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23rd  April,  2006 Volume 12, Issue 41

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Business

DC industry wants VAT refund

Last week's oil price increase is having a crippling effect on the desiccated coconut (DC) industry.

The government hiked the prices of virtually all petroleum fuels by Rs 8 a litre. As a result, the price of a litre of Lanka furnace oil (LFO)-1,500 seconds that is used by the DC industry went up by Rs 8 to Rs 38.30 a litre.

 Desiccated Coconut Millers Association (DCMA) President Sunil Watawala said that even before the recent fuel price hike the DC industry was in a crisis. DC manufacturers had wanted the government to give them a VAT refund similar to that which was enjoyed by DC exporters.

The VAT bill paid by DC manufacturers was in the region of billions of rupees, said Watawala. Such a concession, even before the recent hike in LFO had earlier been promised by Enterprise Development Minister Rohitha Bogollagama but never implemented.

Watawala's contention for wanting the VAT refund concession (currently confined to DC exporters only) extended to DC manufacturers as well was because DC manufacturers could be considered as indirect exporters.

The industry plans to make representations on this issue at the next Exporters Forum due on May 2. "Our grievances have to be submitted to the EDB by tomorrow in order that it would be included in the Forum's agenda," said Watawala.

 He said that the VAT charged on the industry was 20%.  This VAT is charged by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation from which the industry buys their furnace oil (FO) to run their boilers.

There are 65 DC mills in operation in the country of which 36 are run on boilers, hence the need for FO in their operations. The industry provides direct employment to nearly 10,000, with export earnings bringing in Rs 4.7 billion on a volume of 54,100 metric tons (MT) in 2004.

The industry, plagued by drought and the high price of nuts exported around 7,000 MT of DC in the first quarter of this year compared to virtually zero exports in the corresponding period last year. Exports in 2005 were affected by a drought.

Total DC exports in 2005 amounted to around 35,000 MTs, with the country being the third biggest exporter after the Philippines and Indonesia.

Sri Lanka's major export markets are the Middle East, Europe and Eastern Europe.  Currently the price of a metric ton of DC fetches around $ 800 (FOB) in the international market, but last year round about this period it was much more due to a dearth of DC from Sri Lanka, said Watawala.

He said that of the country's balance 65 DC mills, 17 are operated on firewood and the remaining 12 on coconut shells.

He said that new technology advocates the use of cost saving coconut shells for the burning or processing of DC. Watawala said that before the recent oil price hike it used to cost the industry around Rs 8.50 to process a kilo of DC by using FO.

But with the adoption of this new technology, where coconut shells are used instead of FO, the costs go down to between Rs 2.50-3.

However, the hitch is that this new technology is costly, Watawala said. It would cost a DC mill around Rs six million to implement this new technology. Though the Coconut Development Authority is providing a grant of Rs one million per mill on this modernization project, mill owners are reluctant to modernize their mills due to a dearth of coconuts in the market.

He said that the farmgate price of a coconut was in the region of Rs 10-10.50 a nut. But the government plans to increase the import cess on edible oils (a substitute to coconut oil) that would make the price of nuts dearer to the detriment of the DC industry.

He said that currently imported edible oils were subjected to a 28% duty, plus VAT and a Rs 3 cess on a kilo. The government intends to double this cess to Rs 6. The industry plans to ask the government for a subsidy if this happens in order to run their mills.


Allegations, counter-allegations on GHC

Ground handling charges (GHC) of $ 3,000 per flight charged by SriLankan Airlines (which has a monopoly over this service at the Bandaranaike International Airport) is one of the highest in the world, said Air Arabia's (AA's) Country Manager in Sri Lanka Mayank Dhingra.

He said that in comparison GHC in Indian airports range from low figures of between $ 1,300-1,800 per airline. Dhingra said that they have made representations on this matter to the SriLankan authorities but nothing has happened.

 Dhingra alleged that the reason why Oman Air and Gulf Air pulled out of Sri Lanka was because of high GHC. The silver lining is that SriLankan's monopoly in GHC ends in 2008, he said.

The airline which is owned by the Sharjah government operates daily flights to Colombo.  He said that the reason why they were able to survive was by 'ruthlessly' cutting down on internal costs. AA, a low budget airline with its hub port in Sharjah mainly operates Airbus A320s on their routes which chiefly encompass the Middle East, North Africa, Sri Lanka, India and Khazikastan.

