Travel advisories, bug
Michael Elias, Chitral Jayatillake,
Vasantha Leelananda, and Jayantissa
Winter of content ahead for tourism
Foreign tour operators who exited or
scaled down their business with the country
due to the escalation of the war are once
more looking at the island with the seeming
dawning of peace after 26 years of conflict,
despite the global recession.
Michael Elias, CEO Walker Tours Ltd.,
told The Sunday Leader that chief
among those were two German operators,
Studiosus Reizen, an operator which
specializes on cultural tours and Ikarus
Tours which specializes in organizing
Walkers Tours is the inbound travel arm
of blue-chip conglomerate John Keells
Holdings PLC (JKH), a major player in the
tourism sector in the island as well as in
Germany at one time was Sri Lanka’s
number one inbound tourist market.
But this market suffered after the
escalation of the conflict with the
breakdown of the 2002 ceasefire agreement.
Elias said that Studiosus Reizen caters
to professionals, such as doctors, lawyers
and teachers interested in history and
archaeology. "In their marketing campaign
they prepare brochures of various tour
destinations annually, of which Sri Lanka is
however not featured," he said.
Hopefully Sri Lanka will once more be
featured in their tour promotional brochures
next year, said Elias.
Ikarus caters to the niche clientele
interested in wildlife, he said.
Sri Lanka has been "closed" for so long
because of the war, so, despite the
recession, the European tourist feels that
with the war coming to a close, there is
much that has been unexplored, that is there
to be discovered in the island, he said.
Thomas Cook which used to bring around
26, 000 visitors per annum, in the ratio of
80% German and 20% British upto the time of
tsunami, has seen these numbers drop down to
5,000 at present; he said.
Vasantha Leelananda, Executive Vice
President, Sector Head-Leisure (Inbound) JKH
told The Sunday Leader that Thomas
Cook never gave up on the Sri Lankan market.
He however said that it was premature to
talk of them expanding on their numbers.
Talks are with those operators who gave
up on the Sri Lankan market because of the
conflict, he said.
Elias however said that the Italian
market, which was number three at one time,
still remained closed. The British, despite
the problems, however still kept coming, he
UK, after India is Sri Lanka’s second
largest tourism generating market. Germany
is in third place by a long margin.
Leelananda said that those operators who
were once more looking at Sri Lanka were
primarily those catering to the EU market.
"That’s the market we lost," he said.
"Discussions with those operators are at
a delicate stage," he said. Those talks
cover the coming winter season which begins
in November of this year and goes on till
April of the next.
Talks for the coming winter usually take
place between January-April of that year,
Elias however warned that travel
advisories remained a bug.
If those are not removed none of those
new operators will come to Sri Lanka, he
said. Basically the Continent has virtually
declared the whole of the island as a "no
go" zone for its citizens, said Elias. Even
the UK has virtually declared Anuradhapura a
dangerous zone, he said. It goes without
saying that Yala has been declared a no go
zone by both the UK and the Continent, he
And Germany has even covered the Southern
coastal belt as well as the hill country as
dangerous for travel.
But reports in the foreign press
vis-à-vis the war is favourable to Sri Lanka
thus far, so hopefully the European
governments will remove those travel
advisories soon, he said.
Travel advisories impinge the traveller
in two ways, he said. Firstly if his
government has issued a travel advisory on a
particular country he will think twice
before visiting the same, said Elias. And
secondly, a travel advisory means that
insurance premiums will shoot-up.
However, with virtually every part of the
world being a trouble spot, the traveller
now appears to be getting used to
advisories, he said.
Meanwhile the JKH leisure sector is
looking at exploiting the new openings
offered, i.e. areas such as Trincomalee and
Wilpattu, once peace is restored.
More than half of the island has been
"closed" for tourism because of the war,
Leelananda told reporters on Wednesday.
He said that once those security
sensitive areas have been cleared by the
government and the Defence Ministry, they
hope to move into those areas with "vigour."
"Security of our guests is of paramount
importance," he said.
The company already has hotel properties
in Trincomalee, in addition to being
represented in the city, the southern
coastal belt, Yala (even extended to cover
Kataragama), the Cultural Triangle and in
the Central Province.
JKH also announced the launch of local
tour packages covering the aforesaid areas
at half the cost if one were to embark on
such tours on one’s own.
The packages also include whale and
dolphin watching off Mirissa (20 nautical
miles off this town), with this season being
currently on, and which goes on until April.
Elias told this reporter that they were
the pioneers in promoting whale watching off
the shores of Trincomalee in 1981-82, the
At that time Mirissa whale watching was
undiscovered, he said.
The whale watching (including blue whale
sightings) season which begins in November
and goes on till April is common to both
Mirissa and Trincomalee, JKH Executive Vice
President and Sector Head Resort Hotels
Jayantissa Kehelpannala said.
But tourism in the country and whale
watching in Trincomalee in particular took a
hit after the escalation of the conflict in
The Group is equipped with guides
knowledgeable about the country’s history
and nature, to take domestic tourists
Chitral Jayatillake, Manager Walker
Tours, a man knowledgeable about nature,
gave a presentation to reporters about a
pair of leopard cubs which he had tracked in
Yala and upto their adulthood, as well as
about his experiences in whale watching in
Walkers Tours celebrates 40 years in the
island this year.
Kehelpannala assured that even if there
is an influx of foreign tourists once more
to the island, the domestic tourism sector
promotion which will officially take off on
Tuesday, will not be neglected.
Those domestic tour packages will also be
marketed overseas to the Sri Lankan diaspora,
giving them an opening to buy such packages
for their families living here, in
particular the elderly, with such packages
being made available to students, children
and their families alike.
State, main player in money markets
Government is giving wrong signals as to
which direction interest rates are heading,
market sources who did not want to be named
told The Sunday Leader.
While the Central Bank (CB) last week cut
the prime lending rate to banks by 25 basis
points (bp) and the penal rate by 50 bp,
indicating that they want rates to come
down, the market is not buying that story
because the State through its agents, namely
Bank of Ceylon (BoC) and People’s Bank (PB)
are the largest borrowers in the market,
They are active in both the foreign
exchange (forex) and rupee markets, being
involved in heavy borrowings from both, they
If they are not active, then definitely
rates will come down, the sources said.
Another contradiction is the build up of
CB’s Treasury (T) Bill stock. CB’s T Bill
stock in the 20 week period, from September
18, 2008 to February 5, 2009, has increased
from Rs. 1,911 million to Rs. 160, 721
million; a Rs. 158,810 million or a 8,310%
increase during this period.
CB’s holding of T. Bill stock is
equivalent to the amount of credit it has
given to the government by way of releasing
new money to the same. The danger in such
activity is that it stokes demand side
inflationary pressure in the market.
The sources further said that the CB’s
stance on inflation itself was
They said that though the CB’s Monetary
Board on Wednesday, referring to the point
to point decline in inflation said that
inflation was falling, but in the middle of
last year when point to point inflation was
high, peaking at some 28%, the Bank had then
referred to the average moving annual
inflationary rate which was 17% at that
time, to say that inflation was falling.
But at present (end January 2009) moving
average inflation is 21.6%, much higher than
the point to point change in inflation which
Those contradictory stances adopted by
the CB/Monetary Board in measuring
inflation, at one time the moving annual
average and at another time the point to
point change, is confusing the market, the
But the biggest negative factor, between
the market and a rate fall, is the
government’s over-arching involvement in
borrowing both from the rupee and the forex
markets, they said.
