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                                    

Editorial

September 9, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 12


Focus

Arts

Letters

Spotlight

Review

Fashion

Issues

Business

           
3,000 lose jobs as Readywear closes down


No plans to sell abandoned garment properties?

Readywear Industries Ltd., a garment exporter that provided employment to 3,000; closed shop last month after paying a hefty compensation package of Rs. 120 million due to the unprofitability of its operations.

"We cannot compete with cheaper sources like India, that’s why we are closing down," company sources who did not want to be named said.

"Last year’s port strike was also a crippling blow to our operations," they said. "Besides, all our raw material, from the button to the fabric have to be imported, and with the rupee depreciation, that has made imported raw material costs to go-up, making our business unviable," the sources said.

The downturn came to a head in the last 6-7 months, they said.

"We had the added disadvantage of not having had suppliers and brands as our partners, an advantage which most of the big players in the market, like Brandix and MAS Holdings allegedly enjoy and which is of great support to them in their business," the sources said.

At the peak, the company had some 17 factories, most of them located in the outstation. The company began operations in the early 1990s under President R. Premadasa’s 200 factories programme.

But when operations closed down on August 31, only some seven factories were functioning, including one at the Biyagama Free Trade Zone. Prior to this, they last sold a garment property in 2005.

The fate of their remaining outstation properties, now made redundant, is however unknown. Its chairperson Ms. Shantha N. Chrysostom was not immediately available for comment.

"We had an offer from Hirdaramanis (another garment exporter) for our outstation properties, but that didn’t work-out," company sources alleged. Each of these freehold properties comprises an extent of 3-4 acres with 20-30,000 square feet of built in area. The company however did not rely on bank borrowings for its operations.

"We made use of our own funds to do our business, that way the high interest rate regime that is prevalent in the market did not affect our business as our borrowing costs were zero," the sources said.

Readywear also has a 98% stake in United Motors Lanka Ltd., a public quoted company and the local agent for Mitsubishi vehicles.

The sources said that they would instead move into the more lucrative property development field in Colombo, having an eye on the 400 perch block of land they have at Park Street, Colombo and 2-2 ½ acres close to Lipton’s Circus, currently used by HSBC.

The compensation package to the garment workers was between Rs. 300,000 to Rs. 800,000; depending on the number of years of service, the sources said.

Most of them have found employment elsewhere, with senior company officials assisting them in this process.


Civil society should protest against govt’s. fiscal profligacy

Civil society led by institutions like the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has to take a stand to counter the government’s fiscal and financial profligacy.

Senior economist Dr. Harsha de Silva speaking at a seminar on interest rates and exchange rates in Colombo on Thursday said that it was because they successfully protested to the government that the proposed monthly levy of Rs. 50 on mobile phone users would add up to a high of 15% on their current average mobile telephony bill, that this proposal was dropped.

Telecoms was the economy’s success story.

He said that the average monthly mobile telephony bill of a user was in the region of Rs. 344. It was also pointed out that such a levy would retard GDP growth by 0.06% and would cut down telecoms penetration from the targeted 65% to 55%.

Inflation which was a low 0.5% in January 2004 when the previous UNF government was in power, is now a 17.3% high, but no one was protesting.

He said that when inflation was a low 0.5% in January 2004, the JVP was protesting about the high cost of living, but now with inflation at a high of 17.3%, there was not even a whimper from that quarter.

VVIPs are importing luxury Aston Martin cars while the masses are starving. The Central Bank’s mandate however is inflation targeting and price stability.

After the election of the Rata Perata government in 2004, inflation shot-up to 16%, then it came down to 6.4% in 2005 due to tsunami relief, but it has now risen to 17.3%.

He said that one of the causes for this high inflationary scenario was money printing. Though there had been no approval to release new money to the market last year, the CB released a sum of Rs. 38.6 billion to help build the budget deficit of Rs. 235 billion.

The government is trying to contain the budget deficit by slashing capital expenditure. Capital expenditure that had originally being targeted at 9.3% of GDP for this year had been slashed to 7.4% in order to contain the budget deficit at 7.8% of GDP this year. Monies for infrastructure development has been cut down from 5.3% of GDP to 4.3%.

De Silva who blamed most of the ills besieging the economy to poor fiscal management said that the Fiscal Management Responsibility Act (introduced by the UNF) that targeted to bring down the budget deficit to 5% in 2006 is now being ignored.

