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Business

   


Kingston Ng Jin Keng

Liquidity from an illiquid market

In a world bereft of liquidity due to the crash of stock markets and banks as a result of the global recession, a Malaysian banker claimed that untapped moneys of Muslims lying fallow in current accounts for religious reasons may be harnessed for infrastructure development by issuing Islamic bonds known as Sukuk.

Kingston Ng Jin Keng, Country Manager-Sri Lanka, RAM Holdings, a rating agency headquartered in Malaysia said that such deposits were lying fallow because Islam precluded the earning of interest, though Sukuk, where profit sharing is involved is however permissible.

Keng  a Malaysian, who formerly served with Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia said that though Muslims comprised only 7-8% of Sri Lanka's population, they were responsible for 10% of Sri Lanka's savings, moneys kept with registered financial institutions in the form of current, savings and fixed deposit accounts.

"My guess is that before Islamic finance was introduced to Sri Lanka,  Muslims, for religious reasons, had 50% of their  bank accounts in the form of current accounts in the country however  do not give any returns to its holders," he said. Sri Lanka's Savings to GDP ratio is some 18%, said Keng. However laws will have to be amended in the country to enable Sukuk, he said. They are talking to regulators in this regard.

Keng said that most of Malaysia's infrastructure projects such as highways and water supply were funded through Sukuk Bonds, bonds by nature are of a longer tenure and of a higher value

He said that Malaysia controls 50% of the world's Sukuk market, with 70% of Malaysian Bonds being Sukuk. Sixty per cent of Malaysia's population is Muslim, he said. World Sukuk issue is estimated at US$ 90 billion of which about 70% are issued in Malaysia.

But laws in Sri Lanka have to be amended to accommodate Sukuk, such as the floating of a special purpose vehicle to transfer the asset which should be precluded from being liable to pay stamp duty, which exemption however local laws do not permit.

"Why should Sukuk Bond holders bear that extra cost?" asked Keng. Malaysia has amended its banking laws to enable Sukuk, he said. Sukuk may also attract overseas funding just as it happened in Malaysia, said Keng.

He said that the first Malaysian Sukuk Bond was raised by Royal Dutch Shell Malaysia, a sum of Malaysian Ringgit 90 million in 1990.

Meanwhile, one of the key promoters of Sukuk, Roslan Abdul Razak of the Institute of Banking & Finance Malaysia will be speaking to both the public and private sector representatives in Sri Lanka later this week on Islamic finance.

Keng said that RAM has a subsidiary that structures Sukuk Bonds. "Though RAM has lost out in rating banks to its competitor Fitch, a major slice of rating of registered finance companies and specialized leasing companies for which ratings are also mandated by law, were with RAM," said Keng. Rating fees which were over Rs. one million has since come down to between Rs. 500,000-Rs. one million after RAM made its entry into the local market in 2004, he said. It's optional for insurance companies to obtain a rating, added Keng.


Govt. distorts forex, rupee markets

Govern ment's heavy involvement in the war continues to distort markets, with the State being the biggest player in both the foreign exchange (forex) and rupee markets, thereby preventing the consumer from enjoying the benefits of falling commodity prices globally, sources told The Sunday Leader.

This sort of government expenditure also includes an unaccounted bill for alleged waste and corruption, they said.

"If however the State stayed away from the markets, the rupee would strengthen and interest rates would fall, " they said. But due to their over-arching dominance in the markets, the benefits of falling commodity prices due to the worldwide recession is not passed on to the consumer, they said.

Sri Lanka is a net importer and not a net exporter in international trade. This means that it needs to have sufficient forex reserves to meet its expenditure requirements.

The State continued its dominance in the forex and rupee markets in last week's trading as well by being virtually the single biggest borrower in the rupee market, whilst also being both the majority buyer and seller in the forex market.

The State's operations in the markets are handled by the government owned Bank of Ceylon (BoC) and People's Bank (PB), with which banks the Treasury maintains accounts.

As a result, the market on a net overnight (O/N) basis was short by Rs. 10.3 billion on Friday, less by Rs. 700 million over the Rs. 11 billion shorfall witnessed on Thursday, caused by government borrowings to meet its own expenditure needs both locally and internationally (to buy forex), and also to inject the liquidity requirements of a private commercial bank which recently got into difficulties, with the Central Bank (CB) appointing BoC to manage its affairs.

With the State being the single biggest borrower in the market and with no one else to virtually lend to, O/N inter-bank borrowing rates continued to be stable at the 12«-13% levels, while the dollar was being offered at Rs. 114/25 by BoC, with the biggest forex buyer being PB at Friday's trading.

 "Rates held steady at the12«-13% levels despite a Rs. 10.3 billion shortfall because the market has no one else to lend to other than the State, acting through its agents, BoC and PB in the market," they said.

The market is "precluded" from lending to each other (other commercial banks) because of lending limits imposed, they cannot lend beyond those limits, the sources said. Otherwise rates would have had been much higher, they said.

Meanwhile, CB's lending rates to commercial banks are 11.75% on an O/N basis, limited  to thrice monthly. Additional lending could be had at the O/N penal rate of 16.50%.

As a further measure to infuse liquidity into the market, the CB recently allowed banks and primary dealers to borrow from its reverse repo window on a monthly basis ( not only on an O/N basis), but at a 16.50% + penal interest rate compounded on a monthly basis.Additionally, during the past couple of months CB has brought down banks' statutory reserve requirements by 300 basis points (bps) to 7%, whilst limiting banks' access to parking their excess cash with the CB on an O/N basis to Rs. 100 million per institution, as a measure to infuse liquidity to the market.

Such deposits earn an interest rate of 10.25% on an O/N basis.

However, despite government intervention in the markets, they appear to be managing those economic indicators, i.e. the interest and exchange rates fairly well, relative to their management of those indicators last year, the sources said.

For instance, for the greater part of last year they did not allow the rupee to dip, they said. But coinciding with the global economic crisis late last year and with it the liquidity crunch, they have removed the dollar peg, and have allowed them rupee to depreciate, the sources said.