Agri industry vs. production
"I think if you look at the Government’s
goals with regard to the agricultural
sector, you’ll find that self-sufficiency
was the focus.
And with the north-east coming in, rice
production should be satisfactory. But the
question is, how do you keep people employed
in the rural economy? In my opinion, the
numbers in rice production will continue to
diminish and alternative employment is a
must for this group-and there is alternative
employment in the agri industry.
Productivity is the key for the industry and
to maximise productivity of the land that is
currently available. At this juncture, we
need to look at the degree of automation and
mechanisation that must be brought in to the
agricultural sector," CIC Chairman, B. R. L.
Fernando said on the leading business TV
programme Benchmark last Sunday.
While discussing the current state of the
agri sector, Fernando also maintains that
price controls are detrimental to the
economy as a whole, while asserting that
environmental awareness and an agri focus
would provide "much larger rewards" to the
Sri Lankan economy.
Touching on the progress made in
developing new strains of rice that provide
better yields, Fernando said that while
green practices are slowly gaining ground,
chemical fertilisers would still play a
"I think the chemical-fertiliser industry
will have to take a second look. And I think
we will have to start managing this better.
If you look at the paddy sector, we use
between 200 to 250 kilos of inorganic
fertiliser in an acre of paddy. Now can we
afford that, especially when the usage ratio
is roughly 25%? The rest is wasted," he told
BENCHMARK’s Savithri Rodrigo.
Commenting on the stimulus packaged
proposed by the Government, Fernando
asserts: "I would be cautious about a
stimulus package. But I would certainly look
at the methodologies of trying to
incentivise people. I think agriculture is
peculiar, in that not everyone can go into
agriculture-it is a calling. People who
really want to live with the environment
would get into agriculture and they would
drive productivity forward."
Benchmark is presented by LMD and airs on
TNL-on Sundays at noon, with a repeat at
9.05 p.m. The programme is also carried over
DialogTV as well as on LBN and on Bloomberg
Channel on Mondays at 10 p.m. The weekly biz
show is produced by the wrap factory.
East European tourism markets are being
explored through a joint effort by SriLankan
Airlines, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions
Bureau (SLTPB) and a dozen members of the
Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour
A series of campaigns were carried out
recently in Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic targeting members of each country’s
outbound travel trade and travel media.
SLTPB and trade partners have already
seen some new bookings generated form these
markets for the winter period up to end of
IIHE continues to be No.1
of Higher Education (IIHE) was incorporated
in 1996 in Sri Lanka and is amongst the
oldest institutions offering foreign degrees
to local students.
During the last 12
years IIHE has successfully maintained the
unique position of being the only validated
centre of the University of Wales (UOW)
offering degree programmes in Management and
Computing and MBA. Following are excerpts of
an interview with Chief Executive Officer Dr
Thilak Weerakoon who highlights the success
of the Institution.
By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Question(Q): What is the difference
between the programmes offered by IIHE and
other educational institutions?
Answer(A): We are the only tertiary
education institution here in Sri Lanka
representing UOW to offer Business
Administration (MBA) and management degrees.
To offer validated internal degrees of the
UOW, stringent quality standards imposed by
the University have to be maintained.
Recently we underwent the "quinquennial"
review and UOW revalidated IIHE till 2012
for MBA and the management degree. This is
an endorsement of IIHE’s service quality.
Q: How important is this concept of
validated internal degrees?
A: Well, there are many Institutions
in Sri Lanka offering degrees and MBAs of
foreign universities. From a student’s
perspective and a potential employer’s
perspective, the most important aspect is
the knowledge and skills assimilated through
teaching and learning methods. As I
mentioned, IIHE degrees are UOW validated
This requires the students to attend 42
hrs. of lectures for each subject.
In addition they have to put in another
about 50 hrs. doing self study and group
assignments. They have to sit mid term tests
and end of semester exams. These processes
ensure that UoW validated degree holders
have earned their certificates.
Importantly all faculty teaching on our
programmes have to be approved by UOW.
Further, all our degrees require the
students to submit an individual
dissertation based on actual research
Many other degrees on offer in Sri Lanka
are external degrees, franchised degrees,
correspondence courses or online based
degrees. In such programmes the
teaching-learning environment is
questionable. Assessment is sometimes
assignment based. You may end up with a
certificate, but the question is how
significant has the learning experience
Q: But are not there a lot of foreign
education progr- ammes offered in Sri Lanka?
A: We did a market Analysis recently.
There are many institutions offering
degrees. Competition however is when you
compare products of similar qualities. I
think IIHE offers high quality products at a
reasonable price. We are offering Internal
degrees of a world renowned university for
almost 10-20% of the price you would have to
pay in the UK. With regard to our pricing,
unlike other Institutions we keep our prices
constant. Once a student enters the study
programme, we do not change the tuition
fees. These tuition fees are in rupees, so
they are not affected by foreign currency
Q: What is the impact made on student
enrolment by maintaining a high standard?
A: MBA programme has been growing and
over the last two years the intake with an
average of 40 students has been stable. "BSc"
has been rather erratic, the numbers have
been varying. Our intakes are in April and
in September. During the last two years
there have been some delays in Government
publishing the results due to various
issues. This has been a contributing factor
to erratic intakes.
Q: Why can’t IIHE offer a foundation
programme which will lead to a degree in a
A: Yes, we have seriously considered
an alternative. We are planning to launch a
UOW validated foundation programme. This
programme will develop students who have
performed well at O’ Levels (8 passes with
six credits including English and Maths) "to
a similar or higher standard than A’
Levels." Successful completion of this
progamme will lead to entry into the degree
Importance of insurance
‘Life Insurance Week,’ one of the most
effective marketing initiatives of Ceylinco
life is to be replicated for a second time
this year in a continuation of the life
insurance leader’s efforts to expand the
size of the market.
To be observed from February 11-17, the
second Life Insurance Week of the country is
preceded by a focused, generic media
campaign now underway, and will comprise a
series of interactive events in all parts of
Explaining the reasons for the company’s
decision to conduct a second Life Insurance
Week, Ceylinco Life Chief Executive Director
R. Renganathan said: "The public response to
last year’s Life Insurance Week was most
encouraging. This concept helped educate the
public on the importance of and need for
life insurance effectively."
He pointed out that life insurance
penetration in Sri Lanka was around 10% and
energetic participation of the leading
players to drive penetration and expand the
life insurance market is particularly
important in the prevailing environment.
"We have to make the average Sri Lankan
aware of the fact that life insurance is not
for those who die but for those who live.
This is the key message throughout Life
Insurance Week," Ceylinco Life Deputy Chief
Executive Director Thushara Ranasinghe said.
The build-up to Life Insurance Week began
on January 29 with a media campaign
featuring real life stories that illustrate
the realities that make life insurance a
necessary safety net against the
uncertainties of life.
Prior to the start of Life Insurance Week
Ceylinco Life’s sales personnel will visit
schools in their respective areas and brief
teachers and parents at a specially set up
get-together to educate them on the
importance of life insurance.
Simultaneously, all Ceylinco Life branches
will conduct programmes to educate the
public on the importance of a life
During Life Insurance Week the company
will conduct public awareness programmes in
28 towns. These interactive sessions will be
supported by brochures, stickers, outdoor
banners, posters and pennants. Mobile teams
of sales professionals from the company who
will be wearing a badge with the words ‘Ask
me about Life Insurance’ will also be seen
in those areas. Their task will be to
conduct Need Analyses for those interested
in obtaining life insurance.