The World Economic Forum had ranked Sri Lanka a low 121st out of 125 countries in trying to contain the budget deficit.

"What needs to increase to achieve prosperity is retarding and what needs to retard in fact is growing," he said.

For instance, the government has slashed its original growth target for the year from 8% to 6.5%.

Government revenue was being eaten-up by debt servicing, salaries and wages and transfers and subsidies.

Though CB Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal had said that policy interest rates will be the main instrument in conducting monetary policy, market interest rates however were way beyond this band.

Referring to the rapid rupee depreciation in recent times, he said that the CB cannot try to maintain stability in the market by threatening it.

Debt servicing increases when the rupee depreciates. It has to win the respect of the market by being apolitical.

"The CB suffers from a credibility gap, that credibility has to be restored," said de Silva. Then the market will act. "Calling up and threatening will not help."

Resign

There have been previous CB governors who had resisted pressure from governments to print money. The Monetary Board Act ensures the independence of the CB. In other countries if inflation has such wild upward swings, it’s legislated that the CB governor has to resign.

The dollar has appreciated to the Rs. 113 levels because that is its actual value. In vain did the CB release $ 200 million from the country’s reserves in recent weeks in trying to defend the currency.

However, the dollar was in the low Rs. 95 levels in 2004.

The CB’s holding of treasury bills was Rs. 62 billion, whereas a year ago it was only Rs. 30 billion.


High interest rate regime to continue

Proceeds from the sale of the $ 500 million bond will start coming from next month, thereby stabilising the rupee.

Institute of Policy Studies Executive Director Dr. Saman Kelegama speaking at a seminar on interest rates and exchange rates on Thursday however said that interest rates will not come down until about the first or second quarter of 2008.

While the exchange rates of competitor countries like India and Thailand have been appreciating in recent times, in Sri Lanka’s case the currency was depreciating.

ADB Country Economist Dr. Johanna Boestel in her speech said that other countries were able to counter pressure on the exchange rate due to higher inflows (foreign direct investment, exports and remittances), and, as a result had accumulated high reserves.

This was however not the case in regard to Sri Lanka.

Boestel said that Sri Lanka with low external reserves and high inflation and public debt levels were contributory factors for the currency to depreciate.

"Higher debt repayments will lead to higher deficits," she said.

When the currency depreciates, the foreign debt burden will be greater. And higher taxes may be harmful to growth, said Boestel. .

Assistant Central Bank (CB) Governor Dr. H.N. Thenuwara in his speech defended the bank’s actions to intervene in the market.

"The CB cannot idly sit back and watch when treasury bill auctions open at 500-600 basis points higher, or when the currency starts to rapidly depreciate and when interest rates go up," he said.

World Bank’s senior country economist Claus Pram Castrup in his speech said that Sri Lanka’s economy which was growing at an average of 3.6% annually in the period 1950-1977, shot-up by 1% to 4.5% of GDP after the country’s economy was liberalized.

However, growth in the past few years had been in the region of 5-6%.

The question is whether Sri Lanka is performing to its fullest potential? Castrup asked.


Shortfall of 20,000 workers

The garment industry has a shortfall of 20,000 machine operators (seamstresses), so, those who have lost their jobs due to the closure of Readywear Industries Ltd., can easily find jobs elsewhere, a senior official of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) speaking on the grounds of anonymity told The Sunday Leader.

He alleged that despite the doom and gloom situation, the industry grew by14.8% in dollar terms in the first six months of the year compared with the commensurate period the previous year, where it grew by only 6%.

The source further said that the industry provides employment to 300,000. He said that 75-80% of those are provided employment in 25 export holding companies. The industry brings in 50% of the country’s export turnover.

Though the industry has taken a hit due to high inflation and exchange rates and the rupee depreciation, it was surviving because the industry as a whole was working "very hard." Margins have taken a hit. They have continuous meetings with workers to explain the situation as demand for high wages arise. And the government is not doing anything to contain inflation.

But the industry is futuristic. They have not given-up on Sri Lanka though some of the key players have moved out part of their production bases to countries such as India.


Business with Serbia

A delegation from Telecom Serbia (TS) was due here yesterday to sell value added telecoms services.

Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul General in Serbia Mrs. Ljiljana Miljanic Cassim told The Sunday Leader that TS, a government entity, has a monopoly in providing fixed line telephone services in Serbia.

