An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday February 27th, 2024

Sri Lanka launches Capital Market Club in 100 schools; central bank reports to be discussed

ECONOMYNEXT – Central Bank reports will be integrated to schools for discussion among students in a bid to improve finance literacy in Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said inaugurating a Capital Market Club programme in a school in Kandy.

The exercise is part of a strategic move to enhance technology and financial literacy among school students as part of Wickremesinghe’s plans to make Sri Lanka a developed country by 2048, the President’s Media Division said on Thursday August 31.

The Capital Market Club programme was launched in Kandy’s Nugawela Central College Monday morning. A hundred schools have been selected for the initiative, with a seed fund of 10 millino rupees allocated for the task.

According to the PMD, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) plans to introduce a comprehensive training programme for teachers and student leaders, aimed at “bolstering awareness of the stock market and enhancing financial literacy among students across the nation”.

The programme is said to be a collaborative one involving the central bank, the presidential secretariat, the ministry of education, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Colombo Stock Exchange.

“Our focus must now shift towards advancing without regressing into the abyss that threatens our nation’s progress. It’s imperative to decide whether we should persist with mid-20th century policies or chart a new course with fresh perspectives. Adhering to outdated methods would jeopardize our country’s very existence, considering the significant gap between our current state and our desired destination,” Wickemesinghe said, speaking at the event.

“Equally crucial is ensuring that the upcoming generation, entrusted with the country’s future, does not inherit such a predicament. Thus, embarking on a technological journey becomes imperative,” he said.

Introducing modern technology to Sri Lanka is important, said Wickremesinghe, adding that substantial efforts are already underway, both within the ministry of education and various research institutes. Determining the implementation of new technological methods becomes a pivotal task, he said, from blockchain technology to artificial intelligence and genome science.

“Crucially, these advancements should reach rural communities. Our initiative to modernise agriculture aims to bring these technologies closer to home. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that technology alone is insufficient. These endeavours require financial support within a society that operates on monetary transactions. The current governmental landscape lacks the means to entirely govern monetary utilisation and this holds true on both the domestic and international fronts,” he said.

He said that in today’s competitive economic climate, financial systems operate without heeding national boundaries. Whether favourable or not, Sri Lanka must adapt within these constraints. The global economy draws its sustenance from various sources, including banks and stock markets. Money serves as the driving force, he said.

“Ultimately, it’s essential to acknowledge the pivotal role of money. Similar to the private sector, the government also engages with the money market and issues Treasury Bonds. Today, our objective is to acquaint you with this methodology, marking the initial step in this educational journey,” he said.

President Wickremesinghe said he wishes to start discussions on the Central Bank report within schools starting from 2024.

“I am actively engaging with the Ministry of Finance in this endeavour. To facilitate this, we are equipping both teachers and student leaders with training, while also garnering support from bank officials.

“This initiative underscores the need for familiarity with contemporary methods. Our focus extends beyond the mere dissemination of knowledge; it encompasses financial literacy and securities education that should reach even the most remote villages. Talented individuals reside within these communities and it is incumbent upon us to provide them with the essential training,” he said.

Sri Lanka must also recognise that today’s world operates as a single market. To align with this reality, he said, the government is in the process of signing multiple free trade agreements.

“Deliberations are ongoing with nations such as Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Anticipated expansions into new markets encompass East Asia, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Additionally, conversations are underway with the European Union to explore potential facilities. In a fortnight, a delegation from the United States will be visiting our nation for discussions. Hence, a comprehensive awareness of the global market and these agreements becomes paramount.

“The emerging economy we are shaping is both environmentally conscious and digitally driven. Within the framework of this green and digital economy, securities hold their place. This paradigm shift introduces novel approaches. Complementing this transition, our focus extends to an offshore economy. Discussions involving specialised bar associations in London are shaping the corresponding legal landscape. A critical decision lies before us: whether to embrace these pioneering economic systems or remain in stagnation,” he said.

Noting that a significant majority of Sri Lanka’s population will fall within the 25-35 age bracket in a decade or so, Wickremesinghe said the imperative to chart one’s future looms large.

“We’ve selected 100 schools for participation, with intentions to expand this number subsequently. I urge the stock market and the Securities Exchange Commission to actively collaborate and extend their involvement. I request their engagement in overseeing one or two of these associations, providing their valuable support.

“A seed fund of 10 million rupees has been allocated for the programme’s initiation. Accordingly, each school will receive Rs. 100,000. I beseech that we confine this financial aspect to this amount. After a year has elapsed, we will evaluate the successful implementation of this programme by each school,” he said.

