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Chamber of Mineral Exporters launched

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The Chamber of Mineral Exporters (CME Chamber) was officially launched as a collaborative initiative comprising prominent companies in Sri Lanka who mine, process, add value, and export minerals and mineral-based products.

The Executive Committee of the CME comprises Mr. Amila Jayasinghe – Chairman / Director Bogola Graphite Lanka PLC, Mr. A F M Farook – Vice Chairman / Director  CeyQuartz  MBI (Pvt) Ltd ,  Dr. Sandun Dalpatadu – Secretary / Director  Damsila Resources (Pvt) Ltd., Mr. Yaasir Nizam – Treasurer / Director Mirama Quartz Industries (Pvt) Ltd , Mr. Fahim Naufal – Director Alchemy Heavy Metals (Pvt) Ltd. and  Ms. Udesha Bopitiya – Director Lanmic Exports (Pvt) Ltd.

Speaking at the inauguration of the CME, Amila Jayasinghe said they are dedicated to:

·         Enhancing and advancing the mineral resource industry in the country.

·         Collectively addressing and enhancing the value addition for local minerals.

·         Collectively addressing the challenges faced by the industry.

“The Chamber aims to utilize Sri Lanka’s mineral resources for economic growth, employment, and sustainable development. It marks a milestone by uniting key exporters towards a vibrant mineral resource industry. The minerals available in Sri Lanka present an opportunity to increase the country’s international market presence to expand its global footprint. The Chamber aims to drive growth, innovation, and sustainable development in the mineral resource industry by leveraging resources effectively. ” said Chairman Amila Jayasinghe.

Vice Chairman A F M Farook , said that the goals and objectives of the Chamber are to :

·         Position the mineral industry as a major export revenue generator for Sri Lanka

·         Establish partnerships and encourage investments to boost foreign exchange earnings and overall economic growth.

·         Propel the mineral industry to new heights, creating employment and enhancing competitiveness in the global market.

·         Work with the public sector to develop long-term policies for sustainable development and responsible mining practices.

·         Partner with state and non-state organizations for eco-friendly practices, sustainable mining, and preserving natural resources for future generations.

Jayasinghe went on to explain the manner in which the benefits of their industry could be channeled back to the country, due to the collaborative efforts of their association. He also said that due to the many hurdles and impediments in their way, the progress of the industry was greatly hampered , some of these being : 

·         Rapid policy changes, inconsistent regulations, and tax laws affecting investment decisions and long-term planning.

·         Political instability which leads to delays in decision-making and infrastructure projects.

·         Heightened sovereign risk impacting investor confidence, borrowing costs, and currency fluctuations.

·         Lengthy and complex regulatory processes which slow down projects and increase costs.

·         Unfounded/baseless environmental and social concerns causing project delays due to opposition.

·         Volatile global commodity prices and demands which affect  revenue and profitability.

·         Geopolitical developments which add complexity, including changes in trade policies, tariffs, and international relations.

The newly formed CME called on the government to assist the industry, thereby boosting the country’s economy by implementing the following: 

·         Establishing transparent and consistent policies and regulations for mining and exports.

·         Have independent oversight bodies that implement a strong regulatory framework with clear guidelines and regular audits to monitor compliance and identify corrupt practices.

·         Simplifying and streamlining the permitting and licensing process for mineral exports using online platforms utilizing digital technologies (e.g., blockchain technology) and having one-stop service facilities.

·         Encouraging public-private partnerships in state-owned mineral enterprises for transparency and accountability.

The CME together with it’s members will work towards not only enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s mineral resource industry but will also contribute to the creation of high-value job opportunities and knowledge transfer, while maximizing the value addition locally to the minerals to ensure maximum retention of value for Sri Lanka

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Won’t be able to offer SriLankan to investors even for free – Minister

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Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday (26) spoke firmly on the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines, stating that the airline’s disruptive employees and tarnished reputation would deter potential buyers in the privatisation process.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, he said  “We cannot run an airline with disruptive employees. This is a critical moment for SriLankan Airlines. We cannot afford to entertain employees who fail to handle situations under pressure.”

“The deadline for the Expressions of Interest (EOIs) is set for 5 March and in the present scenario, according to the information I received some of the bidders want to withdraw. With the negative reputation plaguing the airline, we will not be in a position to offer it free-of-charge even,” the minister claimed.

However, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage’s views had contrasted starkly with that of Minister de Silva.

The discussion saw a disagreement regarding ground handling. Minister De Silva advocated for immediate privatization of the service, citing shortcomings. Chairman Pathirage, while acknowledging areas for improvement, argued that the lack of aircraft, not ground handling, was the primary issue. He blamed lengthy government procurement procedures for hindering fleet acquisition.

De Silva justified his push for privatization by citing the airline’s struggles and reports of potential bidders withdrawing their interest. While not inherently opposed to privatization, Pathirage emphasized the ongoing process and the lack of control the airline has in the decision.

Meanwhile, trade union representatives commended Pathirage for his leadership whilst blaming political interventions and its past management. 

“We all undoubtedly praise the Chairman for his leadership and unwavering commitment to operate this airline amidst all odds. Neither the employees nor the current management of the SriLankan Airlines are responsible for the cancellations and bad reputation, but the political intervention,” they stated.

They also slammed the former COPE Chairmen and MPs Dr. Harsha de Silva and Dr. Charitha Herath for disrupting the lease procedure of the airline when the aircraft were at a lower price. “They are responsible for all the operational delays the airline is facing at present,” they claimed.

(Excerpts : DailyFT)

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Australia’s United Petroleum enters SL market

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Australia’s United Petroleum has entered into an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to supply petroleum products to the Sri Lankan market.

According to United Petroleum Lanka, Australia’s United Petroleum entered into the relevant agreement with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power and Energy on Feb 22.

Following the signing of the agreement, United Petroleum is assigned 150 existing fuel stations and also has the right to build 50 new fuel stations in Sri Lanka.

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