Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020 – 01:00

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Shirajiv Sirimane

State Minister Nivard Cabraal with Softlogic Group and Sri Lankan airline Chairman, Ashok Pathirage at the event Pic: Saliya Rupasinghe

Sri Lanka has over Rs. 10 triton of deposits idling with banks and finance companies said State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal at Softlogic Stockbrokers organised “Twenty 21 and Beyond” event.

He said if 10 % of this which is 100 billion can be ploughed back to the market it would be very productive to the economy he said. “Out of this Rs. 90 trillion is with the banking sector. He recalled that State funds such as the EPF had earlier invested only Rs. 70 billion.

The previous Yahapalana government burdened businesses by stamping huge taxes but still could not meet their tax revenue targets. He said that this government believes that taxing is not the way forward but going more concessions to entrepreneurs to restart businesses and invest in new areas of businesses will stimulate the economy. A step in this regard was taken in this regard by bringing down the bank lending rates to a single digit.

He also said the government is placing necessary long term policy measures in place and building an economic environment expecting high growth in the next five years anticipating Sri Lanka to come out stronger than the pre covid era. “The new Govt. will take Sri Lanka out of COVID, other shocks.”

He said that in addition to managing the covid pandemic well above the global expectations the government will take measures for economic revival as well as the silver linings are already evident.

“If you take the exports sector has bounced back to near-normal and Lankan entrepreneurs have ventured into new export products like PPE.

The foreign remittances too are falling back on track.

Though the leisure sector is at a standstill they are getting some kind of benefit due to accommodating Sri Lankans who arrive back in Sri Lanka. Lower oil bill was compensating for the USD 2.3 billion revenue that came to Sri Lanka from Tourism earnings.

He said annually over 700,000 Sri Lankans visit overseas for holidays and local hotels must offer them more packages to woo them to their hotels.

Commenting on the stock market he said that said the market bounced back and this trend is expected to continue. Over Rs. 30 billion have been sold by foreign investors and Sri Lankans bought them and the locals can resell them back to foreigners return in the future and get good returns. Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings, Gihan Cooray, said that they see the local hotel sector recovering through domestic tourism while the Colombo hotels too are receiving revenue from the food and beverage sector and from banquets.

He said that the group employed lot of their financial resources in Cinnamon Life and they are expecting returns from next year. “We see positive sentiment from both local and foreign buyers for this project,” he concluded.


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