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  In Brief     Supplement

 


Garment industry provides direct employment to 300,000

EU lifeline to SL

Midway application clause in
new GSP + scheme

The EU has amended the new GSP Plus rules by allowing a Third World country meeting the necessary economic criteria to make an application for this facility midway.

 A summarized version of EU's new set of GSP + rules that were out on their website on Thursday has made this provision, a Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) source who did not want to be named told The Sunday Leader.

JAAF is the country's apex garments body.

The source said that this notice had stated that in the event countries that do not yet meet the GSP + qualification criteria this year (2009), the new regulations provide for an additional opportunity in mid 2010 to apply for this facility.

The new GSP + facility will be operational for a three year period beginning from next year.

The source said that in the event Sri Lanka is disqualified for the renewal of the GSP + concession applicable from next year, this midway application clause gives it time to amend its ways and to enjoy this facility for at least another year.

This facility of making an application midway was not there in the existing GSP + scheme which came into being for the first time for a three year period beginning from 2006.

However, Sri Lanka has been enjoying the current facility since July 2005, six months before its official launch, on sympathetic grounds because of the tsunami, the source said.

The present facility which allows for over 7,000 items to enter the EU region on a duty free basis expires at the end of this year.

The new GSP + regulations remain virtually unchanged compared with the existing regulations except for a few technicalities, and of course, the inclusion of this midway application clause, the source said.

The items covered are also almost the same, he said.

Sri Lanka, as a beneficiary of the existing GSP + facility, has seen its prime export, garments, enjoying double digit growth to the EU region thanks to this concession.

Other exports like fish too have been enjoying remarkable growth rates to the EU region due to this concession, though in numerical terms this increase is comparatively small relative to garments.

The GSP + facility however is connected to the observance of some 27 conventions, not least human rights (HR) by the recipient developing country. Doubts have been expressed by various quarters as to whether Sri Lanka would enjoy this facility for another three years after the expiry of the current GSP + facility because of its alleged parlous HR record.

The source said that Sri Lanka has time till October 31 to make an application for the new GSP + facility, after which the EU will come out with its new list of beneficiary countries on December 15.


Dhammika wants two Hayleys Board seats

Business magnate Dhammika Perera increased his stake in blue-chip Hayleys PLC to 19% when he bought some 700,000 shares of this conglomerate at Rs. 142 a share at Friday's trading.

The sellers were Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC.

Dhammika's investment adviser Nimal Perera told The Sunday Leader that now that they were nearing their target of achieving close to a  21% stake (earlier he told this reporter that their target was 20%) in Hayleys, they were expecting the company to provide them with a second Board seat.

Already Dhammika has joined the Hayleys Board, with the Dhammika/Nimal duo expecting another Board seat as well.

"We have made an application for two board seats," added Nimal.

 At present there are no vacancies for an additional board seat, they will therefore have to amend their articles to accommodate one of Dhammika's nominees, otherwise it's not fair, he alleged.

Dhammika is Hayleys' single biggest shareholder.

"We will not exceed our holding in Hayleys to be above 21%, that's the agreement that we have with the Board," Nimal further said.

When The Sunday Leader  asked Hayleys Chairman N.G. (Tanky) Wickramaratne in regard to Dhammika's application for two board seats, he said that decisions made by the company in regard to such matters would be communicated through public announcements, and refused to comment any further.


$ to trade in Rs. 107/60-90 band

The Central Bank (CB) in order to check rising call money market rates (the rates at which commercial banks lend to each other) opened the reverse repo window ( the rates at which it lends to banks at concessionary interest rates) to meet their liquidity requirements for the third consecutive day and provided Rs. 4.1 billion at 12% interest on Friday.

On Thursday too the CB lent almost a similar amount to the market (Rs. 3,477 million), following a sum of Rs. 2.5 billion lent to banks the previous day (Wednesday) as well. The CB, for the second day running on Friday, also did not conduct open market operations to mop up  excess liquidity.

Average overnight call money market rates which opened the week at a low of 13.36%, shot up by more than 500 basis points (bp) because of market illiquidity within a space of four days to hit a high of19% on Thursday, before closing the week in the 16-17% levels (weighted average rate 17.13%) due to the continuous injection of liquidity by the CB in the last three market days of the week.

Meanwhile, the US dollar closed the week at the Rs. 107/65/68 levels, with market sources alleging that the CB wants to keep the dollar in the Rs. 107/60-107/90 levels, fearing that a further appreciation of the dollar (beyond that range) would cause inflationary pressure.

"They also don't want the dollar to go below the Rs. 107/50 levels amidst concerns that such a dip would affect exporters," the sources said.

Meanwhile, last week's Treasury Bill (T Bill) auction saw the weighted average rate  of 91 day  T Bills declining by 5 bp to 17.36%, 182 day T Bills increasing by 7 bp to 18.41%, while those of 364 day T bills remained unchanged at 18.63%.

The CB reneged on its original schedule by accepting offers for the sale of only Rs. 459 million worth of maturing T Bills of 364 day tenure, whereas earlier it had informed the market that it would be accepting offers for as much as Rs. 3,000 million for  this particular tenure.

The CB also accepted offers worth Rs. 1,735 million for T Bills of 91 day tenure, nearly double the amount of Rs. 1,000 million originally informed to the market and offers worth Rs. 1,948 million for T Bills of 182 day tenure, consonant with their original notice that they would be offering T Bills of Rs. 2,000 million of this tenure to the market.

This weekly auction was for the re-issue of Rs. 6,000 million worth of maturing T Bills of which Rs. 4,142 million was accepted from the market and the balance (Rs. 1,858 million) rejected, a verb, identified by the market that the CB got captive funds to invest in this amount at rates which were less than what it was demanding.


Chevron's PAT up 29%

Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC, in the quarter (Q) ended June 30, 2008 saw net profits grow by 29.4% year on year (YoY) to Rs. 212.2 million.

The company in the first half ended June 30, 2008 saw net profit grow by 37.9% YoY to Rs. 622.3 million.

Huejay makes Rs. 1 mn., loss

Huejay International Investments Ltd., has declared a Rs. one million loss in the first Q (1Q) ended June 30, 2008 as compared with a Rs. 700,000 net profit in the corresponding quarter the previous year.

Kalamazoo Rs. 500,000 in the red

Kalamazoo Systems Ltd., made a Rs. 500, 000 loss in the 4Q ended March 31, 2008 as a against a Rs. 4.5 million net profit in the corresponding 4Q the previous year.

The company saw net profit in the financial year (fy) ended March 31, 2008 decline by 93.6%   YoY  to Rs. 600,000.

Autodrome's PAT up 64%

Autodrome Ltd., in the 1Q ended June 30, 2008; saw net profit increase by 63.5%  YoY  Rs. 8.5 million.

A, Cap makes turnaround

Asia Capital Ltd., in the 4Q ended March 31, 2008 made a net profit of Rs. 238.1 million as against a Rs. 22.3 million loss in the corresponding 4Q the previous year. The company in the fy ended March 31, 2008 made a Rs. 96.6 million net profit as against a Rs. 30.9 million loss the previous year. (John Keells Stock Brokers)


Biscuit wars

From cream crackers to market leadership

Maliban, one of Sri Lanka's largest biscuit manufacturers has launched a new cream cracker targeting the youth of this country.

Chairman A. G.R. Samaraweera told reporters on Wednesday that the cream cracker segment comprised 40% of Sri Lanka's total biscuit market valued at Rs. 14.4 billion and growing both in volume and in monetary terms.

However, the market leader in the cream cracker industry is Munchees with an 80% share, while Maliban currently has only a 15% market share in this segment.

Maliban, once the overall market leader in the country's biscuit industry with a 70% share, has since been relegated to second place with a 28% market share, while the new leader Munchees has twice that number-a 56% market share, with the balance 16%  shared by a number of other players in the market.

