Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance –Chief Guest,
Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka our Keynote Speaker,
Mr. Krishan Balendra, Deputy Vice Chairman, Summit Chairman,
Members of the Board of the Ceylon Chamber,
Conference Resource persons
Ladies and gentlemen,
I take great pleasure in welcoming you on behalf of the to the flagship event of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce – the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2021.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to our Chief Guest Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance. Thank you, Hon Minister for accepting our invitation to grace this occasion. I also wish to warmly welcome the Hon. Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who kindly agreed to deliver the keynote address this morning.
It is indeed our privilege to continue to host this event for the 21st consecutive year since its commencement in 2000. Over the last two decades, the Sri Lanka Economic Summit has been the premier annual forum for economic policy discussion and an opportunity for the private sector to enhance their knowledge on key development projects and policy directions.
The theme for the 21st Sri Lanka Economic Summit is aptly themed
‘Springboard for Revival: Opportunity to Reset”
While understanding that the economy is facing numerous challenges at present, we want to also be able to find solutions through a public private dialogue.
It is said that one must not let a crisis go to waste and we feel this is an important opportunity for the Sri Lankan economy to bring in the reforms needed to ensure sustainable economic growth and development.
Keeping this in mind, the Ceylon Chamber has brought together a stellar line-up of over 50 experts for the summit, with high-level representatives from government bodies, multinational agencies, tech industry, finance, consulting, tourism, and leading think-tanks to name a few. We are also pleased to have several international experts at the summit, who will be bringing in a wealth of knowledge concerning several key areas of development. We thank them all for taking time of their schedules and sharing their knowledge and expertise with our participants.
The sessions are designed to openly discuss the environment that will be required to create a Springboard for Revival and leverage on the Opportunity to utilize this period to Reset. The theme has been suitably chosen as Sri Lanka recovers from the pandemic-related impact while navigating external debt concerns as it rebuilds stronger. The Summit recognizes the need to balance growth priorities and manage debt dynamics, while facilitating more foreign exchange inflows.
We are at a crucial point in our economic development trajectory. The steps taken now by the government and private sector will determine how we emerge from our current challenges and signal the direction for the nation’s economy and the prosperity of its people. As the private sector we have learnt to survive in the face of unprecedented challenges, demonstrating resilience and continued perseverance. It is now up for us to shift gears as we emerge out of the pandemic and start preparing our businesses for the next decade of growth.
Hon Minister, we thank you for giving the Ceylon Chamber an opportunity to have an open dialog with you, while we agree to disagree at times, it is healthy to have these difficult discussions, as we all love Sri Lanka very much and that’s what the Chamber puts ahead of all our businesses. When Sri Lanka shines, we will automatically shine. We kindly ask you to give us an opportunity to discuss on your decisions with regard to the future of our economy and keep our discussions objective. All the meetings we have held with you so far has been fruitful to the membership at large.
The sessions on Day 1 (today) are focused around creating this enabling environment at a macro level while encouraging public private partnerships. We just heard in the session prior to this on the global macro outlook, key trends and how Sri Lanka is positioned within this. We will go on to explore the external debt situation and other macroeconomic challenges in depth and focus on the twin role of public private sector collaboration in policymaking and making investments in the upcoming sessions today.
The sessions on Day 2 (tomorrow) are focused on the more medium to long-term solutions in generating more dollars to the economy. As such, two sessions will discuss how we can expand our existing basket of exports, develop further in existing markets, explore new products, services and markets while rethinking new strategies to drive other export sectors. The Summit will also have a session focusing on the tourism sector, as the country opens up to welcome tourism and navigates some of the new challenges in global travel. We hope that the arrival momentum seen since September 2021 will be a sign of the bounce back of this sector which has been badly affected in the last 2-3 years. The summit has also understood the role that technology will play in driving this revival. Hence the steps Sri Lanka will need to take in establishing a technology hub will also be explored.
Let me take this opportunity to once again thank our Chief Guest Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance for your very valuable time this morning and our Keynote Speaker Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
I would also like to thank the Conference Chair and Committee for their guidance and the Chamber team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the success of this event attending to all administrative matters relating to this event despite many challenges.
I wish the summit all success and hope the outcome of the sessions will drive meaningful policy outcomes in steering the economy towards a reset. Have a great couple of days ahead of intellectually stimulating analysis and discussion!