dealing with many complexities on top of this pandemic, juggling with people, planet, and profits. The new industrial era has already dawned, and we are on the brink of the next big thing, the 5th industrial revolution, where the human and machine will dance together as technology will help humans to vastly increase labor productivity and to align return on investment with purpose. However, it will require intentionality and moral clarity. Now that we are grappled with the corona pandemic, we shall overcome by getting used to the next normal where the world of work is challenged the most. The World HR Congress 2021 premier people event will explore, expand and excel in what matters in the new world of work and life” said Dhammika Fernando-Chairman, World HR Congress 2021 and Immediate Past President-CIPM Sri Lanka, President- Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management, Board Director- WFPMA.

“Despite the doom of a devastating pandemic, we see the boom of people factor in corporates with a deeper realization of the value of human wellbeing. World HR Congress 2021 invites people professionals to engage in a cutting-edge learning endeavor towards expansion” said Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri, Co-chair of the World HR Congress 2021, who as a Past President of CIPM was instrumental in receiving the hosting rights during the previous World HR Congress, held in Chicago, USA in 2018.

With the impressive line-up of speakers and panelists sharing insights and experiences, networking opportunities with like-minded professionals to share best practices in people management in the new world of work, the World HR Congress 2021 provides a rare opportunity for people professionals and business leaders to mitigate the risks and challenges in a new world of work.

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Sri Lanka Tourism kicks off film tourism promotions with Indian cinema

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The Indian Cinema is considered to be one of the busiest entertainment industries in the world by making over 2000 films per annum. While Mumbai based ‘’Bollywood ’’ leads the table (15 % from all Indian film productions), collectively Southern Indian Cinema contribute a higher proportion of film productions (Telugu 14%, Tamil 12%, Kannada 12%, Malayalam 11 % ). In 2015, Indian Cinema had the box office gross of USD 2.1 Billion, which is the third largest in the world. Overall revenue in 2019 was USD 2.7 Billion. The combined revenue of Southern Indian Cinema Industry (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam film industries) represent over 50-60 % of the total revenue of Indian cinema.

In recent years, the industry trend of shooting Indian films abroad has taken attention of many international destinations. As it is contributing a lot to their local economies, many international destinations are competing to attract Indian films to film in their locations by offering various incentives and destination promotional packages.

Such films shot abroad: Kabali (Tamil), Singaporenalli Raja Kulla (Kannada), Orange (Telugu), Diamond Necklace (Malayalam), Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Hindi), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hindi) had a great attention from the local Indian fans while making commercial success. Growing number of Indian film directors are in search of fresh international destinations to shoot their upcoming films.

In fact, famous Indian film directress Zoya Akthar visited Sri Lanka in the month of October 2021 in search of fresh locations for her upcoming movie. Directress of Gully Boy ( Main Cast: Ranveer Singh & Alia Bhatt) , Dil Dhadakne Do (Main Cast : Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma) and many other blockbuster films , arrival of Zoya Akthar shows the film tourism potential lies in with destination Sri Lanka.

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Extensive investment promotion activities in China for Hambantota Port’s Industrial Park 

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January 2021 – Shanghai – Visiting Stone Finishing Enterprise

A comprehensive promotional plan has been put in place by the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) to position the Port and its industrial zone as a haven of opportunity for setting up light industries. Many potential investors have been reached and discussions are ongoing for direct investment into the zone.

HIPG’s expert Port Investment team has been stationed in China for about a year, to inform and educate potential investors about new opportunities in Sri Lanka.  “We have approached more than 100 enterprises and public institutions which include investors, government sector and industry associations in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, East China, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta region etc.

“Our industry research and investment promotion activities have shown us that although potential investors know Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, they know little about the Hambantota Port and the opportunities, the country can open up from a more industrial and business related perspective.  They are unaware of the investment environment in Sri Lanka and HIP for overseas investment, a situation we intend to remedy,” says Justin Zhang, General Manager of Port Investment Services, HIPG.

“What is of primary concern to these investors is the supply chain, both upstream and downstream.  “They are familiar with market conditions where there are a multitude of raw material suppliers for different industries that can make market conditions competitive, which goes towards mitigation on the volatility of the supply of materials for production.  This is something HIP is working on parallel to bringing these investments into the country, which is in our Master Plan,” says Tim Xiao, Senior General Manager, Port Investment Services and General Affairs.

“Currently the HIPG Port Investment Services team is on the ground promoting the zone to diverse industries that will fit into the port’s Master Plan in upstream and downstream connectivity in port related industries. The preferred industries are rubber and tire, electric vehicles, electronic equipment, home electrical appliances, new materials for building, nano materials, etc. The investors are being made aware of what Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of tax incentives, low costs of labour, utilities, etc., as well as benefits arising from the country’s Free Trade Agreements. The strategic location of the Hambantota Port is another advantage for investors in terms of proximity to their markets coupled with the multifunctional logistics, port facilities and the added benefits from an industrial park adjacent to the port.

“Our endeavour in bringing FDIs into Sri Lanka, is to connect Sri Lankan and foreign partners in various industry sectors so that the country will realize its full potential. When approaching investors, we usually introduce the “HIP Speed” concept which includes our professional and efficient project team in Sri Lanka and China and the One-Stop Service facility. We also showcase projects such as our ‘Park in Park’ manufacturing operation, the Ceylon Tire Manufacturing Project and SeaHorse Yacht building as examples of how “HIP Speed” operates,” says Johnson Liu, CEO, HIPG.

HIPG says the future holds great opportunity for the South of the country, both in terms of skilled and semiskilled employment and for Sri Lankan investors to set up factories to strengthen the supply chains that will create win-win solutions for everyone. “One of our main objectives is to make HIP a Gateway Port for the Southern hinterland.  This requires more industries to be integrated into a smoother supply chain that could be developed, to cater to a massive export market for Sri Lanka,” says the CEO of HIPG.

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