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Beggar Menace Deters Sri Lanka from Hosting 2025 SMMT International Automotive Summit

Devapriya Hettiarachchi, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Automobile Association, revealed yesterday that the decision to not host the annual SMMT International Automotive Summit in Sri Lanka for 2025 was influenced by the persistent issue of beggars at traffic lights in Colombo.

Addressing the media, Hettiarachchi recalled Sri Lanka’s previous hosting of the Asia Pacific Region II meeting associated with the summit in Colombo in 2015, attended by 150 delegates. He highlighted that during the General Meeting in Rwanda, Sri Lanka had submitted a bid to host the 2025 conference.

“The delegates noticed beggars soliciting at traffic lights within Colombo, causing inconvenience and significant traffic disruptions as they traversed various locations in the city,” he explained.

Securing the bid would have attracted delegates from diverse countries, generating substantial foreign income for Sri Lanka, he added.

However, the outcome of the annual General Meeting in Rwanda conveyed an inability to host the summit in Sri Lanka due to the beggar menace in Colombo. Concerns were raised about the impact on the country’s reputation if assistance to beggars within city limits persisted. Consequently, Sri Lanka was urged to address the situation in Colombo to be considered as a host for the automotive industry gathering in 2025.

In April 2023, plans were devised, and a strategic committee was formed to tackle the issue. Measures were subsequently implemented to regulate the situation, with the public urged not to offer assistance to beggars at traffic lights within Colombo’s city limits.

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