Several factors had led to Maliban losing its leadership position, not least a six month strike that took place three years ago, where the company lost Rs. one billion in income.

The strike also affected its exports, which currently contribute around Rs. 150 million to its top line.

This resulted in the company's market share going down to 15%, but which decline it has since recouped, to go upto 28%.

"We have got over  this problem with all the bad eggs, some  800, having allegedly  left  us last year," Samaraweera told The Sunday Leader.  "Now we outsource our labour requirements."

Samaraweera  said  that the company which was in the red for several years was now in the black, with this transformation taking place last year.

"But I don't know how we will fare this year," Samaraweera referring to the country's current economic crisis said.

But Maliban's Marketing Head Ms. Kumerini Candappa assured Samaraweera that this year would be good.

The company's strategy is to regain lost market share, said Nirosh De Silva, the company's adviser.

He however set no time frames to achieve this goal, but added that they had a 42% market share at the time of the strike and said that they plan to regain this status quo in two years.

Candappa said that their new cream cracker has no preservatives nor animal fat and comes in a new package and is available in various weights.

The company, other than water and salt, has to import all the other raw materials such as wheat flour, sugar and cooking oil for its biscuit manufacture, with the cost of these raw materials escalating in the world market.

Samaraweera said that though Prima had reduced the price of wheat flour by Rs. 4 a kilo, that was insufficient to bring in a price reduction in biscuits. He alleged that this reduction was made because Prima's competitor, Serendib Flour, a subsidiary of the Dubai based Al Ghurair Group, had reduced their prices. He said that Serendib was expected to reduce their prices further.

Of the possibility of exporting their products to India, De Silva said that it was difficult to compete with Indian biscuits given the fact that wheat, sugar and cooking oil were cheaper in India than in Sri Lanka, with imports of the latter products being zero rated, while there was a duty on cooking oil imports to Sri Lanka. Further, advertising in India is costly, he said. A 30 second TV commercial would cost US$ 20,000. On trying to gain market share in niche market in India, because allegedly Munchees and Maliban were superior in quality compared to the Indian biscuits, he said that that would be in the second stage of their operations. "Sri Lanka's biscuit consumption is some 2.3 kg per capita, whereas in the UK it was 32 kg, so there is room to grow locally," said De Silva. A company note said that as the country grows, its per capita consumption of biscuits would increase to 10 kg in the medium term.


No foreign affiliation, but still tops

Though beginnings were small with a staff of only six way back in 1983, Creative Services Ltd (CSL), after 25 years of advertising and presently having 17 on the roll, can now look back at their achievements with a sense of pride and happiness, having handled a multitude of brands and accounts, underscored throughout by ethical advertising.

"Talk of inauspicious beginnings," says Managing Director Herman Gunesekera with a smile. "We started operations on July 15, 1983 and one week later it turned out to be worst time in recent history, now dubbed Black July," he said, speaking to The Sunday Leader.

However, undaunted, they put their collective shoulders to the wheel and gave the operations a kick-start.

In reply to a question on how CSL came into being, Gunesekera said that the agency, an off shoot of De Alwis Advertising was formed to handle "conflicting" accounts at the time.

"Unlike today, at that time no agency could handle two accounts of the same product-for example it was considered unethical to handle two hotels or two of any given product," he said. To overcome such conflicts of interest, CSL was set up.

Explaining why CSL did not tie up with an international agency or invite foreign experts to come on board, Gunesekera said that in his view there didn't seem to be anything of significant value or benefit in such tie-ups adding that media institutions that have such relationships do have the advantage of having advanced technology and other advantages that come with international expertise. "Having been on our own, we have no regrets," he quipped.

On a question posed on the annual advertising awards that have run into a lot of controversy in the recent past, Gunesekera who served as a Trustee of the recently held Chillie Awards said that in his view creativity should be judged by the consumer as well. "I have suggested that the consumer should mark on 50% while the industry can arrange for the balance 50%. After all, if  marketing is discovering the wants and needs of the consumer, and advertising is communicating the benefits of a product or service catering such needs, it should logically follow that the Consumer should have a say in the matter." he opined. During his tenure as IAA Hony Secretary, he had worked on a draft to establish an Advertising Standards Authority and suggested that it be passed in parliament so that it could then be implemented. However, this has still not seen the light of day. "Every country has such a body, a watchdog so to speak, to oversee the industry," he said.

Gunesekera's initial exposure to advertising came from his relationship with the late Dr Anandatissa de Alwis- who was affectionately known to marketing professionals as the 'Chief.' Additionally, his brother the late Elmo Gunesekera was also in advertising. He took up a Directorship at AJN Seneviratne & Sons, another well known Ad agency at the time.

Explaining how they revolutionised advertising that reached out to the grassroots, Gunesekera went on to explain that CSL had the challenge of promoting Ceypetco Agro Chemicals-a product of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

Working on this account gave CSL an understanding on the importance of going to the masses which meant that they had to personally go to rural areas to see how best they could create awareness of the product.

"The farmer, the dealer, all stakeholders had to be tapped. The sale of agro chemicals then were near dormant and CSL faced the challenge by effectively conducting campaigns that produced results. The initial budget of Rs.150,000 set aside for the campaign by CPC rose to over Rs 5 million (a huge budget at the time) and turnover tipping Rs.100 million in three to four years," said Gunesekera.

"We received tremendous support from CPC management with Daham Wimalasena at the helm at the time and Leon Wijeratne who was Agro Chemical Division Manager.

 It's not easy to come by such professional clients and we consider ourselves fortunate in having some of the best clients in the country even today. Clients of the calibre of Hemaka Amarasuriya and Asita Abeyasekera of Singer (Sri Lanka) , Nimesh & Rajen Udeshi of Siedles (Pvt) Ltd., Sunimal Salgadoe of Suzuki Motors Lanka Ltd, Gamini Ranasinghe and Sumedha Fernando of Orient Financial Services Corporation Ltd fall into this category. By best, we mean the professionalism by which they conduct themselves" he added

The success of Ceypetco Agro-chemicals had conditioned their minds that they cannot sit in air-conditioned rooms in Colombo and handle advertising, resulting in that winning formula being extended to other clients as well.

Some of our earliest Clients like Singer, Siedles , Suzuki Motors are still with us and we see this as  tremendous encouragement. Amongst its more recent acquisitions is Orient Financial Services. Such relationships are a joy and rarity in the Ad industry. CSL also developed a reputation to understand the local idiom-the single biggest factor that had contributed to their overall success over the years.

"But today, advertising has taken many different dimensions and clients are also very cost conscious and demanding. Advertising budgets are down, inflation is running high and the challenges that the industry has to face are greater. However, advertising is one of the most interesting professions to be in with new challenges and new assignments coming in almost on a daily basis," he said.

CSL marked 25 years in the field, with religious blessings in their premises followed by staff awards and a day out. "We have written letters of appreciation to all our employees, including those who have served us from the beginning and we are also presenting them with a memento-a plaque to mark the occasion," said Gunesekera, making mention of Rohan Gunaratne in particular, all of whom through their creativity, professionalism and loyalty made what Creative Services is today. "Such people are hard to find today,' he opined.

Commenting on future plans Gunesekera said that CSL is concentrating more on other areas of advertising-web advertising and developing web sites. "TV is another area that continues to have potential. In fact Sri Lanka has more TV channels than even Australia. But there is only one cake and to distribute the right share is a tremendous challenge. We have to do a lot of research and have the right media mix," he added.

"We still go on market tours and surveys periodically to assess the ground situation and our advertising has never been irresponsible. Two factors that have stood us in good stead," Gunesekera said.

The Agency's operations are headed by Rohan Dassenaieke who joined the Agency just over a year ago.  Dassenaieke has the unique combination of been a Creative Artist, having served in companies and advertising agencies as a designer and creative director and as a journalist and freelance designer at Upali Newspapers Ltd., and Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd.