Every person who obtains life cover
during this period will receive a booklet
that helps the layman understand life
insurance and the need for it. A special
Help Desk will also be set up at Ceylinco
Life Head office for any queries related to
The first ever Life Insurance Week
conducted in February 2008 generated
impressive results for Ceylinco Life. The
company achieved direct interaction with
more than 200,000 households in the seven
Sri Lanka’s life insurance leader for the
past five years, Ceylinco Life reported a
premium income of Rs.8.2 billion for 2008
indicating a 20% growth over the previous
CIM Sri Lanka Region (CIM SLR) appointed
its Regional Broad and Management committee
for 2008/2009 at its 13th
Annual General Meeting held recently.
The incumbent Chairman and the Regional
Board will continue to serve for the third
successive year of their term. The Regional
Board comprises HSBC Electronic Data
Processing Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Assistant Vice
President-Service Quality Shiraz Latiff
(Chairman), Lanka Bell (Pvt.) Ltd. Senior
General Manager-Sales and Marketing Ms.
Roshani Cooray (Senior Vice Chairperson),
Quantum Strategic Services (Pvt.) Ltd. Vice
President Ms. Chitrangani Herat Gunaratne
(Vice Chairperson), Millennium Development (Pvt)
Ltd. Director/CEO R. Wijenathan (Honorary
Secretary) and Asian Alliance Insurance PLC
Asst. General Manager–Marketing Ms. Nadi
Dharmasiri (Regional Treasurer).
Other members of the Regional Board are:
Kelaniya University Senior Lecturer Ajith
Medis (Education Head), Eagle Insurance PLC
Assistant General Manager-Marketing and
Planning Amal Perera (Public Affairs and
Communications Head), Unilever Sri Lanka
Ltd. Customer Development Director Asanga
Ranasinghe (Corporate Integration and Market
Interest Groups Head), Union Assurance PLC
Senior Manager-Commercial Business
Development Shantha Katipearachchi
(Membership Head) and Global Knowledge
Consultants CEO/President Dayan D. L.
Fernando (Knowledge Development Services
Appointments to the Regional Management
Committee: Ceylinco Homes International Ltd.
Deputy General Manager Ms. Denise Abeyratne,
DHL Global Forwarding Lanka (Pvt) Ltd Trade
Lane Manager Asia Pacific Ms. Shivonne
Bambarandage, Unilever Sri Lanka Trade
Category Manager–Personal Care Anuradha
Edirisinghe, On’ally Holdings PLC
Non-executive Director Brian Selvanayagam,
Wiveka Hospital Ltd. Managing Director
Ranesh Tirimanne and Dialog Mobile Brands
Coordinator Ms. Varuni Van der Poorten.
Inspired by the charm of Valentine’s Day,
Confifi Hotels has taken a novel step to
dedicate the entirety of this month to the
magic of Valentine’s Day across its three
Bentota coastline properties- Eden Resort &
Spa, Riverina Hotel and Club Palm Garden.
"As a special offer to celebrate
Valentine’s Month, guests who book two
nights during this month at any one of our
three hotels, are automatically entitled to
a 50% discount on the second night", Confifi
Group Hotels Director/General
Manager-Marketing & Sales Tony Maheswaran
Nurturing the spirit of caring and
loving, Eden Resort and Spa, Riverina and
Club Palm Garden will treat their clientele
with a special Valentine’s Menu, a range of
theme desserts, cocktails, chocolates, and
"special romantic" dining options alfresco
and under the stars.
Eden Resort and Spa for example also has
a special ‘Table d’Hote’ dinner with
Valentine specials under the stars,
serenaded by romantic
music while Riverina Hotel brings on its
special "Valentine Counter" selling
Chocolate Sugar Hearts and Chocolate Handy
In keeping with the same spirit, Club
Palm Garden prides in its Valentine menu
right throughout the month, special
discounts and an exclusive Dinner for Two at
the Resort Tree House at special rates.
"We’ve made sure that the spirit of love
and romance, with their attendant little
intricacies will pervade all three hotels
during the entire month with the focus on an
extended and memorable Valentine’s
experience", Maheswaran added.
School of Construction
Colombo School of Construction Technology
(Pvt.) Ltd. (CSCT) was formally opened for
The school was inaugurated by
Construction and Engineering Services
Ministry Secretary Dr. Nissanka Wijeratne,
Chamber of Construction Industry (CCI) CEO
and Secretary General Dakshitha
Thalgodapitiya, National Construction
Association of Sri Lanka Chairman Dr.
Rohan Karunaratne and Moratuwa University
Building Economics Professor Chitra
Weddikkara among others.
The invitees included Tudawe Brothers and
Chairman Rohan Tudawe and Maga Engineering
Managing Director Capt. Kularatne.
CSCT intends to provide BTEC Higher
National Diplomas accredited by Edexcel Ltd.
UK in the areas of Quantity Surveying and
Construction Economics and Construction
The school is equipped to educate the
young professional who wants to start or
enhance their career in the building
services industry. Both diplomas have been
developed under the guidance and direction
of Weddikkara and Dr Raufdeen Rameezdeen,
two well known names in the fields of
quantity surveying, construction economics
and construction management teaching in the
The Higher National Diploma offered by
CSCT is a two year course with 18 months of
taught subjects and a six month industry
placement. Each diploma comprises 18
subjects. In addition the school will
provide a course on communication and
mathematics for those who do not have a
maths background. The diploma is open for
admission for students from all walks of
life-students who have just completed their
A’ Levels or those already in the industry
who want to obtain a formal qualification.
The advantage of this diploma is that a
student upon completion of the course is
ready to go into the workforce, or if he/she
wants to pursue further study they can
obtain entry in to the 2nd year of a
university degree in a similar programme in
the UK. If students are unsure of their
career path, CSCT advisers will provide
counselling services and provide advice on
the "best" path to take with future goals in
Students obtaining an HND from CSCT will
be "unique" from other students as they will
obtain a diploma that has been designed with
the end result in mind. That is the course
has been specially structured to meet the
competing demands of the building services
industry. The diplomas are taught by senior
teachers in the field of construction and by
some of the foremost practitioners in the
country. Students will be taught in small
classrooms with individualized attention and
classrooms will be kept to a manageable size
to ensure quality with a good mix of
lectures and hands on practical work. CSCT
is equipped with modern classrooms with
state of the art equipment. It has a large
computer lab and library which boasts of the
latest journals and books necessary for
students in the building services industry.
CSCT will also run short courses in areas
such as computer aided estimating, computer
design and industry specific courses
designed for practitioners. These courses
will be advertised on their website and the
print media as and when they are available.
If CSCT doesn’t have the short course you
want, organizations and groups have the
opportunity to provide their specifications
to CSCT and they will design a course tailor
made to your requirements.
Rs. 3.2 bn. collection
The Unit Trust industry while celebrating
its 17th year in 2008, recorded a collection
of Rs 3,242.6 million in 17 funds in the
year to December 2008 which are managed by
the members of the Unit Trust Association of
Sri Lanka (UTASL), a release said.
This inflow mitigated the impact of the
downtrend in the stock market consequent to
the global crisis in financial markets in
general and stock markets in particular. As
a result the equity funds in the industry
contracted in value during the last quarter
of the year. The inflows in to the funds are
mainly attributable to the launch of new
close ended gilt funds during this period.
The member companies offer Equity, Balanced,
Income, Gilt, Money Market and index type of
funds to the public.
In 2008 the Colombo Stock Market fell by
40.8% as measured by All Share Price Index.
Unit Trust funds which invest in listed
shares on average suffered 26.3 % in this
period. This illustrates the importance of
diversification of investments to protect
savings from adverse fall of markets.