It was also one of several telecoms providers that was providing mobile telephony services in Serbia.

She said that another Serbian company was interested in importing heavy duty tyres and tubes from Sri Lanka.

However, tourists visiting Sri Lanka from Serbia were negligible, with the numbers amounting to only a few scores monthly.

Serbia, a landlocked country and part of the former Yugoslavia, has a population of 9.5 million and occupies an area of 85,000 square kilometres.

Cassim said that Serbians generally visit Europe and North Africa for their holidays. The average monthly salary of a Serbian was in the region of $ 500.

She said that Sri Lanka’s country situation was not a hindrance for Serbians to visit Sri Lanka as Serbia too went through a period of civil unrest and bloody killings in the 1990s.

Cassim was instrumental in getting her brother, Dr. Zoran Miljanic, president TNI, New Jersey, USA to play a key role in organizing the South Asia Broadband Congress that concluded in Colombo on Thursday.


Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) launched the Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL) programme in Colombo on Wednesday, said a statement.

HDCC is the founder and "custodian" of the Hambantota Youth Business Trust (HYBT) which was founded in 1997. HYBT is modeled on the Prince of Wales Youth Business (YB) programme which objective is to enable under-privileged youth between the ages of 18-35 to start and improve their own businesses.

As a result, HYBT also helps reduce youth unrest and avoids social unrest.

The UK based Youth Business International (YBI) is the coordinating agency which overseas a global network of 40 YB programmes worldwide.

Eighteen of the 40 programmes are fully accredited by YBI and HYBT was amongst the first of these.

Recently, CCC, YBI and HDCC collaborated to launch a national youth business programme for Sri Lanka. This programme will be initially implemented in Vavuniya, Trincomalee and in the Uva Province.

International Alert is providing assistance to conduct awareness programmes, while Business for Peace Alliance is coordinating regional chambers in the implementation of this project.

The target is to spread the YBSL programme to the other areas of the country in the next five years, the statement added.

Meanwhile, 12 private sector leaders have been appointed as trustees of the Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL) programme.

They are Jetwing Hotels Ltd. Managing Director Hiran Cooray, Brandix Director Aslam Omar, former Deputy Managing Director Ceylon Tobacco Company J.D. Bandaranayake, CCC Deputy Vice Chairman Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Japan Lanka Industrial Development Centre Chairman Nihal Abeysekera, John Keells Holdings Group Director Sumithra Gunasekera, Microsoft Sri Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. Country Manager Sriyan De S. Wijerathne, DSI Samson Group Managing Director Kulathunga Rajapaksa, Gajma & Company Partner N.R. Gajendran, Hemtours (Pvt.) Ltd. Managing Director Abbas Esufally, IWS Holdings Group Director Asoka de Z. Gunasekera and Hambantota Chamber of Commerce Director General Azmi Thassim.


Lankem Paints begins exports

Lankem Paints Ltd., with their flagship brand Robbialac has ventured into the international market for the first time in the history ushering in a new era and opening up a new window of opportunity for their business as a premium colour solutions provider for the coatings industry in Sri Lanka and beyond.

Lankem Paints is ISO 9002:1994 quality certified and as at date is the only coatings manufacturer to have obtained ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems. A pioneer in the coatings manufacturing industry in Sri Lanka, it achieved "unprecedented" growth during the last four years which has led to more than a 200% increase in our market share since 2004, the statement further said.


Virtusa listed on Nasdaq

Virtusa Corporation recently announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 4.4 million shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $14 per share, said a statement.

All of these shares were sold by Virtusa. The underwriters also had a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 462,795 shares of common stock from selling stockholders and an additional 197,205 shares of common stock from Virtusa to cover over-allotments, if any.

Virtusa will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders. Virtusa’s common stock began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market recently under the symbol "VRTU."

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. acted as sole book-running manager for the offering, with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. as the lead manager and Cowen and Company LLC and William Blair & Company LLC serving as co-managers.A registration statement relating to these securities was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 2.

Virtusa is a global information technology (IT) services company providing IT consulting, technology implementation and application outsourcing services. Using its global delivery model, platforming approach and industry expertise, Virtusa provides services that enable its clients to use IT to enhance business performance, accelerate time-to-market, increase productivity and improve customer service, the statement further said.


Tourism promo draws record hits

Some381,821 people world over spent 3.8 million minutes with JWT’s tourism campaign on Sri Lanka on youtube.com.

