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No support from tourism authorities to SL’s largest gem exhibition!

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The 30th edition of FACETS Sri Lanka, Asia’s premier gem and jewellery exhibition organised by the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) in partnership with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) and the Export Development Board (EDB) will be held in Colombo next year.

It will be held at the Atrium Lobby of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel from January 06 – 08, 2024.

The SLGJA, formed in 2002, is the apex body for the gem and jewellery industry in Sri Lanka and represents all subsectors of the trade.

Over the years, FACETS Sri Lanka has become an important event in the international gem and jewellery calendar. This year too, it will serve as a much looked-forward meeting point for the global gem and jewellery sector, attracting prominent traders, gemstone and jewellery wholesalers, exporters, manufacturers, lapidarists, retailers, and collectors from across the globe.

A press conference was held in Colombo on October 03 to elaborate on the event.

FACETS Sri Lanka Chairman – Mr. Altaf Iqbal, SLGJA Board Member – Mr. Saman Amarasena, NGJA Chairman – Mr. Viraj De Silva, EDB Chairman – Dr. Kingsley Barnard, General Manager of Cinnamon Grand Hotel – Mr. Kamal Munasinghe and Mr. Rizan Nazeer, the Chairman of Local Promotion Committee of NGJA attended the press conference.

No support from tourism authorities!
FACETS Sri Lanka President Altaf Iqbal, who attended the event, shared his views on the upcoming exhibition and new features of FACETS Sri Lanka 2024, including the newly added Sustainability Pavilion and Sapphire Design Pavilion.

He added that the Ministry of Tourism and other authorities were informed about this exhibition, which can be promoted successfully among tourists. However, it is regrettable that they have not given any support to this exhibition, he said.

Many new features and booths
There will be a host of new additions to the show, such as the Sustainable Pavilion and the Sapphire Masterpiece Pavilion.

There will be several Pavilions showcased at FACETS Sri Lanka 2024 including the Premier Gem Pavilion, Premier Jewellery Pavilion, Sustainable Pavilion, Sapphire Masterpiece Pavilion, Rough Stone Pavilion, Gem Lab Pavilion, NGJA SME Pavilion, and the SLGJA Gem and Jewellery Pavilion. The event will also feature a special ‘Reminisce of the Past’ Event.

The Premier Gem Pavilion has been a part of FACETS Sri Lanka since its inception.

It will consist of leading Sri Lankan gem dealers who have been a part of FACETS Sri Lanka over an extended period of time, showcasing their gems for sale. The Premier Jewellery Pavilion will consist of prominent local jewellers, displaying their gems and finely crafted jewellery.

The Sustainable Pavilion is a first for FACETS Sri Lanka and will present the historical evolution of Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery sector, along with its sustainability-related methods and approaches. It will also display the 2300-year history of the Sri Lankan gem trade from mine to market.

The Sapphire Masterpiece Pavilion, which is another first in Sri Lanka, will display large, precious stones, and will be on sale on the final day of the show. The Rough Stone Pavilion will feature and display rough stones from all sourcing countries of the world.

The Premier Gem Lab Pavilion brings together leading local and international gem labs together under one roof. The NGJA SME Pavilion will offer selected SMEs from across the country to showcase their gems and jewellery. The SLGJA Gem and Jewellery Pavilion will showcase gem and jewellery stalls from SLGJA members.

The ‘Reminisce of the Past’ event will feature a variety of speakers including senior gem and jewellery merchants who will speak about a variety of topics including how business was conducted in the past, and how the industry has evolved from the early years of humble beginnings, to what it is today. 

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Amul to secure Milco & NLDB under 99-yr. lease

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President Ranil Wickramasinghe and Minister of Agriculture – Mahinda Amaraweera, have submitted a joint cabinet paper to hand over farms owned by Milco and the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB) to India’s Amul milk cooperative on a long-term lease basis, the ‘Aruna’ newspaper reports.

The newspaper further adds :

During President Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to India, the Indian Prime Minister – Narendra Modi had pledged their support to develop the Sri lankan dairy industry.

Accordingly, the farms of Milco and NLDB are to be leased to Amul for a period of 99 years.

Also, an assessment for the Milco and NLDB have been made at Rs. 90 bn. while the value of the brand name Highland has been assessed as Rs. 02 bn.

In addition, a separate assessment is to be made over the equipment of the NLDB.

The venture, which will see Amul owning a 52% stake and the Sri Lankan stakeholders owning 48%, will seek to promote the local dairy industry, subject to a 99-year lease agreement.

The companies have also informed the government that they will secure the jobs of the employees currently working.  The government has also planned to provide a high VRS to Milco employees should they volunteer to retire.