Interest rates had been higher in this
period and helped fixed income investors to
generate better returns in a higher
"Unit Trust funds which invest in pure
fixed income instruments such as government
securities, corporate debt, and trust
certificates paid good return to investors,"
S. Jeyavarman, UTASL president said. UTASL
executive committee is represented by senior
officers from CT Fund Management (Pvt) Ltd,
Ceylon Asset Management Company Ltd, Eagle
NDB Fund Management Company Ltd., National
Asset Management Ltd. and Unit Trust
Management Company (Pvt) Ltd.
Australia honours Lankan
Dr. Rodney Arambewela, former Honorary
Consul for Sri Lanka in Victoria, and Sri
Lanka Tea Commissioner was awarded the Order
of Australia Medal (OAM) by the Australian
Government on Australia Day recently.
This is an award which is the country’s
formal recognition of those who have given
outstanding and meritorious service. The
award recognises Arambewela’s service to the
Sri Lankan community through the development
of cultural and educational programmes and
the promotion of Australia-Sri Lanka
Victoria Governor Professor David de
Kretser (AC) and the State Premier John
Brumby (MP) were among friends and well
wishers who have already sent him personal
Arambewela arrived in Melbourne in 1982
as Sri Lanka Tea Commissioner for Australia,
New Zealand and Pacific Islands (based in
Melbourne) and since then has been active in
community welfare activities. He was
appointed Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in
Victoria in 1987.
He pioneered a number of community
initiatives to promote social welfare of all
Sri Lankan community groups-Sinhalese,
Tamil, Muslim and Burgher-and excelled in
promoting unity and harmony within the Sri
Lankan community groups and lifting
community standing through interactions with
the wider Australian society.
He founded The Committee for Sri Lanka,
which, under his leadership was responsible
for Sri Lanka Independence Day Celebrations
in Melbourne since 1993.
He initiated the Dilmah Ceylon tea
project-marketing of a Sri Lankan branded
tea in competition with multinationals such
as Lipton and Bushells. Dilmah is now one of
the leading brands of tea marketed in
He is an old boy of St. Benedict’s
College and alumni of Peradeniya University.
He played soccer for his school and
captained the University soccer team.
He currently serves as an academic at
Deakin University, Australia.
Seylan bankers, irrespective of grades
and along with Chairman Eastman Narangoda,
Executive Director R, Nadarajah and General
Manager/Chief Executive Ajita Pasqual,
participated in "Seylan Jayamaga," the
Bank’s islandwide "House to House" campaign
They spread the message that the bank is
stronger than ever, headed by a professional
and eminent Chairman and Board of Directors
with the Chief Executive/General Manager and
his management team and all other staff
members who would continue to serve the
public in the best traditions of the "Bank
with a Heart."
Information and details regarding
Seylan’s innovative products were
disseminated by attractive brochures and
leaflets. The differentiation these products
offered investors was explained by the staff
to prospective customers.
There was a tremendous response from the
public for their campaign and the day’s
programme turned out to be an unqualified
The staff also distributed a sticker with
the "Jayamaga" emblem, carrying a serial
A draw was held at the Nugegoda Branch
and popular radio stations aired the results
in the afternoon.
Ten lucky winners were entitled to a
savings account with a balance of Rs.
10,000; and if they happened to be Seylan
Bank customers, the amount credited to the
complimentary account was Rs.15,000.
Nations Trust Bank’s (NTB’s) Private
Banking service was formally re launched
recently, offering the Bank’s top end
customers personalized and private banking
solutions and exclusive facilities.
The new Private Banking centre located at
Independence Avenue, Colombo offers
privileged and exclusive relationship based
management in an atmosphere of privacy and
"We are delighted to offer the premium
segment of our customers our Private Banking
service, which offers account management and
priority banking facilities. This
proposition further offers personalized
consultancy facilities, one-on- one banking
relationship and the added advantage of
preferential interest rates and special
offers to this valued group of customers,"
said NTB Director/Chief Executive Officer
Whilst NTB’s Private Banking customers
have the flexibility of opening accounts in
both local and foreign currency, the Bank
will offer the opportunity to use the Bank’s
FX trader account to gain benefits from
foreign currency deposits. Moreover
customers may also enjoy the privilege and
recognition of SriLankan Airlines Platinum
American Express Card that is offered to all
Private banking customers. Private Banking
relationship will also entitle the customer
to free ‘Bank at your Doorstep’ service in
addition to a lifetime of free cheque books
as well as a waiver of any additional fee
for cash withdrawals at any ATM in Sri
Lanka. Customers will also be entitled to
priority service at any of the 37 NTB
EU & SL
EC Ambassador Bernard Savage will speak
on the topic, "The European Union & Sri
Lanka: Present & Future of EU relations" at
a Colombo hotel on April 25.
Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner is
the EU. The EU development plan for the
period 2007-2013 earmarks USD 112 million
for assistance to Sri Lanka with a focus on
supporting the peace process and poverty
reduction in the North and East. The meeting
is organised by the European Chamber of
Commerce of Sri Lanka.
CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants) signed mutual recognition
agreements with two of the world’s leading
accountancy bodies, CMA (Certified
Management Accountants) Canada and CPA
(Certified Practising Accountants) Australia
CPA Australia is the world’s seventh
largest accounting body representing more
than 117,000 finance, accounting and
business professionals located predominantly
in Australia, Asia and Europe.
"Our partnerships with influential
accounting bodies, CMA Canada and CPA
Australia are beneficial for our members and
have afforded them opportunities to increase
their competitiveness in the international
arena as well as enhance their strategic
management skills," said CIMA President
"The nature of the international economy
dictates that management accountants must be
The reciprocal membership agreement with
CPA Australia is a new alliance for an
initial four-year term. The CMA Canada
agreement which comes into effect
immediately, is a renewal for an additional
five years of the original agreement and it
details how members of CMA Canada and CIMA
can gain reciprocal membership.
CPA Australia President Alex Malley said
CPA Australia’s mutual recognition agreement
with CIMA further strengthened each
organisation’s standing on the global
accounting stage and gave all members
unprecedented access to international job
"We believe that partnerships with
influential accounting bodies such as CIMA,
allow us to strengthen our position through
knowledge-sharing and collaboration, which
benefits our members and the profession."
CMA Canada National Director Board Chair
Michael Tinkler (FCMA) said the mutual
recognition agreement between CIMA and CMA
Canada will increase recognition of members
of both organisations in the global
The agreements will give CMA Canada
members and CPA Australia members "who have
gained membership through the business
route" preferred access to CIMA membership,
while CIMA members will be given preferred
access membership to both CMA Canada and CPA
Australia. The new agreements will be
accessible to more than 190,000 finance
South Asia and Middle East Regional
Director Bradley Emerson said, "this
establishes the global recognition of CIMA.
It is of particular interest to Sri Lanka,
given the fact that both Canada and
Australia are countries where most of Sri
Lankan members and students are relocated.
In effect CIMA is one qualification that
brings in three professional memberships,
this will no doubt be an incentive to all
our members and passed finalists."
Ideal communication partner
By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Looking for a business partner who can
understand your business? A partner who can
see the marketing problem from both sides of
the coin and come up with a strategically
developed creative solution which will
deliver the needed results? It is the right
time to partner with the best advertising
agency in town; Sarva Integrated. Following
are excerpts of an interview with its
Managing Director Chrishantha Jayasingha,
"how best it would fit into your
Question (Q): You have expanded your
operations when the rest of the ad world is
Answer (A): We have a reputation for
delivering results to our clients with our
creative work. As the competitive landscape
becomes intense we have seen more and more
clients requiring the Sarva touch. So we
thought we will go against the tide and
expand our operation. Not only have we added
a new 5,000 square foot extension to our
existing office premises, we have also added
four more Senior Creative Heads to our team,
virtually doubling our bandwidth.