A statement said that long after the curtains came down on JWT’s tourism campaign last year, the agency continues to add its bit for Sri Lanka at a crucial time.

JWT persisted with the campaign even after its contractual obligations and hosted a 10 minute documentary on youtube.com which was specially done for National Geographic. The campaign continues to get high viewership and has the highest hits in the tourism and travel category generating 3,818,210 minutes out of 381,821 views from all over the world on youtube and is still growing.

The idea for the campaign was born from an inspiring thought from the JWT team in Colombo–"every few miles you travel you see a new Sri Lanka." This thought encapsulated the diversity that awaits the discerning traveller. JWT’s Colombo team infused the essence of this into a brief and an idea was cracked by a cross border creative team between JWT Mumbai and the Colombo office and "small island big trip" was brought to life.

The campaign was developed under a USAID sponsored post Tsunami initiative to attract tourism back onto the island. The tourism cluster which comprised senior professionals was of the view that the large and emerging outbound tourism market in India would be the best to invest in. The campaign was released in India for four months and saw a 25.4% increase in Indian arrivals compared with the preceding year. It helped boost and reposition the image of Sri Lanka in the minds of Indian travelers.

Whilst the campaign was developed by a joint team between JWT Mumbai and Sri Lanka offices, the digital initiative was initiated by the local team that worked with Eureka Technologies Sri Lanka creating an interactive site called –smallislandbigtrip.com. The site was a success drawing close upon 1.4 million hits in the first three months.

This campaign went on to win accolades locally and internationally. The print advertisements brought honour to Sri Lanka by winning bronze at the Asia Travel and Tourism Awards 2006 in Singapore competing with 300 worldwide entries.

Organized by AdAsia, this year’s competition drew over 300 entries. It also won silver and bronze awards at Chillies 2007.

JWT’s –Sri Lanka office CEO Thayalan Bartlett attributed the success to a cross border initiative from its Sri Lanka and Mumbai offices to make the campaign a success and which continues to draw positive reviews every time it is seen.

The TV commercial was shot and put together by leading director Suren De Silva of Video Image. The commercial was captured from the air, a "feat never achieved before."


Broadband for prosperity

The telecoms sector contributes to 20% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, more than Manufacturing which contributes only 12% and the Financial Sector which contributes 13%.Korea in 1996 had under 2% of internet connections and 1% of broadband connections in 1999, Telecoms Minister Rauf Hakeem speaking at the inauguration of the two day Broadband Congress in Colombo on Wednesday said.But at present 90% of South Koreans have broadband connections, while business transactions through the internet contributes to 30% of Korea’s GDP, he said. However, expansion in broadband services require investments in telecoms infrastructure and in education, said Hakeem

 

Higher than EU rates

Sri Lanka’s broadband charges are higher than the EU average.

While a broadband connection for a two mega bytes per second (mbps) of two kilometers DPLC costs $ 3,174 annually, in the EU region it is a low $ 358.

Meanwhile, a 2 mbps broadband business connection in Sri Lanka costs $ 726 per annum, whereas in the EU region it is only $ 164.

While the annual charges for a "minimum 256 kilo bps broadband business connection" (residential) in Sri Lanka was a high $ 242, in the EU it was only $ 119.

 

Low broadband penetration

While Sri Lanka has 9.55 fixed phones per 100 people and 27.26 mobile phones per 100, its broadband connections however is a low 0.1258 per 100 people.

Source: LIRNEasia

 

Affordability, key to growth

Eight million Indians were getting telephone connections monthly, which number is equivalent to Sri Lanka’s total telephone subscribers.

Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor of the department of electrical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, speaking at a seminar on broadband technology on Wednesday, said that affordability was the key to growth.

Telephone charges in India were equivalent to 1.57 cents (LKR 1.77 a minute), thereby making telephony affordable to the masses. If telecoms operators in India make a revenue of $ four a month per household, they can make money, he said.

He said that in another 2-3 years, 90% of rural India will be connected. India will have 100 million broadband connections by 2015.

Jhunjhunwala further said that broadband connections which were $ 20 a month in 2004, has since come down to $ 7 because of DSL (copper wire) connectivity.

He said that India which until recently had only 10 million TV users, saw this growth increase by 10 fold to 100 million, with the introduction of a TV set costing only $ 50 a unit.


