Addressing the Panel Discussion of the National Law Conference 2023, Presidential Advisor Dr. R.H.S Samaratunga, emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of land laws, labour laws, capital laws, and technology laws in order to meet the requirements of a competitive economy. He noted that the Presidential Secretariat is currently examining a series of new legislation drafts that address these four crucial sectors.

The Labour Ministry has taken into account the concerns raised by both employers and employees and has formulated a new unified law that aligns with the current trends in employment worldwide. Dr. Samaratunga stressed that the traditional notion of an eight-hour fixed-term employment is no longer the sole standard. The modern labour law includes provisions that embrace the flexible nature of today’s job market.

Dr. Samaratunga expressed confidence that the Government would soon take up the proposed legislation and ensure its thorough evaluation through the parliamentary process. He highlighted that the new labour law is expected to promote increased participation of women in the labour force, acknowledging the importance of gender equality in economic development.

Furthermore, He said the Government is committed to accelerating the process of digitalization to bolster the economy. Recognizing the potential benefits of digital advancements, the Government aims to adopt a speedy and effective approach towards embracing new technologies and their integration into various sectors.

The proposed reforms in land, labour, capital, and technology laws signify the Government’s commitment to creating an environment that fosters competitiveness and adaptability in the face of evolving economic challenges. As the nation moves forward, these legislative changes are poised to shape a more inclusive and dynamic economy, stimulating growth and progress for all.

The National Law Conference 2023 adopted a novel strategy for the first time in history, by dedicating its platform to discuss the national interest of Sri Lanka and the pivotal role of the legal community. The conference, noted for addressing legal topics relevant to everyday practice, aimed to prepare participants and resource persons from diverse backgrounds to adopt a fresh approach, foster new connections, and tackle complex challenges in various demanding environments.

The National Law Conference 2023 served as a platform for legal practitioners and stakeholders to unite and contribute towards the nation’s development. With its focus on the national interest and the importance of an independent judiciary, the conference aimed to build consensus, forge partnerships, and drive positive change for Sri Lanka’s future.

The National Law Conference 2023/24 was held from June 02, to June 04, 2023 at The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya. During the 2nd segment of the conference focused on sectoral views on strengthening the Economy, a number of both local and foreign key stakeholders gave their comments. They also commended the effort of the BASL in organizing such a conference and appreciated the Government’s genuine efforts to recover the country from the crisis and extended their support in rebuilding the country focusing on areas in which they could contribute to.

Addressing the gathering Mr. M. Rajaram, Partner/Chairman, K&L Gates Straits Law LLC (Singapore) said;

“I was very impressed with the talk yesterday by the President. I saw a very frank expression of views, and I saw a dynamism that I hope becomes infectious and is carried forward to everybody. Sri Lanka is now talked about as being an extremely attractive destination for investments. I hear this talk in Singapore. I hear this talk when I travel for work to India, to UK and US. They suddenly become very interested because of various factors.”

Mr. Jai. S Pathak, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP (Singapore);

“There will be lot of hiccups along Sri Lanka’s way to success but any country’s political determination will overcome it and I would be the happiest if we could help to make true the dreams of this beautiful island and its beautiful people, a reality.”

Mr. Thulci Aluwihare, Deputy Managing Director, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd;

We need to give the confidence to potential investors that the Port City Financial Centre will have very progressive regulations to transact investments within the region. In order for initiatives to be implemented successfully it needs to be championed by the highest authority of the country; the Executive. Mr. President, we need your leadership to implement and endorse this project and implement these initiatives so that we could realize the potential of this new city.

Mrs. Nadeeja Tambiah, President- Head of Legal and Secretarial- John Keells Holdings

John Keells is a 150 year old Sri Lankan institution. We operate in seven business segments practically in every part of the economy. With a 99% free float, investment in to John Keells is generally seen as investment to Sri Lanka.

Every major setback offers all of us opportunities to re-set and re-rate. While we highlight concerns, we are willing to be stakeholders in finding solutions. Engage with us with an open mind to figure out how we can collectively do things better. It’s a tough journey ahead, but we are invested in the success of this country.

Mr. Mohamed Azmeer, CEO, Amana Bank PLC;

I thank this forum for creating the opportunity where feedback and suggestions by industry leaders are heard by key decision makers who are currently bearing the Herculean task of steering the Sri Lankan economy towards recovery.

Mr. Premalal Brahmanage, Chairman, Prime Group;

We have confidence in the leadership and the way the country is moving; the way the economy is moving. Our inflation rate is coming down; our interest rate is reducing. Import restrictions are now gradually easing thanks to the stringent and very prudent policies that have been taken by the CBSL. As local entrepreneurs, we can support our country, we can support to develop our country, and we can support the economy. We can pay our taxes and we can generate job opportunities and we can create wealth. So please do support us and rest assured as Sri Lankan entrepreneurs we have no better sentiment than giving back to our dear motherland.

Mr. Niro Cooke, Group Director Capital Maharaja Organization;

A large number of MPs are a part of the legal fraternity. The people in this room have enormous influence and are able to drive the policy changes needed for Sri Lanka to recover.  I urge you all to do your part which will help Sri Lanka to move forward not only in the energy sector but across all sectors.

Mr. Dipak Das, Managing Director, Lanka IOC PLC;

“I would like to thank the Government of Sri Lanka, the President, Energy Ministry, CBSL and all others who immensely helped the country during the crisis last year. Without their help it would have been impossible to allocate foreign exchanges and get the products available in the country.”

Mr. Janaka Abeysinghe, Chief Executive Officer, Sri Lanka Telecom;

“One way to make Sri Lanka a business friendly country is through digitalization. To make this we need to transform manual admin and legal processes to digital online processes.”

Mr. Vinod Hirdaramani, Chairman, Hirdaramani Group,  Mr. Asgi Akbarally, Executive Director, Akbar Brothers Group, and Mr. Imal Fonseka, Chief Executive Officer Richardson Group also expressed their views at this forum.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, President’s Counsel Dr. K Kanag-Isvaran, President’s Counsel Dr. Faiz Mustapha, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, the Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Mahinda Siriwardana and Chairman Bank of Ceylon President’s Counsel Ronald C Perera  participated as panellists in the panel discussion moderated by President’s Counsel Mr. Chandaka Jayasundere.