The Sunday Leader

In Brief


The effectiveness of government propaganda reaching to the far flung areas of the country on the eve of the recently concluded elections were illustrated to The Sunday Leader by a corporate manager, speaking on the grounds of anonymity.

He said that two days prior to the elections he made a tour of the East and the Uva. And the only radio channel that his car radio was able to tune into in those areas was the Government run Lakhanda radio service.
“Once in every 10 minutes this service used to beam propaganda criticizing common opposition presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka,” he said.

“I had no option but to listen to this channel, as that was the only frequency that my car radio was able to capture in those areas,” he said.

This monopolism of news in that rural region may have had been an effective political tool in the hands of the government for the elections, the source opined.


Mandarins Vs. Professionals

An economist serving in the committee to advise the Monetary Board, recently resigned from his post after accusing a Central Bank of Sri Lanka (C.B.S.L.) mandarin of cooking statistics and misleading the public, it’s learnt.

A few years ago (during the tenure of the present regime) an economist in charge of C.B.S.L.‘s Statistics Department was forced to resign after a Treasury mandarin (himself an economist) asked her to inflate growth figures from the statistically accurate 4%, to 6%.

The economist who bravely confronted this mandarin (who is still very much there) when asked to doctor figures, even threatened not to give him any information, after receiving this directive, in retaliation.

But this mandarin, a powerful personality, had his way, and by using various pressure tactics such as by allegedly delaying promotions due to this economist, forced her to resign.

Previously both C.B.S.L. and Department of Census and Statistics (D.C.S.) used to disseminate g.d.p. growth figures. But after this fiasco, such statistics are now disseminated by D.C.S. only, with C.B.S.L. relegated to the role of a backbencher.


Quotable Quotes

Too many governments, too many societies are willing to say as long as two thirds of the people in the world are doing O.K., we can more or less dispense with the other one third.  I think all of us have to join together and say nobody is dispensable.  We have a collective, shared responsibility to make sure that everybody shares in progress and increased welfare.” -International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Guy Ryder

*“In order to achieve social justice you need to have something to distribute, such as wealth and jobs. They have to come from growth, and reflect a country’s economic reality.  That’s why we think that social justice and growth go hand in hand, that one cannot exist without the other.”-International Organization of Employers Secretary General  Antonio Peñalosa


Yields Continue Rise

Treasury Bill yields continued with its now familiar pattern of demanding higher and higher rates at the weekly auctions, with last week’s primary auction seeing 91, 182 and 364 Bills increasing by nine, six and one basis point each to 8.26%, 9.06% and 9.47% respectively. (Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)


Pays To Be “Green”

M.A.S. Holdings’ “green” factory in Thulhiriya costed 25% more than a normal factory building, but was 40% more energy efficient.

This was said by Professor Thishan Jayasinghe of Moratuwa University’s Civil Engineering Department speaking at a seminar on “Green Technology” on Monday. As such the company would recover that additional costing in five years.

On the other hand, another “green” building, Nelung Art Centre in Colombo, was built at a cost of Rs. 63 million, whereas when tenders were called for its construction, some of the bids received for the construction of a more traditional type of a building was nearly twice that amount.

“Green” buildings are those that consume less energy and water, and thus minimize their carbon footprints in the environment.


Biggest Consumer

More than 60% of the world’s resources are consumed by buildings, therefore architects have a leading role to play towards conserving the environment, preserving the natural resources and creating sustainable futures-Sri Lanka Institute of Architects President Chandana Edirisuriya.


Credit Continues To Shrink

Credit card outstanding as at end December 2009 declined by 0.8% month on month (m.o.m.) to Rs. 31,375 million, while the year on year (y.o.y.) decline was 8.3%.

The number of active credit cards in circulation during this period declined by 0.5% m.o.m. to 840,509; while the y.o.y. decline was 8.4%.


Expenditure Up 25%

Government revenue in the first 10 months of last year increased by 11.1% y.o.y. to Rs. 575.8 billion.
However Government expenditure (and lending minus repayments) during this period increased at a much faster pace, by 24.9% y.o.y to Rs. 992.2 billion. This comprised a current expenditure figure of Rs. 749.4 billion, a y.o.y. increase of  27.1% and a capital (and lending minus repayments) figure of Rs. 242.7 billion, a y.o.y. increase of 18.7%..


Debt Increases 22%

Total Government debt stock as at end October 2009 increased by 2.1% month on month (m.o.m.) to Rs. 4,106.8 billion. Its year on year (y.o.y.) increase was 21.7%.

This comprised a total foreign debt component of Rs. 1,770.6 billion; a m.o.m. increase of 4.5% and a y.o.y. increase of 29.6%.

Meanwhile the domestic debt component comprised Rs. 2,336.2 billion; a m.o.m. increase of 0.3% and a y.o.y. increase of 16.2%. (Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)



MTI Consulting’s Brand Forum will be held in a Colombo hotel on March 10.

Participants include HNB Assurance PLC Managing Director Manjula de Silva, Hemas Consumer Brands Managing Director Imal Fonseka, J.W.T. Sri Lanka C.E.O. Thayalan Barlett, Finlays Colombo PLC Director Romesh C. Moraes, Unilever Sri Lanka Marketing Director Asanga Ranasinghe, Sri Lanka & Maldives (U.N.O.P.S.) National Portfolio Head Rohantha Athukorala, Dialog Telekom Marketing Head Hasrath Munasinghe, MTI C.E.O. Hilmy Cader, Regional Consultant Dhanushka Jayakody and Regional Technology and Webcom Analyst Yusuf Ali Isaam.



Foreign subscriptions in outstanding Treasury (T) Bills and T Bonds in the week ended February 17 increased by 0.7% and 0.13% week on week to Rs. 535,272 million and Rs. 1,668,293 million respectively. (Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka)


83% In Equities

NAMAL Acuity Value Fund (N.A.V.F.), the first close ended fund listed at the Colombo Stock Exchange in its first quarterly report for the period ended December 31, 2009, saw fund investment increased to 82.5% in 12 listed equities,  while keeping the balance funds in short term fixed income securities. Overall the unit value increased by 11% in this period in comparison to a 17% increase in the All Share Price Index.

In this period the fund had generated a net gain of Rs 58.47 million comprising interest income (Rs 3.39 million), realised gains from sale of shares (Rs 4.80 million) and unrealized gain from shares (Rs 50.28 million).

At the end of this period the Net Asset Value of the Fund stood at Rs 582.59 million. The fund raised Rs. 537.5 million (Rs 524.12 million net of front end fee of 2.5%) from investors in the Initial Public Offer.

A  10 year Fund, N.A.V.F. was launched by NAMAL together with Acuity Partners (Pvt) Ltd. in September 2009 to enable investors to profit from Sri Lanka’s post war economic resurgence by investing primarily in listed equities and also in listed and unlisted debt securities.


The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (C.A.A.) initiated a law that makes shining a light or laser at an aircraft a specific criminal offence, in response to a growing number of such incidents near British airports.

The previous charge was ‘recklessly endangering an aircraft.’ In 2009 there were 737 attacks with lasers on commercial airliners, air ambulances and police helicopters across the U.K., compared to 29 incidents in 2007.

Airports reporting high numbers of laser incidents in the UK in 2009 included Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Leeds Bradford. (Washington Aviation Summary).

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