Dassenaieke has also covered areas of promotional activities and specialized in design work in below-the-line activities. His combined experience in Journalism, Commercial Art and Planning and Management has strengthened the overall services at CSL.

"My ambition is to see that the establishment of an Advertising Standards Authority in this country before I retire from the field," said Gunesekera who concluded that he was appreciative of his clients, media, suppliers and staff, who have all along given him and the organisation every support and cooperation.


Central banks' impact on economies

Longer the length of time a government remains in office, more likely are the chances that the necessary structural reforms would be made, an economist said.

Dr. Bandid Nijathawarn, Deputy Governor Bank of Thailand, speaking at a Central Bank seminar on Monetary and Financial Stability in Emerging Economies on Wednesday said  that the enshrinement of central bank independence helps to insulate monetary policy from short term political consideration and paves the way for monetary stability in the long run.

"When a central bank lacks independence, its performance is likely to be more easily influenced for short term political ends with adverse macro economic consequences," he said.

Nijathawarn also said that the weights in the food basket of the consumer price index in many developing economies are high when compared with developed economies. As a result when food prices rise, inflation in such economies is higher than in industrial countries.

He was referring to the current global economic crisis, impacted by rising food and oil prices.

"When a country is a net food and oil importer, in the current context of rising commodity prices, inflation in such economies is driven up," Nijathawarn said.

He further said that high economic growth in emerging economies also tend to drive-up inflation due to demand side effects (ie because of the increase in disposable income among the populace).

Nijathawarn said that these ill effects could be mitigated by removing subsidies, which would result in a reduction in sales (consumption) and thereby inflation


CSE examines feasibility of indices

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has employed external professionals to make recommendations as to whether there needs to be a change in the present market indices, as a question mark has appeared as to whether those indices reflect the performance of the CSE.

 The only tangible improvement that the Colombo stock market experienced in the financial year (fy) 2007/08 was the reduction of broker risk through the adoption of a uniform "T + 3" settlement cycle, abandoning the "unique" two tier settlement cycle that was previously practiced by the CSE, its Chairman Nihal Fonseka in his review of the bourse's performance in the fy 2007/08 said.

Besides the current high inflationary and high interest rate regime and the security situation, some of the other factors that affect the performance of the Colombo Stock Market according to Fonseka, which he said was elaborated in the previous annual report were: "The ownership structure and legal constitution," small number of actively traded issues and the resultant low level of liquidity, long settlement cycle and related broker risk, insufficient attention to good principles of corporate governance especially by some closely held family owned issuers, insufficient variety of traded instruments, high transaction costs, low level of awareness of capital markets among the potential investor pool and relatively low level of analytical information on equities and an under-developed fund management industry.

Foseka further said that some improvement to the level of disclosure relating to corporate governance among listed entities should be apparent this year  conse quent to the coming into operation of the comply or explain phase of mandatory corporate governance requirements stipulated in the listing rules..


Retiring at 42

High achievers have a purpose and goal in life, said Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Investment Promotions Consultant Dr. Nalaka Godahewa.

Speaking at the Eagle Insurance Awards Night which feted their best salesmen, he highlighted the importance of working towards achieving one's goals.

He said that he came up in life through persistence and commitment.

Godahewa who was the chief guest at this occasion said: "I studied hard and believed in myself that when I set a goal for myself I would always achieve it. My ambition was to retire at 43 but I surpassed my own goal by retiring at 42."

He said that one needs to see what one can learn from other people who have been successful in life. "Also keep in mind that work is not everything in life. Your family should be a priority. Also make time to pursue new challenges" he added. Eagle's Managing Director Deepal Sooriyaarachchi in his address congratulated the winners and commended them for their hard work that ensured their success. Sooriyaarachchi emphasised the importance of determination and courage to achieve success despite adversity. He described perseverance and determination as fundamental and vital for survival and a successful life.

This convention was held at Hilton, Colombo. Colombo's Mahesh Jayawarna was adjudged "Best Sales Person" and Pushparaj Fernandopulle was declared "Best Senior Team Leader," while Gunathilaka Bogahakotuwa was adjudged "Best Senior Business Development Adviser" and D P K Samarawickrama won the"Best Team Leader" award. Twenty nine "High Achievers" walked away with the "Higher Achievement Awards" while "Achievement Awards" were presented to 21 star performers.  


Swamped by Big Brother

By A Special Correspondent

India is large-colossal, with a billion plus people and puny Sri Lanka with 20 million people inundated with fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) made by industrial giants, saying yes sir, no sir to Periyar Dorai.

An Indian influx needs no elaboration. It is happening without the Indo-Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA).

Look at today's scenario. Indian companies with or without BOI

approval allegedly have large numbers of Indians working in industries, offices, in trading establishments, in restaurants and even as personal drivers after having obtained permission for employment of skilled people.

Indian restaurants are allegedly blatantly employing Indians. Waiters and even the cashier are Indian and a nominated Parliamentarian spoke with an industrialist and tried to persuade him to employ Indians.

He volunteered to get the labourers from India dangling a carrot again.

"They work harder and would be much cheaper." But patriotism prevailed in this instance.

 Indian drivers are allegedly designated as engineers, clerks as accountants and waiters-trained hospitality workers.

BOI has been the worst offender, allegedly recommending work permits without scrutiny.

LIOC allegedly employed Indians saying we have no competent welders but Sri Lanka welders have proved their exceptional expertise in the dockyards.

A former chamber president whose alleged connections with India are well known that even spouses for the progeny are chosen in India and our five star hotels are deprived of hosting fabulous wedding banquets in our country.

Such is the patriotism of some of the chamber people who are supportive of CEPA.

At a press conference a former director of the BOI said that when he noticed a worker easing himself in public outside the factory, "and on making inquiries, the Indian factory had no toilets."

We also experienced copper workers allegedly lowering the living standards in the Horana district to the annoyance of the public who protested.

Our laws are lax and implementation is weak and the landlord who is tempted by rental tolerates six or more people in a room.

Barriers

In India there are barriers for Sri Lankans. Sri Lankan industries in India are less than the number of fingers in one hand. The flagship venture of Ceylon Biscuits had to close down their operation in North India due to no fault of theirs.

The important question is why are we signing an CEPA?

Over 50% of our income is from Services and is the intention to dilute Sri Lankan employment opportunities and open the floodgates to Indians?

What are the benefits to the country? What are our commitments in return to receive these benefits and what are the threats? 

Lets look at CEPA not only from an academic point of view but with

emphasis on the ground realities that Sri Lanka is facing, which are

likely to become serious threats if CEPA is signed.

Lets look at it from the standpoint that admits our limitations and our inability to stem a potential threat.

Have we forgotten the past, the recent past when India trained and supplied arms to the LTTE overtly, disregarded our sovereignty and violated air space?

India is a world power-the big brother and once yielded we will not be in a position to retract.  A Sri Lankan journalist in one of his columns made reference to Mark Twain, in Tom Sawyer: "I asked Tom if countries apologised when they had done wrong and he says ' Yes, the little one does'".

This should echo and re-echo loudly in our years."

Why are we signing CEPA?  Is it due to political pressure or subtle but potent dictates from the very big brother? Or economic strangulation or are there in fact mutual benefits?  Or may be a combination of these factors?

If it is political pressure we should use diplomacy to neutralise this pressure especially when the SAARC summit could be made the forum to focus a common CEPA with all of its members.

But if it is dictatorial pressure, we certainly have to negate it and under no circumstances yield.

Strangulation

Economic strangulation cannot be a serious threat in today's open economy. But India has allegedly imposed restrictions as and when it suits her at short notice to the joint partner (Sri Lanka), violating the spirit of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Of course we have been affected but we can withstand.

