out post office space to
Postal services assets, primarily its
islandwide network of post offices and sub
post offices could be used to generate
additional revenue if space in those outlets
are rented out to other commercial
establishments, a report said.
The report, which has as its prime focus to
enhance the revenue of the loss making Sri
Lanka Posts (SLP) was handed over to Posts
Minister Mahinda Wijesekera at the SLP Hqrs.
bldg,, on Wednesday.
SLP is the only organization having
islandwide outlets (some 4,703 outlets)
providing "easy" access to every household.
This facility will be "gladly" embraced by
other institutions that do not have such
infrastructure facilities. There are many
institutes such as telephone companies,
internet service providers, electricity
companies, Water Supply Board, insurance
companies and local government authorities
who want to collect revenue from their
customers and are looking for operational
space, post offices may fill this vacuum,
the report said.
SLP, formerly known as the Postal
Department, made a Rs. 2.3 billion loss last
year. It has accumulated losses totalling Rs.
11.2 billion over a 12 year period beginning
Among the recommendations made in this
document which was prepared by Deputy Post
Master General K.A.S. Senadhira were to take
advantage of the fact that many commercial
banks were waiting for a tie-up with SLP to
receive more agency services, including
using the postal network for foreign money
remittance. HSBC already uses post offices
for credit card payment settlements.
The Senadhira report further said that
postal insurance and postal banking are the
new areas to be considered by SLP as new
financial services, if permitted by the
It said that the SLP network may assist
these types of institutes by permitting them
to utilize the post office as an outlet to
collect their revenue from their customers
and make the post office more useful and
"Identify the institutes that need agency
services through post offices, develop the
legal framework and obtain approvals and
negotiate financial terms and conditions,"
the report recommended.
SLP could "easily" handle through their
experience and capability: issue of revenue
licenses, banking agency services, insurance
agency facilities, rural credit facilities,
selling of Treasury bills/bonds, air
ticketing and water and telephone bill
It also observed that the business community
who represent less than 20% of SLP's total
customer base brings more than 70% of the
total volume of mail to SLP.
The Senadhira report also said that recent
estimates of the cost of service provision
put the cost of delivering a letter around
Rs. 12, against the present postage for an
ordinary letter (except business letters) of
SLP has some 19,000 employees, of whom 7,000
are postmen. Its total income last year was
Rs. four billion, however its expenditure
was Rs. 6.3 billion, causing a Rs, 2.3
Remittances thru' post offices
The Postal Department is discussing with a
remittance service and a private commercial
bank to introduce remittance services in
The Department operates some 650 post
offices and 3,500 sub-post offices
The service providers with whom the
Department is having discussions are Western
Union (WU) Money Transfer Service and DFCC
Vardhana Bank (DVB).
Posts Minister Mahinda Wijesekera speaking
at the Postal Department Hqrs., Bldg., on
Wednesday said that the necessary space
available for such banking operations will
be rented out to them.
The Minister said that the Department made a
Rs. 2.3 billion loss last year. Its
expenditure this year is forecast at Rs.
eight billion, and next year, Rs. 10
"Such steps will help us to mitigate such
losses through the rent income received,"
The Department has some 19,000 employees.
At present, still the main types of
remittance service in the country are the
traditional telegraphic transfer systems and
bank drafts which are costly, WU Sri Lanka
Marketing Manager Imran Carim told The
The Postal Department also has a tie-up with
HSBC for credit card settlements.
"We will be negotiating with other banks, to
get them also into this scheme," Posts
Ministry Secretary W.M. Piyasena told The
He said that the Department was talking to
Moratuwa University and Dialog Telekom for
networking of their branches and utility
bills settlements, by the consumer making
use of the Department's islandwide postal
network to make those payments which will be
Rice & Inflation
"Sense and Nonsense of Rice Price Controls
in Sri Lanka" and "Causes and Consequences
of the current Inflationary trend in the
Country" will be the topics of discussions
by two academics at the Sri Lanka Institute
of Development at
4.15 pm on Wednesday.
These issues will be addressed by Peradeniya
University's and Colombo University's Senior
Economics Lecturers Drs. O.G. Dayaratne
Banda and Sirimal Abeyratne respectively.
The event will be moderated by Ceylon
Chamber of Commerce Deputy Chairman Dr. Anura Ekanayake.
It will be preceded by the launch of the
Sinhala Economic publication titled "Economy
of Sri Lanka: Liberalisation and
Development" consisting of twelve analytical
papers by senior academics of Peradeniya
This event is organized by the Pathfinder
Foundation, in collaboration with the
Colombo and Peradeniya Universities Economic
Faculties and the Sri Lanka Business
All 300 stalls in "Construct 2008" which
will be held at the BMICH from August 8-10
have been sold.
Arjun Dharmadasa, Managing Director, Lanka
Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt.)
Ltd., told The Sunday Leader that the
reason for this success was because
exhibitors wanted to be the first mover in
the event peace dawns upon the country.
Each of these stalls are priced at Rs.
80,000. There are foreigners too
participating in the exhibition, said
Dharmadasa, who, together with the National
Construction Association of Sri Lanka has
been organizing this annual event in Colombo
for some time.
Captive funds invest in T. bills
Last week's Treasury bill (T bill) primary
auction saw weighted average yields of 182
day T bills coming down marginally by eight
basis points to 18.06%, while those of 364
day T bills stagnated at the 18.40% levels.
There were no parcels of T. bills of a 91
day maturity, on offer at this auction for
the second consecutive week.