BBB for Union Assurance

Union Assurance PLC, one of the leading composite insurers in Sri Lanka which is backed by the corporate might of John Keells Holdings PLC and Carson Cumberbatch, was awarded a "BBB" brand rating by Brand Finance PLC.

Brand Finance is a leading independent brand valuation and rating firm. The brand rating was based on detailed analysis of data obtained from public and other sources which is reviewed by an expert panel of brand analysts and consultants.

"Union Assurance has an integrated approach to brand building," noted Marketing and Distribution General Manager Rukman Weeraratne.

He elaborated that "The brand building process starts from the training and development provided to the sales and non sales staff, customer centric underwriting and servicing processes and product development methodologies. These factors complement the advertising, promotional and communications related spend which help to enhance brand visibility."

The company hopes to capitalize on its strong brand as it launches Union "Call & Go," a motor insurance product targeting busy executives and professionals who don’t have time to stay at the accident site until an assessor arrives to inspect the vehicle.

In the event of an accident, policyholders need to log an entry with the 24 hour call centre, obtain a reference number and drive off.

Union Assurance has tied up with a number of "elite" garages across the island to ensure a hassle free service. Union "Call & Go" customers could drive into any one of these garages, and they will take care of the rest.

If customers prefer to repair the vehicle at another garage, an assessor could be sent to this site as well.

If it is not possible to take the vehicle to a garage, customers are advised to move it to a convenient location and an assessor will visit them to assess the damage.

The above options are in addition to arranging an assessor to visit the accident site to provide an on-the-scene assessment.


Flexible pawning by Seylan

Pawning has been a way of life in South Asia for centuries. Since of late due to the rapid appreciation of gold and collateral the general public’s view on pawning has changed rapidly, said a statement.

Seylan Bank ventured into the pawning business in 1997 and has rapidly increased its channels to serve its clients and others who are keen to patronize the bank in order to tide over their short term liquidity needs.

Working capital constraints of retailers are also met since the cost of borrowing against gold is low compared to other conventional lending products.

Seylan’s pawning service is a simple and convenient mode of obtaining cash in the easiest method and to retain the appeal for safe lodging of gold jewellery especially for the Sri Lankan housewife who juggles limited resources in order to meet family commitments from time to time.

The bank has flexible payment terms since the period of pledge is 12 months which could be extended by paying only the interest or payment of capital and interest or by partly redeeming articles and even enhancing the advance based on the value of gold pawned which may have appreciated due to the increase in the gold prices globally.

As such the customer can decide whether to enjoy the benefit or reschedule the out standings.

To provide a quality service at Seylan’s branches, staff have been handpicked and trained and provide a highly confidential service to ensure clients feel comfortable, in that payments are made within the pawning counter itself. Customer’s transaction time is reduced and there are no queues or delays even at the time of redemption as the customer has the option to inform the bank in advance regarding the time of redemption which will enable the bank to have the article ready.

As a value addition, the stamp duty payable at the time of pawning is absorbed by the bank. The bank intends to increase its delivery channels of 67 banking centres to date and introduce the service to the remaining banking centres in the long term.


20,000 accounts in under two years

CF Savings Avurudu Bonus campaign was held from April 30 to July 31, 2007; with the draw held at Central Finance Co. PLC Auditorium on August 30, said a statement. Those eligible for the draw were: Savers for a period of three months effective from April 30 to July 31.

Minimum average account balance should have been Rs.5000. It had to be maintained through out the above period. If the account had an average balance of Rs.11,000 through out this period, the accountholder had twice the chances of winning (Rs.5000 x 2). And if the minimum average balance was Rs.50,000, then the chances were 10 times greater.

Central Finance (CF) was incorporated on December 5, 1957.

It is a public limited liability company (PLC) and registered by the Monitory Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka under the Finance companies Act no. 78 of 1988. The core business of the company is providing financial services; including mobilization of savings and term deposits.

CF has a network of 44 branches islandwide, out of which 39 are online.

Owing to its rapid expansion and growth and customer demand. CF launched its range of savings accounts on January 2, 2006 and it already has a 20,000 strong customer base islandwide. The saving accounts range is targeted at the different market segments classified mainly by age and saving habits.

The products are:-CF Regular Savings: CF Savings is a savings scheme suitable for anybody over 18 years. It is different from other savings accounts because it offers a host of special features and attractive benefits.

CF Super Savings: CF Super savings is for high volume savers who want more from their deposits. "You can decide on the amount you want to keep in your savings account at anytime and instruct us to transfer the balance to a fixed deposit, while the minimum balance will be maintained in the savings account.