The airline plans to expand flights to Istanbul, Bangladesh and Pakistan shortly. Dhingra however said that when considering the infrastructure that has to be in place for an airline to do its own ground handling, it is not easy for a new airline to launch its own independent ground handling.

However, there is a possibility that opening ground handling to competition may result in charges coming down, he said. Most international airlines have the necessary infrastructure to do their own ground handling, said Dhingra.

Dhingra said that their flights to and from Colombo to Sharjah carries a mix of locals employed or going for employment to the Middle East, tourists and traders. Outbound freight from Colombo to Sharjah is mainly garments in transit to other destinations, while inbound freight was not that very significant, he said.

SriLankan's Media Relations Manager Ruvini responding to AA's allegations of high GHC said that SriLankan's ground handling block charges (turnaround) for an Airbus A320 aircraft is $ 2,291 per flight and has remained at this level since October 1997.

She said that AA renewed its standard ground handling agreement with SriLankan in August 2005 on the same terms and conditions as the earlier agreement. The agreement is valid till March 31, 2008. AA's Manager Operations Shabbir Khambarta was present at the August negotiations, Jayasinghe said. She further said that it was off the point to respond to Dhingra's other allegation that Oman Air and Gulf Air pulled out of Colombo due to high GHC.


Cess to protect grower

Coconut Cultivation Board  Chairman Dr Jayantha Gunatileke responding to the government's rationale for wanting to increase the cess of imported edible oils by a further Rs 3, said that this move was in order to keep the farmgate price of coconut above Rs 10 a nut so that the producer would get a better price.

He said that currently in places like Kuliyapitiya coconuts were being sold at under Rs 10 a nut. At present, imported edible oils are subjected to a 28% duty plus VAT and a Rs 3 cess on a kilo.

 Due to good rains, and as a result of a good harvest, the prices of coconuts were expected to fall even further beginning from next month.

He said that the real problem facing the desiccated coconut (DC) industry which is averse to such cess increases was the sluggish demand for DC in the world market and over production of DC in competitor countries such as the Phiplippines and Indonesia. DC is mainly required by the confectionery industry. Gunatileke  said that the demand for DC from 1994 upto the present has increased by only 2%. "While the price of DC was a high of $ 1,100 per metric ton in 1994, it has since come down to $ 800 pmt," he said.


Crisis to push LPG prices

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) gas prices which fell at the end of the winter season, may start climbing due to fresh tensions in the Middle East (ME).

LPG prices which were $ 530 per metric ton (pmt) fob last month came down to $ 428 pmt this month due to the end of the winter season.

"However, the current trend is that prices once again may go up due to renewed tensions in the ME," Shell Gas Lanka Ltd (SGLL) Director Corporate Affairs Dr Mahesha Ranasoma told The Sunday Leader.  LPG, a byproduct of crude oil, is tied to the movement of the latter prices.

LPG prices unlike crude oil prices (which prices change daily), however are fixed monthly internationally and as such are not subjected to daily change. Ranasoma said that the company has already contracted their purchases for this month, but refused to say at which price these purchases have been contracted and when SGLL will make their purchases for next month.

He said that international LPG prices for May will be made known only in the first week of next month, though the company may make their bookings for May even before these prices are known.

Shell's applications for local price revisions/increases have to be approved by the regulator, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA). LPG prices were last increased in end January, by Rs 110 to Rs 960 a 12.5 kilo cylinder (ex-Colombo dealer), when at that time global LPG prices were around $ 582 pmt.

The company had however asked for a Rs 142 hike at that time. Due to the lower price increase approved by the regulator, SGLL has gone to courts on this matter. They have also made a fresh application for a price revision to the CAA last month, which application is still pending and their next application according to the agreed formula is due in May.

SGLL submits their application to the CAA once in two months, based on the LPG prices that prevailed in the preceding two months. Ranasoma said that the company has accumulated losses, but was not in a position to immediately put a figure to this amount.


Tracking system of field staff, vehicles

"PathFinder," an innovative tracking system for vehicle fleets, sales persons, service teams and other field staff was featured at a luncheon meeting sponsored by Dialog Telekom for their corporate customers recently.