Considering the semi Great Depression the world is facing, and looking at the bailout packages worked out by the IMF for Eastern European countries, it's unlikely that IMF conditions of the proposed US$ 1.9 billion bailout package (due to depreciated forex reserves) for the government would be as severe as it was in the past, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Treasury (T) Bond rates at Thursday's primary Bond auction commanded slightly higher rates than those commanded in the secondary market, with Bonds maturing on March 2011 commanding a weighted average yield (WAY) net of tax of 18.06%, Bonds of January 2012 maturity: WAY net of tax of 18.10% and Bonds of February 2013 maturity: WAY net of tax of 18.03% at that auction

However, sources said that as demand for Bonds were building, they expected Bond rates to come down in the future.

Sources said that Bonds of 2010 maturities were commanding two way quotes of 17/85%/95% at Friday's secondary market trading, whilst bonds maturing on 2011 and of longer tenures were commanding rates of 18-18.01% in such trading activities.

Meanwhile, WAYs after tax of T Bills at last week's primary auction fell by 27 bps week on week to 15.73% (for Bills of 91 day maturity), by six bps to 16.87% for Bills of 182 day maturity and by four bps to 17.69% for Bills of 364 day maturity.


Bailing out TFC

A Central Bank (CB) appointed expert group will be meeting four of The Finance Company PLC's (TFC's) directors today to work out a rescue package for this company which has got into difficulties because of a run on its deposits.

However, TFC CEO & Jt. Managiing Director Mrs. Padmini Karunanayake has been left out from this discussion.

"I don't know about her," one of the expert panellists when contacted by The Sunday Leader as to why she has been left out from this discussion said.

TFC with a customer deposit base of Rs. 28 billion is the country's oldest and the biggest (in terms of deposit base) registered finance company supervised by both the CB and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Its four directors who will be meeting the expert panel are K.J Yatawara, Mrs. N.C. Rupesinghe, Mrs. V.W. Dissanayake and T.B. Ekanayake.

TFC, a Ceylinco Group company affected by the Golden Key scam due to a public loss of confidence in this Group as a result, coupled with its heavy exposure to real estate, an asset that is falling in value due to the economic downturn, has made it difficult for the company to honour its commitments vis-…-vis maturing deposits which depositors want to withdraw, they alleged.

The expert panel comprises accountant Nishan Fernando, lawyer Arittha Wickramanayake, banker Henanayake Bandara and corporate Ajith Devasurendra.


Gloom & Doom

Articles on this page and the next paint a gloomy picture of the local economy.

They show the crash in prices of our major commodity exports, plantations and garments, as well as other commodity exports declines, undoubtedly caused by the recession hitting our major export markets, the U.S.A. and E.U.

It also shows gloomy corporate results for the quarter ended December 31, 2008 and other negative indicators, like the drop in sales of cement, electricity sales, transshipment volumes and vehicles which only go to show that infrastructure development, essential to create jobs and to provide the necessary ancillaries to keep the wheels of the economy turning being negatively impacted, and that foreign exchange income has been severely affected, too bad, for a net importer like Sri Lanka.

These pages in our last week's edition also reported that the consumption of powdered milk in volumes terms in the country have had dropped 20% year on year  last year thereby opening the gates for malnourishment.

A malnourished nation suffers from poor productivity.

It's unlikely that liquid milk has taken up these lost volumes completely considering the fact that powdered milk to liquid milk ratio in the country at 80:20 is still obviously predominantly in favour of the former, though this gap may have narrowed down slightly in recent times due to the government's "push" to popularize fresh milk among the consumer, but there are obvious drawbacks in this endeavour because the necessary infrastructure is not in place, which is another story.

Another negative economic indicator is the crash in property prices mainly due to the diaspora, in this instance the Tamilians not investing in property due to the country situation compounded by the global meltdown after the crash of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008.

The crash in property prices is also having a knock on effect on the stability of the country's financial system as several finance companies which have invested heavily into real estate are facing a liquidity crisis as they are unable to get a fair return on those assets, made worse by the Rs. 26 billion Golden Key company scandal that has rocked the Ceylinco Group of companies, a company with a heavy exposure to the finance and property industries of this country.

Further, with tourism in the doldrums and imports outpacing exports both in value and in percentage growth terms, an outflow of foreign capital from the stock market and the government securities market and a possible negative impact on remittances and foreign investments, the inability of the government to raise foreign capital from overseas markets as was evident by its failure to raise a US$ 300 million syndicated loan recently and the much touted Treasury Bond sales to the diaspora with a target of US$ 500 million set by arousing their patriotism also appearing to end up as a damp squib, it's therefore not surprising that the government, on "bended knee" (despite all the noises to the contrary made by the Central Bank (CB) Governor and Ministers), are now going to the IMF to seek a bailout package to the tune of US$ 1.9 billion to strengthen the country's depleted foreign exchange (forex) reserves position.

Aid does not come easy, made worse by the liquidity crunch affecting the global economy these days, as is evidenced by the aforesaid details given in this column and buttressed by the statistics found in these pages.

The government (and the IMF) are yet to come out with IMF's loan conditions, though everybody knows that despite aid from multilateral donor agencies such as the IMF are soft loans, as opposed to commercial loans, where the interest demanded by the latter is much higher, the former do therefore come with strings attached.

A banker told this newspaper that one of the conditions to obtain this loan would be the free float of the rupee. The rupee vis-…-vis the US dollar at present is commanding a rate of under Rs. 114/50 to the dollar in trading among banks, though the consumer will have to pay much more than this if he is seeking to buy dollars.

CB has been actively intervening in the market in the past few months to check the dollar from appreciating too rapidly against the rupee, though unable to fully check the rupee from falling against the greenback.

A weak rupee will make government's costs to go up in terms of debt servicing and also in buying from the forex market, while at the same time making imports more costly to the consumer.

With average annualized inflation still over 20%, despite the fact that inflation has been coming down in recent months, upward price pressure on imports, especially on essential commodities such as milk powder, kerosene, diesel and wheat flour will not only reverse these trends, but will make the poor, poorer, because of the high costs these essentials will fetch in the event the rupee is devalued.

Winning the war in the military front alone will not suffice. The government also has to win the war in the economic front, a task that may be a lot more difficult, given the unfavourable global economic outlook and the need to satisfy an electorate, crushed by the cost of living, but being detracted by these miseries, at least temporarily, due to their focus on the war, and the huge geographical gains made by the military in this regard in recent times, being a plus factor for the government.

But with garment factories closing down and other export oriented firms following suit due to the global meltdown and such negativisms having an impact on the rest of the economy, the time may not be far at hand, if it's not already here, the spawning of the seeds for a restive south.