 We all know the reasons behind the closure of Copper and Vanaspathi industries.

Free entry was allegedly cancelled in a dictatorial manner and prohibitive duties were suddenly imposed. When imports are injurious to any one-country, duties could be clamped, but the manner in which it was implemented allegedly violates the spirit of the agreement.

Pepper exports are another example. The question that we should ask ourselves is can we as equal partners have acted with such blatancy?  In our case we may have had to retract and apologise.

Much ado is made about the enhancement of the FTA. The FTA is comprehensive and the so-called enhancement is for whose benefit?

The disparity in the trade balance with India is growing before enhancement and if more items "from the 300 given for consideration to be liberalized from India's negative list," one does not need imagination to predict the gravity of the threat which would allegedly eventually seal the deathbed of our few thriving industries.

The carrot dangled to our negotiators is to relax the category of Tic Tac to enter under the FTA.

"After eight years of continuous refusals and after foreign investors having had no option and shifted operations to India, that has had severe consequences to the Sri Lankan industries." Let horse sense prevail for the belated offer. Why is the sudden magnanimity?

This mechanism is available in the FTA to review periodically and enhance the negative list. So why CEPA? Are we wrong to suspect a hidden agenda?  To slip in the 300 items? Is it, to diffuse attention on the inclusion of the service sector?  Or is it like the trade union tactic, yield to one but get the other?

What benefits would Sri Lankans derive from the exchange? India would reciprocate and open the doors and say there we are, Sri Lankans can apply for jobs in India. Why blame CEPA if you don't make use of our offer?  Some would argue, quite rightly, so.

Reality

But look at the reality without blinkers and step down from lofty pedestals to terra firma to study the problem.

Could we stand a chance to obtain employment in India?

Managerial advertisements to any position in India would attract over thousands of applicants. Let alone of being a successful candidate, would any Sri Lankan be even called for an interview?

The BOI bought land and allegedly built the structure for HSBC. The architects, engineers and the construction firm were allegedly from India, labourers were allegedly Bangaladeshi migrants from India and the telephone operators for the call centre, allegedly again from India as Sri Lankans cannot speak English was the Chamber's response on TV to the influx of foreigners.  And this very Chamber is supportive of CEPA.

No Sri Lankan firstly would get opportunities and salary scales on

Offer allegedly in India for them and will not be commensurate with the going rates. Labour force and some others would not opt to go as Sri Lanka offers much more in environment, sanitation and living standards.

Are we to to ignore these realities and sign CEPA with no love and patriotism to our country?

The Central Bank Governor allegedly said, look at USA, where it had to give in to Chinese imports. I cannot understand the relevance. India produces FMCG and other goods much cheaper than Sri Lanka, having the advantage of cheaper raw materials, energy and large scale of operations.

"And now advertisements of Indian FMCG are allegedly aired in TV channels without curtailment, totally free, and the regulatory body says they haven't the wherewithal to prevent this.

However, this is a sad reflection on us when a poorer nation in the SAARC, monitor and delete overseas advertisements that do not bring revenue to the country.

The comparison of the Governor is the reverse. We would not be able to resist purchasing Indian goods especially when our purchasing power is recurrently and rapidly being depleted and the Governor says we do not want to strengthen the rupee because of exports. Our Governor, Our plight."

EU

Let's look at EU when it enrolled poorer countries from Eastern Europe as members. There were mutual benefits. The standards of the poorer countries rose sharply. The shortage of labour in the rich countries was eased and factories were set up in Eastern Europe.   "Maharajahs too would have to put up their shutters soon."

Ironically, there is no level playing field for Sri Lankans discriminated in their own country which is totally different to the Indian attitude of 'India Always.'

With recognition of India as a world power this is more pronounced today and unprecedented hype was seen when a Japanese co., wanted to buy out an Indian.  Even at Immigration there is no separate line for Sri Lankans. This is the ground situation and our case is unique which the negotiators should realise and not make comparison with other countries where the situation is not compatible to ours.

We have to correct our shortcomings, our weakness, and not offer our country for exploitation to Indians under CEPA and the FTA.


Pattipola, Ambewela dairies see 50% yield increase

Lanka Milk Foods (LMF) has ventured into new fields in keeping with the country's need for hygienically produced milk products.

This is in addition to marketing the well renowned brand of full cream milk powder 'Lakspray.' They have through their subsidiaries introduced many new products that cater to the market.

In 2001 LMF took on lease the Ambewela and Pattipola dairy farms and over the last seven years have shown vast improvements in the quality of milk, which is now manufacture red up to the best standards in Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The yield of milk per cow has increased by 50% over this period. These significant achievements have been recognized by the Agriculture Department which in 2007 awarded Pattipola farm the title of 'The Best Large Scale Dairy Farm in Sri Lanka.'

Pattipola also has the honour of having the title of 'The Best European Cow in Sri Lanka' amongst its herd.

Ambewela Farms Finance & Administration Director Ranjit Attygalle says, 'The lush green fields where the cows graze in the cool and misty climate of Nuwara Eliya provides an ideal environment to produce the best quality milk. In addition, the herd is under the supervision of a resident veterinary surgeon and the feed given to them other than grass is based on a formula specially designed by professionals in this field.

"To supplement this feed we have improved the quality of the grass at the farms by importing 16 consignments of Rye Grass Seeds from New Zealand, in the face of numerous obstacles. High quality cattle semen also imported from New Zealand ensures that the breed of the herd is constantly up-graded to be on par with international standards.

Ambewela Dairy Farms is the market leader in liquid milk production in Sri Lanka and produces quality fresh milk from 'Ayrshires' and 'Friesians', both high yielding European breeds of cattle".

"As most of you are aware, nutritive quality of milk is extremely sensitive. Thus Alfa Laval milking machinery is used at our farms for automated milking, in order to prevent the introduction of any kind of bacteria in the milk. Bacteria in milk will double in twenty minutes. In other words if left unrefrigerated, after a few hours the milk becomes coloured water without any nutritional value. In order to prevent this problem, the milk at our farms is immediately chilled to 4 degrees centigrade, and the chilled milk is thereafter transported to our factory in Welisara in temperature controlled bowsers. These procedures ensure that our milk maintains a bacteria count below 100,000 units per millilitre which is equivalent to the bacterial count in milk produced in Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.  We can also proudly say that Ambewela milk is untouched by human hands from the udder of the cow until it is poured in to a glass at your home."

Ambewela Products (Pvt) Ltd was formed with a long term vision to improve the dairy industry in Sri Lanka. "We have embarked on an initiative of national importance and are in the process of setting up a brand new state-of-the-art dairy plant, one of a kind in South Asia with an investment worth over Rs.1 billion." The dairy plant is scheduled to be completed and begin operations by December this year. With the new plant, Ambewela Farms are ready to take a giant leap forward by giving consumers a wide variety of milk packs and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt which is manufactured to the highest international standards. This plant has a capacity to produce 9.6 million litres of milk and milk based products, thus easing the dependence Sri Lanka currently has on imported full cream milk powder.

Marketing Director Lal Saranapala says that the "dairy industry in Sri Lanka is in its infancy. "Thus, we cannot continue to rely on importing full cream milk powder when the prices keep on escalating.

Sri Lanka's requirement of liquid milk is around 1 billion litres per year, and we currently import about 60,000 MTs of milk powder per annum which is 80% of our requirement, thus draining valuable foreign exchange from our country. Our goal is to contribute, in no small measure to improve the dairy industry in this country, and we have made this huge investment as patriotic corporate citizens in order to commit to the improvement of the national dairy industry.

Our current portfolio of fresh and flavoured milk products available in 200ml and 1 litre packs are  Ambewela Fresh Milk and the Daily brand flavoured milk in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana, and Iced Coffee flavours.