This auction was for the re-issue of Rs. 8.5
billion worth of maturing T. bills, of which
Rs. 3,193 million was re-issued to the
market, while offers for the balance were
rejected-which market sources interpreted to
mean that the CB got captive funds to invest
in the remainder.
50% Sri Lankan
An event management company which is hosting
a construction exhibition in the Maldives
expects 50% of the participants to be from
"There are a total of 100 stalls for sale,
of which 65 stalls have been so far sold,
with Sri Lankans having had already taken 35
of those stalls, that's how I arrived at the
50% figure, Imran Hassan, director, Lanka
Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt.)
Ltd., told reporters on Wednesday.
Stalls are being sold for US$ 1,260 (Rs.
136,000), ie those of nine square metres in
He said that the latest entrants to the
thriving Maldivian leisure sector, other
than the traditional Aitken Spence and John
Keells Group were the Galle Face Group and
Hassan said that the Maldives was opening up
40 new islands for construction this year.
The Maldivian Construction Exhibition will
be held at Male from July 7-9.
Foreigners subscribe to only $ 60 mn. worth
of T. bill outstanding
With interest rates in Sri Lanka fetching a
high of 18% compared to a mere 2% for US
Treasuries, it makes sense to invest in Sri
Lanka rupee Treasury Bills (T bills) because
of its higher yields, market sources who did
not want to be named told The Sunday Leader.
The government last month opened 10% of the
T bills outstanding market amounting to some
$ 300-400 million for foreign subscription,
of which only around $ sixty million have so
far been subscribed.
Some market sources said that the slowness
of foreign subscription to T bill
outstanding was because the majority of
foreign funds did not want to subscribe to
this issue on moral grounds as they felt
that the moneys so accrued to government
coffers would be utilized to fund the war.
Another segment of foreign investors don't
have confidence in the local economy, that's
another reason for the poor subscription in
T bill outstanding, they said.
But others said that as this issue was out
hardly a month ago, this was its gestation
period. They cited the example of the T bond
market which, though partially opened
(initially 5% and subsequently doubled to
10%) in November 2006, the splurge of
subscriptions took place only in
February-March 2007, three months later.
However, to date not more than 6% of this
amount has been subscribed, though, what is
available for foreign subscription is 10% of
T bond outstanding.
Total T bond outstanding is Rs. 1,146,470
million; of which Rs. 62,356 million has so
far been subscribed by foreigners.
This is because the appetite in the market
is for T bills which are of a shorter
tenure, they claimed.
Total T bill outstanding amount is Rs.
Meanwhile, the US dollar closed Friday at
the Rs. 107/85/90 levels, unchanged over
Thursday's closing figures.
Overnight call money market rates, the rates
at which commercial banks lend to each other
for a day, moved up by 20 basis points on
Friday, over that of Thursday's weighted
average rate (WAR) to close the week at
15.95%, with the market being squared (no
surplus nor short of liquidity).
Sources expected overnight call rates to go
up by a further 25 bp in the week beginning
tomorrow, which they said was the usual
fluctuation in interest rates seen in the
market these days.
High interest rates hit bourse
With investors preferring to invest in fixed
income due to the prevailing high interest
regime rather than in the Colombo bourse,
saw the benchmark ASPI ending the week at
2,499.61 points; down 38,76 points over the
previous week's closing figure, while the
more sensitive MPI fell by 61.64 points, to
finish the week at 3,005.24 points.
Turnover on Friday was a modest Rs. 144.7
million, following Thursday's turnover
figure of Rs. 148.8 million.
Motor bike sales to hit 50,000
Sri Lanka's second largest operator in the
two wheel range expects sales to grow year
on year (YoY), from 30,000 to 50,000 in the
current financial year.
"Expected sales would have had been higher
if not for the country situation, Chanaka
Yatawara, a director at TVS Lanka told The
Sunday Leader on Wednesday.
TVS Lanka, a Rs. 2.5 billion company, is a
joint venture between TVS India, a leading
two wheeler manufacturing company and United
Motors PLC, local agents for brand new
Mitsubishi vehicles, the market leader in
Yatawara is also the CEO of United Motors.
He said that two wheeler growth would be
spurred from the 125 CC category which is
expected to grow by 30% YoY.
"We suffered an overall retardation in
growth last year due to the unavailability
of the 125 CC category to the local market
as a result of our manufacturers having had
to service the African market, but they have
informed us that those shortages will not be
there this year," Yatawara said.
"With costs growing steeply, especially in
the 4-wheel sector, we expect Group
companies such as TVS to assist us in
sustaining growth," he said.
TVS Lanka has some 12 products on offer.
On Wednesday, they introduced "Flame," a 125
CC motor-bike with a 3-valve CCVTi engine to
the local market.
With a top speed of 95 kilometres per hour,
this bike is priced at Rs. 128,000 per unit,
"This appeals to the urban male in their
20s, 'they are smart and stylish,' " C.P.
Gopinath, Assistant General Manager TVS
Motor Company introducing "Flame" to
TVS Lanka General Manager Gihan Pilapitiya
said that with a Japanese bike costing over
Rs. 500,000; the Indian made 125 CC could
however be bought for less than Rs. 150,000.
TVS Lanka National Sales Manager Malaka
Vehalla referring to "Flame's" fuel
consumption said: "As you ride, the bike
will indicate how much fuel you are
10% royalty for oil
The government has awarded an offshore block
off the West Coast, and South of Mannar to
Cairns, India for oil prospecting.
