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World Bank approves USD 500 Mn financing facility to Sri Lanka

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors Thursday (30) approved $500 million in financing for Sri Lanka to provide safe, climate-resilient roads to connect agricultural supply chains through the Inclusive Connectivity and Development Project. This project is expected to benefit around 16 million people living in rural communities in selected districts of Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, roads carry around 95 percent of passengers and 98 percent of cargo. While nearly all national roads are paved, only 67 percent of provincial roads, and 13 percent of rural roads are in good condition. Sri Lanka also has the highest rate of road fatalities in South Asia with around 3,000 deaths per year. An uninterrupted road network is crucial to link rural communities to health and education services and other economic opportunities, and to connect small-holder farmers to domestic and international markets.

“Improving access to basic services and economic opportunities in rural areas, and reducing regional disparities in economic development, is critical for promoting inclusion and opportunities for all,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Director of the World Bank for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “The project will also create many short-term employment opportunities, which will help advance the post-pandemic recovery.”

This project is part of the development program to improve 100,000 km of rural roads, a key initiative under the Government’s national development strategy.

“The project will help develop green and climate-resilient transport and agricultural logistics, and mainstream climate resilience practices in infrastructure planning and investments for a more resilient future for Sri Lanka,” said Winnie Wang, World Bank Task Team Leader of the Project.

The project will build on the ongoing provincial and rural roads rehabilitation initiatives under the World Bank- financed Transport Connectivity and Asset Management Project and the Asian Development Bank-funded Integrated Road Investment Programs – iRoad I and II.

This project will be implemented by the Ministry of Highways  and a National Steering Committee will be established to oversee the project.

The $500 million loan is provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The variable spread loan has a final maturity of 28 years including a grace period of 10 years.



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‘Dollar reserves in SL plummet drastically, putting the economy in jeopardy‘

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Key personnel at CNCI forum

By Steve A. Morrell

Sri Lanka’s dollar reserves have declined from $ 7.15 billion in 2019 to $ 2.8 billion currently. The President conceded economic failures although reasons for such failure were not explained, chairman, National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Canisius Fernando said.

Fernando added recently at a forum: “Forex reserves are insufficient to expedite payment of import bills. More so that cost incurred on container traffic for imports and or exports was on a rising spiral. In comparison to cost of container shipping recorded at $ 2,800 earlier, it is now $ 12,000, indicating a rise in multiples of 250.

“Additionally, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP +) affecting our trade with EU countries, placed Sri Lanka’s reputation at a risk, meaning that countries could veer away from Sri Lanka prompted by a possible inability to honor our trade commitments. The clear example being trade with the US. Rather than await goods and services transactions with Sri Lanka, that could invariably take three months, US economists and their trade sector opted to transact trade with countries in close proximity to US shores.

“Dearth of container traffic and rising cost for on- loading and off- loading of cargo seriously affect trade imbalances. Consequently, the credit worthiness of the Sri Lankan economy is affected, which in turn seriously affects the GDP.

“Worker wages which were static because of trade shut- downs caused demands for increased wages. Wage demands of Rs 1,500 from employees became a major phenomenon in most sectors. The question at issue was the hypothetical position of business establishments of about 4000 employees demanding increased wages. This would cause closure of those companies resulting in unemployment.

“The proverbial domino effect of such repercussions would cause further chaos in the economy.

“There was no proper policy in most sectors. Suspension of the import of fertilizer and consequent confusion would, in the short run, result in famine and food shortages. Already this was evident in the public panic caused by having to stand in line to purchase essentials. That the crisis is upon us and the question of a quick solution is not feasible in the current context of the economy.

“Foreign investors are lured by the possibility of cheap labour in Sri Lanka to establish their businesses here, but in this instance too, this is only a hypothetical situation but not the reality.”

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Supuni Products gives back by way of welfare initiative, helps to uplift the needy patients with chronic illnesses

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Supuni Products first started in 2016 when the business proprietor, Supuni Lakmalie along with her husband only had Rs. 150 as investment. With that small amount, they purchased kollu (lentils) and kurakkan and ground them using a grindstone. This was the beginning for them and today, Supuni Products is a booming enterprise that specializes in ground spices and cereal, operating from the town of Nildandahinna, Walapane. Their products are of very high quality and 100% natural and consists of 15 different spice and cereal products including chilli, coriander, turmeric, pepper, curry powder, kurakkan, lentil (kollu) etc.

In 2018, Supuni Products received the opportunity to supply kurakkan flour and cereal to be included into the Poshana Malla, which is a nutrition package prepared for pregnant women, instigated by the government. The success of their business was such that they were able to gain an equity of over Rs. Four million during the past three years.

As part of a welfare initiative, they have also pledged to allocate one rupee for every kilogram of product sold, towards supporting patients with financial difficulties and require emergency surgery and for those with chronic diseases. While having had to run a business in the confines of their own home, the grant offering they received from the enterprise project allowed them to complete construction work of their new factory. She now hopes to expand the business, improve their supply chain, and create new employment opportunities.

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Dialog Enterprise offers Dell Technologies Cloud IaaS in Sri Lanka

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Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, is working with Dell Technologies Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) in Sri Lanka to offer Dell Technologies Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions to customers to innovate and scale rapidly, reduce costs and increase performance of business-critical infrastructure.

“Together, with our combined forces, we bring the only hybrid multi-cloud partnership in the country, giving access to private clouds as well as to our existing public cloud, and for on-premises infrastructure, robustly powered by Dell Technologies and VMWare. Envisioning a one-stop multiservice solution for all enterprise requirements, we strive continuously to keep to the changing landscape strengthening the cloud play in the arena,” said Navin Pieris, the Vice President – Enterprise Business and Large Enterprise Sales, Dialog Axiata PLC.

Rather than making capital investments in hardware, storage and servers to maintain them, enterprises can harness and scale IaaS resources when needed, paying only for infrastructure services they consume. Mitigating and allowing for any threat of data loss, the cloud partnership also offers cyber recovery as a service with a guaranteed uptime of 99.95%, end-to-end management of data centers and 24×7 support with zero operational burden on the customer. Ensuring the same standardization, self-service, automation and analytics capabilities that exist in the public cloud, the partnership facilitates secure private clouds for customers along with servers, storage and customized enterprise, private and/or public cloud solutions as required by enterprises.

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