By Sanath Nanayakkare
Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal skipped the usual preliminaries at the recent Sri Lanka Invest Forum (SLIF) and came straight to the point and told the participating global investors that Sri Lanka’s potential for attracting investment and creating an equally attractive business environment for new entrants was very clear, and if and when the right combination of things were in place this would become an ideal time to come and invest in Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the plenary session of SLIF on June 7, 2021 he said: “Let’s remember friends, not to focus today much on what Sri Lanka was, is and what it will be. We care about that but the reality is, the investors don’t. They don’t focus on what Sri Lanka is, what it was and what it will be, but what Sri Lanka is versus other countries from an investment point of view. And that’s the name of the game,”
Further speaking the World Bank Country Director said,”
Covid has likely triggered the biggest economic fallout since the Second World War.. I commend Sri Lanka on the many achievements in containing the pandemic in the past two weeks. The government’s management of the health crisis has been recognised worldwide and the measures it has taken to contain the ongoing wave.”
“The Sri Lankan government is focused on addressing its macro fiscal challenge and creating an enabling environment for investment in the short to medium term. We all agree on that and that’s why we are here. FDI has a huge role to play in helping to leverage the potential and diversity of growth in Sri Lanka.”
“In our analytical work, we have identified that some sectors such as textile/clothing, ICT services, Sri Lankan firms are expanding its global footprint, becoming globally competitive moving up the value curve, to diversify its growth and to offer more sophisticated products in different markets. You are showing the potential in these sectors. They have scaled up with the latest outside technology and experience to drive Sri Lanka for transformation. Where can the policymakers tap into the ecosystem to drive innovation in the large existing manufacture sectors such as apparel, ICT and high-tech products to fully harness Sri Lanka’s competitive advantage and integrate into the global value chain further? “
“Then the Tourism sector is the second largest export earner accounting for close to 55% of GDP before the pandemic. Tourism investments were around 10% of total FDI before the crisis. Now we are looking at the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, let’s build back better and greener. It’s time to address logistics, connectivity and shortage of skills to build a service oriented workforce so critical if Sri Lanka is to attract more high value Tourism services. But Sri Lanka’s distance to the frontier markets [in this regard] remains vast. And this is not me speaking about a shortcoming but rather a massive upward potential for a country with very positive horizons.”
“Sri Lanka’s FDI performance in 2019 was less than we wanted it to be.- at 1% of FDIs while Vietnam, Malaysia were able to attract 6% and 2.5% respectively. Sri Lanka aims to attract $ 5 billion FDI by 2025. We believe that this is entirely doable and is realistic given its rich natural resources, strategic location , highly literate workforce and available opportunities for investment.”
“If and when the right combination of things are in place , this becomes an ideal time to come and invest. This alternatively rests on a collective set of policies and practices that make up an investment ecosystem ranging from the improvement of the investment climate and elimination of unnecessary regulatory burdens and to enhancing responsiveness of bureaucracy in order to deliver effective FDI services. What we have seen in other countries is that investment promotion is the beginning of the story and not the end. The name of the game is attracting and retaining investment.”
“Also for the immediate term, the government will face a challenging balancing act between fiscal sustainability and jump starting the economic recovery. All countries are grappling with this. This is not unique to Sri Lanka. So what is the recommendation here? Use this pandemic to turn challenges into opportunities, to tackle the fundamental core issues that existed before the pandemic to build back better, greener and to be more agile. We are believers in the vast potential of Sri Lanka and that’s why we are here today.”
“We need to recognise that the government is focusing on and is trying to balance between fiscal sustainability supporting economic recovery, saving lives and catering to emerging post- pandemic spending needs. We have to recognise that this is a very difficult balancing act.”
“We have to agree that economy depends on production, labour and capital and optimal productivity. These were all affected by Covid leading to prolonged school closures, unemployment, digital barriers in education, reduction in overall investment etc. These will affect growth everywhere. Public investments are likely to be held back by revenue constraints. Sri Lanka is not unique in the world to this unfortunate thing.”
“On the macro fiscal perspective, Covid has aggravated Sri Lanka’s long standing debt vulnerability which pre-existed.. So it is not that Covid created all these problems. Covid exacerbated them and brought to the surface some structural issues that existed, and we have seen sharp contractions in export activities, the largest in recent times.”
“So it is not an easy task contraction in output, lower revenue collection have led to rapid deterioration of fiscal deficits and GDP ratios across the world. No country is immune, so what are the priorities?.First, from a World Bank’s perspective, a policy dialogue is important. When we talk to the policymakers here, it’s agreed that let’s get the debt thing tackled to give more space in the future.”
“Sri Lanka has high debt services obligations that obviously constraints fiscal growth moving forward. We have to focus on this. The government is tackling it. Opportunities for debt financing is limited. Domestic revenue mobilisation is very important which must be central to addressing pressure on public expenditure in the future. I would say, let us keep the momentum on global integration. The government is focused on it and that is commendable. Let us put the export earnings as a key measure over GDP, to follow. Export earnings over GDP – let us follow that over time and see what happens. It would require constant touch-ups to policies. When it comes to import trade regime, I know the government’s policy. I respect it. Let’s address tariffs, para tariffs and barriers to ensure predictability in this regime. While there is no right or wrong policy, look at the role of imports; when does it help exports and domestic industry. Let’s get them in”,: he said.
MN Group becomes the Best Business of the Year at Pinnacals Awards
The MN Group won the Best Business of the Year Award at the Pinnacals Sri Lanka award ceremony at the Waters Edge Hotel, Battaramulla. Managing Director of MN Group of Companies (www.mngroup.lk), Roshan Wewage accepted the award on behalf of the organization. MN Group of Companies has previously won many awards including Lanka Business Awards (LBA) and Shramabimani.