I'm also pleased to announce the introduction of two new refreshing flavours available for the first time in Sri Lanka, namely Kulfi and Faluda. I'm certain these two flavours will be a hit with consumers. Children need a high in take of milk in order to build strong bones and retain enough calcium in their bodies for later years. Our flavoured milk under the brand name 'Daily' makes drinking milk fun as well as nutritious."

There is no doubt that LMF and its subsidiaries, Lanka Dairies Ltd., Ambewela and Pattipola Farms and Ambewela Products Ltd., are moving in the right direction by providing Sri Lankan consumers with the best quality milk and developing the dairy industry to avoid dependence on imported full cream milk powder.


Com Bank accepts SFIDA

Commercial Bank of Ceylon (Com Bank) has become one of the first Sri Lankan banks to open its vaults to foreigners, enabling them to open bank accounts following the Central Bank's decision to further liberalize rules on local banks accepting deposits from persons resident outside Sri Lanka.

Special Foreign Investment Deposit Accounts (SFIDA) can be opened in designated foreign currencies and Sri Lankan Rupees. SFIDA deposits are offered in a variety of investment tenures to suit the requirements of each customer.

Citizens of foreign states, Sri Lankan citizens resident outside Sri Lanka, corporate bodies incorporated outside Sri Lanka and foreign institutional investors such as country funds, mutual funds and regional funds can now open SFIDAs with Com Bank.

"Through Sri Lanka's largest private sector bank, we would like to provide great investment opportunities to overseas clients and at the same time help the country attract foreign funds for its development activities. Investors would have the comfort of dealing with the Bank enjoying the highest Credit Rating among all local private banks," Com Bank's Chief Operating Officer Ravi Dias said in a statement.

The minimum initial deposit required to open a SFIDA is US$ 10,000 or its equivalent in other designated foreign currencies or Sri Lankan Rupees. All SFIDA accounts are exempted from income tax, withholding of income tax and debit tax.

Foreign currency will be accepted in the form of travellers' cheques, bank drafts or currency notes brought into the country by the account holder on declaration to Sri Lanka Customs as applicable during his/her temporary visits to Sri Lanka.Outward remittances, transfers to other SFIDAs and disbursements in Sri Lanka are possible.


Hyundai among Top 5 automakers

With global sales of 3,961,629 units in 2007,  the Hyundai Automotive Group has emerged as the world's fifth largest automaker, moving up from sixth place in 2006, according to Automotive News' 2008 Global Market Data Book published recently.

While quantitative growth has been an important objective in the past for the Group, the company's efforts are now focused on qualitative growth in terms of continuous improvement in corporate social responsibility, profitability, technological innovation and brand power. Hyundai has the momentum to keep on growing.

The Group has seen remarkable growth in the four decades since Hyundai Motor Co. was founded. It ranked as the world's eleventh largest automaker in 1999, the year Hyundai-Kia Chairman Chung Mong-Koo took over the helm as the CEO. Since then, under Mong-Koo's leadership, it has moved steadily up the rankings ladder, accelerating its push to globalize operations by building new manufacturing plants in the USA, China, India, Slovakia, Czech and Russia.

Counting export sales of 185,114 complete knock-down kits which are assembled by overseas partners, the Group's 2007 global sales reached 4,146,743 units. Automotive News' methodology excludes CKD sales.

2007 Global Sales Ranking: 1. Toyota Motor Corp. (9,366,000); 2. General Motors (8,902,252); 3. Volkswagen AG  (6,191,618); 4. Ford Motor Co. (5,964,000); 5. Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group (3,961,629);  6. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (3,831,000); 7. Nissan Motor Co. (3,675,574); 8. PSA/Peugeot Citroen SA (3,428,400); 9. Chrysler LLC (2,676,268) and 10. Fiat S.p.A. (2,620,864).

Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. has grown into the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group which was ranked as the world's sixth largest automaker in 2006 and includes more than two dozen auto-related subsidiaries and affiliates.

Employing more than 75,000 people worldwide, Hyundai Motor posted sales of US$74.9 billion in 2007 on a consolidated-basis and US$32.8 billion on a non-consolidated basis (using the average currency exchange of 929 won per US dollar). Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships


Child hospitalization cover

One of the areas where we found a dearth of flexible and affordable solutions was in health care especially for children.

Having identified this, Union Child Health Benefit rider was designed and launched to meet customer aspirations. This benefit had led to another successful product launch for Union Assurance which has been taken up by more than 2,500 customers with in a short period of two months.

Union Child Health Benefit steps in meeting up with cost of unforeseen events such as a child requiring major surgery or hospitalization due to an illness or accident,.

Union Child Health Benefit (UCHB) covers the cost of 244 major surgeries. In addition, a daily hospitalization allowance is also paid.

Another key feature is that UCHB continues until the child reaches his or her 20th year.  The benefits under the plan could be drawn down regardless of whether the child was hospitalized in a private or public sector hospital.

Invoices or evidence of actual payments are not required for settlement. All we need is proof of admission or surgery performed.  In fact, the major surgery benefit covers surgeries performed in Sri Lanka and India which is a boon for parents who most often have an option of venturing to India for medical care but are unable to do so for lack of funds. UCHB allows claims up to three times the sum assured for multiple surgeries during the term of the policy and upto a maximum of Rs. 1 million.

One of the advantageous features is the flexibility of this plan. Parents have the flexibility of deciding the extent of the cover that suits their budget. It also supplements the range of solutions provided by Union Assurance covering disability, accident, family income, critical illness, hospital daily benefit, premium waiver and major surgery.

UCHB is an add on option for existing policyholders, while new customers can opt for the product with any life insurance plans including Union Advantage, Union Sisumaga, Union Parithyaga or Union Jayamaga.


50% reduction in "light" bills

We in Sri Lanka like numerous others in many parts of the world have been seriously hit by the energy crisis and escalating electricity costs.

The solution to the problem is to buy energy saving appliances from Abans that will reduce your electricity costs by upto 50% This is the wonder of scientific development and LG's innovative technology and research to produce home appliances that consume less electricity, perform more efficiently and give you many more years of trouble free service.

To help you save electricity in your home, let's start with your refrigerator.

Do you know that every time you open and close your refrigerator door cool air is lost and the process of re-cooling to the required temperature means that the compressor has to work again consuming more electricity. LG's Door Cooling Refrigerator which only LG has an international patent has vents on the sides as well as the door, which replenishes cool air faster and shuts off the compressor quicker everytime the door is opened and closed.

This not only preserves your food better and stays fresher, but also results in greater energy savings and lower electricity bills. Here are some more tips on how your LG refrigerator can perform better and save more electricity: Set the temperature for only as cold as you need it. The Fridge should be 36-40 degree F, and the freezer should be 0-5F (-17 to10 degrees C). Fridges set 10 degrees lower than needed (or freezers set 5 degrees lower than needed) can increase energy use by as much as 20-25%.)

To test the fridge temperature, put a thermometer in a glass of water in the centre of the fridge and leave it there for 24 hours. To test the freezer temperature, put the thermometer between two frozen packages. If the temperature is colder than needed, then set the fridge to a warmer temperature.

Hot

Don't put hot foods in the fridge. Though food safety experts say you should refrigerate hot food to prevent contamination, that doesn't mean you have to refrigerate them immediately. USDA says to refrigerate within two hours of preparation (or one hour if the room temp is above 90ř), one to two hours of cooling off time will make your refrigerator work less.

Pick a good spot for the fridge. Your fridge will use less energy if you keep it away from heat and also place it where the heat it generates can easily dissipate. Position your fridge out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources such as the oven and heat registers.

Help the fridge get rid of the heat it generates by placing it along an external wall.

If you don't use air conditioning then put the fridge in front of an open window to let the heat easily escape.