There had been two other bidders for this
block which comprises some 3,600 square
kilometers in extent, beginning from a
minimum depth of 10 metres and going down
Studies have shown that there is a 60%
chance in striking oil, Director General
Petroleum Resources Secretariat Dr. Neil de
Silva told The Sunday Leader. He however
said whether there was oil available or not
available in the region would be known only
next year or in 2010 when oil prospecting
works are underway.
In the event they strike oil, they would
have to pay a 10% royalty fee to the
government. In addition they would have to
pay a "signature bonus" amounting to US$ one
million for oil prospecting.
Cairns India's parent company is in the UK.
Earlier, de Silva speaking at a seminar said
that there should be at least 500,000
barrels of oil for such an oil exploration
venture to be commercially viable.
De Silva expected the company to sign the
petroleum resources agreement with the
government in the next few weeks. The other
bidders for this block were ONGC Videsh,
India,-a Government of India enterprise and
Nikko Resources, a UK company.
The government has in total earmarked five
parcels for oil exploration, of which one
each has been earmarked for the Chinese and
Indian governments, though prospecting is
yet to start. The government also called for
bids for oil exploration for a third parcel,
but cancelled the same after receiving only
Janashakthi IPO fillip to bourse
Janashakthi Insurance Company Ltd., will go
public on June 16.
In an initial public offering (IPO), it will
be offering 10% of its equity (after
subscription) at a discounted price of Rs.
12 per share.
"It is a discount, considering the fact that
other insurers which have gone public see
their share prices fetching values of Rs.
212 (Ceylinco Insurance), Union Assurance (Rs.
66), Eagle Insurance (Rs. 143) and Asian
Alliance Insurance (Rs. 40) currently, the
company's General Manager (Finance &
Planning) Bertal Pinto-Jayawardena told
reporters on Thursday.
"We are offering it at a discount to make it
easy for investors," he added.
"This is an attractive price, all small and
medium investors will grab it," Merchant
Bank of Sri Lanka Ltd's (MBSL's) Deputy
Director Capital Markets A.M.A. Cader said.
MBSL are managers and registrars to the
This is only the first IPO to be opened at
the Colombo Stock Exchange after a lapse of
two years. "The success of the IPO may give
a fillip to the market which is now
depressed," Janashakthi Managing Director
Prakash Schaffter said.
With current capital funds of Rs. 1.7
billion, this exceeds the capital
requirements set forth by the Insurance
Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL) to be achieved by
2012, he said.
IBSL expects insurers to have a capital
requirement of Rs. 500 million each for each
class of insurance by 2012. Currently this
requirement is only Rs. 100 million.
"Our asset base exceeds Rs. 10
billion,"Schaffter added. "Our flagship
brand is the Full Option brand, one of the
leading motor insurance brands in the
country," he further said.
Janashakthi in the financial year ended
December 31, 2007 saw revenue exceed the Rs.
five billion mark (Rs. 5.2 billion), while
it made a Rs. 525 million net profit. In the
year under review, its life premium income
grew by 18% year on year (YoY) to Rs. 1.5
billion, while non life premium which made
the balance, grew by 17% YoY.
The company in the three months ended March
31, 2008 saw revenue grow from Rs. 1.1
billion to Rs. 1.3 billion YoY and a loss of
Rs. 85.4 million recorded in the first
quarter of last year being converted into a
profit after tax of Rs. 56.1 million in the
current first quarter.
The company with 112 islandwide branches, is
the insurance company with the second
highest branch network in Sri Lanka.
Janashakthis was also the first private
sector insurer to venture out into the
Maldives, which was in 1996.
The company will initially offer 16.5
million shares (5% of the new equity) and in
the likely event of the issue being
oversubscribed, it will offer another
tranche of 16.5 million shares to the
market, its chairman W.T. Ellawala said.
Janashakthi which is controlled by Chandra
Schaffter and family (and which currently
hold well over a 90% equity stake in the
company) will utilize the moneys so raised (Rs.
396 million) to strengthen its brand
presence in the country, IT system, expand
its branch net work and strengthen its human
resources-the company has a 3,000 strong
Gifts at Abans
Abans, the company that is always in the
forefront when it comes to giving their
customers value for money, has launched a
"Free Gift Promotion" where a valuable gift
will be be given to customers who buy any of
the items on promotion. The gifts include
TVs, DVD Players, HP Printers, Pen Drives,
Mobile Phones, Table Fans, Steam Irons,
Pyrexware and more.
The products on special promotion have been
selected to give consumers the opportunity
of buying quality, products of the world's
best brands at affordable prices.
Some of the products on offer are LG and
Haier Televisions, LG and JVC Hi-Fi systems,
LG Double Door Refrigerator, Fully Automatic
Washing Machine, LG Microwave Oven, Elba
Gas/Electric Cooker with Oven, LG Dual Core
Desktop Computer, HP Notebook, Jialing
(motorcycle) Three-wheel truck, and Jialing
JL90 motor cycle.
And there's more good news for consumers.
You can buy as much as want without worrying
about your budget, because you can avail
yourself of Abans "No Poli More Jolly"
interest free instalment scheme when buying
the products on promotion. So you can take
home everything you need, at affordable
prices, on payment terms that suit your
budget, with a free gift to top it all up.
