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Private sector must rise together, not rise above: Dinesh W

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International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Sri Lanka Chairman Dinesh Weerakkody


  • Bitter truth, bold advice for private sector from new ICC Sri Lanka Chairman
  • Points to good governance and free enterprise as crucial for a country or a business to prosper 
  • Says businesses cannot afford to be complacent and investing in Sri Lanka means investing in success
  • Reiterates Sri Lanka has a tremendous opportunity for growth and progress

The newly appointed Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Sri Lanka Dinesh Weerakkody on Friday shared some bitter truth of the country’s status quo and some bold advice to the private sector and the country in general.

“For a country or a business to prosper good governance is a must, I have all my life been a champion of good governance, and of free enterprise ,” declared Weerakkody who became the 7th Chairman of ICC Sri Lanka, an affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the largest, most representative business organisation in the world. Its hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries have interests spanning every sector of private enterprise.

Getting down to a few specific messages to the private and public sector, Weerakkody said, “Sri Lankan businesses recognise that investing in Sri Lanka means investing in success – for you and for all of us.” 

“Secondly, creating employment for our people is at the heart of our economic, social and community well-being,” he added. 

It was pointed out that in the competitive world we live in, businesses cannot afford to be complacent. “We must focus on economic growth, which in turn leads to employment opportunities and improved social and community well-being,” he emphasised.

He also told the ICC SL Annual General Meeting that Sri Lanka has many challenges today, that all need to collectively address. For example, he said the quality and calibre of workforce and that the debt servicing is beyond the country’s annual foreign income and divisions between ethnic groups that needs desperate healing.

“Despite all that, Sri Lanka has a tremendous opportunity for growth and progress. However as a Business Chamber there are significant issues to be discussed behind closed doors with the government – in trade, regulatory, tax reform, governance and so on – but let me make one thing clear. The theme that runs through all of this is that free enterprise and good governance is part of the solution to most of our problems, and it is about time, our politicians realise that- and businesses stop complaining , roll up its sleeve and work with all of Sri Lanka – to make sure that we all prosper,” said Weerakkody.

As business people, he told ICC Sri Lanka members and those present at the AGM that all have a responsibility. “We shouldn’t declare victory if stock prices are up. We shouldn’t declare victory if the cost of getting our way, leads to people who are less well off. We shouldn’t declare victory if our members are driving bigger cars on streets that are crumbling. We need to rise together, not rise above, and that means many of us in the business community, will have to hold ourselves, to higher standards.”

According to him, the good news is that, “If we do, our share to change the political and business culture in the country, we will prosper immensely in a more prosperous Sri Lanka.”

Whilst noting that ICC Sri Lanka members are playing an important role in the prosperity of the country Weerakkody said all have a role to play to make Sri Lanka the best place in Asia to work, live and visit.

He quoted a famous saying of General Motors founder and iconic global business leader Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; and working together is success.” 

Weerakkody took over the leadership of ICC Sri Lanka from Keerthi Gunawardane who was congratulated for his tireless advocacy for business, and for free enterprise, in Sri Lanka. 

“ICC stands ready to work together, hand in hand. ICC also can play a special role in connecting business to the World, and with a Sri Lankan version of a World Economic Forum on the cards in 2018. ICC can certainly open new doors for Sri Lankan Business,” emphasised the new Chairman Weerakkody.

Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Sri Lanka and The Maldives was the Chief Guest at the event and Una McCauley, the UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative in Sri Lanka was the Guest of Honour. Secretary to the President Austin Fernando was a Special Guest. 


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