Q: In brief, what are the main challenges confronting corporates at this time?
A: The obvious threats are uncertainty and the effects of COVID-19. The potential third wave of the virus is presently a serious concern for local revenue.

The social and economic uncertainty reduces consumer spending, which can hinder businesses in the long run. As our export markets are predominately in South Asia – viz. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Maldives – along with our early stage entry to Africa mid last year, short-run sales will deteriorate further with the COVID-19 crisis worsening in these countries.

Meanwhile, the sudden import ban across many sectors and drastic rupee depreciation are also major challenges. This continued ban on imports that many corporates thrive on brings them to an almost complete standstill. A planned roll out and time for gradual adjustment would’ve been a reasonable way to approach this decision.

More support from the government to facilitate the ease of doing business will assist corporates like us in building businesses and becoming net exporters, which will also strengthen the rupee.

Q: What are your group’s foremost strategic steps for financial year 2021/22?
A: One of the important strategic steps we’re taking with JAT Holdings is the decision to go public through an IPO – it will be listed on the main board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE). Our goal is to raise capital for exciting new projects in manufacturing and build our export markets.

Meanwhile, JAT Property Group has completed three developments, and is moving on to its fourth and fifth – building 112 apartments in Thalawathugoda for the middle-income market and 102 houses in Hanthana, Kandy. Both will be launched by June.
Q: What is your take of the ongoing vaccination programme and how critical is it to JAT Holdings’ prospects this year?
A: All locals need to be vaccinated to ensure islandwide safety. For this, bringing down adequate amounts of the vaccine is key. Although most individuals are awaiting the second dose, we need to be mindful of new variants while continuing to strictly adhere to safety measures.

Meanwhile, the distribution process and vaccination procedure need to be efficient and organised to ensure everyone reaps the benefits of the programme.

Finally, in the event that further outbreaks occur in the future, the government needs to be ready to tackle the pandemic appropriately.

While adhering to the correct guidelines, it’s extremely important for all businesses and sales that people are able to move around freely so businesses can continue in a normal manner.