The promotion is now on at all Abans
Showrooms and Elite Showrooms islandwide,
A-World-Crescat/Welisara and Nexxt@Abans
Showrooms. All products on "Free Gift
Promotion" carry the Abans guarantee of
quality and durability and an efficient,
after-sales-service by Abans Service Centre.
Brandix wins export award
Brandix, manufacturer of branded clothing
has once again been recognized as the
country's largest apparel exporter by the
Export Development Board (EDB).
A ranking of Sri Lanka's top exporters on
the basis of export turnover for 2007/08 was
released by the Board last week, at a
meeting convened by Export Development
Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris to felicitate
these companies and meet their
Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar said: "The
concluded year was one of the most
challenging ever, but it was also the year
in which Brandix launched the highest number
of projects. We remain committed to
investing in future growth and it is
heartening to see that our contribution to
the export economy of the country has been
noted by policymakers."
Among the significant new projects in
2007/08 was the conversion of the Brandix
Casualwear Seeduwa factory into a Green
plant, for which Brandix is aiming to secure
the highest global certification, Omar said.
The Group also plans to make all of its
manufacturing operations eco-friendly and
has set itself the target of reducing its
carbon footprint by 35% by 2012.
One of the highlights of the concluded year
was the opening in January 2008 of Brandix
Mercury, a Shared Services Centre, and the
migration of virtually all the Group's
financial accounting processes to the unit,
transforming the way service functions are
Comprising 25 fully integrated manufacturing
facilities backed by strategically located
international sourcing offices, Brandix
provides direct employment to over 25,000
people. The Group specializes in casual
bottoms, intimate wear, active wear,textiles,
knitted fabrics, sewing and embroidery
thread, accessories and hangers as well as
wet processing, finishing and fabric
Save & Win
"Seylan Grameen Ithurum Ginum" Savings
Account could be opened by any Sri Lankan
over 18 years of age with a minimum deposit
of Rs. 1,000. It is a Savings Account that
pays a high interest of 12% pa. and also
allows unlimited withdrawals for the
convenience of the accountholder.
In addition, a draw is also on the cards
with the Grand Draw to be held at the end of
the calendar year from the date of launch,
offering a house worth of Rs. 4 million as
the Grand Prize and also a Micro Trend Car
along with 10 Ceygra motorcycles, 25 mobile
phones and 250 mountain bicycles.
"Seylan Ithurum Dinum" Savings account
holders do not have to wait till the Grand
Draw, as prizes such as a Ceygra three
wheeler and five Ceygra motorcycles, 10
mobile phones and 40 wristwatches are
offered at the three quarterly draws to be
held at the end of every three calendar
As such the first quarter would run upto
August 31, 2008;, the second quarter from
September 1 to November 30, 2008 and the
third quarter from December 1, 2008 to
February 28, 2009.
The annual Grand Draw would accommodate
qualifiers from the first three quarters who
also qualify in the fourth quarter. In
addition to the attractive prizes mentioned
above, the following benefits also could be
won in the Grand Draw by parents for their
children and senior citizens: 50
scholarships of Rs. 25,000 each for students
who pass the Grade 5 Scholarship
Examination, 50 scholarships of Rs. 25,000
each for students who pass the Ordinary
Level Exam and 20 scholarships of Rs. 50,000
each for students who qualify for university
entrance and medical expenses of Rs. 25,000
each for 50 senior citizens.
Or, A Gold coin equivalent to the value of
the above benefits at the winner's request.
The launch of this savings account is to
generate enthusiasm among investors who
wish to receive a high rate of interest
(12%pa) and also eligibility in the draw
which offers a wide array of attractive
gifts and items of utility value for those
from all walks of life.
As envisaged by Founder Chairman Dr. Lalith
Kotelawala, the scheme would also help to
eradicate poverty through the grameen
concept, thereby helping to meet one of
society's greatest challenges head on.
Housing loans for seniors
By Ranee Mohamed
Home is where the heart is, and Sampath Bank
is reaching out to the very heart of the
nation with their newest product under the
Next Generation Loan Scheme which falls into
their main Sampath Sevena Housing Loan
Under this next generation loan scheme, both
father and son or mother and daughter, or in
short a parent and child can get into a
further bonding by obtaining a loan together
and paying it together. Explaining their
newest product, Assistant General Manager
Commercial Credit and Development Banking
Upul Karunaratne, said that the scheme has
come into effect because Sampath Bank has
felt the need for such a product.
A parent around 50 years of age, under
normal circumstances will be able to obtain
a loan for up to ten years. But under this
scheme the father or mother can jointly
borrow with his or her son or daughter, said
He said that this joint borrowing will
thereby extend their repayment period upto
15 to 20 years. The conditions of
suitability are that the take home salary of
the son or daughter ought to be at least
Rs.20,000 and that the father ought to be
less than 55 years, said Karunaratne.