We have had two southern insurrections, the first due to broken promises, the promise of two measures of rice free and employment to everyone over 18-promises which the government of that day were unable to keep and the other, due to Indian intervention, which prevented the then government from crushing Northern terrorism.

We can ill afford to have a third. 

Corruption and waste have to be stamped out and the focus will have to be on a small government. The 100 + Cabinet ministers and with it the spawning of a plethora of ministries and other wasteful expenditure will naturally have to be pruned down.

The establishment of an effective safety net to protect the poor and the vulnerable is a crying need, before it's too late.


Plantation crops prices down

Tea export prices in December 2008 declined by 14.4% year on year (YoY) to US$ 3.24 a kilo, rubber down by 29.6% YoY to US$ 1.63 a kg. and coconut prices down by 13.4% YoY to 15 U.S. cents a nut.

Average gross prices fetched by these commodities at the Colombo Auction in December 2008 were: Tea, down 36.8% YoY to Rs. 213.01 a kg., rubber down by 43.8% YoY to Rs. 147.92 a kg. and coconut prices down by 23.1% YoY to Rs. 17.87 a nut. However, the quantity of tea sold at the auction increased by 8.3% YoY to 16.26 million kg.

Tea export volumes in December 2008 declined by 9.5% YoY to 25.1 million kg. However, rubber export volumes during this period increased by 12.3% YoY to five million kg and coconut export volumes in the year under review by 71.9% YoY to 45.1 million nuts.

In commodity imports, rice import volumes in December 2008 declined by 97.4% YoY to 0.9 metric tons (mts) and wheat grain declined by 74% YoY to 22,500 mts. However, sugar import volumes in December 2008 increased by 89.2% YoY to 46,700 mts and that of crude oil by 0.4% YoY to 2,053,600 barrels.

Rice import prices in December 2008 increased by 81.6% YoY to US$ 781.4 per mt (pmt), wheat grain prices however declined by 26.8% YoY to US$ 237 pmt, while sugar prices in December 2008 increased by 20.3% YoY to US$ 377.4 pmt. However, crude oil prices during this period declined by 48.4% YoY to US$ 46.3 a barrel.


Milestone year

Year 2008 was a milestone for Janashakthi Insurance PLC (JIPLC), recording a consolidated Rs. 503 mn. profit before taxes in its very first year of converting to a public liability company.

JIPLC Chairman W.T. Ellawala said, "The Company passed the noteworthy Rs. 5 billion in Gross Written Premium mark this year while also posting good results despite an economic milieu that seemed lacklustre. Challenges were many, but as is characteristic of Janashakthi, judicious and pragmatic strategies we have employed held us in good stead to ensure a consistent growth curve."

He added, "We foresee significant challenges in terms of sustaining business performance levels and ultimately bottom-line results due to widespread deterrents which will continue into 2009. Next year will undoubtedly also be a year where the entire world will focus on recovery."

"Given the positive gains on the security front, that will hopefully enable a durable peace in Sri Lanka, we foresee insurance opportunities arising in the medium term from re-development, reconstruction and enhanced income streams for the population resulting from the cessation of military operations.

High interest rates and high inflationary trends that adversely impact the economy could trickle down subsequently to the insurance industry as well. Janashakthi has been rationalizing its insurance portfolio, working on a qualitative rather than a quantitative strategy to countervail such adverse trends and sustain steady growth", Ellawala said.

He said: "The Company maintains its position as the third largest general insurer in the country and the fifth largest life insurer, functioning in a competitive environment. I foresee the maintenance of that position in the next year as an uphill task and our forecasts have been conservatively constructed, being aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

However, what I can foresee is that Janashakthi will continue to maintain similar growth values in 2009, which is 18% in long term insurance and 7% in general business.

These growth trends are achievable and that is the target we are looking to achieve in 2009 as we have proved that we grew at similar rates under equally difficult conditions in 2008."

JIPLC Managing Director Prakash Schaffter said, "We are particularly gratified at the overwhelming response to our IPO which was over subscribed 4« times on the opening day itself. It is also of satisfaction that such interest in us was evinced by a wide cross section of the public encompassing not only the business elite and the urban shareholder but also a substantial rural investor group which augurs well for the future of the local equity market."

 He said, "Life business registered an encouraging increment of 18% to touch LKR 1.4 bn. However, performance of general business was not as encouraging as anticipated with a single digit increase of only 7% to reach LKR 3.9 bn. This was mainly due to price competition and prevailing economic conditions.

It was also said that Fire business expanded by 20% to LKR 444 mn. which is significant during the period under review. Investment and other income at LKR 862 mn. though seemingly the same as in 2007 (LKR 895 Mn) was in fact considerably higher by 36% as last year's figure included exceptional gains of LKR 258 mn.

"High interest rates prevalent in 2008 yielded commendable returns on our investments."

Borrowing costs recorded a decline from LKR 233 mn. to LKR 93 mn. this

year. Net Profit Before Tax at LKR 503 mn. though apparently below last year's LKR 549 mn. is in reality a considerable improvement as the latter figure includes an exceptional fair value gain of LKR 258 mn. from Investment Property.

 During the year under review JIPLC was awarded a BBB+ rating by RAM Rating, an independent rating agency based in Malaysia. Such a rating along with the listing on the Colombo Stock Exchange considerably enhanced the stature of the Company.

Another significant factor that helped during the period under review was the launch of the IPO which attracted an inflow of capital funds from both local and foreign investors amounting to LKR 396 mn.

The decision to go public was to meet the multifaceted objectives in terms of the company's future growth.

The proceeds received from the IPO were utilised primarily to re-engineer the Company's Balance Sheet structure and to reduce the risk emanating from a gearing ratio.

Accordingly, a significant proportion of borrowings were paid off resulting in immediate benefits to the company's bottom line.

Proceeds were also used for JIPLC brand building activity to enhance consumer confidence in the market place. In addition, IPO proceeds were part of the pool of funds utilized to enhance IT infrastructure investments and staff training.


Women empowerment

"It's the 'woman worker' who has taken Sri Lanka to greater heights, working in the apparel industry, the tea industry and away from her homeland. I think we need to recognise that woman. Because in the last decade, Sri Lanka's economy has been powered and run by these women- they deserve recognition," Ms. Sharmini Ratwatte told the widely-watched business TV programme Benchmark on International Women's Day, last Sunday.

