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WP grows at 12-14%

Dr. Sarath Amunugama

Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister and Deputy Finance Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama recently addressed members and guests of The Management Club (TMC) on the theme "the Way Forward for Sri Lanka beyond the war".

Speaking on Infrastructure Development in a post war era, he commended TMC members for their contribution to economic and social development in the country and for arranging such a forum for interaction of ideas and sharing knowledge.

He indicated that a UN study had shown that the Western Province (WP) had a GDP growth rate of 12-14% which was even a better than what countries like India and China had recorded, while the rest of Sri Lanka has been lagging behind with only the Central province recording a medium growth rate.

The Minister elaborated on the importance of infrastructure development as a catalyst for economic growth and indicated that the labour intensive industries in the WP has resulted in more people moving into these urban areas thus necessitating vast improvements on road networks transportation and such like compared to rural areas.

Comparatively the facilities that have been provided to remote villages have always been insufficient though attempts have been made for infrastructure development in these areas even from the time of state council governance, said Amunugama.

He emphasised that power generation was one sector that was vital for growth and that some where along the way Sri Lanka seems to have missed out on her target of achieving a 10% growth in electricity to achieve the anticipated growth in the industrial sector. He also recognised the important contribution made to this sector by small power generation projects while the concentration had always been on developing mega power projects.

The Minister indicated that a window of opportunity will open for growth in the tourism sector, especially in the east, once the conflicting situation is resolved and that the government looks forward to promote public sector-private sector partnerships in these areas where the land will be owned by the state while the private sector would bring in the managerial expertise.

The Way Forward series of meetings have provided the opportunity for TMC members and their guests to interact and network regularly with personnel from different spheres while learning from the experiences of distinguished personalities who have excelled in their careers. A TMC spokesperson indicated that they will continue the series on a regular basis.

US$ at Rs. 116/10, to make further gains

Market expects rate cut

A rate cut is expected when the Monetary Board of the Central Bank (CB) meets on Wednesday to make their monthly monetary policy review, market sources told The Sunday Leader.

“I expect the policy rate to be knocked down by a minimum of 25 basis points and the penal rate to have a much deeper cut,” a source said. This is in line with global strategies where central banks the world over have been cutting down on rates to entice banks to lend once more to stimulate their economies in the light of the global recession, he said.

The overnight (O/N) reverse repo rate or the policy rate, the rate at which commercial banks borrow from the CB is currently at 11.75%, while its penal rate is 14.75%.

A bank can go to CB’s concessionary window only thrice a month, after which the penal rate will apply in the case of further borrowing.

A fillip for a rate cut is falling inflation, with the point to point change in inflation last month being 5.3%, and the other is the expected US$ 1.9 billion IMF standby arrangement, they said.

Sources also expected Treasury (T) Bill rates at this week’s primary auction to take a dip and attributed last week’s staticism to the holidays.  Secondary market trading in T Bonds and Bills were also sluggish, with T Bonds of 2012 maturity and beyond being traded at the 17% levels in sluggish trading, with expectations that the rates would fall when the market re-opens for trading tomorrow.

However, despite the seeming sluggishness in the market last week due to the Avurudhu holidays, the US dollar in two way quotes which was being traded at the Rs. 115/85/95 levels on Friday morning, saw it gain by 15 Sri Lanka cents by the  afternoon, to be quoted at the Rs. 115/95/116/10 levels due to the State owned Bank of Ceylon and foreign banks buying dollars from the market.

 They expected the dollar to make further inroads when “active” trading once more resumes tomorrow after the holidays.

Just prior to the holidays too, State banks, which usually act on behalf of the Government, were buying dollars from the market, while the private sector per se was quiet, the sources said.

There was no government intervention, unlike in the recent past, to shore up the rupee, the sources added. Meanwhile, O/N inter-bank borrowing rates were at the 11% levels on Friday.  (See also page 31 & connected story found elsewhere on this page)

Debt to GDP ratio to rise

If Sri Lanka’s debt servicing as a percentage of GDP is to maintain its last year’s status quo, then the budget deficit has to be contained at Rs. 306 billion as earlier estimated and the additional cost that has to be met due to rupee depreciation on account of foreign debt servicing should not exceed Rs. 100 billion, a Central Bank (CB) official said.

Debt as a percentage of GDP was 81% last year.

However, due to the global recession, with exports falling, and thereby causing pressure on the exchange rate, coupled with import costs being still higher than exports so far for the year, and first quarter 2009 in particular being bad, sources expected the debt to GDP ratio to increase this year.

“This year’s debt service commitments are difficult to estimate due to the volatility of the exchange rate,” the sources said

 CB Superintendent of Public Debt C.J.P. Siriwardena told reporters on Friday that the rupee depreciation last year caused the Treasury to cough up an additional Rs 131 billion in foreign debt service payments.

He said that the rupee dipped by 4% against the US dollar and 30% against the yen last year. Japanese aid to the country comes in the form of yen loans.

 Meanwhile, the country’s total interest cost on debt payments last year amounted to Rs. 212 billion, of which Rs. 182 billion was domestic and the balance foreign.

Siriwardena said that government debt increased by Rs. 536 billion last year as opposed to a Rs. 436 billion increase in 2007.