Door openings result in 7% of refrigerators energy use, assuming 42 door openings a day. But poor open/close habits waste 50 to 120 KWH a year, which would be 12-28% of refrigerators energy use.

Freezers that aren't frost-free should be defrosted before the frost exceeds a quarter-inch thick. Excess frost makes the freezer work harder.

Make sure the gasket is in good shape. The gasket is the strip of rubber going around the door that seal the door to the refrigerator. If it doesn't seal well, cold air will escape and the compressor will work longer to re-cool. If parts of the gasket is coming off, then re-attach it with some glue. You don't have to turn the fridge off to save electricity. The compressor won't work unnecessarily as long as the inside remains cool.

Only when the ice melts and starts losing its effect, the compressor will work automatically, and you won't have to worry about your food spoiling.

A/Cs

 Air Conditioners, if improperly used consume high electricity for cooling. But not so if you are smart enough to invest in an LG Inverter Air Conditioner. LG Artcool airconditioners with new inverter technology slows down the compressor speed and permits the compressor to work efficiently even at low speeds while maintaining the desired room temperature.

This process results in electricity savings of upto 44% in addition to low noise levels, powerful cooling and healthy, clean germ and dust free air which is a unique feature of its Plasma Air Purifying System. Follow these guidelines to make your LG Inverter Air Conditioner give you better and more energy saving performance.

Replace your old AC after it has served you for 10 to 12 years. New ACs use 30-50% less electricity than 15-year-old models.

"Whatever make you buy, look at the energy ratings (SEER for central systems and the EER rating." Make sure your AC capacity is correct for your requirement. It is important to use the right capacity AC. An AC that's too small  or too big will be inefficient and waste energy.

Clean the filter. A dirty filter makes your AC work harder, which uses more energy.

Make sure your doors and windows are well sealed. You'll pay a lot more to cool your home when the cold air easily escapes. Make sure to caulk around the holes where pipes go into the wall under sinks.

Use drapes or blinds to block sunlight. Keep direct sunlight out. Direct sunlight can raise the temperature of a room by 10-20 degrees. The less heat that gets into your home, the less you have to pay to remove it. Drapes block sunlight and heat better than blinds.

Reduce heat from lighting. Lights create a lot of heat which your AC system has to remove. Replace your lights with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs which use 75% less energy and create 70-90% less heat at the same time. "Regular lights give off 10% light and 90% heat, while CFL's give off 90% light and 10% heat."

Whatever kind of lighting you have, turn it off when you're not using it. It's not just using electricity, it's adding heat. Reduce heat from cooking. Any heat you create from cooking has to be removed by your AC.

Reduce cooking heat by using a microwave oven. Move your gas or electric oven to be along an exterior wall if possible.  Disconnect the power plug when the air conditioner will not be used for a long time.

Washing Machines

The washing machine in your home also consumes high electricity if not used properly. This is because most housewives are ignorant of the economical way to do the laundry. LG TROMM (Large Capacity) washing machines take in large wash loads of up to 12kg. saving wash time and electricity.

The Intellowasher Technology in LG Tromm washing machines are an innovative feature which automatically senses the washing load, texture and quality of the fabrics and the stains, quantity of dirt and grime to be removed.

It then effectively determines the required water level and duration of washing, and automatically adjusts same, permitting smaller loads to be washed economically, thereby saving water and energy and giving you the quickest, cleanest wash ever. Here are some more tips how you can save: Always use cold water for the rinse cycle. Using warm or hot water for the rinse cycle doesn't get your clothes any cleaner.

Try using warm or cold water for the wash cycle instead of hot water. Hot water shrinks your clothes, anyway. Hot water also fades and wears your clothes out quicker. If you feel that warm water doesn't clean as well for you as hot, then just use a warm pre-soak. Soaking clothes in warm water is usually just as good or better as hot water with no soak.

Use a centrifuge like the Spin Dryer which removes most of the water from washed clothes by spinning them fast. That means a lot less time in the dryer, saving energy.

Front-Loading Washing Machines: Front-loading machines use 40-60% less water and 30-50% less energy than typical top-loaders They cost a little more up front but they can slash your energy bill.

Your clothes will also last longer with a front-loader because they gently tumble your clothes instead of jerking them around with an agitator. But they still get your clothes just as clean as a regular washer.

Front-load washers squeeze more of the water out of your clothes, so you'll spend less to dry your clothes. Front-loaders usually have a higher capacity, so it's easier to wash large items like bedspreads and rugs.

Another innovative LG product that can save you a lot on electricity cost is the LG SolarDOM Lightwave Oven. This unique microwave oven has a curved cavity making the turntable 27% larger to accommodate as much as 60% more. Further more, it has  three unique light heaters that cook both inside and outside of the food, retaining the nutrients and taste of the food, minimizing harmful ingredients like fat and preserving the beneficial ones such as proteins. Its efficient heaters cook 4 times faster than an ordinary oven reducing electricity usage by upto 50%.

Abans, the market leader for the world's best brands of home appliances, is the sole agent for LG in Sri Lanka. A wide range of innovative energy saving LG products can be  viewed at Abans showrooms islandwide or by logging on to their shopping portal. All products sold by Abans carry the hallmark of quality and the trusted Abans guarantee of an efficient and quick after-sales-service.


HP, No. 1 in Asia/Pacific

HP on Monday  announced that it took the No. 1 position in overall UNIX Server revenue in Asia Pacific (inc. Japan) in CYQ1, 2008 according to industry analyst firm IDC. (1).

HP captured 31.7% revenue market share of the Asia Pacific UNIX Server market in CYQ1, 2008. UNIX server revenues for HP in Asia Pacific (inc. Japan) grew more than five times faster than the overall UNIX server market growth on a Y/Y basis. The company also held the No. 1 positions in the High-end Enterprise and Midrange Enterprise segments of the UNIX server market in Q1 2008 garnering 41.2% and 34.4% of the market, respectively.

 Customers' requirements in terms of high-availability, security, scalability and virtualization were the major reasons for the growth of HP-UX in Asia Pacific. Companies across industries have been deploying business critical applications for core banking, payments, billing, mediation and ERP/SCM on HP Integrity Servers with HP-UX as operating environment. HP Integrity with HP-UX is also used to power key Business Intelligence infrastructure projects in the region.

Other key drivers for the increase of UNIX Server revenue include a significant growth in migration projects from mainframes to HP Integrity, rapid implementation of blade servers including HP Integrity BL870c and the adoption of HP Superdome servers.

"We replaced our mainframe systems with HP Integrity servers to reduce high operational and maintenance costs in managing hardware and software applications caused by proprietary legacy technologies," said Samsung Life Insurance Information Strategy Team General Manager Sang-Ho Yoon.

"The HP systems helped to move into next-generation data centre environments by significantly reducing costs of more than US$30M over four years while enhancing business agility and flexibility."

In the x86 blade server market in Asia Pacific (inc. Japan), HP continued to lead,

securing 40.3% unit shipments share in Q1 2008. HP's x86 blade server shipments achieved 39.1% growth year-on-year (YoY) in Q1 2008. HP also led in the x86 blades segment in revenue terms, capturing 35.5% market share and recorded a Y/Y growth of 54.2% in Q1 2008.

By successfully delivering on its 'blade everything' strategy, HP blade servers continued to ramp up quickly as both enterprise and midsize customers significantly embraced the award-winning HP BladeSystem c-Class design to accelerate their business growth and keep their infrastructure costs in check.

"With significant performance, energy usage and cost advantages, it is clear why customers have adopted HP Integrity servers and HP BladeSystem to manage their growing workloads," said HP Asia Pacific and Japan Enterprise Storage and Servers vice president and general manager Anthony McMahon.  "HP Adaptive Infrastructure solutions are the preferred choice for customers, delivering˙business benefits via risk mitigation, lower cost of ownership and a platform to help their businesses grow."

