ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 01

Business leaders launch “Buy Lankan” campaign

By Bandula Sirimanna

Top corporate leaders are coming together with the village, the government and groups like the JVP in a “Buy Lankan” campaign to promote local industries and products.

“It’s a unique effort to bring together all groups for the sake of growing the village economy, nurturing local industry, making quality products, saving foreign exchange and providing a vehicle for the sale of locally-made products,” a member of the group said.

A major part of the exercise is to popularise Sri Lankan goods and services amongst local consumers under a vigorous “Buy Sri Lankan” campaign by the Maubima Lanka Foundation (MLF). It is aimed at reversing the mindset of those who believe that foreign products are the best.

MLF chairman Ariyaseela Wickremanayake, a well-known entrepreneur and promoter of Sri Lankan-made products and services, told The Sunday Times the main objective of their campaign was to reduce the country’s massive import bill of around $1.9 billion to at least by half by encouraging consumers to buy more local products.

Commercial Bank chairman and Lions International President Mahendra Amarasuriya, Cargills Group’s Ranjit Page, DSI Group’s Kulatunga Rajapakse and Willie Gamage from Strategic Enterprise Management Agency (SEMA) are among the main members of the Maubima directorate which is likely to co-opt other business leaders as the project progresses. The campaign will be launched on June 11 in Colombo. The project is to be jointly implemented by the Maubima Lanka Foundation (MLF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industrial Development and SEMA.

Mr. Wickremanayake said the endeavour was mooted by this group of well-known patriotic leaders of the corporate sector and denied that any political party was involved in its promotion.

However sources close to the foundation said the JVP was supportive of the project. The MLF chief said Sri Lankans were habitual consumers of imported food such as canned fish, milk powder, wheat flour, bread and many such commodities although there was plenty of local nutritious food available.

Another objective of the campaign is to create a demand for local products and services through awareness programmes initially through schools on the importance of local food consumption.  

Mr. Wickremanayake said discussions were held with the Education Ministry on the modalities of the countrywide school programme. “This process will lead to enhance production and the development of our own indigenous industries which will in turn generate more employment opportunities locally,” he said.

A common trade mark – the Lion symbol -- and a common motto -- “Ganna – Ape De” (Buy Our Things) – have been devised in the campaign.

This trade mark may be associated with any local product known for its high quality and certified by a state agency to ensure its authenticity.

Mr. Wickremanayake said Cargills would set apart a separate section in its supermarkets to sell local products aimed at “encouraging the consumer to buy the indigenous products, based on true patriotism.”

The MLF will also present awards for small and medium producers who use local raw material for their products as another step towards developing local industries. The awards presentation ceremony will be held next month under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.