Commenting on the so-called 'glass ceiling,' she noted: "First of all the glass ceiling exists. Extensive research has been done as to what the barriers are that affect women. One is prejudice-men are seen as being more suitable for promotion. And there is a resistance to women's leadership as well-meaning, women leaders are seen as pushy, abrasive, bossy, and not preferred leaders."

"They take time off their jobs for family. And when you take career breaks you don't progress. Studies have shown that women with the same number of years in a career are paid much less than men-which is why I think the glass ceiling exists," she said.

As to whether women should be represented more in the workforce, she noted that the mix of "one-third" women has been fairly static in the last five years.

"In the recent gender gap report, Sri Lanka rated very high overall. But considering the employment category, we were 113th out of 130 countries-our participation could be much better. The gender gap report also looked at education and why Sri Lanka rates so highly in that is because it has an almost prefect score for education access for women," she said.

However, Ratwatte noted that while these women had the opportunity of being educated, they did not have access to jobs to translate this opportunity into economic returns.

Discussing whether the corporate community is moving towards meritocracy and gender-neutral employment opportunities, like offering women a better work-life balance-by providing crŠches and educational opportunities, for example-she noted that business demands were sometimes at war with what people see as excessive facilities for women.

"People are becoming a lot more aware that women contribute in different ways to a company. There are times-especially when the economy is tough-when women are able to manage better than men," she told the show's Special Correspondent Ms. Savithri Rodrigo.

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.


Bottled water king

Kadawatha  based My Beverages is the biggest supplier of bottled water to the Maldivian and Sri Lankan markets and has a 6% market share (4th place) in the local soft drinks market, with plans to export the same to Maldives in August 2009.

Its Managing Director Sarma Mahalingam (46) told The Sunday Leader that his company has 51% of the Maldivian bottled water market with his quota valued at Rs. 70 million a month and 25% of the local market with his quota valued at Rs. 50 monthly.

His operations in the Maldives are with an Austrian equity partner on a 50:50 basis. Maldivian bottled water is supplied through a desalination plant operating there. "I stopped exporting bottled water from Sri Lanka to the Maldives in 2006, after ship operators jacked up terminal handling charges, Mahalingam, speaking at a seminar in Colombo recently said. He valued the total soft (carbonated) drinks market in Sri Lanka at Rs. 850 million.

This seminar was organised by the MBA Alumni of Colombo University. He expected his company to increase its market share once the A 9 road, connecting Jaffna with the rest of the country, is opened.

"With the closure of the A 9 highway in 2006, our market share went down from 5% to 3%, but we were able to re-establish the status quo because of new markets," he said. Mahalingam said that their's is the number two soft drinks provider in the Central Province. Western Province is too competitive, he conceded.

Mahalingam branded the carbonated drinks market as an "impulse" drink.


16.50% + interest

Central Bank from early this month has allowed banks to borrow from its reverse repo window on a monthly basis in addition to having its overnight facility functional.

The interest charged on such monthly borrowings is the ovenight penal interest rate of 16.50% compounded for 30 days. It's expected that this facility will help meet the liquidity requirements of a bank which had a run on its deposits recently, market sources said.


Investment goods up 8%

Total imports in December 2008 declined by 9.7% year on year (YoY) to US$ 1,048.6 million.

Those comprised Consumer Goods, a 3.1% YoY increase to US$ 186.8 million; Intermediate Goods: a 21.4% YoY decline to US$ 551.8 million (including other intermediate goods: a 3.8% YoY decline to US$ 185.5 million) and Investment Goods: US$ 293.6 million, an 8.2% YoY increase.

Consumer goods component comprised: Rice, US$ 0.7 million, a 95.3% YoY decline; sugar, US$ 17.6 million, a 127.5% YoY increase; other food beverages, US$ 78.1 million, a 15.3% YoY increase and non food consumables, US$ 90.3 million, a 0.1% YoY increase.

Intermediate goods imports included: wheat, US$ 5.3 million, an 81% YoY decline; petroleum, US$ 195.1 million, a 38.4% YoY decline; textile & clothing, US$ 144.4 million, a 1.8% YoY increase and fertilizer, US$ 21.4 million, a 6.3% YoY decline. The breakdown of items under "Other Intermediate Goods" and "Investment Goods" has not been given by the Central Bank.

Meanwhile, total imports last year increased by 24% YoY to US$ 14,008 million.

Those comprised consumer goods, a 23% YoY increase to US$ 2,173.7 million; intermediate goods: a 29.1% YoY increase to US$ 8,716.1 million (including other intermediate goods: a 22.9% YoY increase to US$ 2,693.9 million) and Investment Goods: US$ 2,978.8 million, a 10.9% YoY increase.

Consumer goods component comprised: Rice, US$ 43.8 million, a 13.1% YoY increase; sugar, US$ 206.2 million, a 33.8% YoY increase; other food beverages, US$ 879.5 million, a 37.9% YoY increase and non food consumables, US$ 1,044.2 million, a 11.4% YoY increase.

Intermediate goods imports included: wheat, US$ 375.5 million, a 60.5% YoY increase; petroleum, US$ 3,368.2 million, a 34.7% YoY increase; textile & clothing, US$ 1,701.9 million, a 4.3% YoY increase and fertilizer, US$ 576.6 million, a 199.5% YoY increase.


Consolidating leadership

Life Insurance leader Ceylinco Life recently declared a record Rs. 1.4 billion as annual bonuses to more than 300,000 policyholders. In this interview, the company's Deputy Chairman R. Renganathan elaborates on this payout and what it signifies.

Excerpts:

Question (Q): Although many companies are finding it difficult to deliver benefits to stakeholders due to the economic downturn, Ceylinco Life has declared a record bonus payout. How do you explain this?

Answer (A): It would be incorrect if we are to claim that we are not affected by the economic downturn, as all companies are affected by it in some way. However, prudent management of investments even in difficult times will yield reasonable returns. As a company that is in a long-term relationship with its clients, Ceylinco Life is committed to passing on every possible benefit to its policyholders. Ceylinco Life achieved a 15.48% Return on Investment from its yielding portfolio in 2008. We ended 2008 as the market leader for the fifth successive year with premium income of Rs.8.2 billion. All of these made a record bonus payout possible.

