Visit of Seven Member Youth Delegation from USA

A  Seven member youth delegation from the USA  under an exchange program of American Council of Young Political Leader (ACYPL) in Washington DC, USA visited the chamber on 30th March 2012 and had a meeting  with members of the Chamber chaired by Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President of the National Chamber of Commerce . 

The exchange program was to promote the exchange of visits  of young political leaders between the USA and Sri Lanka  to study political, economic, social and cultural development in each other's country. They were keen to meet   representatives of  Small & Medium  Enterprises (SME)  in Sri Lanka.   

Included in the Delegation was a  Member of the House of Representatives of the State of Vermont , Hon. Adam Howard, . The delegation consisted of the following members.1)  Ashley Holbrook , Director, State and Local Government Relations, The Boeing Company ,Republican 2)Hon Adam Howard, Member , Vermont House of youth Representatives Republican 3)  Alexander Kuhns, Board Member , Cincinnati Public Schools ,Independent . 4)  Kyle Hybl, Chairman , University of Colorado Board of Regents, Republican 5) Jeanette Manning, Chief , Public  Safety Division, Office of the Attorney General of DC, Democrat 6) Elizabeth Mc Elroy, Assistant to the President/Political Director, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO  Democrat  7)  Rick Smotkin, Vice President, Government Affairs, Comcast Cable Corporation (PA), Republican

The picture shows Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President,NCCSL along with the  USA Youth Delegation at the Chamber 


 

10 Member Business Delegation from Canada visits the Chamber.

A high powered Ten Member business delegation  from Canada visited the chamber on 27th March 2012 and had a meeting  with chamber members from 3.00 to 4.30 p.m at the Boardroom. Most of the delegates were engaged in export and import business. The delegation was led by Mr Upali Obesekera, President  of Canada Sri Lanka Business Council  based in Canada. The meeting was participated by  Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President NCCSL, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Snr.Asst Secretary General of NCCSL. A MOU was signed  between Canada Sri Lanka Business Council and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. 

The picture shows Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President,NCCSL exchanging the MOU with Mr Upali Obeysekera, President, CSLBC at the National Chamber.

Official Launch of Arogya 2012 International Healthcare Exhibition & Medical Symposium held on 9th February 2012 at Galadari Hotel, Ballroom B.

Picture shows from left Prof. Lal G. Chandrasena, (Co-Chairman Arogya 2012)  Mr Sujeiva Samaraweera (Chariman Arogya 2012) HON Lalith Dissanayake,Deputy Minister of Health (Chief Guest)  Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President of National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka(NCCSL)  and Mr E M Wijetilleke, Secretary General, NCCSL

National Chamber becomes the country's first "Green Chamber"

National Chamber  becomes the country's  first "Green Chamber"

The picture shows  (2nd from left) Mr Asoka Hettigoda, President NCCSL receiving the Certificate from Mr Subramaniam Eassuwaren, Director, Carbon Consulting Co. (Far left) Mr Sujeiva Samaraweera, Hony Secy, NCCSL .(Far right) Mr Sanith de S Wijeyeratne, Chief Operating Officer , Carbon Consulting Co.

 

The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) was recently awarded the Certificate for Carbon Neutral  by becoming the first ‘green Chamber’ in the country to offset it's carbon footprint.The NCCSL has calculated our entire carbon emissions and reduced them to net zero through a process of offsetting.  To carry out this process we have retained the services of The Carbon Consulting Company, who have been able to carry out this calculation according to the internationally accepted norms. The Carbon Consulting Company(CCC) which helped NCCSL in its certification process,  is also an official certifier of the Carbon Neutral Company of the UK.  "The calculation of the carbon footprint for the NCCSL was carried out in accordance with international standards," says CCC Director Subramaniam Eassuwaren. 

53rd Annual General Meeting of The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka Address by Asoka Hettigoda, President

Speech made by President, NCCSL -"Our Chief Guest, Hon. Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs & Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Community,Government Officials, Past presidents, office bearers,members, Staff of the Secretariat, distinguished invitees, ladies and Gentlemen.

"Ayubowan, good evening. Let me extend a warm welcome to all of you to the ceremonial sessions of the 53rd Annual General Meeting of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. 
Our Chief Guest, Hon. Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs & Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Community,Government Officials, Past presidents, office bearers,members, Staff of the Secretariat, distinguished invitees, ladies and Gentlemen.
I consider it to be a great honour and a privilege to address you at this 53rd Annual General Meeting of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. Let me firstly, thank the member of National Chamber for the confidence placed on me and re-electing me as the President for another term. 

NCCSL Heritage

National Chamber was established in 1948 as a forum for the Sri Lankan business community to interact with the Government Policy makers to represent the national interests. A group of Sri Lankan Business leaders, such as Mr. Robert Senananyaka, Sir Cyril De Zoysa, Mr. Faleel A Gaffoor, Mr. N. Sellamuttu, and Mr. Roland Wanigatunga established National Chamber. Many leading businessmen have lead the Chamber over the years and continue to make a tremendous contribution to the National economy while supporting its membership. Today, the National Chamber has a corporate membership of over 587 companies including Sri Lanka’s best blue chips and a SME membership of over 2500, who come from all parts of the country, representing all sectors of industry and commerce. 

My Workplan for last Year
In the brief address I made at the last AGM, my workplan focussed on three key areas, namely, Skills Development, Improving Trade and Investment in the Asian Region, and Promoting Sustainable development. 

Year 2011, was a very successful year for the National Chamber as we managed to do many activities that were considered as “First Ever” for the Chamber.