Analysing the need for such a product, he
observed that in many families where the
parents have two children, if the existing
house is given to one child, the question of
housing for the second child often worries
Parents may be by this time reaching 50
years of age would therefore be unable to
get a larger loan because of the shorter
repayment period involved. It is in these
instances that this scheme reaches its
goal,pointed out Karunaratne. The Next
Generation Loan Scheme records the income of
the father up to 60 years of age. The scheme
ideally expects the father to repay a
substantial amount of the loan during the
repayment period and thereafter a small
amount is passed on to his offspring for
The scheme also makes it possible for
repayment by lump sums. In a market where
house and property rates are fast
appreciating, the next generation loan
scheme truly makes both the parent and child
It gives a better deal for the child who
will find that in a few years time he will
own a valuable house with only a negligible
amount to be repaid by way of a loan, said
Though the minimum loan amount is Rs. one
million, there is no upper limit for
borrowing. The scheme also welcomes
borrowings from mothers and daughters and
fathers and daughters. "As with all our
housing loans we expect the customer to take
a mortgage protection policy," elaborated
Karunaratne. Given at a 21% interest rate,
the next generation loan scheme is
considered concessionary compared to other
"Sampath Bank has studied the market
requirements and has tailor made this scheme
to cater to the needs of a certain segment
of our society,"said Karunaratne. Sampath
which began operations in 1987 is now in its
21st year. The Bank has 109 branches
islandwide. The new loan scheme has shown
excellent results a few days after its
Union Bank adds Moratuwa
Union Bank opened its latest branch, at
Moratuwa. It was opened by directors Ajit
Wijesekara, Malik Samarawickrama, Ananda
Athukorla and Alex Lowel.
Keeping with tradition, the opening was
preceded by religious observances conducted
by religious leaders of the Buddhist,
Christian, Hindu and Islamic faiths with the
participation of staff, well wishers and
Speaking at the opening of the plush and
well appointed new branch, the Bank's
Director/CEO Mahendra Fernando, said that it
was a delight to welcome well wishers and
customers to the opening of this latest
branch which was in keeping with a well
crafted plan for the bank's future.
He reminded the gathering that Union Bank
started operations a little over 12 years
ago, on a superior Information Technology
platform which has enabled the Bank from its
infancy, to be a step ahead of competition.
Fernando recalled the many IT related firsts
of Union Bank, such as the first bank to
offer customers the flexibility to access
their accounts from any branch, the first to
offer a smart card with which an account
could be accessed from anywhere in the
world, the first to introduce the
convenience of system generated deposit
slips, the first to have a 24 hour phone
banking service, the first to link up with
the internet via own web server, the first
to clear cheques drawn on all branches in
one day, the first to absorb outstation
cheque commissions payable on third party
cheques, the first to have e-mail banking,
the first to have internet banking and the
first in Asia to be awarded the ISO 9002
Quality Certification for the full range of
commercial banking operations.
All of these products, innovations and
services had enabled Union Bank to attract a
loyal customer base, he said, which had been
with the Bank through good times and bad.
He said that the restructuring process which
had been put into motion in mid 2003 had
been a commendable success. Fernando
attributed this noteworthy feature to the
financial capital that had been infused as
well as to the human capital, the latter
having been well primed to move in
synchronization with the new capital funds,
into realizing the goals of the Bank.
Fernando also said that in the period since
the restructuring, the Bank has consolidated
itself and maintains its distinctive edge
through personalized customer care for which
it is reputed. He spoke of the appreciable
increases that there have been in business
volumes and the ever increasing customer
base as a result of well-thought out
strategies in the various locations in which
Union Bank has its branches.
He also spoke of the bank's continuing
innovations, amongst which is a unique gold
pawning/safe-keeping product which enables
one to leave one's gold in safety with the
Bank and have its value credited to an
account from which such money could be drawn
from any Cirrus ATM anywhere in the world,
He also said that Union Bank is the only
bank to accept cheques for same day clearing
4.00 p.m., the time that the Bank closes to the public, which is a
unique and distinctive feature. He said that
the entire process for cheque imaging had
been developed in-house, at a fraction of
the cost which some banks had spent on the
procedure. Fernando concluded his speech by
assuring the gathering of Union Bank's
unwavering commitment to do superior
customer care which has been refined to a
fine art by the Bank. He said that the Bank
was determined to achieve its vision of
being the most admired bank in the country
and together with his team, pledged to
deliver the highest standards of customer
care, with the objective of continuing to
build trust and confidence in Union Bank.
Seylan launches Wish Card
Seylan Bank has introduced many value added
and innovative products and services putting
itself at the forefront of quality changes
in the banking industry.
Seylan Bank has also prided itself in
strategically leveraging information
technology in its endeavour to build
relationships for life with its customers in
One example of this was the launch of
Ceylinco Fast Cash, and now the addition of
having the Ceylinco Fast Cash Rupee Wish
Card, which has brought about a world of
convenience to customers.
Seylan Bank has made considerable
investments in information technology to
further develop "Fast Cash," the fastest
growing international Money Transfer Service
which expanded its reach to additional
countries enabling Sri Lankans living abroad
to conveniently remit funds to their loved
once back home, increasing total inward
remittances and thus contributing to the
The Wish Card takes away the hassle of
having to carry cash around, just like
credit cards and has the same safety
features of credit cards. If a card is
stolen or lost, cardholders will be notified
via SMS when a purchase is made, and will be
compensated with a new card as well as any
To start with, the Wish Card is issued over
the counter free of charge at any Seylan
Bank branch island wide (115 banking centres)
and if this isn't enough, due consideration
has been given to the delivery of the Wish
Card to the customers' doorstep free of
charge upon request.
The Wish Card could be credited with the
rupee equivalent of the remitted amount and
could be used to withdraw funds from any
VISA enabled ATM without a charge or utilise
it at any VISA merchant to buy goods.
Money can be withdrawn within minutes, or
the money can be remitted directly to the
card if the customer does not have an
Cardholders are informed via SMS after each
remittance with immediate effect, along with
the account balance after each transaction,
a safety feature similar to that of credit
The Wish Card can also be reloaded any
amount and there are over 1,200 ATM
locations islandwide available for
What's more is that there are no extra costs
for cash withdrawals of checking of
available balance at any VISA merchant
outlet for goods and services.