HP continued to lead globally in the fastest growing $1.19 B blade segment of the server market in CYQ1, 2008.  The company took the overall number one spot in the blade server market share with 46.9% in factory revenues and with 49.9% in unit shipments (2).

In the Asia Pacific (inc. Japan) total disk storage market (3), HP maintained its leadership in shipments with 19.9% market share of terabytes (TB) shipped in CYQ1, 2008. The TB shipments for the quarter had a YoY growth of 46%.

HP's Intel r Itanium r (EPIC) processor-based server factory revenues grew at 44.2% YoY in the Asia Pacific (inc. Japan) region in CYQ1, 2008. The Y/Y growth of combined HP Non-x86 (RISC and EPIC) server revenues was recorded at 16.9 percent in CYQ1, 2008.

In Asia Pacific (inc. Japan), HP also had the largest market share of factory revenue in the Windows and the Linux servers segment in CYQ1, 2008 with 27.2% and 26.2% respectively. HP continued its leadership for the 24th consecutive quarter (since CYQ2, 2002) in x86 server unit shipments with 29% market share in CYQ1, 2008.

Key Innovations in 2008: HP further strengthened its blade portfolio with the  creation of two of the world's firsts in blade server technology, the HP NB50000c and HP ProLiant BL2x220c. NB50000c supports high transaction volumes and provides real-time response capabilities in a mission-critical environment. The BL2x220c combines two servers in a single blade form factor to achieve top application performance while lowering data centre costs and space requirements.

To affordably meet the power-efficient computing needs of the midmarket customers, HP introduced ProLiant BL260c G5 servers and the market's first Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based x86 platforms. For storage midmarket customers, the new disk array, HP StorageWorks 4400 Enterprise Virtual Array reduces costs and management complexity. The HP StorageWorks 2000 Modular Smart Array family, a new generation of entry-level, Fibre Channel and iSCSI disk arrays, provides enterprise storage features at affordable price points.

(1). IDC Asia/Pacific Quarterly Enterprise Server Tracker Q1 2008, June 2008

(2). IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, June 2008

(3). IDC Asia/Pacific Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker Q1 2008, June 2008


Luxury cruises on offer

A luxury ocean cruise usually associated with the world's rich and famous, is on offer to five Sri Lankan families as grand prize, in the latest promotional extravaganza unveiled by Ceylinco Life as part of its effort to drive penetration of life insurance in the local market.

The life insurance leader is also offering a day's outing at the Leisure World theme park to 600 families in the 2008 edition of the 'Ceylinco Life Family Savari'which promises to be one of the largest community interactions by a corporate entity in this country to date. Ceylinco Life Chief Executive Director R. Renganathan said:"It is a massive undertaking to conceptualise, organise and conduct a full day's outing for 2,400 people. The logistics alone are mind boggling."

 In previous Ceylinco Life Family Savari events, Ceylinco Life provided all-expenses paid holidays for 258 people in Singapore and a day's outing at Leisure World for 1,600 people.

Covering all existing policyholders as well as new policyholders who purchase life insurance between August 1 and December 31, 2008, the promotion is intended to generate greater awareness of and interest in life insurance in market segments as yet unprotected through insurance, reward existing policyholders for keeping their policies active and provide an incentive to others to revive and maintain their policies.

"The scale of this promotion, its reach in to even the remotest hamlets of our country and the grandeur of the prizes have grown phenomenally over the years," Renganathan said.

A maximum of five winners from each Ceylinco Life branch will win family trips to Leisure World, ensuring that all districts of the country would be represented.

A winning family may include the policyholder, spouse and two children. If the policyholder is unmarried, he or she can nominate three other immediate family members.

Sri Lanka's most successful life insurer, Ceylinco Life also offers its policyholders multiple benefits such as 'Pranama' scholarships for policyholders' children, '65-plus' free medical cover,' Aloka' educational grants for children of deceased policyholders, home loans and discounted medical check-ups.


Business Today Top 10 Awards

The best corporate performer of the year 2006/2007 award in Business Today Top 10 Awards which was held at Temple Trees recently went to Dialog Telekom. The award was received by its CEO Dr Hans Wijayasuriya.  At second place was Sri Lanka Telecom followed by Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka. John Keells Holdings and Aitken Spence and Company were at fourth and fifth place respectively.

At sixth place was Hatton National Bank, and Commercial Bank came in at seventh place. NDB Bank was ranked at eighth place with Ceylon Tobacco Company coming in at ninth and The Bukit Darah at tenth.


PATA Gold for JKH hotel

Cinnamon Island Alidhoo, Maldives has been named Grand Award winner in the 'Education and Training' category of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) 2008 PATA Gold Awards programme.

The Cinnamon Island Alidhoo award-winning project is a new School of Hospitality at its premises.

Sector Head-Resort Hotels Jayantissa Kehelpannala said: "What is both satisfying and humbling is that we have been chosen as a Grand Winner from a total of 258 entries from 108 travel and tourism organisations. This is also a reflection of the strength and spirit of the brand."

Cinnamon Island Alidhoo is the flagship resort of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts- the John Keells Group's premier hospitality brand-and was the first Cinnamon branded resort in the Maldives, unveiled on July 1, 2007.

The other three PATA Grand Awards have been given to Singapore Airlines in the Marketing category; Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation for Heritage; and Nihiwatu Resort, Indonesia for the Environment. In addition to the four Grand Awards, there were 22 Gold Awards that have also been given. All 24 travel-related organisations and individuals will receive their awards at a presentation luncheon at PATA Travel Mart 2008 in Hyderabad, India, on September 19.

 The "School of Hospitality" initiative began as a local recruitment drive and gradually snowballed into an opportunity for the women and young people of Barah and Utheem islands in the Maldives to transform themselves into -trained hoteliers.

Starting this year, the resort's parent company, Keells Hotel Management Services Ltd., invested to operate a hotel school in which the curriculum is focused on providing the youth of the islands neighbouring Cinnamon Island Alidhoo with skills that would equip them to enter the industry.

In an economy which has the hospitality industry as its axis, the School of Hospitality is a boon to the population, endowing the interested with the proficiency and expertise to break into the industry.

Kehelpannala said: "To us, it is a validation of what we are doing as a team-not just that we are doing the right thing, but also that we are going about the right way in implementing it. The School of Hospitality is the offspring of our foray into sustainable development, which lives by a win-win ethic. This is an initiative that benefits the people as much as the industry and I'm glad we have been instrumental in making a difference."


War, poverty, fodder for AIDS spread

Over 50 CEOs and Business Heads congregated at the Cinnamon Grand recently for the second General Assembly of the Sri Lanka Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (SLBCH).

The meeting which was chaired by American Ambassador in Sri Lanka Robert O Blake and showcased the resource pool of trainers that member organizations would have access to, including Standard Chartered Bank's (SCB's) HIV Champions, John Keells Holdings CSR Champions, and ILO and Labour Ministry Trainers.

The coalition is also driving Sri Lanka's business sector to implement much needed HIV Work Place Policies throughout their organizations. The policy would provide a framework for action to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, avoid stigma towards those living with the disease and manage its impact on the labour force. The Coalition provides awareness training sessions and customized policy development services at no cost to the organizations. It also provides a platform for centres of expertise, resources and material to be shared.

SCB Chief Executive Officer and SLBCH Chairman Clive Haswell said, "Sri Lanka is the only low prevalence country to have a Business Coalition and it is essential that the SLBCH maintains its proactivity when dealing with this epidemic in a country that has the right combination for it to swell to epidemic proportions: poverty and war.

 We as Sri Lanka's business leaders must provide our commercial sectors, from large corporates to even the SMEs the support they need, as most of our at-risk population is in the workforce, amongst our migrant workers and garments sector."