Q: How does this year's bonus payout compare with last year's?

A: This year's bonus payout, based on the actuarial valuation of our Life Fund as at  December 31, 2008 is nearly 17% more than the bonus payments made in 2008. But there is something new this year, as recipients of bonus certificates will also have a chance to win attractive prizes including a trip to Singapore, a TV set, DVD players, camera phones, blenders and consolation prizes by updating their personal details when they meet our representatives bearing bonus certificates.

Q: Who is eligible to receive these bonuses and how will they receive them?

A: All Ceylinco life ("with profits") policyholders whose policies were active as at December 31, 2008 are eligible to receive these bonuses.

This year we plan to deploy our 5,000-strong sales force in a massive door-to-door personalized delivery of bonus certificates starting mid March. Usually bonus certificates are posted to policyholders.

Q: You mentioned return on investment. Can you elaborate on the investments made by the company's Life Fund of Rs. 21 billion?

A: The investment portfolio of our Life Fund is made up of Government Securities (42%), Licensed Private Banks (17%), State Banks (15%), Real Estate (13%), Corporate Debt (7%) and Others (6%). Investments pertaining to our Life Fund are made in conformity with the investment guidelines stipulated under the Regulation of Insurance Industry Act No 43 of 2000 and are subject to regular monitoring by the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka.

Q: What growth has Ceylinco Life recorded in business?

A: Ceylinco Life's Gross Written Premium income grew by 20.6% to Rs 8.25 billion in 2008, a more than Rs 1.41 billion increase over the previous year, giving us a market share of nearly 34% in the life insurance segment. Our Life Fund is one of the fastest growing in the local industry and exceeded Rs.21 billion as at December 31, 2008.

Q:  What are Ceylinco Life's other strengths?

A: Our solvency margin which is the difference between the value of admissible assets and liabilities was five times the minimum solvency margin stipulated by statute in 2008. The prevailing insurance regulations require all insurance companies to maintain a solvency margin of not less than 5% of their statutory liabilities at all times. Exceeding the requirement by five times illustrates our financial strength and ability to honour all claims. The actuarial valuation was certified by an independent actuarial firm, M/s Watson Wyatt Worldwide 

Q: What other initiatives has your company recently undertaken to benefit policyholders?

A: We conducted a spectacular promotion called the Ceylinco Life Family Savari under which we have already taken 20 people from five families to Singapore for an all-expenses-paid cruise on a luxury liner. We expect to take 2,400 people from 600 families for a full-day's outing to Leisure World in the near future. This is one of the largest interactive promotions ever undertaken by a corporate entity in Sri Lanka and is the biggest promotion in the local insurance industry.


Correct guidance

Ceylinco Insurance has maintained its leadership streak and remained unshaken, a trait many in the business world and outside have come to admire and respect.  The corporate world has been quick to endorse Ceylinco Insurance's outstanding results and success.

" In an era when economic turmoil and mismanagement controversies have shaken the world and big time companies have crashed, Ceylinco Insurance has maintained its position as a leading insurance company in the country and has kept its promise to the customers, acting responsibly and prudently," says a businessman who is also a long time Ceylinco Insurance customer.   

Admiring the resilience of the company to withstand and emerge unscathed by Group related incidents, most customers feel that this reflects the stability and the viability of the company.

Deputy Chairman Ajith Gunawardena and his team have steered the company with determination and commitment, assuring the public that the company is growing from strength to strength. "Staff morale is high," added another customer.

" Gunawardena's leadership has been inspirational and has reinforced the company's strong positioning as a reliable and trusted company for generations."

To back up such customer claims, Ceylinco Insurance has always maintained a level of superior service and strived to deliver a level of service beyond customer expectations, confirms a company source. Ceylinco Insurance is not only untouched by crisis but also far removed from any controversies that make the company totally above board and ethical, a reflection of the strong work ethic and customer focus that takes priority at the company.

" We have no doubts of the company's stability and foundation-it is re-insured with the world's top rated reinsurers and looks set to deliver the same level of service and commitment as always, " says a long standing corporate customer.

 " There are complications and issues related to most global companies today. The most reassuring thing about Ceylinco Insurance is that the company remains steady, keeps its promises and its leadership status through it all. It seems not to have been affected by the storms, but rather have grown stronger, which is reassuring to its customers." 

The company's strong foundation and customer focus was recently tested when it was called into action with the heavy damages caused by a terrorist attack to the People's Bank head office building.  Within 24 hours Ceylinco Insurance was ready to settle the Bank's claim, leading the People's Bank (PB) officials to admire and appreciate the unbelievably fast level of service. In commenting on the claim settlement, PB Chairman W. Karunajeewa expressed his amazement at the swift level of service provided by the Ceylinco Insurance Management and added that thanks to Ceylinco Insurance's fast settlement of the claim, they were able to provide an uninterrupted level of service to customers.


318 kg. of tea

Tea production at 318.4 mn. kg. last year is the highest in the country and showed a 3.3% year on year (YoY) increase. This was possible by a record production from the Low Grown sector:185.2 mn. kg., a 2% YoY increase, High Growns: 84 mn. kg., a 13% YoY increase and Mid Growns: 48.9 mn. kg., a 5% YoY decline.  (Asia Siyaka Commodities)


Bogala Graphite

Wickemesinghe vs. Malalasekara

The chairman of a public quoted company refuted allegations made by a minority shareholder that his company was not given sufficient time to file proxy in regard to a shareholders' meeting that was held on  March 7.

Malin Wickremesinghe, chairman Island Products Ltd., which company has a minority stake in Bogala Graphite told The Sunday Leader that his company was intimated of the meeting only on  March 5, not giving his company the 48 hours lead time to file proxy, of whom it was himself.

When this reporter intimated to Bogala Graphite Chairman Vijaya Malalasekera of those developments, he said that these letters had been sent by ordinary mail on January 10 to its shareholders informing them of the meeting.

 It was not possible to send those letters under registered cover because of the cost involved. The company has some 11,000 shareholders. Around 100 shareholders had attended the March 7 meeting.  Wickremesinghe was not allowed to speak because he had not filed proxy.

Wickremesinghe who said that he wanted to raise various questions arising out of the company's balance sheet said that he neither received the January 10 letter nor was he allowed to speak at the meeting.