Q: Sarva is your brainchild, what made
you to form such an effective organisation?
A: Believe it or not, effectiveness
is an attitude and a passion to understand
both the business side of things as well as
the creative process. Unlike at Sarva most
of the creative talent in an agency don’t
understand the business side of things and
consider advertising as merely an art. What
we at Sarva believe is if its art it should
belong in a Gallery and if it’s advertising
our primary task is to make the clients’
cash registers ring. We take a lot of
trouble to educate our creative team on
business and that has helped us to create
effective work which cuts through the
Q: Even though Sarva is not a well known
name in the industry, it however happens to
make a big change in the system. How is this
A: We believe our work should speak
louder than us and therefore chose to remain
a low profile agency. But it is our
commitment and focus on effectiveness which
has made it possible to transform what
started out as a five man operation to a 45
man fully digital full service agency within
three short years.
What makes us unique is our people. A
vibrant and sometime volatile fusion of
experienced veterans and raw talent who love
what they do using strategic creative
thinking to make work that will win the
heart of people. In doing what we love, we
Q: Would you mind naming a few of your
existing clients and some of your recent
A: We are most famous for the work we
have done for Lanka Bell and we are proud to
have created some landmark commercials for
them. From our first commercial called
Kurukuruless to Stella to the most
recent one which is the kottu
commercial, most of the work we have done
for Lanka Bell have been big hits.
Research has proven that Lanka bell
advertising has double the effective cut
compared with other teleco advertisers which
includes mobiles as well, which means our
work for Lanka Bell makes them get double
the impact from their advertising budget.
Another commercial we have done which has
become very popular is the Korale Mahattaya
commercial for Osram which saw sales go
through the roof.
Our client list includes Lanka Bell, SLIC,
Chevron, DIMO (TATA, Osram Seimens, Bosch),
Kotmale Dairies CIMA and Odel.
Q: What has been your most successful
A: It has to be the Coolant campaign
we carried out for Caltex Coolant. We saw a
sales increase of 1,000% with the work we
did and it was for a very small budget.
We are proud of the intimate knowledge we
have of the local culture and consumer. And
this knowledge plays a major role in
everything we do.
Q: Being in the industry with "turning
point" experience, what is the key advice
A: Just because you spend money on
advertising does not mean that you
automatically get results. This is best
outlined in the case of Lanka Bell. The
client told us that before we got the
account that people thought of them as a
manufacturer of doorbells when they went to
the field to sell their product even though
they had spent a huge amount of money on a
large multi media campaign. No one had seen
it or heard it. Of course after
kurukuruless things changed. So if you
want results then choose a partner who has a
strong track record of delivering results.
Three win Tourism Legend awards
Confifi Group Chairman Desamanya Prof.
M.T.A. Furkhan was given the Tourism legend
Award for 2008 at the prestigious
Presidential Tourism Award ceremony held
recently at the BMICH.
Jetwing Group former Chairman the late
Herbert Cooray and Aitken Spence Group
former Chairman Ratna Sivaratnam were also
posthumously awarded the Tourism Legend
In the late 1960s when there were only
the Hikkaduwa Beach Hotel, Hikkaduwa;
Bentota Beach Hotel, Bentota; Mount Lavinia
Hotel and Galle Face Hotel and Grand
Oriental Hotel in Colombo.
When hardly anyone expected tourism to
flourish in Sri Lanka, Furkhan came forward
and took the risk to start his first Hotel
in one of the most beautiful beach locations
in Moragalla, Beruwala.
The Tourist Board gazetted the project as
an Approved Tourist Hotel on March 30, 1970
and the site clearing of the five acre land
started on April 1, 1970.
The Confifi Beach Hotel opened six months
later on December 23, 1970.
Four months later, the first JVP
insurrection took place in April 1971 and
the Hotel was closed and the staff sent
Furkhan re-opened the Hotel three months
later and never looked back. In 1976 he
opened the 140 room, 03 star Club Palm
Garden Hotel also in Beruwala. That was
followed in October 1983 when he opened the
04 star Riverina Hotel with 192 rooms in the
In April 1995 he opened the 158 room 05
star Eden Hotel within half a mile of the
earlier hotels, all in the Golden Mile in
Through these hotels, over the nearly 40
years, he was able to offer employment to
thousands of young people and generate
substantial foreign exchange earnings for
With four star class hotels of the
Confifi Group and other hotels such as
Barberyn Reef, Neptune, Wornels Reef, Swanee
and Lanka Princess, Beruwala was turned into
a prosperous town.
Confifi was the first Hotel Group in Sri
Lanka to employ female staff, and set up a
Hotel Management Trainee Scheme offering
five year training to young graduates and
A/L qualified school leavers.
Over the 40 years, under the tutelage of
Furkhan, the Confifi Group has trained over
500 hotel managers who now hold senior hotel
management positions both in Sri Lanka and
One of the strongest features of the
Confifi Group under his leadership was the
innovation of new products.
Confifi Hotels were the first to
introduce Mini Golf, all inclusive fares,
Spa Resort, Kiddies Club, Horse Riding and
the Beach Derby in Sri Lanka.
Furkhan has held office in various
professional bodies, government
institutions, state corporations and private
sector business associations including the
Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Chamber
of Commerce and Industry and Sri Lanka
Tourist Hotels Association President.
An accountant (FCMA, J.Dip.MA, FCIS and
FCPA (Aust)) by profession, he was twice
elected CIMA Sri Lanka President and CIMA
New South Wales Australia President. Furkhan
is also a Rotarian.
He has been elected thrice as Institute
of Chartered Secretaries President.
He was also Principal, Zahira College,
Colombo, his old school, and also served as
Jayewardenepura University’s Management
Accounting Professor. He has been a member
of the National Police Commission and the
Finance Commission of Sri Lanka.
In recognition of the services rendered
to education and to the country, the
President of Sri Lanka awarded him the title
of Deshabandu in 1987 and was later
conferred the Desamanya title in
Pranama passes 1,000
Ceylinco Life’s Pranama
scholarships programme has touched the lives
of more than 1,000 young Sri Lankans by
January 2009, the company announced
The eighth edition of this annual
scholarships presentation this month
(January) resulted in the award of 144 new
scholarships, bringing the total number of
beneficiaries to 1,001.
Students from all parts of Sri Lanka
including the northern and eastern provinces
were honoured for academic and extra
curricular achievements in the presence of
school principals, teachers and parents at
this ceremony at the BMICH.
Addressing the scholarship awards
ceremony, Ceylinco Life Chief Executive
Director R. Renganathan pointed out that
although many people invest their money in
houses, gold jewellery and the like, such
investments can be lost overnight.
However, investment in education can
never be destroyed, he said. "Although Sri
Lanka has free education, the high level of
competition for admission to schools and
universities requires parents to spend on
extra tuition for their children," he said.
"This was one of the factors that led to
the creation of the Pranama
He said some of the recipients of these
scholarships have gone on to become doctors
and engineers, justifying the company’s
investment in their future.
Examinations Commissioner Anura
Edirisinghe who was the Guest of Honour
said, "At a time when many companies are
focusing their attention of making profit,
it is praiseworthy to see Ceylinco Life’s
to the community," he said.