NMS from Suntel
Suntel Ltd., one of
largest MPLS IP VPN networks recently
announced the availability of Network
Monitoring System (NMS) with its managed
services umbrella Suntel Enabled.
NMS allows clients of Suntel Enabled to
manage and monitor a large heterogeneous
network with ease. The system is powered by
CA Spectrum and eHealth solutions, which
provides comprehensive, vendor-independent
technology that helps pinpoint areas of
network performance degradation and
generates real-time management reports to
identify the causes of problems.
"What differentiates NMS from similar
applications is the fact that it provides
proactive protection for networks with
varied and extensive operations serviced by
different devices from diverse vendors. This
system is a solution for organizations that
need a centralized programme to manage their
ever expanding corporate communication
networks," said Corporate Sales Head Ranjith
In addition to email and SMS notification of
network failures, a few of the other
advanced features offered by NMS include
network availability monitoring and
surveillance, fault management and
resolution, performance monitoring and
reporting and customized service levels.
"The NMS tool powered by CA ehealth and
Spectrum has been implemented successfully
at Suntel, the first telco operator to have
this in Sri Lanka. CA believes in providing
IT infrastructure management solutions that
enable customers to bring down cost and
increase efficiency. "We are happy to see
the commitment Suntel has towards their
customers to offer better service by
focusing on increasing efficiency of their
networks," said India and SAARC region Sales
Director, Ram S Vardarajan.
Suntel currently operates one of the largest
IP VPN networks in Sri Lanka.
Its Ethernet network spans across 221 towns
and is probably the largest in the corporate
sector. The IP VPN currently has around 80
customers with multiple locations connected.
On average these networks connects a minimum
of 4-5 locations whereas some networks
connect more than 200 locations. Apart from
this the government has made many projects
to be initiated in time to come and Suntel
is a frontline bidder for these projects.
Apart from the IP VPN set, Suntel also
invested in to its IDC, the first to be
certified under ISO 14001 IEC for managed
services. Due to its lucrative corporate
customer base Suntel can cross sell similar
products across the base, and currently
possesses a knowledgeable workforce that can
support such systems.
The partnerships Suntel currently enjoy
include Microsoft, CISCO, Red Hat linux, HP,
Verisign and Fortinet.. These partners work
hand in hand thus enabling Suntel to offer
clients' turnkey solutions.
NTB partners JKH
Nations Trust Bank PLC (NTB) in partnership
with John Keells Holdings entered into an
agreement to facilitate NTB Personal Banking
Centre (PBSC) at all Keells supermarkets.
The Personal Banking Centre will offer
automated services to withdraw cash, make
transfers, pay utility and Amex credit card
bills as well as other conveniences with
support staff to provide a "greater" level
The Bank already boasts a PBSC at Keells
Super outlets in Negombo and Peliyagoda.
Best life insurance advisers
The Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL),
realizing the importance and emerging need
for further improvement of the life
insurance industry, brought together the
"best" insurance advisers in the country and
organized a National Forum for Life
Insurance Advisors (NAFLIA) recently.
This "unique" event was held for the second
successful time in Sri Lanka, was not only a
coming together of the nation's best in the
life insurance industry, but was also
considered to be a unique learning
experience that would bring about the
exchange of ideas as well as being a novel
concept that would promote better
understanding within the industry, which
enabled those concerned to serve the nation
"This is the second forum of its kind which
had a successful participation turnout with
around 800 participants. There were
presentations done by local as well as
international presenters. The Insurance
Board of Sri Lanka as well as the Sri Lanka
Insurance Institute supported this endeavour
and this year the forum was conducted under
the theme 'Pledge for Life.'
"We also plan on making this an annual
event, where in which the cream of the
industry will meet once a year", says IASL
President Jagath Alwis.
HSBC donates $ 221 mn.
HSBC has presented a donation of HK$220.7
million to China Red Cross Society's Hong
Kong branch to support the recovery work
required in the earthquake affected areas of
This sum represents the single biggest
donation that the Red Cross has received to
date for this purpose.
The contribution comprises a HK$20.5 million
donation from HSBC's charitable arm,the
Hongkong Bank Foundation, and a HK$200.3
million donation raised from HSBC employees,
customers and the public through the Bank's
dedicated account, the HSBC China Earthquake
Relief Account, recently. During this
period, in excess of 117,000 individual
donations were received from 15 countries
At HSBC's request of, Red will allocate the
donation for: Rebuilding of schools and
essential education facilities; Rebuilding
of hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation
centres with critical and
advanced medical equipment and supplies and
providing rehabilitation and psychological
support services to people in need and
rebuilding of houses and relevant water
HSBC Asia Pacific Region Corporate
Sustainability Head Teresa Au presented the
donation to Hong Kong Red Cross Chairman Sir
T L Yang.
She said: "On behalf of HSBC, I would like
to thank our employees, customers and the
public for their generosity in aiding
earthquake relief efforts throughout the
Double the no. to S'pore
Seylan Bank's "Tikiri," the children's
Savings Account with the highest value
additions has once again launched a
promotion to reward regular savers.
This year, 25 lucky "Tikiri" kids would get
an opportunity to spend an exiting and
fun-filled 3 nights 04 days in Singapore,
with star class hotel accommodation.