He questioned how Malalasekera could decide as early as January 10 as to when to have a shareholders' meeting when the company's financial year closed as late as December 31, 2008?

In regard to details of the Euro one million loan (such as the interest charged) which Bogala had obtained from its parent company Graphit Kropfmhul AG, Germany (GK) which has an 88.19% stake in the company, Malalasekera said that as he was non-executive chairman, this question should be posed to Bogala's CEO Amila Jayasinghe.

The company in its annual report said that the loan was obtained from GK at a very reasonable interest rate. Rs. 55 million of these proceeds has been utilized for a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) and a major part of the balance will be used to pay compensation on retrenchment, it said. This money will also be used for the purpose of paying gratuities for such workers, the report said.

This step will reduce overhead costs whilst enhancing the productivity of employees who continue to remain with the company, said Bogala. The company in the financial year ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 100 million loss after having absorbed Rs. 55 million in VRS payments, Rs. 48.2 million as finance costs, exchange losses and other write offs, Bogala said.


Success in paints

A paint manufacturer is looking to expand his portfolio locally and globally in a joint venture "with one of the biggest multi-national companies (MNCs) in the world"

Raja Hewabowala, Chairman, Silicone Coatings (Pvt.) Ltd. speaking at a seminar in Colombo recently said that if that happens "we may introduce high tech. coatings to Sri Lanka and also export to other countries."

He however did not disclose the name of this MNC.

Among the export markets he was looking at were the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and EU through the Netherlands.

Hewabowala who began his company at his home town in Matara in 1979 with a capital of Rs. 8,000; said that success came his way after an Indian circus company which visited this Southern coastal town many years ago bought his paints from one of the dealers there, and afterwards came for repeat orders.

He said that with a 25% market share, they were either  number two or three in terms of market share in the island.

This seminar organised by the MBA Alumni of Colombo University.

Hewabowala said that his next area of investment would be on a printing line to print his labels, whilst at the same time taking printing jobs from other sectors, such as from the confectionery industry. "We already manufacture our own cans and resin," he said.


Fitch affirms 'A(lka)'

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Sri Lanka based Abans (Pvt) Ltd, (Abans) National Long term rating at 'A(lka)', the outlook is stable.

Abans' rating reflects its position as one of the largest retailers of consumer electronics and household products in Sri Lanka, backed by the exclusive agency franchise of LG Electronics Inc, its market leader position in several product categories and its sizeable distribution network.

Firth notes revenue growth slowdown to around 5.5% for "H109" compared to 7% growth for FY08 (Rs. 11.2 bn. revenue in FY08) as driven by a slowdown in consumer demand due to lower disposable income.   Operating expenses increased by 24% to Rs. 2,596 m. in FY08 compared to Rs. 2,097 m. in FY07, which together with increased finance costs had a negative impact on net profitability.

Fitch expects these trends to continue, albeit with some degree of costs containment and a stabilization of interest expenses.

The increase in gross profit margins at its retail operations to above 30% in H109 versus 27.8% for FY08 however has been significant in enabling the company to arrest some of this deterioration. The coverage ratio (funds from operations to gross interest expense) also deteriorated to 2.3x in FY08 compared to 3.4x in FY07 and will be key to retaining the rating at current levels.


"Premier" in Maldives

HSBC premier was launched in the Maldives last month  to offer its personal banking customers Premier services through the newly established international banking centre.

The new global Premier service brings with it a host of enhanced services which include:-A Premier customer in any one country is automatically entitled to join Premier in other countries/territories with the minimum entry requirements waived, arrange the opening of overseas HSBC accounts free of charge at the International Banking Centre prior to departure,  a wide range of local shopping, dining, hotel and recreational privileges and discounts are available when customers travel overseas through HSBC's "Home & Away" programme, access to a 24-hour worldwide emergency service which can provide credit card replacement and emergency cash up to USD 2,000 and a 24-hour service centre catering exclusively to Premier Customers so that customers get expert advise at any point of time.

 It was inaugurated by HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives Chief Executive Officer, Nick Nicolaou together with staff and HSBC customers.

The initiative includes exclusive customer areas to ensure customers have the right amount of personal attention, interaction and privacy. It is also backed by a team of knowledgeable and qualified relationship managers who will assist customers in making informed choices with all their banking and investment needs, providing a truly one-to-one banking service.

Nicolaou said, "We estimate there are around 200 million mass affluent consumers in the world today and that number is growing rapidly, by as much as 20% a year. These customers are highly mobile, sophisticated and knowledgeable. HSBC with operations in 85 markets is the only bank in the world that could provide them with the seamless international service they need."

"HSBC Premier," a truly global personal banking service, is the most comprehensive global banking and wealth management service ever devised. Breaking down international barriers, Premier offers seamless cross-border banking and the promise that customers can, for the first time, take their accounts, credit history and banking relationships with them wherever they choose to live and work.

Premier customers have access to 250 international Premier Centres in major cities around the world, and more than 6,000 branches with Premier service points. Each location will have access to all the information needed to serve customers and provide local advisory services.


In Brief

Foreign T Bond holdings down 26%

Foreign holdings in T. Bond outstanding in the week ended Wednesday slipped by 26.2% week on week to Rs. 6,777 million. (Source: Central Bank)

Mahathir rejected IMF

In the backdrop of Sri Lanka seeking IMF assistance to the tune of US$ 1.9 billion to shore up its depleting foreign exchange reserves, the then Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamed at the height of the East Asian Financial crisis in 1997 refused the offered IMF assistance (which Thailand however accepted), but instead stabilized the Malaysian economy by pegging the ringgit to the US dollar, instead of allowing it a "free float."

Malaysia had a strong Bond market to raise money for development, Kingston Ng Jin Keng, Country Manager-Sri Lanka, RAM Holdings, a rating agency, told The Sunday Leader.

As such it was not dependent on international funding, he added. (See connected story found elsewhere on this page)

Bad to Worse

Sri Lanka's junk sovereign rating being downgraded by Fitch of London from "B+" to "B" primarily due to its commercial borrowing exposure recently may simply mean a bad rating becoming worse.

This is because there are 12 notches ahead of the "B+" rating. Ratings above "B+" are "AAA," "AA+," "AA," "AA-," "A+," "A," "A-," "BBB+," "BBB," "BBB-," "BB+," "BB" and "BB-."

Some of the ratings below "B+" in descending order are "B," "B-," "C" and "D."

A country such as China has an "A" rating, India: "BBB," Pakistan: "CCC+," Singapore: "AAA" and Malaysia: "A-."

Tourism

Malaysia gets 22 million tourists, but Sri Lanka only 500,000; however the potential for tourism in Sri Lanka is immense, Kingston Ng Jin Keng, Country Manager-Sri Lanka, RAM Holdings, a rating agency, told The Sunday Leader.

Its proximity to India was another plus.

However for that to happen peace is sine qua non, he said.  

Kuruwita PAT down 97%

Kuruwita Textile Mills in the 3rd (3Q) ended December 31, 2008 saw profit after tax (PAT) decline by 97% year on year (YoY) to Rs. 12.94 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 185.05 million loss compared to a Rs. 1.26 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Lankem Dev. PAT up 173%

Lankem Development in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 173% YoY to Rs. 0.54 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 1.65 million loss compared to a Rs. 1.94 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

HNB PAT down 10%

Hatton National Bank (HNB) in the 4Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 10% YoY to Rs. 714.30 million. The Bank in the financial year (fy) ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decrease by 10% YoY to Rs. 2,830.54 million.

Distilleries PAT up 192%

Distilleries in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 192% YoY to Rs. 1,344.71 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 36% YoY to Rs. 3,605.18 million.

Kelani Cables makes loss

Kelani Cables in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 15.85 million loss compared to a Rs. 7.44 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 84% YoY to Rs. 21.03 million.

Balangoda makes loss

Balangoda Plantations in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 50.63 million loss compared to a Rs. 64.09 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 52% YoY to Rs. 103.61 million.

Riverina makes loss

Riverina Hotels in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 15.48 million loss compared to a Rs. 4.35 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The Hotel in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 70.49 million loss compared to a Rs. 38.52 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Confifi makes loss

Confifi Hotel Holdings in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 18.72 million loss compared to a Rs. 5.89 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The Hotel in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 44.06 million loss compared to a Rs. 5.31 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Bogawantalawa makes loss

Bogawantalawa in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 122.44 million loss compared to a Rs. 58.03 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The plantation company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 155.03 million loss compared to a Rs. 38.52 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Eden makes loss

Eden Hotels in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 13.77 million loss compared to a Rs. 4.49 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 54.66 million loss compared to a Rs. 0.32 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Acme PAT down 87%

Acme Printing in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 87% YoY to Rs. 1.06 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 63% YoY to Rs. 6.24 million.

Madulsima makes loss

Madulsima Plantations in the 4Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 137.56 million loss compared to a Rs. 40.58 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the fy ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 113.05 million loss compared to a Rs. 26.41 million net profit made in the previous year.

Kahawatte makes loss

Kahawatte Plantations in the 4Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 205.74 million loss compared to a Rs. 37.07 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the fy ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 71% YoY to Rs. 40.55 million.

Shaw Wallace makes loss

Shaw Wallace in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 64.59 million loss compared to a Rs. 5.60 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 128 million loss compared to a Rs. 17.88 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Ceylon Brewery PAT up 119%

Ceylon Brewery in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 119% YoY to Rs. 59.69 million. However the company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 45% YoY to Rs. 47.17 million.

Lanka Aluminium makes loss

Lanka Aluminium in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 5.38 million loss compared to a Rs. 13.12 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 23% YoY to Rs. 20.37 million.

LOLC PAT down 39%

LOLC in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 39% YoY to Rs. 295.21 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 10% YoY to Rs. 692.89 million.

Hunters PAT up 184%

Hunter & Co. in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 184% YoY to Rs. 12.10 million. However the company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 22% YoY to Rs. 16.23 million.

East West PAT up 201%

East West Properties in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 201% YoY to Rs. four million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 407% YoY to Rs. 10.85 million.

Amaya PAT down 94%

Amaya Leisure in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 94% YoY to Rs. 0.66 million. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 37.08 million loss compared to a Rs. 74.16 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year.

Commercial Leasing PAT down 6%

Commercial Leasing in the 4Q ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT decline by 6% YoY to Rs. 127.30 million. The company in the fy ended December 31, 2008 saw PAT increase by 11% YoY to Rs. 362.71 million.

Beruwela makes loss

Beruwela Walk Inn in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 25.45 million loss compared to a Rs. 5.76 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 reduced its YoY losses by 2% to Rs 45.02 million.

Ceylinco Seylan makes loss

Ceylinco Seylan Development in the 3Q ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs. 365.95 million loss compared to a Rs. 187.67 million net profit made in the corresponding Q the previous year. The company in the nine months ended December 31, 2008 made a Rs 262.22 million loss compared to a Rs. 224.12 million net profit made in the corresponding period the previous year. (Source: John Keells Stock Brokers)

Nuts, lone star

Total export earnings in December 2008 declined by 19.1% year on year (YoY) to US$ 680.7 million.

Those comprised earnings from tea exports down 22.5% YoY to US$ 81.2 million; earnings from rubber exports down 21% YoY to US$ 8.2 million; earnings from coconut exports up 55.2% YoY to US$ 15.5 million; earnings from minor agricultural products down 30.5% YoY to US$ 15.8 million; earnings from gem exports down 63.3% YoY to US$ 2.6 million; earnings from petroleum products exports down 41.7% YoY to US$ 10.8 million and earnings from textiles & garments exports down 6.3% YoY to US$ 373.3 million.

Meanwhile, total export earnings last year increased by 6.5% YoY to US$ 8,136.7 million.

Those comprised earnings from tea exports up 24% YoY to US$ 1,271.5 million; earnings from rubber exports up 14.4% YoY to US$ 125.1 million; earnings from coconut exports up 21.1% YoY to US$ 171 million; earnings from minor agricultural products up 24.1% YoY to US$ 287.3 million; earnings from gem exports down 4.2% YoY to US$ 101 million; earnings from petroleum products exports up 50.9% YoY to US$ 254.8 million and earnings from textiles & garments exports down 0.9% YoY to US$ 2,436 million.

Rs. 25 mn. acquisition

Kelsey Developments PLC informed the Colombo Stock Exchange on March 6 that it has agreed to acquire the 100% voting rights of Nexthomes Ltd. comprising 250,000 shares at Rs 100 a share.

