Q: How is your company planning for the medium term – i.e. for financial year 2021/22 – given the ‘new normal’ era that is now upon us?
A: We are in survival mode. Our goalpost seems to shift all the time.

Therefore, what was possible in the medium term is not even probable now. So planning is not at all possible.

We’re looking at our cost structures and reducing as much as possible as we need to preserve cash. We must look at debt repayments, cash flow management and alternative income sources in the medium term.

At the same time, we need to engage and retain our teams because they are our main asset, which needs to be conserved for the future. So in the short to medium term, we need to keep them motivated and safe

Although our plant and equipment is not utilised at present, we must also make sure it’s maintained in peak condition as failure to do so can result in higher costs at a future date. Costs associated with the safety and health of our associates and clients also have to be taken into account.

Q: What is your take of the ongoing vaccination programme and how critical is it to your company’s prospects this year?
A: Sri Lanka’s vaccination programme requires better organisation. The one implemented at the beginning of the year raised everyone’s hopes. Unfortunately, it transpires that we will not have sufficient stocks to complete the first cycle on time. Furthermore, we’re yet to see the effectiveness of the programme administered at present.

This is worrying as the tourism industry does require all our front line staff to be vaccinated for their safety and that of others, and for the number of new cases to be reduced to attract tourists to Sri Lanka.

The same applies to Sri Lankans visiting overseas. Most countries will require vaccine certificates or passports to allow visitors to enter. Therefore, whether it be for locals travelling overseas or tourists visiting Sri Lanka, a proper coordinated vaccination programme is essential.

It goes without saying an effective vaccination programme could drastically reduce the spread of the virus as shown in the UK and the US. It will also protect our front line staff and the general public from possible infections from visitors too. Overall, a properly coordinated programme is essential.