From left: Healthguard Pharmacy CEO Infiyaz Ali, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Vish Govindasamy, new SLRA President Charitha Subasinghe, outgoing SLRA President Murali Prakash and Singer (Sri Lanka) CEO Mahesh Wijewardene
By Sheain Fernandopulle
Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman and Sunshine Holdings PLC Group Managing Director Vish Govindasamy said that the country has only gained a fragile stability and there is a lot more to be done in future.
He made these remarks at the sixth Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA), held recently in Colombo.
From left: Outgoing SLRA President Murali Prakash congratulates new President Charitha Subasinghe
Addressing the gathering, he said, “Sri Lanka must use the present crisis as an opportunity to drive reforms similar to those carried out by South Korea and India and if these reforms are not done, Sri Lanka will face a similar fate like Argentina.”
He proceeded to state that the International Monetary Fund programme is a first step in the journey towards the country regaining credibility in international markets. Besides, Govindasamy mentioned that the local private sector has over the years learnt to survive in the face of formidable challenges.
“It is now up to us, as the private sector, to stand together to preserve our enterprises and prepare our businesses for a growth mode as we emerge from the darkness. The SLRA and retail firms are vital engines of growth. It is an opportunity for the retail sector to forgo partnerships with foreign players and principals and encourage investment and collaboration with local players. He said that the SLRA has been a very strong and effective advocate of the development of the retail sector through policy advocacy, knowledge sharing programmes aimed at bringing about awareness of the retail sector to the public at large.”
Appreciating the good work that the SLRA has been doing despite the turbulent conditions, Govindasamy invited the SLRA to have one voice as the association moves forward, which is essential to carry out its duties in a better way.
Meanwhile, outgoing SLRA President Murali Prakash announced the new office bearers of the SLRA for 2023/24.
Accordingly, John Keells Holdings President Retail Charitha Subasinghe was announced as the new President of the SLRA and Healthguard Pharmacy CEO Infiyaz Ali and Singer (Sri Lanka) Chief Executive Mahesh Wijewardene were announced as Vice Presidents.
Subasinghe then declared the members of the Executive Council namely, SPAR SL (Pvt.) Ltd CEO Kumar De Silva as General Secretary, DSI Director Asanka Rajapaksa as Assistant General Secretary, Perera & Sons Director Corporate Affairs Ruvini Kariyawasam as Treasurer, Vision Care General Manager Harsha Maduranga as Assistant Treasurer and Fashion Bug (Pvt.) Ltd Director Shabier Subian as Council Member.
Delivering his speech, Subasinghe spoke on the significance of the retail industry in Sri Lanka and the key initiatives planned for 2023/24.
“The retail industry has shown great resilience albeit the recent setbacks and continues to be the engine of the economy. It is the machinery that enables trade and services and uplifts rural economic activity. Considering its scope and breadth, it is important to understand the impact of retail to the national economy. Retail plays a vital role in three key areas – GDP, employment and tourism,” he outlined. Established in 2015, the SLRA has an ambitious vision to ‘Achieve Retail Excellence’ and be the ‘Voice of the Retail Industry in Sri Lanka’. The SLRA aims to educate retailers as to how they could work together to improve retail standards in an inclusive manner, improve consumer service across all facets of retailing and facilitate the growth of the retail industry through innovation.
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