CF Senior Citizen: For savers who are 60 years and above with a " high return and special benefits" and easy operation. CF Lama Savings: CF Lama Children’s saving accounts are accounts that allow a high interest scheme as you save more and a host of ‘unmatched’ benefits."


Tigo produces millionaire

‘Tigo,’ the new mobile experience in Sri Lanka launched their ‘Millionaire Promotion’ to which there was an unprecedented response from all parts of the island, said a statement.

Nishantha Wickramasinghe from Ududeniya, Marassana becoming the first ever Tigo millionaire.

"There was an unprecedented response to our Millionaire Promotion and in fact we had over 50,000 customers responding in as little as six days," said Tigo’s CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka.

Tigo’s Millionaire Promotion was conducted in collaboration with a popular radio station, with the grand draw being held on recently.

Present for the final round were Dinesh Ratnayake from Galen Bindunu Wewa, Anurajika Wasanthi from Monaragala, Nadeesha Harshini from Kadawatha, the winner Nishantha Wickramasinghe and H.G. Jayalal from Malabe.

They all faced eight rounds of questions based on Tigo’s island wide coverage , with Nishantha emerging the winner .

"I am pleased that I emerged the winner of Tigo’s first ever Millionaire promotion" said Nishantha, subsequent to receiving his cheque for Rs. one million from Ratnayaka.

"I have been a Tigo customer for over four years, and I am satisfied with their coverage and service which have been good at all times. Coming from a rural area, I have never experienced any drop in coverage, while Tigo’s customer service has at all times been courteous and friendly".

Nishantha also expressed his thanks to Tigo for giving him as well as all those who participated in this promotion the opportunity of becoming a millionaire.

"This promotion is evidence of our island wide coverage and we are indeed heartened by the response we received; in fact all the finalists arrived with their parents and well wishers, which is proof of the popularity and enthusiasm with which this promotion was received" said Ratnayaka.

He said that Tigo will continue to provide customers with improved access, greater availability and enhanced affordability of mobile services, via the Inspirational brand Tigo.

" We are determined to be, not just a part of your communication activities, instead, Tigo’s ultimate ambition is to become a part of the Sri Lankan lifestyle and with our islandwide connectivity this has indeed become a reality".


"Pep Up" for digestive disorders

Lanka Herbals (Pvt) Ltd. a Harcourts Group subsidiary has launched a timely herbal medicine to correct digestive dysfunctions, said a statement.

The "Pep Up" tablet is imported from a GMP/ISO 9001 2000 certified company in India.

This product has been imported due to many requests made by the ayurvedic doctors and is approved by the Ayurvedic department for sale in the market.

This product is expected to create a big impact among the health conscious customers, who prefer ayurveda because of its natural healing power.

Pep up can be continuously used and it has no side effects or any contra indications. It can be used even by the children above 12 years for abdominal pain indigestion. It is certified by a team of medical specialists.

Marketing Director J.M.Ruzzan says that Pep Up tablets will tone up the digestive system, and ensure smooth functioning of digestive activity. It relieves Abdominal distention, Flatulence and trapped wind.

The ingredients like Trikatu promotes peristalsis and facilitate digestion. Bhumiamia and Bhringaraj help stimulate appetite. Pep up relieves gaseous unease swiftly and prevents hyperacidity. From a laymen’ language,it is suitable for Gastritis. It is effective in spastic sages of the gastro intestinal track

"Pep Up" is currently available at all Harcourts Super drug stores islandwide and other leading pharmacies, It is reasonably priced to meet consumer expectations.

Lanka Herbals has a wide range of ayurvedic healthcare products imported from India. Some of the ayurvedic products will be launched in the market in the near future with a strategic plan for the health conscious consumer.


Higher interest at ICICI

ICICI Bank ensures that the entire family now has the chance of earning the highest interest rates with a series of innovative accounts tailor made to benefit the entire lifecycle (8 – 80 years), said ICICI Bank’s Senior Vice President, Retail Liabilities, Sachin Sikka.

It’s a savings account product which has no restrictions on deposits, withdrawals or investment period, with the other benefits including a free VISA ATM cum debit card with access to 800 VISA ATMs island wide as well as free internet banking.