"The advantages of issuing an HIV Workplace Awareness Certification to organizations that are looking for more ways to align themselves to Global standards of awareness on this illness is something that Sri Lanka could consider, " said Guest Speaker Dr. Anthony Pramaulratana.

.Pramaulratana is the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS Executive Director which is responsible for running the Thailand's national 'World of Work' HIV training throughout the country.

The Business Coalition emerged as a result of the 8th International Congress on AIDS in the Asia Pacific (ICCAP) that was held in Sri Lanka in August 2007.  Spearheaded by SCB, the coalition brought together business leaders in Sri Lanka for the first time to discuss their united response to the global epidemic.

Partnering the corporate sector in this initiative is the ILO Workplace programme; Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC); National STD AIDS Programme; Labour Ministry's National institute of Labour studies and UNAIDS. The Coalition's awareness programme will also be in keeping with the Health Ministry's National STD  AIDS Programme as well as the policies of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce which are aligned to the UN's Millennium Development goals.


Suntel rewards employees' kids

Suntel is rewarding their employees' children who have excelled in their studies.

Suntel Ltd., MD Jeremy Huxtable said: "Suntel believes that a portion of our earnings should be allocated to develop the education in our country. It is a practiced philosophy in our company that all our operations need to be conducted in a socially acceptable manner."

Suntel Employee Children Awards consists of three categories:

The year 5 scholarship exam, ordinary level exam and the advanced level exam.  Three students who attained the highest results for a year was selected from each of the three categories and was rewarded with a cash awards.

The award winners received their prizes from Suntel MD at a ceremony held recently in a 5 star hotel. The recipients and their parents were hosted by Suntel's Management Team.


Only 10% trained masons

A labour market survey carried out by Moratuwa University revealed that from over 75,000 masons, only 9.6% had undergone any sort of formal training.

Tokyo Cement Consultant Engineer Mouly Gooneratne said: "We opened up our own Vocational Training Centre in Trincomalee in 2001 where five-day resident workshops were conducted for the masons, and the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) officials held a practical test for all participants on the fifth day. Those that passed were awarded a trade certificate by NAITA that is recognized both locally and internationally. Over 500 masons passed out successfully from our centre. We unfortunately had to suspend functioning of our centre in 2007 due to security concerns, but hope to restart the programme in a central location shortly." The company recently concluded a "Masons' Seminar" in Kurunegala.


Ministry secs. feted

Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka at the recently held Chamber Competition 2008 felicitated the services of four top senior government servants-Ports Ministry Secretary Thosapala Hewage, Labour Ministry Secretary Mahinda Madihaheva, Urban Development Ministry Secretary Dr. Prathap Ramanujan and Trade Ministry Secretary Dr. R. M. K. Ratnayake.  These four senior governments were felicitated under the category of Public-Private Partnership Award of Chamber Competition 2008. 


In Brief

Electronic certification

Dialog GSM, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile communications service operator announced the introduction of ‘Mobile Cert,’ an instant electronic certificate which enables customers to establish ownership of their mobile phone anytime, anywhere by dialling or by sending an SMS.

Dialog is the first mobile telecoms operator in the country to pioneer a validation system on a mobile platform.

The mobile communications technology based electronic/digital certificate is tamper proof, said Dialog Mobile Chief Operating Officer Supun Weerasinghe.

"Dialog’s technology platform will produce an electronic certificate each time the system is queried, and will deliver the same to the mobile phone within seconds. In addition to the high degree of authenticity attached to an electronic certificate, this form of ownership verification and validation is convenient for mobile phones users" he said.

The new electronic ownership certificate will eliminate the need to carry any tangible form of proof material making "Mobile Cert" a convenient, secure and easy to use authentication method for Dialog customers.

Hikkaduwa Beach Fest

Tigo, Ceylon Cold Stores, SriLankan Airlines and Sampath Bank among others, have come forward with sponsorships to give Sri Lanka Tourism the impetus to make the Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2008 a success.

A proposed annual event, which objective is to draw the attention of tourists to the coastal town taking Hikkaduwa to the world, as being on par, with other beach destinations which offer similar fun events in the region.

This year the event has attracted a host of local and foreign bookings and with the publicity the event will generate, particularly among the visiting media covering the India Sri Lanka cricket series and the SAARC summit Hikkaduwa is set to recapture a lost market.

Hikkaduwa Beach Festival 2008, going for five nights from Wednesday (July 30) will see the performances of Ravi Bandu Vidyapathi, Jananth Warakagoda, Rakitha with Naadro, the Vibrations , Harsha Makalanda, Alston Joachim, and the drummers of the Faculty of Performing Arts display artistry alongside the likes of Sri Lankan born Alston Koch (Australia) DJs Paul Mendez (USA), Jorge Jaramillo (Denmark), Lisa Littlewood (Scotland), Michael Parsberg (Denmark), Master J (UK), Godwin Pereira (Singapore), and Fred Galliano (France).

A beach parade involving around 350 performers from the southern province will highlight the culture and traditions unique to this coastal village and its adjacent towns.

Friend at time of need

Sampath Bank PLC, the pioneering financial services provider stepped forward once again in extending their helping hand towards the needy.

In an action that is evident of the bank’s commitment towards supporting the members of the community in their time of need, Sampath Bank made a financial donation to A.S.A. Gafoor, a father of three children, of whom two children, who are still schooling, are leukemia patients.


News LINE

LMS' tax liability

John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) Chairman Susantha Ratnayake told The Sunday Leader that they were working on the tax liability of their subsidiary Lanka Marine Services Ltd (LMS).

This was in regard to Monday's Supreme Court judgement which among other things declared that LMS' Board of Investment (BoI) status was illegal and directed the Inland Revenue Department to collect backdated taxes from the date the company achieved BoI status.

LMS' BoI status coincided with its sale to JKH some seven years ago. Previously LMS was a fully owned subsidiary of the state owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. LMS' main line of business is ships' bunkering.

Parquet to sell some of its land

Parquet PLC plans to settle part of its debt by selling a portion of its factory premises located at Belummahara, Imbulgoda by the Kandy road in the Gampah District.

The company carries debts to the tune of Rs. 100 million in its books.

"This property at Imbulgoda comprises some 1,000 perches (six acres) and we hope to dispose of some two acres in the next two months," the company's managing director J.A.P.M.Jayasekera told The Sunday Leader.  He didn't want this newspaper to disclose how much the company plans to raise from this sale.

Parquet is a company that makes timber flooring.

Jayasekera further said that they plan to invest another Rs. 10-20 million to start a new product line at Parquet. He didn't want to disclose details about this new manufacturing line. Parquet is an associate company of Lanka Tiles, a company controlled by the Page family.

 Rs. 420 million remitted to IRD

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) remitted a sum of Rs. 419.9 million to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) as collections from share transaction levies in the financial year 2007/08.

The share transaction levy of 0.2% imposed in January 2005 is charged on all equity transactions (purchases and sales) executed on the CSE.

This tax is recovered at the time of settlement of the transactions and sent directly to the IRD by the CSE, ensuring 100% collection of the tax.

Since the introduction of this levy, a sum of Rs. 1.29 billion has been collected and remitted to the government as taxes.

This revenue excludes the 0.09% charged on every transaction by the Securities & Exchange Commission. (CSE Director General Ms. Surekha Sellahewa in her review found in the 2007/08 CSE Annual Report)

Maliban sale off

The proposed commercial partnership with the Hemas Group is off, Maliban Biscuits chairman A. G. R. Samaraweera told The Sunday Leader.

Earlier, the company which had been hit by strikes had plans to sell its franchise to the Hemas Group.

"Certain family members were opposed to this sale," said Samaraweera, giving reasons as to why this transaction didn't take place.

Maliban was founded by Samaraweera's father A.G. Heeni Appuhamy in the 1950s.

(See also separate story found elsewhere on this page)


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