Ceylinco Life to date awarded Pranama
scholarships worth Rs 35 million, making a
significant contribution towards encouraging
future leaders of Sri Lanka, one of the key
objectives of the programme. ‘Ceylinco
Pranama’ is one of the main components of
the company’s ‘Life Rewards’ portfolio of
Ceylinco Pranama scholarships are
presented to policyholders’ children who
achieve best results in their respective
districts at the Year 5 scholarship exam, to
policyholders’ children who achieve the best
results in their districts at the GCE
Ordinary Level exam, to the four children in
each district who achieve the best results
at the GCE Advanced Level exam and to young
people who excel at the national or
international level in sports, aesthetics,
invention or creativity.
Ceylinco Life also presents scholarships
to students who achieved the
highest marks island-wide in physical
science, biology, commerce and arts at the
GCE A/L exam, irrespective of whether or not
they are policyholders’ children.
One of many benefits available to
Ceylinco Life policyholders, the four-tiered
Pranama scholarship scheme
underscores the importance attributed by the
company to education. Besides the Pranama
scholarships scheme, Ceylinco Life has
also established the Ceylinco Aloka
Fund for education, which pays up to Rs
54,000 in 36 equal monthly instalments on
the death of an active policyholder in the
low income segment whose children are
undergoing primary, secondary or tertiary
Schols. to Japan
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)
Japan announced the signing of agreements
with two leading schools in Sri Lanka to
offer scholarships to their students to
study at their University.
At a press conference announcing the
signing of the Agreements between APU and
the respective school were APU Admissions
Dean Professor Susumu Yamamoto, Sri Lanka
Admissions Officer Takaumi Iwayama,
Wycherley International Principal Kingsley
Jayasinghe, Ladies College Principal Mrs.
Nirmali Wickremesinghe and APU
Representative in Sri Lanka Harin
The APU will team up with Ladies College
and Wycherley as an initial step, to offer
talented students an opportunity to receive
an overseas education.
Although the university is situated in
Japan, APU ensures 50% of its student body
as well as the academic staff are
non-Japanese. There are students from 87
countries studying at APU, including over 40
Sri Lankan students.
Yamamoto said that under this MoU with
the two leading secondary education
institutions, APU will provide as part of
its commitment 100% scholarships on tuition
to two outstanding students from each of the
selected schools for the academic year
starting in 2010. Each scholarship is valued
at over SLR 5.0m.
He said that he hopes to extend this
scheme to similar secondary educational
institutes in Sri Lanka.
APU offers degree programmes in social
science and management with specializations
possible in areas such as media, tourism,
development, marketing, and international
business. In addition APU offers an MBA and
several Master’s and PhD degrees.
Keells Food Products plc enjoyed record
sales this past festive season with its
‘Keells Chicken Meatball Curry,’ the newest
product to its fast growing portfolio and
the first such innovative product of its
kind introduced to the Sri Lankan market,
rapidly gaining market share.
Keells Food Products CEO Asitha
Samaraweera said, "The feedback from
consumers was that it was full of flavour
and a welcome addition to any meal, more so
especially when relatives or neighbours
dropped in. Affordably priced, Keells
Meatball Curry comes in 400g cans with
enough for the whole family and brings the
best of traditional Sri Lanka chicken curry.
"What also makes Keells Chicken Meatball
Curry unique is that it is easy-to-stock
even in non-refrigerated conditions and is a
product that can be quickly served with
minimum preparation for breakfast, lunch or
dinner, thus bringing convenience to busy
Sri Lankan lifestyles.
These pre-cooked, seasoned and succulent
meatballs captured public imagination and
interest with their "easy to cook-heat &
option which proved to be the key
indicator for its success this past festive
season," Samaraweera added.
The first to introduce a product of this
nature, Keells Food Products has won the
faith and confidence of thousands of Sri
Lankans across the country with its 25 years
of trusted operations in the food industry.
Keells Food Products is also the only
processed foods company which maintains SLS
and ISO Quality Management Systems and HACCP
Food Safety Management System.
Highest working poor in S. Asia, Africa
The global economic crisis is expected to
lead to a dramatic increase in the number of
people joining the ranks of the unemployed,
working poor and those in vulnerable
employment, the International Labour Office
(ILO) says in its annual Global Employment
Trends report (GET).
Based on new developments in the labour
market and depending on the timeliness and
effectiveness of recovery efforts, the
report says global unemployment in 2009
could increase over 2007 by a range of 18
million to 30 million workers and more than
50 million if the situation continues to
According to the study, Sub-Saharan
Africa and South Asia stand out as regions
with extremely harsh labour market
conditions and with the highest shares of
working poor of all regions. Although the
trend has been declining over the past 10
years, around four fifths of the employed
were still classified as working poor in
these regions in 2007.
If a large number of countries, using
their own accumulated reserves, emergency
IMF loans and stronger aid mechanisms, put
in place coordinated policies in line with
the ILO Decent Work Agenda, then the effects
of the downturn on enterprises, workers and
their families could be cushioned and the
recovery better prepared.
The ILO report also said that in this
last scenario some 200 million workers,
mostly in developing economies, could be
pushed into extreme poverty.
The new report updates a preliminary
estimate released last October indicating
that the global financial crisis could
increase unemployment by between 15 to 20
million people by 2009. Its key conclusions
are as follows: Based on November 2008 IMF
forecasts, global unemployment rate would
rise to 6.1% in 2009 compared to 5.7% in
2007, resulting in an increase in the number
of unemployed by 18 million people in 2009
in comparison with 2007.
If the economic outlook deteriorates
beyond what was envisaged in November 2008,
which is likely, global unemployment rate
could rise to 6.5%, corresponding to an
increase of the global number of unemployed
by 30 million people in comparison with
In a current worst case scenario, the
global unemployment rate could rise to 7.1%
and result in an increase in the global
number of unemployed of more than 50 million
The number of working poor-people who are
unable to earn enough to lift themselves and
their families above the US$2 per person,
per day, poverty line, may rise up to 1.4
billion, or 45% of all the world’s employed.
In 2009, the proportion of people in
vulnerable employment-either contributing
family workers or own-account workers who
are less likely to benefit from safety nets
that guard against loss of incomes during
economic hardship could rise considerably in
the worst case scenario to reach a level of
53% of the employed population.
The ILO report notes that in 2008, North
Africa and the Middle East still had the
highest unemployment rates at 10.3 and 9.4%
respectively, followed by Central & South
Eastern Europe (non EU) & the Commonwealth
of Independent States (CIS) at 8.8%,
sub-Saharan Africa (7.9%) and Latin America
The lowest unemployment rate was observed
in East Asia at 3.8%, followed by South Asia
and South-East Asia & the Pacific where
respectively 5.4 % 5.7% of the labour force
was unemployed in 2008.
The report shows that the three Asian
regions-South Asia, South-East Asia & the
Pacific and East Asia accounted for 57% of
global employment creation in 2008. In the
Developed Economies & European Union region,
on the other hand, net employment creation
in 2008 was negative (minus 900,000) which
explains in part the low global employment
creation this year.
Compared with 2007, the largest increase
in a regional unemployment rate was observed
in the Developed Economies & European Union
region, from 5.7 to 6.4%. The number of
unemployed in the region jumped by 3.5
million in one year, reaching 32.3 million
$ 40,000 for nutrition
Malnutrition is the single biggest
contributor to child mortality in the world,
the World Bank (WB) in a statement said.
In no place is this problem more serious
than in South Asia (SA) where child
malnutrition rates are among the highest in
the world. Both child underweight and
stunting rates in the region are nearly
double those in Africa.