The winning school, along with its subject teacher and 10 students, will be rewarded with a trip to Singapore to study the workings of its stock market for a brief period, Wickremesinghe said, noting the need to limit the monetary allocation to 100,000 rupees per school.

“This rule applies uniformly, irrespective of whether the school is located in an underprivileged or affluent area. Additionally, we aspire to extend opportunities to the second and third-place contenders. This endeavour aligns with our mission to bring the new economy to the grassroots level.

“With this challenge, I entrust you as part of the grand vision to transform our country into a developed nation by 2048,” he said. (Colombo/Aug31/2023)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka parliamentary committee says electricity tariffs should be reduced by 20 pct

ECONOMYNEXT — A parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis has recommended to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) that electricity tariffs be reduced by at least 20 percent.

A statement from parliament said on Monday February 26 that, following an analytical review of the figures presented by the Electricity Board, Public Utilities Commission, etc. and taking into consideration all other factors affecting the price of electricity, including considering the opinion given by experts that the existing electricity price can be reduced by about 33%, price of electricity should be reduced by at least 20% in the year 2024 so that the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will not suffer any loss.

PUCSL officials have informed the Committee that by the end of this month, they can submit the necessary recommendations to reduce the electricity bill, according to the statement.

The matter was taken up for discussion when the committee, chaired by MP Gamini Waleboda, met in the Parliament on February 22.

Officials from the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Public Utilities Commission, Industry Development Board, Enterprise Development Authority, Department of Population and Statistics, Department of Inland Revenue and from government institutions including the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Industries Board and a group of industrialists had also been called for the meeting.

“The Committee gave several directives to the relevant institutions and officials to identify the micro, small and medium scale industries that are directly affected by the economic crisis and to activate the local economy and increase the foreign exchange earnings by reviving the industry sector.

“The Committee pointed out that due to the increase in electricity bills, the number of electricity connection cuts reported across the island has exceeded one million. It was also emphasised that in order to alleviate the pressure on the industry and the society, it should be arranged to provide electricity connections again by charging only 50 percent of the outstanding charges at the initial stage with the concessional basis of payment of outstanding electricity charges on installment basis,” the statement said.

The committee was also of the view to allow the customer to pay the connection fee in installments so as to avoid discouraging new entrepreneurs to start micro, small and financial industries due to high charges for getting fixed electricity connection and instructed to review the new connection fee and work to reduce it as much as possible.

The committee chair has instructed the PUCSL to conduct an audit on the electricity consumption in the public sector as an approach to ensure energy security.

“The Committee recommended to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank to start a loan scheme at subsidised interest for the purchase of solar panel systems with a view to promoting solar energy as a source of energy supply to industries. The Ministry of Finance expressed its agreement to provide refinancing facilities subject to a maximum as per the proposal made by the Committee to implement a loan scheme targeting micro, small and medium scale industrialists under subsidized interest rates.

The committee has also recommended that raw materials that must be imported from abroad and impose tax concessions on such raw materials be identified to ensure the supply of raw materials required for the smooth running of micro, small and medium scale industries. Copper, lead, aluminum and other industrial scraps used as raw materials in various domestic industries currently being sold by the CEB to external buyers and other entities should also be issued to micro, small and medium scale industrialists recommended by the Ministry of Industry and the Industrial Development Board, the committee has recommended.

The definition used by the Department of Population and Statistics for micro, small and medium industries and the definition used by other institutions such as the Industrial Development Board and the Central Bank for those industries are different from each other, which is an obstacle in making policy decisions, the committee had noted, directing the Department of Population and Statistics to support to the policymakers by releasing statistical data based on a common definition.

“The committee also recommended that the Credit Information Bureau should take prompt action to remove their credit information from the blacklists so as to facilitate access to credit facilities for micro, small and medium scale industries facing financial crisis to activate their balance sheets and to review all existing laws and procedures for registration of micro, small and medium scale industries as well as to obtain licenses and introduce a simple system.

“The committee informed all the parties to establish a steering Committee headed by the Ministry of Industry to implement the recommendations given by the Committee and to report its progress within a week,” the statement said. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka sets up fund to help children of Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is mandated to provide education, health, relief and social services, and emergency assistance to refugees. (Pic courtesy UNWRA)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers have approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to set up a fund to help children caught in the war in Gaza, a statement said.

The government will contribute a million US dollars and use funds allocated by state agencies for Ifthar celebrations.

Public contributions are also called.

The Presidential Secretariat is requesting public donations citizens for the “Children of Gaza Fund” to be contributed to account number 7040016 at Bank of Ceylon (7010), Taprobane Branch (747) by 11th April.

Deposit receipts should to be forwarded to 0779730396 via WhatsApp. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading