The year under review challenged us to the core. The entire business community is aware of the impact of the Corona pandemic that beset the world economy towards the beginning of November 2019. Even though the virus started in China, it soon spread to other countries. Being an International Organisation with a membership of over 45 million in 130 countries, our members were also affected in many ways bringing to a standstill manufacturing and the movement of goods, as well as the disruption to supply chains.
Europe, where our Headquarters is located, and later the Americas, found themselves in an abysmal situation because of their significance and preponderance in the world economy. The economic collapse and calamity that followed the pandemic reverberated throughout the world.
Here in Sri Lanka, our members are not without their own burdens of anguish. The Country had to be locked down for nearly three months in the greater interest of keeping the people safe from the worst effects of the Virus which affected economic and social activity. Employees were at home unable to come for work. Investing in new standards of personal hygiene at workplaces stipulated by the Government added to the escalating costs for business.
In the midst of the Pandemic, The International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka continued to support its members and community. Since ‘business as usual’ and normal business interaction were impossible, we organized Specialists and Experts. Our former ICC Chairman, Paul Polman participated in our fourth webinar. We also saluted and recognized those who were in the front line of the battle in containing the virus-the Medical, Para-medical and Nursing staff, and the Armed Forces and other deliverers, thorough our Tribute Concert “ 24/7 We Care” in which Performers from many countries participated whilst John Denton the Secretary General of ICC addressed the forum. Over 20,000 people watched this concert live in 9 countries.
In the year under review, our high profile events such as The Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka (25th September), The Fireside Chat with the Presidential Candidates (07th November) and The Member’s Night (December) were held with very good participation. In addition, we won a Bronze award for the first time at The Annual Repots Awards of The Institute of Chartered Accountants, Sri Lanka. This was the first time we took part in the CA Annual Reports competition.
We appreciate the patience and the support of our members at this time of travail. Assisting our members remains our foremost priority. We know that the world order has changed completely and we are preparing ourselves to face new challenges. Again I am pleased to report that ICCSL has been resilient and continued to stay focused on its primary strategic objective of facilitating trade and trade relationships between Sri Lankan and Foreign Business entities. Towards this end, we have actively interacted with the key policy makers and directly engaged with senior ICC decision makers to canvas opportunities for ICCSL to participate more actively in ICC global initiatives, as we believe that participation in such global events will expose more Sri Lankan companies to business opportunities through relationship building.
I am confident of opening up further opportunities for business interactions and promotional activities via the ICC, in the new financial year. Further in line with our vision to provide multiple channels for Sri Lankan businesses to reach out to new frontiers, we have now set up an Export Development Committee. I believe ICCSL can make a vital contribution towards making Sri Lanka a trade hub in the Indian Ocean. In our own home front, ICCSL remained in the vanguard of business opinion formation and was a significant influence of economic growth direction.
Going forward, the “Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka” Awards to recognize the financially stable companies and the value they create for their different stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, employees and the community as a whole will be held in November 2020. These awards have become a standard of measurement of Enterprise Quality of business enterprises in Sri Lanka and this showcases the standing ICCSL has achieved as one of the premier business chambers in Sri Lanka.
We have strived our utmost to build a conducive policy and operational environment for businesses at home and have also endeavored to open up direct windows into external markets. ICCSL is the only authorized issuer of ATA Carnet in Sri Lanka and I am happy to report the growing awareness and progress in the use of ATA Carnet for duty-free and tax-free temporary export and import of goods, which is essential to our capabilities by issuing Certificates of Origin (CO) digitally. In addition, during the current financial year we introduced many benefits and privileges to our members through our partner merchants/ retailers. We also now offer a World Wide Medical Insurance cover through Allianz-the global Giant in Insurance.
I would like to conclude by placing or record our appreciation to the Former ICC Chairman, Paul Polman, Secretary General ICC, John Denton and Mary Kelly, Head of National Committees, the Membership of the ICC, and all our partners and sponsors for their support during the year. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Secretary – Shanil Fernando, Treasurer – Sheanath De Zoysa, Audit Committee Chairperson – Ms. Manisha Rajanayake, Policy Committee Chairman – Chandra Schaffter, the ICCSL Board members and our dedicated staff Priyantha, Soma, Poornika, the Head of Operations – Ranjith Fernando, who have all worked relentlessly to serve our membership especially during the pandemic lockdown. I also like to acknowledge the contribution of our former COO Nihara Nanayakkara who left us during the year.
ICCSL appreciates and honours the trust placed by our members and we pledge to continue to serve you with commitment and vigour in the coming year.