In Sri Lanka, the recently completed
Demographic and Health Survey 2006/7 showed
that 22% of Sri Lankan children below five
years of age are underweight, 18% being too
short (stunted) and 15% too thin (wasted).
While there has been a significant
improvement over the last two decades,
nutrition indices need to improve
considerably more for Sri Lanka to achieve
the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of
halving the proportion of people who suffer
WB on Wednesday launched a competitive
"Development Marketplace for Nutrition"
aimed at finding and funding innovative
that will change the lives of thousands
of pregnant women, infants, and young
children in SA.
The maximum award will be US$40,000 per
proposal. Proposals will be accepted until
March 31, 2009.
The South Asia Regional Development
Marketplace is implemented in partnership
with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur
Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ),
Micronutrient Initiative, UNICEF and the
World Food Programme.
Titled "Family and Community Approaches
to Improving Infant and Young Child
Nutrition," the Development Marketplace is
looking for entrepreneurial organizations
across SA to submit proposals for local,
small-scale projects which have the
potential to be scaled up and replicated.
The winners will be selected by an
international jury of development and
nutrition experts at the Development
Marketplace event in August 2009 in Dhaka
and will receive funding to implement their
"Malnutrition affects the lives of
millions of infants and young children in
South Asia," said WB South Asia region Vice
President Isabel Guerrero.
It saps a child’s growth potential,
delays school enrolment, limits school
achievements and lowers lifetime earnings.
This competition offers an opportunity to
channel small grants directly to community
organizations and NGOs who present
innovative ways to address this devastating
WB Sri Lanka Country Director Ms. Naoko
Ishii said, Development Marketplace provides
a unique opportunity to Sri Lankan
community-based organizations and NGOs to
explore innovative approaches that can
complement the many nutrition-related
services already provided through the public
If these innovations are successful in
reducing the malnutrition burden, scaling up
of such complementary strategies can help
Sri Lanka achieve the MDG for malnutrition.
Penal rate cut 50 bp
Inflation has been on a path of
deceleration, benefiting from the absence of
upward pressures from international
commodity prices and supported by tight
demand management policies put in place by
the Central Bank (CB), the Bank in a
Inflation, as measured by the year on
year change in the new Colombo Consumers’
Price Index, dipped to 10.7% last month,
from 14.4% in December 2008. The positive
developments in inflation dynamics have been
further supported by the deceleration
observed in monetary aggregates. So far
during first quarter 2009, reserve money has
remained well within the target, minimising
any risk of demand driven inflationary
pressure. Accordingly, it is expected that
inflation would fall to a single digit this
month and continue its decline in the coming
Taking the above into consideration, the
Monetary Board, at its meeting held on
Tuesday decided to reduce the CB’s
Repurchase and Reverse Repurchase rates by
25 basis points (bp) to 10.25% and 11.75%
respectively. The Monetary Board also
decided to reduce the penal rate of interest
charged on reverse repurchase transactions
with the Central Bank by 50 bp to 16.50%
with immediate effect.
This move follows the decision of the
Monetary Board to reduce the penal rate of
interest by 200 basis points last month.
These interest rate reductions by the CB are
expected to pass through to other market
interest rates soon and lead to significant
reductions in the cost of borrowing,
resulting in economic activity being
stimulated in the face of adverse conditions
brought on by the global economic slowdown.
The release of the next regular statement on
monetary policy will be on March 20, 2009.
Successful year for UA
Union Assurance (UA) ended 2008 on a high
note, reporting a year on year (YoY) growth
in turnover as well as profitability.
General and life insurance premiums
increased by 14%, from Rs. five billion in
2007 to Rs. 5.7 billion in 2008.
Consolidated profit after tax increased by
35%, from Rs. 254 million in 2007 to Rs 342
million in 2008. The increase in
consolidated profit before tax was 40%.
Both life and general insurance segments
performed well during the year. General
insurance gross written premium increased by
13% YoY to Rs. 3.2 billion in 2008. Profit
from this line increased by 42% to Rs. 157
million in 2008 mainly due to increased
Life gross written premium increased by
16% YoY to Rs. 2.5 billion in 2008. More
importantly, gross written premium from
regular business increased by 20%, from Rs.
1.9 billion in 2007 to Rs. 2.3 billion in
2008. Life insurance profits also increased
from Rs. 144 million in 2007 to Rs. 185
million in 2008, recording a 28% YoY
The Board of Directors have recommended a
first and final dividend of Rs. 3.25 per
share for approval by shareholders at the
annual general meeting to be held on March
"We are pleased with the results achieved
by Union Assurance in 2008," said Chairman
Ajit Gunewardene. "The strong growth in life
and general insurance premiums, the highest
profit achieved in the company’s history and
several national and international awards,
all reflect UA’s capability to differentiate
itself and prosper in the highly competitive
Commenting on UA’s performance, CEO Ms.
Marina Tharmaratnam said, "Both life and
general segments of our business performed
above expectations, especially with regard
to the bottom line. We will continue to
invest in our people, brand and constantly
work at improving our service standards in
order to maintain the growth momentum we
have achieved in both turnover and profits."
Union Assurance was recognised both
nationally and internationally in 2008. The
2007 annual report was judged among the best
reports in the South Asian region by the
South Asian Federation of Accountants. The
report also won several accolades at the
annual report awards ceremony conducted by
the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Sri Lanka including the best report in the
insurance sector and overall 2nd place. "We
were ranked among the top 20 companies in
Sri Lanka in terms of our human resource
management practices at the HR Awards
concluded in 2008." The company won a
sustainability award from the Association of
Chartered Certified Accountants, an award
for Business Excellence from the National
Chamber of Commerce and was selected as a "Superbrand"
by Brand Finance.
People’s Bank (PB) appointed P. V.
Pathirana as their new CEO/General Manager
recently. PB employs 10,000.
IBM recently said that Suntel with over
550,000 customers has selected IBM software
to raise employee performance and cost
Donation of lentils
Sri Lanka–Canada Business Council (SLCBC)
and Canada–Sri Lanka Business Council (in
Canada) recently donated 1 ton of lentils to
the World Food Programme’s (WFP’s) Colombo
Associated at this event were SLCBC
President Rajah Abeyasinghe, WFP Country
Director Adnan Khan, Nation Building
Ministry Secretary W.K.K. Kumarasiri and
High Commissioner of Canada Ms. Angela
Standard Chartered Bank has partnered
Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer programme
KrisFlyer to offer its Gold credit
cardholders redemption options on their
Bonus Points programme.
Every Rs100 spent on purchases both
locally and overseas is awarded one bonus
Standard Chartered Gold Cardholders can
opt to redeem the accumulated bonus points
for KrisFlyer Miles. One bonus point will
equal One KrisFlyer mile.
HSBC Visa Platinum card holders may
benefit from "instant" rewards redemption
for goods and services at over 30 partner
outlets locally, privileges in more than 40
countries, Airmiles programme, dine free
facilities and free overseas insurance
This card is accepted at more than 29
million locations worldwide.
BoC loser in forex trading
The US Dollar gained by five Sri Lanka
cents in spot trading on Friday, with the
two State commercial banks, Bank of Ceylon (BoC)
and People’s Bank (PB) being actively
involved in the foreign exchange (forex)
There is a perception in the market that
the government has to settle maturing
petroleum receipts this month, hence the
build-up of pressure for the rupee to
depreciate vis-à-vis the greenback, they
The dollar in two way quotes was being
offered at Rs. 114/10/20 on Friday, as
opposed to Rs. 114/05/15 on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the BoC, after buying dollars at
Rs. 114/15 from the market, was offering the
same to the trade at the Rs. 113/85 levels,
with sales being executed on the condition
that buyers submit the necessary import
Rates move up
The rupee market was short by Rs. 3.5
billion on Friday, making the Central Bank
(CB) to open its overnight (O/N) reverse
repo window and lend to the same at the
concessionary interest rate of 11.75%.
