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Japan – UNDP 2 livelihood projects in SL

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Earlier today (24), PM Dinesh Gunawardena, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki and UNDP Sri Lanka Resident Representative – Ms. Azusa Kubota, launched the 2 new livelihood projects that address the economic crisis in Sri Lanka at Temple Trees.

The ongoing socio-economic crisis has had serious impacts on the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. The rising energy costs and evolving climate change impacts have further exacerbated due to the situation. In response, the Government of Japan through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, will provide approximately LKR 1,175 million (approx. USD 3.8 million) to support vulnerable smallholder farming families in the Dry Zone districts, namely North-Central, North-Western and Eastern Provinces, with a focus on women’s economic empowerment and adoption of green agricultural technologies.

Funded by the Japanese Supplementary Budget (JSB) and working together with the Government of Sri Lanka and relevant stakeholders, the intervention aims to achieve its objectives through two projects; the first focusing on diversifying livelihoods and introduce entrepreneurship programmes, targeting women-led MSMEs. The second aims to strengthen energy and food security, through the revival of the rural agricultural economy by providing access to innovative markets, value and supply chain improvements along with the adoption of modern, green agricultural technologies which will increase productivity and efficiency.

A total of 58,000 women and youth will directly benefit from these projects, while indirectly impacting over 132,000 vulnerable community members from the North-Central, North-Western and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.

To mark the beginning of these projects and to recognize the Government of Japan’s support to the interventions, a launch event was held today with the participation of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki – Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, Ms. Azusa Kubota – UNDP Sri Lanka Resident Representative, Mr. Tetsuya Yamada – Chief Representative of JICA in Sri Lanka, Agriculture minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Power and Energy – Kanchana Wijesekera, senior government officials and development partners.

Gracing the occasion, Prime Minister stated, “Government of Sri Lanka appreciates the continuous support extended by the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme towards country’s efforts to recover from the socioeconomic crisis. We believe this is a significant step towards creating a food and energy secure Sri Lanka, both vital sectors to the fabric of the country’s economy.”

Highlighting Japan’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka in crisis recovery efforts, Ambassador Mizukoshi, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka stated, “Japan has been working together with the Government of Sri Lanka and relevant UN agencies for economic and social empowerment of women in Sri Lanka, including the formulation of National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security. These new projects will provide for practical means to uplift lives of vulnerable communities. Especially, we recognize the special needs of women-headed household in conflict-affected areas. It is a great opportunity to create positive synergy with UNDP’s expertise and JICA’s technical assistance for supporting livelihood and vulnerable communities.”

Commenting on the role of UNDP in bringing together stakeholders and facilitating such processes in times of need, Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka stated, “these are times when multiple-solutions through multiple-partnerships are required because we are faced with compounding and complex challenges. I am grateful for the commitments demonstrated by a wide range of actors present today. We must join hands to address the needs of the most vulnerable and affected segments of the society – particularly women-headed households. And investing in them will have visible, long-term benefits for the families and communities” 

BIZ

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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Bakery industry in crisis as bread and bun sales decline

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The All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association (ACBOA) has reported a significant drop of around 50% in the sales of cakes, bread, and buns in the local market. The association attributes this decline to the high manufacturing costs currently faced by the bakery industry.

According to the ACBOA, the costs of margarine and butter have surged to Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000 per kilogram, respectively. Additionally, the association cited challenges in obtaining imported eggs from India, forcing them to purchase locally produced eggs at Rs. 60 each.

The chairman of the association expressed concerns about the impact these rising costs have on the bakery industry. In light of these challenges, the ACBOA is urging the government to provide concessions and work towards reducing the prices of essential ingredients before the upcoming Sinhala and Hindu New Year.

The association’s plea emphasizes the need for government support to help stabilize the bakery industry and ensure its sustainability amid the current economic challenges. Further updates on the situation and any government response will be monitored closely.

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Former Minister Ronnie de Mel no more

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Former Minister – Ronnie de Mel has passed away today (27) while being treated at a private hospital, reports say.

He was aged 99 years old.A former civil servant, he was the Minister of Finance from 1977 – 1988 under the United National Party government and holds the record for the largest number of budgets presented by a finance minister.

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