Customers can obtain any construction related service from MN Group at a reasonable price. The company is also willing to finish half completed houses and commercial buildings at agreeable terms. MN Group understands that the tough economic circumstances have placed great pressure on the people and the company is committed to understanding their needs and to provide a warm and professional service. Roshan Wewage invited those who need to renovate their buildings to reach out to them.
Dilmah Adjudged Best Corporate Citizen for the Third Consecutive Year
Dilmah was awarded ‘Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability’ in the category of Businesses with Less than Rs. 15 Billion Annual Turnover, for the third consecutive year at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability (BCCS) Awards organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; recognizing that Dilmah has successfully achieved a sustainable balance between social, environmental, and economic performanc, a company news release said.
Evaluated by an independent & expert panel of judges, the awards are Sri Lanka’s most prestigious, scrutinizing and recognizing ethical and sustainable businesses. Dilmah was honoured as one of ten ‘Best Corporate Citizens’ of Sri Lanka, won the Award in the Environment Beyond Business Category, and was lauded for continuous commitment to the environment surpassing the realms of business.
“The annual BCCS Awards is the premier corporate citizenship award, highlights sustainability champions in the national corporate arena. The awards promote corporate citizen sustainability ownership and initiatives that deliver social and environmental benefits while pursuing profits. This recognition validates Dilmah’s emphasis on delivering social and environmental impact by sharing earnings through the work of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation,” the release said.
“In 1988, Merrill J. Fernando founded Dilmah, a family business, to serve humanity with kindness to people and nature, while sharing his passion for taste and goodness in tea. Over the years Dilmah has delivered over Rs. 7 billion for humanitarian benefit through the work of its charitable arm MJF Foundation and environmental arm Dilmah Conservation.
“Ensuring economic, social, and environmental sustainability exists at the heart of its operations and is integrated to every operational aspect of the business, Dilmah’s purpose is further extended through the work of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJF Foundation) and Dilmah Conservation (DC) by driving life-impacting initiatives.
“The MJF Foundation works directly with estate workers and underprivileged communities to uplift lives and empower them to pay-it-forward to their communities. Some of its core initiatives are the countrywide MJF centres, small-medium enterprises with over 2,000 small entrepreneurs, ‘Empower’ Culinary & Hospitality School, and ‘disABILITY’ teletherapy app.
“The sustainable development of people goes hand-in-hand with the planet. Dilmah Tea is a carbon neutral product manufactured at a carbon neutral facility. Further, Dilmah has pledged to achieve zero-emissions for its manufacturing process by 2030 through science-based targets. Dilmah Conservation functions under three main categories: environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and education and awareness. As such, Dilmah Conservation initiatives range from butterfly to elephant conservation, climate research, adaptation and mitigation, rewilding tea gardens, conserving mangrove forests, and promoting nature-based entrepreneurship through seaweed cultivation and empowering agro-entrepreneurs.”
Winning the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 is considered a top honour in the Sri Lankan corporate field. Each year, submissions are evaluated by an eminent panel of local experts, thought leaders, and academics. Dilmah considers receiving the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 an important milestone in its journey as a truly sustainable brand with a purpose beyond profit.
Across the shores, Dilmah has been recognized for its attempt to take Ayurvedic wellness and goodness to the world with the help of tea. The Arana Range of Herbal Infusion Teas was voted the Product of the Year 2022 in Australia. Meanwhile, Dilmah on its 7th Consecutive Year was awarded Most Trusted Brand in New Zealand in 2022.
DSI Tyres bags two awards at SLIM Brand Excellence 2022
Sri Lanka’s premium tyre brand, DSI Tyres won two prestigious awards at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2022, held recently in Colombo. DSI Tyres, who has already made a mark in the international markets too, won the Silver Award under the Product Brand of the Year category and the Bronze Award under the Local Brand of the Year category. These mark another important milestone in the company’s journey spanning three decades. DSI Tyres has also remained within the top three brands in Sri Lanka for three consecutive years, a significant achievement in a very competitive arena.
DSI Tyres’ role as a leading local tyre manufacturing company that continues to promote its brand in an eco-friendly manner through the use of state-of-the-art technology and continuous research and development which enables them to identify customer needs in a timely manner is the key reason behind its continuous achievements. DSI Tyres has been able to place its products optimally among the local and international customers using the latest marketing strategies. The company also places great emphasis on sustainability and has been able to expand its local and international market share maintaining continuous customer loyalty even at the most difficult periods. DSI tyres are becoming increasingly popular in the online sphere as well, due to the facilitation of online orders at the convenience of customers as well as the use of attractive digital marketing. “DSI Tyres has a special place in the people’s hearts.
We have won the people’s trust and it is the highest award we can receive. It is a great privilege for us to receive these awards, which a mark of appreciation for the work we do to maintain customer loyalty,” Managing Director of DSI Tyres Kavinda Rajapaksa said. SLIM Brand Excellence Awards is the Sri Lanka’s premier celebration of Sri Lankan brands that rewards the outstanding efforts of marketers. This gala event for this year was held at Grand Monarch Hotel, Colombo. The Chairman of DSI Tyres, Ranatunga Rajapaksa received the two awards on behalf of the company. Previously, DSI Tyres had won SLIM Turnaround Brand of the Year, Product Brand of the Year, Local Brand of the Year and many SLIM DIGIs awards.
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