Take-over

People's Merchant Bank PLC informed the Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday that it has created a new company called PMB Credit Card Co., to take over the operations of ABC Credit Card Co., Ltd.

It also informed the CSE that it has acquired a 44% stake in Silvereen Finance Co., Ltd. The necessary agreement in this connection was signed with Shiran Dissanayake, a shareholder of Silvereen.

Rs. 7 mn. buy

Gestetner of Ceylon PLC informed the Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday that it will acquire 699,998 ordinary shares of Nashua Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., for Rs. 6,999,980.

Beyond the war

CIMA Sri Lanka CEO forum will be held in collaboration with Singapore Institute of Management on March 26, 2009 at Hilton Colombo.

The forum will feature a presentation by Mourad Mankarios, Principal Coach, SIM on the subject, 'Beyond the war'-Building: human capital-organisation-economy.

Mankarios was the former Chairman and CEO of Philips Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd and has a wide range of experience in areas of operations, IT and regulatory framework working in the Middle East, Africa, Netherlands and East Asia.

Mankarios's deliberation will focus on how Sri Lanka can position itself to rejuvenate and reinvent its industries to become an active participant in the new beyond war economy, and how strong leadership can result in building human capital and recreate viable lines of businesses.  

The Forum will conclude with a panel discussion with a line of panellists; Bank of Ceylon Chairman Dr Gamini Wickramasinghe, Peace Process Coordinating Secretariat's Economic Affairs Director Rohantha Athukorala and Humanitarian Agencies Consortium Colombo Executive Director Jeevan Thiagarajah on areas of rehabilitation, north and east reconstruction, new business and investment opportunities that a post war scenario will bring about.

Rs. 32 mn. divestment

Seylan Merchant Bank PLC has divested 51% (642,610 shares) of SMB Rea Estate Ltd., out of 100% shares held by the company to Ceylinco Capital Market Ltd., for a consideration of Rs. 31,519,065.08 through a share purchase agreement signed between the two parties on Monday.

Sub-division

Hotel Services (Ceylon) Plc, the holding company of Ceylon Continental Hotel has informed the Colombo Stock Exchange that subject to shareholder approval that it plans to  sub divide each of its shares into 10 ordinary shares with no impact on the company's stated capital. Total number of shares on issue is 17.6 million. The proposed  sub division would increase it to 176 million.

Home grown

There has been depositor shift to State banks after a fraud in a private financial conglomerate that led to its collapse, a banker said.

"In other countries, other reasons have caused their financial systems to collapse, but in Sri Lanka it is this that is causing a strain on local financial institutions," he said.

New President

Architect Chandana Edirisuriya was named the new president of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) when the 27th annual sessions "Architect 2009" concluded at the BMICH last Sunday.

He succeeded Architect Jayantha Perera, the new chairman of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Architects.

New pkg.

Lanka Bell's "Infinity Plus" offers 1,000 minutes free outgoing calls with 700 minutes free to any Lanka Bell phone and 300 minutes free to any other network at any time of the day.

The other package "Infinity" offers 400 minutes of free calls to any Lanka Bell phone and 100 minutes free to any other network for 18 hours of the day. The company's Managing Director Prasad Samarasinghe aired his views on this package.

Star Awards

Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC (CLLP) marketing executive Channa Teenakoon was named "Marketer of the Year 2008" at the company's "Star Awards" that was held recently.

Chevron also recognized Upali Wijesinghe as the Most Outstanding Management Team Member for his v contribution to the organization in 2008.

Other award winners were:- Best Caltex Distributor: Harith Jayawardena (Caltex Regional Warehouse (CRW) Kadawatha); Best Warehouse Manager: Sumedha Dias (CRW Kandy); Best Distributor Sales Representative (BDSR):  Jagath Ranasinghe ( CRW Maharagama); BDSR Colombo: Jagath Ranasinghe (CRW Maharagama); BDSR North: Nishantha Sumanasinghe (CRW Kandy); BDSR South: Asanka Sameera (CRW Galle); Outstanding Company Sales Representative: Ruwan Chamara; Outstanding Commercial and Industrial Sales Engineer: Arjuna Imbulpitiya and Outstanding Regional Sales Manager: Sarath Gunasekera. Standard Charted Bank in Sri Lanka CEO Clive Haswell was the chief guest at this occasion. CLLP Managing Director Kishu Gomes also spoke at this event.

CB lends govt. Rs. 9.7 bn.

Central Bank's (CB's) Treasury Bill (T Bill) holdings in the week ended Thursday increased by 5.4% (Rs. 9,712 million) week on week to Rs. 189,712 million. CB's T. Bill holdings are equivalent to the amount of credit the Bank has extended to the Treasury by printing new money.

The danger in this type of an exercise is that it may fuel demand side inflationary pressure on the economy.

Dying

Lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy for a woman in Sri Lanka is 1 in 430, which is significantly lower than in the rest of the region: in Bangladesh the lifetime risk is 1 in 59, in India 1 in 48, in Pakistan 1 in 31 and in Nepal1 in 24. 

The average risk in these five South Asian countries (1 in 43) is almost a hundred times greater than that of a woman in industrialized countries (1 in 4000).

"Sri Lanka has achieved better reproductive health than other countries in South Asia is not because it spends more per capita, but because it uses resources more efficiently and equitably, said World Bank Senior Social Development Specialist Meera Chatterjee.

All five countries have high levels of malnutrition, with over two-fifths of all children under-five in the region being malnourished.  In Bangladesh, India and Nepal, 40-50% of children are under-nourished.  In Sri Lanka the share is 22%.

The levels are much higher among children of illiterate mothers; 52-55% in the first three countries and 46% in Sri Lanka (based on 2000 Demographic and Health Survey data).

Jaffna fair

The private sector response for funding for a recently held exhibition in Jaffna was terrific, an official said.

Rohantha Athukorala, director economic affairs at the Peace Secretariat told Civil Engineering graduates at the Moratuwa University recently that this fair which was held recently in Jaffna was a success, with "half" the population in the peninsula visiting it.

A mobile telecoms company that took phones priced at between Rs. 3-5,000 for sale at this exhibition, got inquiries to buy more expensive phones, at seven times that value, for Rs. 35,000; he said.

An 18 year old schoolgirl from Vembadi Girls' School in Jaffna had complained to Athukorala at that fair, the inability to access the internet, "a facility that we in Colombo take for granted," he said.


 

 In Brief

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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