A press release said that this system is already being used by several large corporates including Nestle's, Lion Breweries, Jinasena's, Akbar Pharmaceuticals, Swadeshi Industries, Harris Brushes and ExpoLanka.

Introduced by Riscor Consultants in partnership with Dialog, this product has been developed over a period of five years to give corporates extensive management reach to coordinate the activities of their field staff. Tracking is completely automated and no user interaction is required.

On a map on his computer screen, a manager would be able to see where his staff are currently located and also the paths they have taken. So, if there is a call to the manager from a prospect in (say) Bambalapitiya, the manager will be able to identify the nearest salesperson and contact him through the system itself to attend to the call. This way, the prospect would get very quick response to his inquiry and the sales person concerned will have a high possibility of making the sale and earning his commission.

The technology could also be used for vehicle tracking by fitting a tracking device in the vehicles. Any combination of vehicles and personnel would appear simultaneously on the computer screen.

Over 300 Dialog's corporate clients were introduced to this new, affordable, technology at the event. Software licence cost is  $ 120 per mobile (one time) and the subscription for the service is Rs 300 per month. Tracking charges are Rs 2 per tracking request. Tracking devices are available for Rs 5,000 per unit.


SL seeks Indian liberalisation of retail trade

The seventh round of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) talks between India and Sri Lanka begins at the Taj Samudra, Colombo, tomorrow. This follows the sixth round of talks that was held in New Delhi in January.

The negotiations which intend to phase out some of the products in both countries negative lists under the existing Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ILFTA), also has as its objective to broaden the scope of this agreement to include the liberalisation of investments and services as well.

Commerce Department Director H.M. Wijeratne told The Sunday Leader that one of the areas that Sri Lanka is seeking liberalization from the Indian side is the retail sector, covering areas such as the operation of supermarkets.

He however said that though the Indians have had wanted paints taken out from Sri Lanka's negative list (all told, a request to delete some 500 items), that issue has become a non-entity due to protests by the local industry.

Wijeratne said that the local industry led by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is partnered by the Commerce Department in internal discussions with regard to such issues before arriving at a decision.

He said that the Mahinda Chinthana policies, which does not necessarily mean protection, but the partnering of local SMEs with counter-part Indian industries in order to further strengthen the former, will form an integral part in these discussions.

Wijeratne who was tight-lipped about specifics said that though India had wanted liberalization of various sectors in relation to goods and professional services and reducing the scope of Sri Lanka's negative list, it did not necessarily follow that Sri Lanka would fall in line with such requests.

Decisions would be reached only after talks with the relevant local agencies which includes institutions such as the BoI and the Agriculture Ministry. He said that finalizing the CEPA was a long drawn out process and said that the WTO round of talks took six years before reaching a finality in 1995.

Earlier, Commerce Department's Deputy Director Nimal Karunathilake told The Sunday Leader that Sri Lanka in these talks would push India to remove the requirement that six million out of its eight million pieces of  garments allowed duty free entry into India under the ILFTA should be manufactured from fabric of Indian origin.

The Sri Lankan delegation to these talks will be led by Director General Commerce Department Neil Mahagederagamage, while the 16 member Indian delegation will be led by its Commerce Ministry's Joint Secretary M.V. Shastri. The talks end on April 28.

Negotiations will be broken into five working groups and five sub groups. The five working groups are: trade in goods, services, investments, economic cooperation and double taxation agreements. The five sub groups will deal with financial services, air services, legal metrology, consumer protection and mutual agreements regarding sanitary and phytosanitary measures in relation to business and trade policy.


Dialog uplifts bourse

Foreign interest in Dialog, the buyer rumoured to be Aberdeen Singapore, an investment fund, stopped the bourse's slide at Friday's trading.

As a result, the bourse gained by 19.96 points on the benchmark ASPI and 36.38 points on the more sensitive MPI (over Thursday's closing figures), to finish the week at 2,321.91 points and 2,922.29 respectively.

Dialog is the highest capitalized stock in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the movement of this stock has a heavy bearing on the bourse. "If not for Dialog, the bourse's downward spiral that began on Wednesday would have continued to Friday," the sources said.