  • Visit of His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, as the Chief Guest of Ayurveda Expo 2011 which also became the most successful event in the history of Chamber
  • A National Chamber delegation was welcomed by His Excellency, Truong Tan Sang, President of Vietnam
  • Established a Sri Lanka Bangladesh Business Council
  • Inaugurated a Certificate Course in Entrepreneurship Management Course with University of Colombo
  • Launched a Website with the partnership with Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK to find employment for British qualified Sri Lankan graduates who  live in the UK

Are some of the highlights of 2011. You will find all the details in our newly formatted Annual Report and the newsletter, "Voice of Business". Let me briefly mention some of the other activities of 2011. 

Many seminars, workshops were held, such as Import and Export Procedures, Taxes for 2011, Simplified VAT, Relaxation of Foreign Exchange Regulations, Investing in Shares, EPF & ETF guidelines, Analysis of Budget 2012, etc

  • Held SME Seminars with Dr. P. B. Jayasundera in Colombo and in Kandy
  • Distributed grants to SME’s with the participation of Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development
  • Jointly organised the Sri Lanka – Vietnam Business Forum
  • Held many bi-lateral Trade discussions with Ambassadors and High Commissioners of Canada, Pakistan, Germany, France, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, Russia and Korea.
  • Discussions were held with all the new Sri Lankan Designates
  • Signed MOUs with American Chamber and Vietnam Chamber
  • Organised Sri Lankan Business Delegation visits to China and Vietnam 

In the area of Sustainable Development and promotion of Business Excellence, National Chamber became the first Chamber in Sri Lanka to be certified as “Carbon Neutral”. We also conducted the most sought after Business Excellence program in Sri Lanka, “National Business Excellence Awards” for the 8th consecutive year recognising the best private and state sector entities.

 My Workplan for this Year

 With two consecutive years of high GDP growth – over 8% in 2010 an 2011, Sri Lanka has shown the world its capacity and strength to become a middle income nation faster than expected. Tourism, agriculture, fisheries, transport, banking, manufacturing, and construction sectors recorded higher growth rates during the year 2011. Single digit inflation, low interest rates and improving customer demand have certainly helped these growth rates.

 Under these circumstances, I would like to propose to continue focussing on the three areas which I mentioned during my speech at the last AGM as it is quite evident that our progress towards becoming a middle income nation is irreversible and the importance of Skills Development, Trade & Investment and Sustainable Development and Business Excellence are even more critical to sustain the GDP growth rate of 8% for the year 2012. 

 Skills Development

The importance of skills development in a globalized economy is a well known fact as increasingly organisations emphasize competence development and lifelong learning. To cater to the needs of a middle income country, I propose to set up a 180-seat fully equipped Auditorium on the fourth Floor of National Chamber to conduct skills development and training programs and to make the National Chamber the centre of Excellence in this regard. This will be the biggest development that the Chamber would have undertaken since setting up office at D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha in 1995.

Improving Trade and Investment with Asian Region with a focus on SME

With two largest populated nations in our region, we will continue to focus more on trading with Asia while creating more business councils with Asian countries.

To support SME development and investment, National Chamber will lobby the Banking Sector to improve long term low cost lending to SME’s and Traditional and non-traditional exporters who add value. 

NCCSL will continue to hold international Trade and Investment events such as Arogya 2012, International Medical Exhibition and Symposium in August and other trade and investment activities throughout the year.

In the Area of Sustainable Development and Business Excellence

We as a nation, have to be competitive and sustainable while exhibiting excellence in all business activities we do as it essential for the survival in today’s globalised environment. Such development balances the environment, economy and our culture, and brings real benefits to all citizens of our country. 

Certain countries have introduced a carbon tax on merchandise with high carbon levels and products coming from countries that refuse to contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. Further, the use of certain chemical pesticides and fertilizers and poor labour conditions, are factors considered by certain countries in controlling imports. 

As we target to generate more export revenue, sustainable & excellent development practices will give us the competitive advantage we are looking for. This year, National Chamber will focus on Green Building strategies and Carbon Neutral practises and hope to form a separate committee to focus on Organic farming. We will also promote the National Business Excellence Awards to all parts of the country especially to the North and the East, as sharing these excellent practises will benefit the whole country.

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, my team and I will assure you that we would do our utmost to make our business community competitive, productive, sustainable, and play a key role in equitable development of Sri Lanka working with all the stakeholders. However, lower growth rates in our trading partners such as US and EU, Unrest in Arab countries, rising labour costs and other internal and external factors present us a challenging year ahead. And I believe, if all stakeholders work together, achieving this momentous growth will be within our reach.

Thanking People who helped

Cathy Freeman, the first Aboriginal to win a Gold Medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Australia, said,“You got to try and reach for the stars or try and achieve the unreachable”

National Chamber will fully support the vision of His Excellency, the President, Mahinda Rajapakse, to make this country the “Wonder of Asia” with the support of Sri Lankan Companies in the driving seat. This is also the mandate of the National Chamber. 

Firstly, I must thank my father, Deshabandu Dr. Victor Hettigoda, for allowing me to spend many days of the week at the chamber and my mother for looking after the grandkids, and my two sisters, Vidyani and Lankani, who have always been an invisible strength to me, and lastly, the most important figure in the my life, Anusha, who has given me all the freedom to focus on my business and chamber activities and my two forgiving gems Vinuri and Akila, whose favourite phrase “are you going for a meeting again” … Thank you to all my dear family members.

I would also, like to thank my colleagues of National Chamber Office Bearers, Sunil Wijesinha, Thilak Godamanna, Sujeiva Samaraweera, and Ananda Wehalle for all the advice, support and assistance given to me during the last year. 

I also wish to thank E.M. Wijetilleke, Secretary General and the staff of the Chamber for the tremendous support and co-operation extended during the last year. The contribution of all chamber Standing Committees, District & Regional Chambers, Associations and Business Councils deserve special acknowledgment."   

Thank You 
Asoka Hettigoda - President NCCSL

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