Each winner could be accompanied by a
Every Rs. 500 deposited to a "Tikiri"
Account during the three months promotion
which ends on August 12, 2008 would get one
chance in the draw to choose the lucky
winners who would enjoy this privilege.
The tour would include ample opportunities
for fun, excitement and education.
The winners would go on the Night Safari,
visit the Jurong Birdpark, enjoy the
fantastic Sentosa Full Day Tour including
the Cable Car Ride, the Dolphin Lagoon,
Underwater World & Songs of the Sea and the
An additional 50 winners, along with their
families would be entitled to a fun-filled
day's enjoyment at the "Leisure World" Theme
Last year, off a similar mega promotion and
draw, 25 kids with one parent each
accompanied by Child Star Miss. Sarala
Kariyawasam-Brand Ambassador for "Tikiri"
enjoyed the delights of Disneyland, Hong
This year too Kariyawasam would be involved
in the promotion and the Singapore tour as
GSP + & garments
"Our industry is mature,it is over 30 years
old and there's good knowledge among
middle-management ranks," Ajith Wijeyasekera
Union Apparels Managing Director Ajith
Wijeyasekera says in this month's (June)
issue of LMD: "We provide comfortable
environments for our workers and have
deployed much time, effort and money on
improving conditions to get the best out of
He adds: "We have a relatively productive
workforce that can be driven
forward if we have a tool to drive them
with"-thereby emphasising the need to train
the existing workforce.
Elaborating on the current state of the
industry, he notes: "Our exports to the EU
have grown because of the GSP Plus
advantage." However, he laments over the
decline in exports to the USA, most probably
as a direct result of an impending
SWOT analysing the apparel sector,
Wijeyasekera identifies one of its biggest
strengths to be its workforce. "They are
knowledgeable and possesses the requisite
skills." However, he notes the 'lack of
employees' to be a major weakness, but
blames "insufficient image building, to
encourage people to work in this
industry"-as well as the ever-rising cost of
living that Sri Lankans have to endure, as
being major impediments.
He notes the presently relatively stable
rupee as being a short-term
opportunity, giving Sri Lanka a temporary
advantage over countries such as India and
China. But Wijeyasekera adds low-cost
countries like Bangladesh (which) are
offering lower prices to his list of threats
facing our apparel exporting prospects.
He asserts that the industry lacks awareness
and not enough respect is afforded to
garments workers in this country.
"If GSP Plus is rescinded and the garment
industry declines, there'll be a huge loss
of jobs and more despair among the people,"
Rs. 1.2 bn., in annual bonuses
Life insurance leader Ceylinco Life declared
a colossal Rs 1.2 billion in annual bonuses
to 270,000 policyholders from the surplus
generated by its Life Fund last year (2007).
As much as 90% of the surplus generated from
the participating business has been reserved
for payment of bonuses to participating
policies this year.
This year's bonus payout reflects an
increase of 24.6% over the Rs 955
million paid by the company last year.
All policyholders, whose policies were
active as at December 31,2007 are eligible
to receive these bonuses.
These bonuses are in addition to Ceylinco
Life's 'Avurudu' cash bonuses paid out a
week before the national new year. This
year, Ceylinco Life paid out Rs. 19 million
in cash bonuses to policyholders who
completed 10 and 15 years with the company.
"The noteworthy growth of our bonus payout
year on year reflects the company's
sector-leading growth momentum," Ceylinco
Life Director Mrs Amali Seneviratne said.
"We have ensured that our policyholders'
investments in life insurance consistently
yield good returns."
According to the statutory actuarial
valuation of Ceylinco Life's Life Fund by
independent international consulting
actuaries Messrs Watson Wyatt Worldwide, the
company's Life Fund stood at Rs 16.8 billion
at end 2007, indicating a 21% growth during
The life solvency margin (the difference
between the value of admissible assets and
liabilities) maintained by Ceylinco Life's
Life Fund is more than three times that
stipulated by the Insurance Industry Act.
"Ceylinco Life declares bonuses from the
very first year of issue of a policy,
enabling even a policyholder who obtained a
policy in December 2007 to receive a bonus
allotment as at December 31," Seneviratne
Ceylinco Life ended 2007 with premium income
of Rs 6.8 billion, an increase of more than
Rs 1.1 billion over the previous year.
Achievers Golden Night
As one of the fastest growing Insurance
Companies in Sri Lanka, HNB Assurance has
been able to show profits during every
single year, from its inception in 2001.
Because of its steady and sustainable
growth, the Company is poised to continue
with its forward thrust in the foreseeable
All those who contributed to achieve
excellent results in sales last year (2007)
were commended and felicitated for the 3rd
consecutive year at the "Sales Convention
2007" held at Trans Asia Hotel recently.
At the 2007 Sales Convention, Super Gold,
Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, return air
tickets and other valuable gifts were among
the many rewards given to highest achievers
of the HNB Assurance Sales Force.
HNB Assurance & Hatton National Bank
Chairman Rienzie T Wijetilleke was the Chief
Guest. HNB Assurance Managing Director
Manjula de Silva & the Board of Directors
and general managers were also present.
More than 500 guests added colour to this
year's HNB Assurance Sales Convention. Among
the other special participants were regional
managers, branch managers and sales persons.
After starting its operations in 2001, the
Company has set so many records while
winning the hearts and the minds of the
common people. HNB Assurance became the
first to achieve an annual turnover of Rs.
one billion within five years of operation.
It also became only the second insurer in
Sri Lanka to obtain a Fitch rating and was
recently ranked among the 'Top 100 Brands'
in Sri Lanka by LMD.
