After 52 days of economic uncertainty as businesses and shops remained closed due to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, Sri Lanka re-opened for business on Monday, much to the relief of the public.
With COVID-19 now well contained by the medical personnel and authorities, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gave the greenlight for economic activities to resume lifting the nation wide curfew which lasted more than a month.
While curfew still remains in place in Colombo and Gampaha, it was indeed a positive sight to see Colombo slowly breath back to life as employees from the public and private sector left their homes for their workplaces. What was even more encouraging was how health guidelines were maintained by all citizens which are meant to support the battle to eventually eliminate the spread of the coronavirus which has so far infected over 850 people out of which over 300 have recovered. The 9 lives we lost in the COVID-19 battle will not be forgotten.
While Sri Lanka now recovers from this war against the coronavirus, on Monday, a national campaign to get Sri Lanka’s economy back on track’ – ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ – was launched to provide the impetus for Sri Lankan businesses to reinvigorate the economy and to create that optimism to move forward and support the corporates and small and medium enterprises.
The project, which is a nation wide campaign, was launched under the auspices of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and by the national body of marketing in Sri Lanka – The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing. Today, I am proud to say that I too am part of this campaign which will bring tangible benefits for our economy as well as provide vital help for businesses to move forward.
Sri Lanka is a resilient nation and has never lost to any battle. From the 30 year conflict, to last year’s Easter Sunday terror attacks, Sri Lanka’s economy always bounced back in full vigor so much so that we are presently a hot spot for investments as well as one of the leading destinations for tourism.
Today, as we resume amidst the COVID-19 war, this will once again not stop our businesses from achieving greater heights as well as put Sri Lanka back on the global trading/investment hub.
This battle against the COVID-19 tested us all and within these days while we remained indoors, we saw our true potential. Sri Lanka can today proudly say that while we faced the virus, we produced most of the essential products locally such as top quality facial masks, PPEs, scrubs and even ventilators. We created our own disinfectant chambers, sanitizers, tested our ayurvedic medicines to boost the immune systems as well as began our own research on the virus.
Furthermore, people grew more closer to nature and began valuing the importance of food which eventually led them to grow food in their own homes and the Home Garden Challenge which I initiated in March has today spread all over the country. Today, with the unity and hard work of all, Sri Lanka successfully has prevented a community transmission of the virus and has contained it within identified clusters only. The virus never broke our strength.
Today, as countries begin to ease restrictions, the export market will eventually open up. But things will change in the post COVID-19 world. Demands will be different. Product necessities will be different. Tourism sector will change. And for that we have to be prepared.
Sri Lanka’s advantage is that we have already realized our potential and can supply to these new demands in the global market. Our diplomatic missions world over have already begun studying the product demands in the global market so Sri Lanka can have the advantage of entering the market early with locally made products.
Businesses have also started studying the import market and what will best suit the Sri Lankan market in the post COVID-19 world.
Sri Lanka has a long road ahead to reach its full potential again, but it is a road we have been on before following the end of the war and the Easter terror attacks. If we did it then, we can well do it now and this time around, the entire world is on the same journey as us.
With the ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ campaign, the road to success will be only easier.
As businesses begin today, I wish you all the best of luck but urge you all to maintain health guidelines and remain safe.