Market sources said that if there are no untoward incidents pertaining to the LTTE question this weekend, the market may consolidate these gains when trading resumes tomorrow.

Due to continued violence in the North and East, followed by the LTTE's decision not to participate in the next round of peace talks that was due to start in Geneva tomorrow, the market, at Wednesday's and Thursday's trading lost a total of 34.23 points on the ASPI and 59.86 points on the MPI (over Tuesday's closing figures), with market sources expecting this downward spiral to continue at Friday's trading as well, which, however was not to be because of Dialog.

Turnover on Friday was Rs 518 million, with Dialog contributing to nearly 80% of the day's turnover with Rs 399.7 million. Foreign purchases on Dialog were Rs 395.6 million, 90% of the total foreign purchase figure of Rs 442.7 million.

 "Interest in Dialog in turn whetted interest in other stock, especially SLT, the third highest capitalized stock in the CSE," the sources said. Total foreign sales on Friday were Rs 427.7 million, of which Dialog's contribution was Rs 319.2 million. Dialog closed the week at Rs 21, 50 cents more than its previous closing price on a volume of 19.3 million shares.

Dialog was subjected to foreign crossings of 4.6 million, 3.6 million, 3.5 million, two million, 1.3 million and 1.2 million shares respectively, mainly executed at Rs 20.75 a share.Among the other major contributors to the day's turnover were: Aitken Spence Rs 36.4 million on a share volume of 108,800. Spence closed at Rs 335, Rs 5 less than its previous closing price.

It was followed by The Finance (Rs 7.3 million) on a share volume of 105,500. The Finance closed at Rs 70, Rs 1.75 more than its previous closing price, Namunukula Rs 5.5 million on a share volume of 347,500. Namunukula closed at Rs 16, Rs one less than its previous closing price and SLT Rs 5.1 million on a share volume of 272,600. SLT closed at Rs 19, 75 cents more than its previous closing price.


CB cancels bond auctions

Treasury bill yield rates in the primary auction held on Wednesday  increased slightly for six  and twelve month maturities while three month remained unchanged. For six months maturities it increased by two basis points to 10.32%, while for 12 month maturities it increased by one basis point to 10.37%. For three months maturities it remained unchanged at 10.05%.

The auction was over-subscribed with bids received amounting to to Rs.18 billion as against the offered Rs. 10.8 billion, the Central Bank said. Of the amount offered, Rs. 8.4 billion was accepted from the market, while the Central Bank bought Rs. 1.5 billion and the balance Rs. 0.8 billion bills was retired.

The effective participation rate by non-state participants was at a high level, the Bank said. The Treasury bond auctions held on Monday for five year and six year maturities were fully rejected.

Total outright transactions reported by primary dealers for the week closing on Wednesday amounted to Rs. 17 billion, of which Rs. 9.3 billion were for treasury bonds and Rs. 7.7 billion  were for treasury bills. The repurchase and reverse repurchase transactions by primary dealers continued to outweigh outright transaction volumes with Rs. 53 billion reported for the period. Both outright and repo transactions have shown declines in volume as compared with those of the previous week. The market preferred  treasury bonds of maturities upto five years. Meanwhile, Rs. 12,077 million treasury bills will be re-issued on April 26, with settlement on April 28.


New licenses by June?

Approvals for new stockbroking licenses would hopefully be made before the retirement of the incumbent Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Director General Hiran Mendis that falls on June 20.

Mendis said that the delay in approvals was due to the appointment of a new CSE Board. Mendis will be leaving the CSE to take up an appointment in Botswana. The CSE had called for applications for new trading licenses in September.

One agitated applicant told The Sunday Leader that their foreign partner was even considering pulling out due to the inordinate delay taken by the CSE in making the necessary approvals.


Canon commits 10% to R&D

President and CEO Canon Singapore Pte. Ltd., Kazuto Ogawa was in Sri Lanka recently to familiarize himself with and review the local operations.  A communiqu‚ said that at a press briefing, Ogawa said he was pleased with the growth displayed by Metropolitan and the Company's sales figures. For the financial year 2005, Metropolitan showed a growth of over 26 % in the Canon product portfolio.