Minister of Agriculture – Mahinda Amaraweera has said that Amul is unable to export dairy products to Sri Lanka for sale.
In addition, although India has stopped exporting dairy cows to other countries, it is to make an exception for Sri Lanka.

The land with the Narahenpita factory owned by Milco is to be taken over by the Urban Development Authority while Milco’s main factory is to be shifted to Badalgama.

(Source – Aruna)

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Tech giant Samsung workers to strike indefinitely

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A union representing workers at South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics has called on its roughly 30,000 members to go on strike indefinitely, as part of its campaign for better pay and benefits.

The announcement came on the last day of a three-day general strike being held by the National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU).

The union said it had made the decision after management showed no intention of holding talks over its demands.

The NSEU, which represents nearly a quarter of Samsung Electronics’ workers in South Korea, said its actions had disrupted production. Samsung has disputed these claims.

“Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines. The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union,” the firm told BBC News.

However, the union said: “The company has no intention to engage in a dialogue even after the first general strike, thus we declare a second general strike starting from July 10th, lasting indefinitely.”

The NSEU said about 6,500 workers have been taking part in the strike so far and called on more of its members to join the industrial action.

A spokesperson for Samsung Electronics declined to comment on how many workers had joined the walkout.

A protest on Monday was attended by around 3,000 people.

“In our view, there will be no production disruption,” Jung In Yun, from Fibonacci Asset Management Global told BBC News.

Last month, the union staged the first walkout at the company since it was founded five and a half decades ago.

Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions.

It is the flagship unit of South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group.

The firm is also the biggest of the family-controlled businesses that dominate Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Samsung Group was known for not allowing unions to represent its workers until 2020, when the company came under intense public scrutiny after its chairman was prosecuted for market manipulation and bribery.

After the NSEU announcement, the company’s shares were trading flat to slightly lower on the Korea Stock Exchange.

Last week, Samsung Electronics said it expects its profits for the three months to June 2024 to jump 15-fold compared to the same period last year.

A boom in artificial intelligence (AI) technology has lifted the prices of advanced chips, driving up the firm’s forecast for the second quarter.

(BBC News)

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SriLankan Airlines to undergo restructuring, not sale – Minister

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Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva affirmed that SriLankan Airlines will undergo restructuring instead of being sold.

He emphasized that according to existing regulations, only up to 49% of the airline’s shares can be transferred to another entity, yet no suitable investor has expressed interest thus far.

Addressing the press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (03), Minister Siripala de Silva further elaborated;

President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed Parliament yesterday (02), outlining the on-going debt restructuring crucial for the country’s economic progress. Despite political scepticism from the opposition, he emphasized that the message conveyed was largely positive for the country’s interests.

Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund is actively involved in the restructuring process based strictly on legal frameworks, regulations, and objective criteria, without regard to personal considerations. Sajith Premadasa noted examples such as Argentina, Ecuador, and Ghana, which have successfully negotiated a 25% reduction in commercial loans, distinct from bilateral debts. Discussions to restructure commercial debt within Sri Lanka are on-going, with evolving criteria influenced by IMF assessments of each country’s economic resilience.

It is stressed that pursuing narrow political objectives without acknowledging internationally accepted realities would be inappropriate in this context.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has initiated the first step towards rebuilding the country from its recent challenges. The next crucial step is to safeguard and propel it forward, crucial in preventing a regression to conditions of two years ago.

This year’s budget allocates funds not only for provincial councils, pradeshiya sabha and government departments, but also for social security benefits like “Aswesuma”. Those activities are not being conducted in anticipation of the elections.

Furthermore, SriLankan Airlines should be addressed here. Our approach involves restructuring the airline rather than selling it outright. Under Sri Lankan law, only 49% of SriLankan Airlines’ shares can be transferred to another entity. However, there has been minimal global interest in this opportunity, with only six individuals expressing interest, none of whom were deemed suitable. Even if we were to extend this opportunity to a Sri Lankan entrepreneur, their capabilities would need to be demonstrated.

Additionally, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is set to discuss the resumption of their projects next week, marking another advantage of debt restructuring. Despite interest from Chinese firms in the airport project, contractual obligations with Japan stipulate that contracts should be awarded to Japanese companies.

Furthermore, the management of the financially burdened Mattala Airport will soon be entrusted to a joint venture between Russia and India. Development at the Kankesanthurai port is progressing with assistance amounting to USD 69 million from India. During a recent visit to Sri Lanka, Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar confirmed plans to initiate a ferry service between Sri Lanka and India in the near future.

(President’s Media Division)

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