Sri Lanka’s Consul-General for New South Wales and Queensland Nimal Bandara hosted Brisbane business and community leaders at a function at the Jindalee Bowls Club on Wednesday, March 4.
Mr Bandara was joined by Consul (Commercial) Abdul Raheem to greet and discuss the role the Brisbane communities were playing in furthering bi-lateral relations between Sri Lanka and Australia. Present were representatives from the various organisations under the umbrella of the Federation of Sri Lankan Organisations in Queensland, and Honorary Consul for Queensland Anton Swan and wife Bronwen, who facilitated the event.
Key message from the night was that the work of the community, through its many fundraising and social events, has made a huge impact in raising Sri Lanka’s profile in Australia and improved the lives of many in their homeland. Mr Bandara congratulated the associations on their dedication, co-operative approach and willingness to lend a helping hand when needed.
Mr Raheem spoke about the opportunities for Sri Lankan small-to-medium businesses to engage with overseas partners to invest in many exciting projects as development partners. A program, One Village One Product, is designed to enhance local communities through export-oriented projects with involvement of Sri Lankans living overseas. The aims were to generate self-employment, economic growth and development. Produce ranged from cocoa, vanilla, coffee and organic cashew cultivation to organic agricultural products, rice-based products, turmeric and pepper plantations, and ornamental fish exports. Beneficiaries ranged from 10 to 150 people in each of the projects.
A second scheme, the New Exporter Development Program, is also encouraging regional entrepreneurs to enter the export market with the involvement of expatriate Sri Lankans. Among the products being developed are honey, recycled home wares, clothing and essential oils. Initial investment sought is mostly to buy machinery to get these projects under way.
For information on these programs and how to invest, contact the Economic Affairs Division, Sri Lanka Foreign Affairs – email: [email protected]; or the Sri Lanka Export Development Board – email [email protected]
Another speaker, Kalum de Silva, founding president of the Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce, gave an overview of his organisation’s work in fostering trade relations between Sri Lanka and Australia. To find out more go to https://srilankaaustralia.com/
The Sri Lanka Consul-General’s contact details can be found here: http://www.slhcaust.org/contact-us/consul-general/
Text: Lawrence Heyn Photos: Wimal Kannangara