 Canon is the market leader and the preferred choice amongst the local business community, offering a wide array of state-of-the-art products. The company is a global leader in photographic and digital imaging solutions with a global network that now spans over 180 countries, employing over 108,000 people.  "Canon is dedicated to the advancement of technology and innovation and commits 10% of its total revenue each year to Research and Development" said Ogawa. Canon was ranked one hundred and fifty fourth among the world's leading Corporates by Fortune Global 500 last year, while Business Week ranked Canon as the thirty fifth most valuable brand worldwide.

"We currently have 18 manufacturing facilities in Asia outside of Japan where a wide range of products ranging from optical lenses to cameras, copy machines and toner cartridges are manufactured," said Ogawa, who added that Asia was home to three of Canon's nine R & D centers, located in China, Philippines and India.

"True to its credo 'Powered by the Best,' Metropolitan and Canon have consistently been market leaders and we are proud to say that we have represented Canon successfully for almost three decades," said Chairman Metropolitan Group J .J.Ambani. "We have introduced over 150 copier models and to date installed over 15,000 units and the Canon brand for copiers represents the majority stake of Sri Lanka's entire copier base," he said. "In fact Canon's superiority in product quality and features saw Metropolitan mark a record breaking sales figure of over 1,600 units in 2005."

Metropolitan marked the first entry of personal computers to Sri Lanka with the introduction of the Canon BX and CX series. The Company also boasts of the first computerized project for the Bank of Ceylon with the Canon AS 100, which led to this model being the market leader for Asia.

"The Canon BJ printers too have gained so much market acceptance that they command market leadership in view of their versatility, reliability and range," said Ambani. Metropolitan launched the Thermal Fax range from Canon and this has evolved to include digital faxes with multi functional features that include scanning, email and transmission under six seconds and in this category too Canon is the market leader.

A global leader in digital cameras, Metropolitan offers the range of Canon cameras with several leading business organizations endorsing the brand as the new 'business tool.' Metropolitan's product portfolio is so comprehensive that virtually eight out of 10 corporate institutions in Sri Lanka are using at least one of its products which is a reflection of the Company's maturity and understanding of Corporate needs and expectations, so much so that the Company has perhaps the largest customer base in its industry, exceeding 35,000 medium and large scale institutions both in the private as well as public sectors," said Ambani.

Metropolitan has also established several regional business units in all principal towns to provide an islandwide service infrastructure. "The cornerstone of our success is our sheer commitment to service and customer care and every single product is backed by Metropolitan's superlative after sales infrastructure." Canon hopes to introduce to Sri Lanka some new and exciting digital imaging products in the coming year and we look forward to continuing to consolidate our market leadership," said Ogawa.


Microsoft grants Rs 16.5 mn. for IT development

Microsoft Sri Lanka strengthened its commitment to community outreach in the country through a contribution of Rs 16.5 million to fund basic technology and job training which is intended to empower under-served people with new skills for better employability. A press release said that this grant will be channelled to InfoShare (Guarantee) Ltd, a Sri Lankan NGO that focuses on ICT for development. The grant will be utilized in IT capacity building exercises at grassroots levels in an effort to uplift IT penetration levels and awareness in rural communities.

Sri Lanka's IT drive has been lagging in comparison with that of many Asian counterparts with IT literacy recording just 9% compared to normal literacy levels consistently in the high nineties. A lack of basic modern IT infrastructure has resulted in the country's inability to adequately harness the potential of Sri Lankans and realize the quantum enhancements that can be achieved in a fully IT- enabled economy.

InfoShare will channel the entire grant to develop teaching capacity, quality of training and infrastructure in relation to the computer centres of the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) over two years. Microsoft's contribution to InfoShare will help fund hardware, software, development of Industry specific IT curriculum, technical advice, helpdesk support and connectivity at the VTA  centres.

InfoShare will also partly fund selected project activities. Under the project, Microsoft has also made copies of its 'Unlimited Potential' Curriculum available, which will be implemented at 60 sites.  The project's focus will be on facilitating relevant and high quality IT education for individuals through computer centres in rural areas. In the first year, the project will involve building and modernizing the available infrastructure as well as developing curricula and the training of instructors to build their capacity to transfer knowledge.

