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Tuesday February 27th, 2024

SL Airline’s up cycling project helps low income families out of poverty

ECONOMYNEXT– Lonali Rodrigo, fashion designer and founder of “House of Lonali,” upcycles out of Sri-Lankan Airlines’ waste materials and makes wallets, books, pouches, travel bags, key tags, jewellery, and photo frames.

Her raw materials consist of waste items such as unusable aircraft seats covers, blankets, uniforms and other items originating from the aircraft.

The airline spends around 500,000 rupees for waste disposal, Anushad Liyanagoda, Captain of Sri Lankan Airlines said.

SriLankan is able to prevent discarded waste material of up to 16 tonnes, while unwanted textiles weighing 167 kilograms is prevented from going to landfill dumps, minimising the long-term negative impacts to the environment, Liyanagoda said.

The upcycled materials, once converted into finished goods, make up a product line of 1,580 products.

“Being a designer, I was thinking how I might be able to find a solution to the problem of waste,” Rodrigo,who is a nature lover, said.

“The more I upcycle, the more experience I get and the more I explored different materials, and the more I worked with divergent cooperatives. I was able to explore ways and possibilities to creatively exploit the waste,” Rodrigo said.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, House of Lonali focuses on empowering women hit by poverty and abuse.

In 2019, Rodrigo joined hands with SriLankan’s “Mathaka” project, and eight months later, retailing had commenced.

The airline project became a turning point in Rodrigo’s life.

“It is not easy to deal with tons of waste, and there is a variety of garments we deal with, so we have to be very creative with each piece that we are given,” she said

Upcycling the projects has to come with a creative turn, Rodrigo said.

“Joining SriLankan Airlines in this project has helped us expand ourselves with good exposure. For a small brand, the biggest benefit is joining hands with a bigger brand,” Rodrigo said.

Rodrigo’s biggest support system is her family, she said. While she learns her entrepreneurial skills from her father husband who works in the IT sector assists her in the digital and technical end of retail.

Anushika Priyadarshni, a 31- year- old, housewife, living in Hokandara, Sinhapura, who has been a part of the Mathaka project for eight years8 said she has seen financial changes in her life after she juggled flexible working and household duties.

A mother of two schooling children, Priyadarshani is able to contribute to her family whilst working.

“The work hours are very flexible andI can manage sewing while taking care of the children,” she said.

Priyadarshani has not taken on the project alone., Hher husband also helps as an apparel cutter.

“My husband cuts the material while I sew the product.,”

“It’s a privilege to give a hand to the family income since one -person earning is a not enough in the current situation” she added.

Sri Lanka’s sky rocketing cost of living has led to a situation where more than one member of the family is compelled to find wor.

“There is a lot we have accomplished financially through this project., We built a small house of our own in front of our parent’s house,”said Priyadharshani.

Her day begins early in the morning when she cooks for the family and drops the children at school.

“When the kids are at school I start sewing and when they are home I spendt time with them helping them with their homework. If I get any free time, sew.”

Priyadarshini’s main products consist of bags and pouches, and in December she earned an income of 54,000 rupees., However, earnings tend to fluctuate

“I feel productive when I work rather than staying home without doing anything and it is more encouraging when you receive a good sum of money for the effort you put into it,” she said. (Colombo/Feb02/2023)


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Sri Lanka establishes Children of Gaza Fund

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to create a “Children of Gaza Fund” in aid of the victims of the violence inflicted on Gaza.

“All Ministries and Government Institutions directed to forego Ifthar celebrations and contribute to this fund,” a statement by the president’s media division said.

“The Government’s donation of US $1 million will be distributed through official UN agencies to aid affected children with citizen contributions encouraged.” (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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Top US official calls for inclusive reforms, deeper defence ties with Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma in discussions with Sri Lanka officials had called for inclusive reforms and stronger human rights and also discussed deeper defence and maritime cooperation.

The United States remains committed to the economic growth and prosperity of Sri Lanka, statement from the US Embassy in Colombo quoted the official as telling government, civil society and economic leaders during his February 23-24 visit to Sri Lanka.

“Verma met with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss progress on Sri Lanka’s IMF program, including inclusive economic and governance reforms aimed at keeping Sri Lanka on the path to sustainable economic growth.  Deputy Secretary Verma stressed the vital need to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. They also explored opportunities to deepen defence and maritime cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka, including strengthening the Sri Lanka Navy’s capabilities to safeguard national security and promote a more stable Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said.

 On February 23, aboard the SLNS Vijayabahu, one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters transferred by the United States to Sri Lanka, Deputy Secretary Verma said: “I am pleased to announce that the Department of State has notified Congress of our intent to transfer a fourth medium endurance cutter to Sri Lanka.  The Department obligated $9 million in Foreign Military Financing to support this effort.  We look forward to offering the cutter, pending the completion of Congress’ notification period.  If completed, this transfer would further strengthen defense cooperation between the United States and Sri Lanka.  The ship would increase Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, monitor its search and rescue area, and provide additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.” 

 Participating in the announcement at Colombo Port were Sri Lanka State Minister of Defense Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, who remarked, according to the statement: “The United States has previously transferred three cutters to the Sri Lankan Navy, which deploys these ships for maritime operations and law enforcement missions, countering human trafficking and drug trafficking, while supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The eventual transfer of a fourth vessel would be just one more point in a long history of cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

Verma also visited the site of the West Container Terminal (WCT), a deepwater shipping container terminal in the Port of Colombo. The WCT, currently being constructed by Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT) Private Limited with 553 million US dollars in financing from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, will provide critical infrastructure for the South Asian region, the embassy said.

“Operating near capacity since 2021, the Port of Colombo’s new addition will be the port’s deepest terminal and aims to boost Colombo’s shipping capacity, expanding its role as a premiere logistics hub connecting major routes and markets, boosting prosperity for Sri Lanka without adding to its sovereign debt,” it said. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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Sri Lanka police chief appointment against constitution: Opposition Leader

Samagi Jana Balavegaya leader Sajith Premadasa addresses the rally

ECONOMYNEXT – The appointment of Sri Lanka’s new police chief Deshbandu Tennakoon is against the constitution as the decision lacked required votes at the Constitutional Council, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday (26) appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the 36th Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the country after the Constitutional Council (CC) cleared the official who along with three other police officers were asked by the Supreme Court to compensate 2 million rupees in a fundamental rights case last year.

“CC didn’t approve IGP’s appointment. Votes: 4 for; 2 against; 2 abstentions. At least 5 votes are required for a decision,” Premadasa said in his X (Twitter) platform.

“Speaker has a casting vote only in case of a tie. 4/2 is not a tie! Constitution is being blatantly violated for the second time. Shame on you speaker!”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was not reachable for a comment on the Opposition Leader’s claim.

The President Media Division (PMD) said the President appointed Tennakoon “as the IGP in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

The island nation’s Supreme Court on December 14 ordered Tennakoon when he was the Acting IGP and three other officials to pay a compensation of 500,000 rupees each for the violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.

The Supreme Court also instructed the Police Commission to take disciplinary action against the said Police officers including Tennakoon after it considered the petition filed by W. Ranjith Sumangala who had accused the Police officers of violating his fundamental rights during his detention at Mirihana Police Station in 2011.

The Supreme Court held that the four police officers violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner by his illegal arrest, detention and subjection to torture at the Mirihana Police Station, which was under the supervision of Tennakoon at the time of the arrest. (Colombo/Feb 27/2024)

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