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Apparel workers get boost from first-ever Dual Interface Debit Card
Apparel workers get boost from first-ever Dual Interface Debit Card Thursday, 12 May 2016 12:14 Written by  Daily FT

By Shannine Daniel

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) in collaboration with the Commercial Bank, MasterCard International and Channel 17 on Tuesday launched the Ransalu Pranaama Privilege Combo Card.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake

Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen

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The Card is the very first Dual Interface Card introduced in the country as well, undertaken by Lake House Printers and Publishers PLC and their partner MCT Cards.

This is the latest scheme in the Ransalu Pranaama Smart Card Program since initiative was first launched in October 2013, specifically for apparel sector employeesand offers various privileges to those employed in the apparel sector.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen stated: “Our committed apparel sector employees deserve such an initiative. Thanks to the efforts of a workforceof a half million, our apparel sector has today become Sri Lanka’s most dynamic export and global branding success.”

“Due to the competitive nature of our world class apparels last year the apparel sector came close to $ 5 billion for the first time,” the minister added.

He went on to say that while this is a great success, there are challenges that will be posed ahead for this sector.

“We need to carefully address the new Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Under the TPP garment export opportunities will be made available to our competitor countries in the South East Asian region,” opined Bathiudeen.

Bathiudeen stated that the Government has understood that TPP is tradechallenge in the future, adding that detailed information is not available about the agreement to clarify its impact thereforein this regard it is necessary to carefully observe the latest developments.

“It is not only a trade challenge for Sri Lanka but it affects trading systems of its own 12 member countries as well,” he observed.

Bathiudeen also stressed that copyright and trademark could become a key aspect in TPP and advised Sri Lankan apparel designers to consider international copyright protection requirements for their designs in future.

“TheGovernment iswilling to support the Lankan apparal sector to safeguard its international copyrights and to sustain its competitiveness if necessary,” he added.

The Minister is optimistic about the future saying that as the country draws closer to various new FTAs such as the China FTA and the Singapore FTA under the current Government’s economic vision the TPP may not be such a great challenge.

“Once the FTAs are implemented and when we started receiving the benefits of trade, today’s challenges from the TPP may not be as strong as we expected,” he asserted

“Given the competitive and dynamic nature of our apparel manufacturers I am confident that we can overcome TPP effects especially in the medium to long term,” headded.

The Minister added that Initiatives such as the Ransalu Pranaama Combo Card are ways in which the Government hopes to strengthen the apparel sector to face future challenges.

For instance upon producing this card at any of the given merchant stores the card holder can receive many benefits such as discounts and bargains on already advertised discounts by the merchant.

The pilot project of the Ransalu Pranaama Smart Card Program involved 10,000 apparel employeesby the end of 2014 the pilot test was competed and the card came into general use and it received a major boost when top apparel exporters joined it. A smart phone app was also launched through Google play in October 2015.

“The success of this initiative is such that nearly 60,000 apparel employees are enjoying benefits from 40 merchants throughout the year,” stated Bathiudeen.

“This not just a welfare card for apparel workers but a national effort to honour the apparel sector for its contribution our economic growth and employment,” he stressed.

State Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake stated that this card is one measure which will alleviate the hardships of the people, and commended JAAF and Channel 17 for their efforts taken to recognise the give due recognition to the employees in the apparel sector.