At the sales convention, among many award
winners, N.Thirucumar of Colombo North
Branch was The Best Sales Person; W.S.C.
Perera (Negombo Branch) was The Best Field
Manager and Mr K.Pratheepan (Trincomalee
Branch) was The Best Field Leader.
In addition to the above awards,
Distribution network were "represented" and
awarded. "The Best Service Centre to Sujeewa
Gunarathne (Puttalam Branch), Best
Development Centre to A.L.D.H.Liyanage
(Colombo North Branch), Best Regional
Development Centre to Ananda Kulasooriya (Kurunagala
Branch) and Best Regional Office to Hiran
Fernandopulle (Negombo Branch).
Expanding financial services
Licensed banks (LBs) and registered finance
companies (RFCs) which plan to open new
branches in the Western Province (WP) will
have to open two branches outside the WP for
every new branch opened in the WP in the
future, the Central Bank (CB) said.
This is to accelerate regional development.
Nearly 40% of LB branches and 31% of RFC
branches of are concentrated in the WP.
With respect to banks, the banking density
(the number of bank branches per 100,000
persons) is 11.9 in the WP as against a
range of 5.3 to 8.4 in other provinces.
There is a need to accelerate economic
development in areas other than the WP to
achieve balanced regional development in the
country, the CB said.
Establishing more financial service outlets
outside the WP is expected to enhance access
to finance, financial inclusion and promote
the savings habits, thereby increasing
economic activity in those regions. Further,
increased availability of bank branches and
other outlets would enable people in the
regions to avail themselves of financial
services at a lower transaction cost.
Carsons to issue 4.6 mn., new shares
Carsons Cumberbatch PLC has informed the
Colombo Stock Exchange that they plan to sub
divide each existing share to 15 ordinary
shares. The total number of shares on issue
currently is 6.1 million. The sub division
would result in the number of shares on
issue increasing to 91.7 million. Carsons'
current stated capital is Rs. 286.1 million.
They have also said that after the
sub-division of these shares, they plan to
capitalize a sum of Rs. 557.1 million out of
a total of Rs. 1.2 billion, lying in the
company's revenue reserves.
In this way, the directors have recommended
that 4.6 million new ordinary shares be
issued, in the proportion of one ordinary
share for each 20 ordinary shares held at
the "XC" date after the subdivision.
The consideration for the shares to be
issued and credited as fully paid up would
be Rs. 121.53 per share.
These however are subject to CSE and
$ 3 bn., saving
The International Air Transport Association
(IATA) last Saturday launched a new era in
air travel as it bid farewell to the paper
ticket on the eve of the industry's
conversion to 100% electronic ticketing.
"The benefits to the business are real,"
said IATA Director General Giovanni
Bisignani. A paper ticket costs an average
of US$10 to process, versus US$1 for an
electronic ticket. With over 400 million
tickets issued through IATA's settlement
systems annually, the industry will save
over US$3 billion each year.
Cause of deficit
The US trade deficit has been caused by
China's exports, an economist said.
Managing Director and Chief Economist of
Bank of China International Holdings Company
Ltd., Cao Yuanzheng said that exports from
China are growing, but imports are
declining, that shows that China is
Speaking at CIMA's inaugural World
Conference that concluded in Colombo last
Saturday, Yuanzheng said that China's
largest imports are crude oil, followed by
chemicals, plastics, iron and steel.
He however said that China's future
challenges include transformation from
over-supply to limited supply in labour
markets, rising production costs and
intensification of inflationary pressure,
disparity of economic distribution and the
co-existence of under-developed social
welfare with high economic growth.
Papers are invited for presentation at an
international event organized by the
American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE)
& The Society of naval architects and
Marine Engineers (SNAME) next year. to
explore through panel discussion, conference
papers and workshop "breakout" sessions, the
opportunities that the electric ship will
have on ship and fleet design of the future
and identify key barriers and enablers to
realize these opportunities. (Marine Talk)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
fingerprints foreigners coming into US
airports, but as a key part of an effort to
track foreign visitors, including suspected
terrorists, wants airlines to be responsible
for taking fingerprints as these travellers
IATA said the plan would create massive
backlogs at airport check-in counters and
potential flight delays; in addition, buying
and operating fingerprint equipment would
cost airlines hundreds of millions of
A Congressional mandate to fingerprint
inbound and outbound foreigners does not
specify who should take the prints. In
related news, DHS is testing a 10-finger
screening process at major US airports for
inbound foreign nationals; exemptions
include those who are not required to carry
visas. (Washington Aviation Summary)
Remittance business award
For the second year in a row, ICICI Bank won
an award from The Asian Banker Excellence in
Retail Financial Services programme for the
bank's outstanding performance in its
remittance business in 2007.
The bank received the award at The Asian
Banker Excellence in Retail Financial
Services 2007 Awards ceremony, held in
conjunction with the region's "most
prestigious" retail banking event, the
Excellence in Retail Financial Services
The ceremony was held at The Westin Grande
Sukhumvit hotel, Bangkok, recently.
About 150 senior bankers from award-winning
banks in 23 countries across the Asia
Pacific, the Gulf region and Central Asia
attended the glittering event, a first class
celebration of the region's best retail
bankers that recognises their efforts in
bringing superior products and services to
The awards programme, administered by The
Asian Banker and refereed by prominent
bankers, consultants and academics from
around the world, is the "most prestigious"
award of its kind.