Community mobilization will be a large part of the project - it has been identified as essential that communities understand the need for IT and its importance in creating employment opportunities. InfoShare and Microsoft will cooperate with the VTA in taking the programme islandwide.  In order to meaningfully create opportunities for individuals undergoing IT training under the project, InfoShare will develop curricula tailor-made for four types of industry: Tourism, Small and Medium Enterprises, Agriculture and the Garment industry. It is planning to conduct these courses at 10 'demonstration vocational training centres' in Jaffna, Kegalle, Galle, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Colombo and in four other locations in the Tsunami affected eastern province. InfoShare will also implement a scholarship programme for youth who may be unable to afford courses at VTA - it is expected that 1,500 scholarships will be provided under this project.

Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka said, "This grant is part of Microsoft's continuing efforts to create opportunities for Sri Lankans by facilitating rural IT development. We hope that the project will enable us to enhance employability of those less advantaged and make the country more competitive by creating a generation of IT-skilled workers. The project will touch the lives of over 35,000 individuals over the next three years - it is our fervent hope that this grant will bring about sustainable quality improvements in their lives and thereby generate parallel social uplift."

Anuruddha Edirisinghe, Project Director, InfoShare said, "We are privileged to partner Microsoft in our efforts to develop Sri Lanka's IT literacy. The huge potential of this country's people can only be harnessed with the support of corporates such as Microsoft which have the global strength to drive such projects. It is essential that rural communities are made aware of the importance of IT literacy. Basic IT skills are important for success in today's economy and it is the joint responsibility of the government, the private sector as well as non governmental organizations such as ours to lead the drive to create those skills."

The grant has been allocated for Sri Lanka as part of 'Microsoft Unlimited Potential (UP)' - a key community affairs programme which is now running in 95 countries worldwide. Microsoft UP works in partnership with community-based organizations to provide under-served youth and adults with technology skills.  Through innovative technologies and partnerships, Microsoft is working globally to broaden digital inclusion to bring the benefits of technology and technology skills to 250 million people by 2010. Microsoft Sri Lanka has pledged its commitment to work with the government and NGOs across Sri Lanka to bring new skills to those who need them most.  In Sri Lanka itself, over the past two years, Microsoft has already launched initiatives with over a dozen NGOs and expects to influence the lives of 13,400 people though these programmes.


Sicille top guest at de Krester's fete

The de Kretser's Union of Ceylon based in Australia and comprising  members of the de Kretser clan whose forefathers originated from Holland and were subsequently domiciled in Sri Lanka, organized 'an  evening' with Victoria's  (then) Governor Elect Professor David Morritz de Kretser (AO) recently, said a press release.

On April 7 Prof. David became the twenty eighth Governor of Victoria, Australia. The 'evening' event was held at the Box Hill Town Hall, Melbourne.  Sicille Kotelawala, Deputy Chairperson  Ceylinco Consolidated  was invited to this function as Guest of Honour. Prof. David as a nine year old and older brother Desmond  migrated to Australia in 1949 with their parents. He  received his education at St. Paul's Milagiriya and Royal College Primary in Sri Lanka. A product of the University of Melbourne he married Janice Warren in 1962 and has four sons.  His achievement as a  world renowned male fertility expert is well known.He is the founding Director of the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development and the Associate Dean of Monash University's medical facility  (Biotechnology development).

He also established the Victorian Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair and is the founding Director of Andrology Australia, which provides public education and research into men's reproductive health.   In 2000 he was admitted as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to medical research and in 2001 was conferred with the title Father of the Year, State of Victoria, before becoming Governor recently. The evening's programme started with a traditional Sri Lankan welcome featuring ceremonial drummers and dancers followed by the formal welcome of  VIP's and guests.  Desmond de Kretser, Prof. David's brother talked about their childhood days. This was followed by his four sons Steven, Mark, Ross and Hugh de Kretser who told the guests of over 450  at this event of their growing up with a professional father who was loving but yet a strict disciplinarian, coupled with a charming devoted mother.  Prof. Richard Larkins (AO)-Vice Chancellor and President Monash University recalled his association  and working relationship with Prof. David. These presentations were mixed with humour. De Kretsers from many parts of the world winged their way into Melbourne from countries such as Scotland ,  USA , India, New Zealand  and Sri Lanka. It was in May 2005, that  Kotelawala received the award, 'The Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World 2005' awarded by the Star Group, USA  at a ceremony held in Vancouver, Canada.


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