The 29th Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka
Colombo, 12th October 2021:The American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka (AmCham SL) recently held its 29th Annual General Meeting and Election of Directors. Taking into account the recommended guidelines that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGM was conducted via Zoom. The Chief Guest for this prestigious event was the Chief Political and Economic Officer of the Embassy of the United States in Sri Lanka and The Maldives, Ms Susan Walke.
In spite of the challenges that have surfaced during the still rampant COVID-19 pandemic, AmCham SL recorded, for the second consecutive year, a net surplus of over Rs. 3 Million at the end of the financial period ending 31st March 2021. The Director’s Report further highlighted that while the usual Chamber activities were curtailed, AmCham SL experienced a significant increase in membership, advocacy engagement and successful trade initiatives over the period, including the TRADESHIFTS initiative launched in 2020.
The Election of the Office Bearers and Directors saw the appointment of Lakshan Madurasinghe, representative of Coca-Cola Sri Lanka, as the incoming President. He replaced Presantha Jayamaha, who successfully completed his two-year term. The positions of Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer were retained by Sanjeeva Abeygoonawardene, (representative of Mountain Hawk Express), Shirendra Lawrence (representative of MAS Holdings) and Riza Wadood (representative of IBM Sri Lanka) who were respectively re-elected.
Addressing the virtual gathering as the Chief Guest, Susan Walke commenced the proceedings referring to the success of AmCham SL, “It’s been an incredibly busy year, and I’d like to call out some impressive accomplishments despite the economic challenges we’ve faced …this type of [activity] truly demonstrates the benefits of innovative thinking that US companies are bringing to the global business community [and] it is clear that this AmCham’s success is not limited to Sri Lanka only as it now holds leadership roles in the Regional AmChams of Asia Pacific.”
She further expanded on the bilateral relationship between the two countries, and the partnership of the US Government on business resilience during the pandemic, as well as medical, financial and vaccine donations. “Post-pandemic economic recovery is not possible without these types of partnerships. We want Sri Lanka to succeed. As President Biden said, there’s a fundamental truth in the 21st Century that our own success is bound up with others succeeding as well – Sri Lanka has a wealth of innovators and change-makers who are already laying the foundations for launching a green and innovative economy, their input is also essential to economic policy development. Sri Lanka has the drive, but the challenge lies in building the right environment for your innovative businesses to thrive. The United States remains committed to supporting a more prosperous and inclusive Sri Lanka. There are endless exciting opportunities we can work on together based on the collaboration between our embassy and AmCham. I look forward to continuing to play a role in these opportunities” she concluded.
Following his election as the new President for AmCham, “Lakshan Madurasinghe stated “It is true that we live in a very complex, fast-changing and volatile environment which includes as many opportunities as it does challenges. In these uncertain times, AmCham will continue to represent our members and support you to do more business. We recognize that we have a key role to play in the attraction of investment into SL, while making it easier to do business and we have a responsibility to make our society better, together.”
He further elaborated on the initiatives planned for 2021/2022 saying “If you saw a dynamic and busy chamber this past year, you can expect all that and more in this coming year. I look forward to working with other chambers and associations as it is a time for partnerships and to solve problems together. Even though we find ourselves in times of a pandemic and economic crisis we must remain optimistic for a brighter future. We must look at the new horizon that awaits us with the same bold assertiveness, resilience, and adaptability we demonstrated when we were forced to adjust to the new normal. If there is one word to take away from my remarks, ladies and gentlemen, let it be that extremely powerful word, collaboration. It is my fervent hope that through meaningful collaboration with you our members, key stakeholders and partners we will reach our goals and make a lasting difference and impact.”
The outgoing President, Presantha Jayamaha, noted “when I took up the mantle of leading this esteemed organization two years ago, I did so, at a tumultuous time, when Sri Lanka, and the economy, was still reeling from the effects of the tragic Easter Sunday bombings. COVID-19 redefined for my Board and me what the word ‘challenging’ meant. However, I am proud of what the Chamber has achieved over the past two years. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and its effect on the global economy, the Chamber has successfully pivoted, adapted, recreated and repackaged its member offerings and services to truly establish its position and reputation as one of the most influential and prestigious business chambers on the island.”
Sanjaya Mohottala, the Chairman of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka was a Guest of Honour and the Keynote Speaker for the proceedings. He enlightened the gathering saying, “We have invited American tech giants to explore the potential that Sri Lanka has to offer and establish their regional bases out of Sri Lanka, as we like to see more US-based companies coming into Sri Lanka. This is the strength of the partnership that we have evolved to, where Trade and Industry bodies such as AmCham have become co-creators of our future, and where we are all invested in a common goal” he concluded.The new Board of Directors, elected unanimously by the assembly are as follows;
- Lakshan Madurasinghe (Coca-Cola Sri Lanka Private Ltd.) – President
- Sanjeeva Abeygoonawardene (Mountain Hawk Express) – Vice President
- Shirendra Lawrence (MAS Holdings) – Secretary
- Riza Wadood (IBM Sri Lanka) – Treasurer
- Presantha Jayamaha (Elyon Global) – President Emeritus
- Nilupa Kiringoda (Sysco Labs Technologies) – Director
- Sandeep Gopal (Fairfirst Insurance) – Director
- Sheamalee Wickramasinghe (CBL Group) – Director
- Rasitha Wickramasinghe (Stax Inc) – Director
- Dimantha Senevirathne (NDB Bank) – Director
- Tania Polonnowita-Wettimuny (IAS Holdings) – Director
- Harsha Randeny (Microsoft Sri Lanka) – Director
- Stuart Rogers (HSBC) – Director
- Phill Loosli – Representative of the Embassy of the USA
Considering the current initiative and perspectives of AmCham, it is apparent that anything is achievable through channelling creativeness, passion, energy and innovation while remaining resilient and nurturing a growth mindset. The prospects are bright and indicative of the development of the Sri Lankan business landscape.