ICICI Bank has launched a ‘Senior Citizen’s Account’-SCA (for those over 55 years), a ‘Young Stars Account’-YSA (upto 18 years) as well as a savings account which offers an interest rate of 12% p.a., the highest in the Sri Lankan banking industry.


To Disneyland with "Tikiri"

"Tikiri" from Seylan Bank has been widely acknowledged as the leading minors’ savings brand in Sri Lanka, said a statement.

"Tikiri" accountholders have had many exciting moments in their relationship with the Bank such as availing themselves of the "Tikiri" Gift Scheme, participation in numerous Tikiri carnivals, kite competitions, art exhibitions and quiz competitions.

Now, Seylan Bank continues with this tradition by organizing a pleasure cum educational trip to Hong Kong in general and to Disneyland in particular.

Twenty five kids along with one parent would be accommodated in this two nights and three days package.

They would be able to meet with their favourite Disney characters within Disneyland and see and enjoy its wonders to their hearts’ content.

Upto October 26, 2007, deposits made to any new or existing Tikiri account in multiples of Rs. 500 would be entitled to one chance per Rs. 500 deposited.

A draw would be held at the end of the period mentioned above and the winners along with one parent each would be entitled to these wonderful privileges.

The tour party would be accompanied by Ms. Sarala Kariyawasam who is the Brand Ambassador for Seylan "Tikiri" along with Ms. Dimmini Senaratne popularly known as "Tikiri Aunty" who is the Brand Manager.

Conceived in line with the thinking of Chairman Lalith Kotelawala, Seylan Bank hopes to continue with its endeavours in providing the best value along with many exciting moments in the future too for its "Tikiri" accountholders who are the future generation of this country.


Pay with mobile phone

Sampath Bank, the IT leader amongst banks in Sri Lanka has continuously endeavoured to direct its technical and operational capabilities towards expanding its range of products and services.

A statement said that the Bank has always been in the forefront of bringing global innovations to Sri Lanka to make available world class banking facilities to its people, offering them many value additions along with its excellent service.

In keeping with this principle, the latest facility introduced by the bank is "Sampath Mobile Cash" (SMC), an‘easy to operate’ payment system via mobile phones.

"Right from the inception Sampath Bank had a vision for technology oriented banking products based on which the bank has been proactive in delivering solutions to enrich the banking industry. Over the last five years Sri Lanka has gradually moved towards an esociety and we at Sampath are proud of the role we have played to make this transformation possible," said Sampath Bank Managing Director/CEO Anil Amarasuriya.

SMC enables Bank’s customers to send money instantly to any person (even non customers) having any brand of mobile phone or CDMA phone with any service provider. The transactions are originated via the Sampath Telebanking System, which authenticates the fund transfer by verifying the sender’s User ID and PIN. The sender is requested to input recipient’s NIC no. and mobile/CDMA phone no. and amount. The system generates SMS messages to both parties and allows the recipient to make use of the funds immediately. "The speed and convenience afforded by the SMC System will be more than rewarding in an emergency situation which talks volumes of the service level we wish to maintain to our customers. We focus on developing sophisticated solutions that leverage the most advanced technologies, while always keeping in mind our customers’ long term benefits," added Amarasuriya.

SMC is yet another example of inhouse software development. All software required at the Bank’s end have been developed by the Bank’s inhouse systems development team. The software component on POS terminals at merchant outlets, which is licensed software, is the only item developed by sourcing the services of Hypercom HK through their local agent.

Payments to recipients of mobile cash who need not necessarily be Sampath Bank customers, are facilitated through the Bank’s branch network, currently comprising 101 branches. In addition, the Bank has joined with Singer Sri Lanka Ltd to facilitate payment of cash as well as purchase of goods at Singer’s islandwide network of more than 200 outlets. Plans are also underway to enable cash withdrawals through the Bank’s large ATM network to give recipients of mobile cash the choice and convenience of obtaining money at any time of the day.

"The Bank’s IT strategy has always been in the direction of elevating service quality within the banking industry with special emphasis on virtual banking. The Bank’s migration from Proprietory Systems to Open System Architecture in 2000 assisted the Bank in moving rapidly towards implementing a banking solution capable of supporting innovative products. Since then, our forte has been electronic fund transfer systems which have enabled us to serve our customers at all times. SMC is a step towards the future and we are already geared to face the challenges ahead, " said Deputy General Manager, Systems Development, Electronic Banking and Card Centre Ranjith Narangoda.


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