As a result, O/N inter-bank borrowing
rates which were in the 12-13% range on
Thursday, moved up to the 13-13¼% range on
Friday. Sources expected rates to move up by
a couple of basis points in the week
beginning tomorrow due to expectations that
this shortfall will persist in the new week.
In the secondary Treasury (T) Bond
market, a bond maturing on 2011 was traded
at 18.05%, with Bonds of that and those
maturing on 2010 and 2012 commanding yields
of 18% in sluggish trading.
They attributed this sluggishness to the
market not knowing which direction rates
would take. It’s not that the market is
illiquid, it’s this uncertainty that is
dampening play in the secondary market, the
sources said. (See also connected story
found elsewhere on this page)
Foreign T Bond holdings down 20%
Foreign holdings in Treasury (T) Bonds in
the week ended Wednesday slipped 20.1% week
on week to Rs. 14,206 million. (Source:
Hemas PAT down 38%
Hemas Group in the quarter (Q) ended
September 30, 2008 saw revenue grow by 18.9%
year on year (YoY) to Rs. 4.2 billion.
Profit attributable to shareholders during
this period however dipped by 38.2% YoY to
Rs. 109.2 million.
The company in the nine months ended
September 30, 2008 saw revenue grow by 18.1%
YoY to Rs. 7.9 billion. Profit during this
period however slipped by 8.3% YoY to Rs.
NDB Bank in a stock exchange filing on
Thursday, informed that they have acquired
the controlling interest of Capital Market
Services Ltd., a licensed merchant bank in
Weighted average yields (WAY) at
Wednesday’s Treasury (T) Bill primary
auction saw the WAY for 91 day maturing T
Bills drop by 21 basis points (bp) to 15.78%
over the previous week’s figure, while those
of 182 and 364 day maturities dropped
marginally by two bp each to 16.94% and
17.74% respectively. The auction was for the
re-issue of Rs. 6,000 million worth of
maturing T Bills of which Rs. 5,233 million
was accepted and the balance rejected.
Loans for women entrepreneurs
Thirty eight women micro
entrepreneurs from the slums of Kirulapone
received loans ranging from Rs. 100,000 to
Rs. 250,000 per person at a function held in
this suburb on Thursday.
Those loans which are of
a three year tenure carries an annual
interest rate of 24%. While the loans were
provided by HSBC, it was guaranteed by NDB
Bank (NDB) on the strength of a US$ 1.4
million fund provided in this connection by
UN Habitat, of which NDB is the fund
manager. The beneficiaries were selected by
SAPSRI, an NGO. A total amount of Rs. 10
million was disbursed in this connection.
Their businesses ranged
from selling lunch packets, running small
boutiques, making of curtains and beauty
HNB Assurance PLC in the
financial year ended December 31, 2008 saw a
25% growth in turnover to Rs. 1.84 billion
and a 33% growth in profit after tax to Rs.
The company’s managing
director Manjula de Silva was confident that
they would be able to maintain its excellent
track record despite even bigger challenges
that it may encounter in the year ahead.
contributed Rs. 64.5 million to the
company’s bottomline last year, while the
balance came from Life Insurance. The
company achieved a combined turnover of Rs.
1.84 billion last year.
General Insurance Gross
Written Premium (GWP) in the year under
review grew by 31% year on year (YoY) to Rs.
924.7 million while Life Insurance GWP grew
by 19% YoY to Rs. 914.2 million. The company
has allocated upto a maximum of Rs. 40 per
Rs. 1,000 sum assured as bonus declarations
to its Life policyholders. HNB Assurance has
also declared a Rs. 1.25 dividend per share
to its shareholders, 25% higher than the
distribution made the previous year. The
Life fund crossed the Rs. one billion mark
to reach Rs. 1.36 billion at end 2008.
Eagle Insurance plc has
declared a first and final dividend of Rs. 7
per share for the financial year 2008. AGM:
March 30, 2009; excluding dividend (XD)
date: March 31, 2009 and payment: April 3,
Sigiriya Village Hotels plc has declared
a one for one rights issue (subject to
approval), comprising the issuance of
3,478,950 ordinary new shares at an issue
price of Rs. 20 a share. Proceeds will be
used to reduce the company’s working capital
deficit. Sigiriya Village’s present stated
capital is Rs. 106,301,215. The rights issue
will not be underwritten. Union Assurance
plc has declared a first and final dividend
of Rs. 3.25 per share on its issued share
capital of Rs. 375 million for the year
2008. Chemanex PLC has declared a Rs. six
interim dividend per share of the existing
15.75 million ordinary shares for the year
ending March 31, 2009. Dividend warrants
will be dispatched on March 17,
Union Assurance PAT up 33%
Union Assurance in the fourth quarter
(4Q) ended December 31, 2008 saw net profits
increase by 33% year on year (YoY) to Rs.
231.95 million. The company in the financial
year ended December 31, 2008 saw profit
after tax (PAT) increase by 35% YoY to
PAT up 38%
Aitken Spence in the 3Q ended December
31, 2008 saw net profits increase by 38% YoY
to Rs. 473.70 million. The company in the
nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT
increase by 15% YoY to Rs.1,266.13 million.
PAT up 196%
Aitken Spence Hotels in the 3Q ended
December 31, 2008 saw net profits increase
by 196% YoY to Rs. 357.85 million. The
company in the nine months ended December
31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 102% YoY to
CIC makes loss
CIC in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008
made a Rs.21.31 million loss compared with a
Rs. 193.72 million net profit in the
corresponding Q of the previous year. The
company in the nine months ended December
31, 2008 however saw PAT increase by 11% YoY
to Rs.395.68 million.
Sathosa Motors in the 3Q ended December
31, 2008 made a Rs. one million loss
compared with a Rs. 25 million net profit in
the corresponding Q of the previous year.
The company in the nine months ended
December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 44% YoY
to Rs.39.23 million
Investment Trust PAT up 84%
Colombo Investment Trust plc in the 3Q
ended December 31, 2008 saw net profits
increase by 84% YoY to Rs. 1.50 million. The
company in the nine months ended December
31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 284% YoY to
Trans Asia PAT
Trans Asia Hotel plc in the 3Q ended
December 31, 2008 saw net profits decline by
48% YoY to Rs. 23.88 million. The company in
the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw
PAT decline by 25% YoY to Rs.56.24 million.
Horana Plantations in the 3Q ended
December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 30.51 million
loss compared to a Rs. 87.14 million net
profit made in the corresponding Q the
previous year. The company in the nine
months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT
decline by 75% YoY to Rs. 28.28 million.
Cold Stores PAT
Ceylon Cold Stores in the 3Q ended
December 31, 2008 saw net profits increase
by 3% YoY to Rs. 36.82 million. The company
in the nine months ended December 31, 2008
however saw PAT decline by 39% YoY to
LIOC makes loss
Lanka IOC plc in the 3Q ended December
31, 2008 made a Rs. 769.97 million loss
compared to a Rs. 282.04 million net profit
made in the corresponding Q the previous
year. The company in the nine months ended
December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 75% YoY
to Rs. 363.21 million. (John Keells Stock