Sri Lanka’s total debt of Rs. 3,578 million last year comprised Rs. 1,963 million in the form of domestic debt and Rs. 1,615 million in the form of foreign debt.

 Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to grow by 2.5% this year, down from last year’s 6% due to the global economic downturn. .

Siriwardena said that Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt portfolio last year amounted to Rs. 1,615 billion, of which Rs. 643 billion comprised the quantum caused by the rupee depreciation.

He said that Sri Lanka borrowed a sum of Rs. 689 billion from both domestic (Rs. 559 billion) and external sources (Rs. 130 billion) last year.  This year’s target is Rs. 840 billion, of which Rs. 574 billion will be domestic borrowing and the balance foreign debt, he said.

Many uses of Ginger

Ginger is widely used in Sri Lanka for culinary purposes and also as an important ingredient in Ayurvedic preparations from time immemorial.

However, although ginger       is cultivated throughout the country, farmers have not been able to provide the volumes required to meet the national requirements of this commodity.

This has led to the necessity of importing a major portion from South India-the main exporter of ginger. With a view to rcducing this import cost and also provide income generating opportunities to farmers, the State recently provided the latter with financial assistance to increase the production  of this crop.

Consequently local production increased from 4,649 metric tons (mts) in 2000/01 to 5,081 mts in 2001/02 and ginger imports dropped from 2,059 mts in 2002 to 359 mts in 2004, with a saving on import costs from Rs. 84.5 million in 2002 to Rs. 40.4 million in 2004.

However, increased production alone will not provide all the answers to the optimum usage of this crop.

Ginger is a perishable commodity and prone to post harvest loss is necessary curing and handling procedures are not followed.

Farmers need to be given specific recommendations on post harvest handling procedures and harvesting practices and on varieties grown in Sri Lanka so that production might be optimized and targeted towards the specific markets that they service.

With these factors in mind, Industrial  Technology Institute’s (ITI’s) Food Technology Section embarked on a project in 2006 to provide scientific data that will assist producers and processors to upgrade the quality of both fresh and processed ginger products to minimize the loss due to post harvest handling and provide technology for the manufacture of ginger based bioactive processed products that have not been previously manufactured in the country.

Optimising oleoresin extraction procedures will also encourage and assist more sophisticated industries to fetch better prices and expand their business.

The project has now been successfully completed. Studies revealed that there are three main varieties of ginger commercially grown in Sri Lanka (i.e. local, Chinese and Rangoon var.).

The most suitable stage of maturity of each ginger variety for fresh consumption, storage, processing and curing was identified. Farmers growing ginger for culinary purposes might be better off growing Chinese ginger while those growing South Indian varieties will need to harvest crops later in order to obtain optimum prices for roots with high oleoresin content. The development of value added processed products will also provide income generating and self employment opportunities in ginger producing areas.

Technologies for curing ginger, together with a curing machine were developed.

Studies confirmed that the quality of the cured ginger sample was superior to the imported sample.

The essential oil and oleoresin content of each variety with respect to different stages of maturity at harvest were determined, thereby enabling the identification of the suitable stage of maturity to harvest in order to yield the highest content of oil and oleoresin.

It has been established that fresh ginger used for culinary purposes may be harvested early, i.e. :Approximately

five months after planting, while ginger used for avurvedic medicinal preparations and that used for  gingerol extraction needs to be harvested  nine months after planting or even later.

A ginger peeler has been designed and fabricated by ITI for commercial application. Some of the products developed by the team include ginger ready-to-serve drink, ginger milk, ginger tea and ginger crystals.

ITI intends to transfer these technologies to the public, contributing towards the development of agro-industry in the country.

The project team members were :Dr. I G. N. Hewajulige (tcam leader), Dr. R. S. Wilson (Head, Food Technology Section), K. R. Dayananda (Senior Research Officer, Herbal Technology Section), P. N. R. J. Amunugoda, Ms. A. M. C. U. Silva, Mrs. S. Perera, R. M. N. C. B. Ranaweera, Ms. Ramya Pitipanaarachchi and Ms. Anira Fernando. (ITI)


“Mother’s Touch International Vocational Academy” was the brainchild of Mrs. Geetha Kaduwela when she returned home, armed with her qualifications and experience from Australia.

Kaduwela, a mother of five, says that she named her institute Mother’s Touch to portray the ideals of a mother’s touch to her students.

She says she could see how her students view this with a broad perspective and professionalism.

Mother’s Touch Academy conducts diploma courses on Childcare Management, Early Childhood Development & Education, Montessori Method of Education and Elder Care and Children’s care, Learning & Development of City & Guilds UK qualification. 

Kaduwela believes in “staying up with the times” and does so through coursework, assignments and updates from the National Council of Family Day Care, Australia.

Meanwhile Mrs. Gayathri Kalutota Gonakumbura has just disembarked from the USA, to serve her motherland and has given weight to Mother’s Touch Academy.She is a qualified Licensed Nurse (LVN) from California and will be the Course Directress for the   Eldercare Management Diploma. The vision of “Mother’s Touch International Vocational Training Academy is to train a World Class Teacher and a World Class Caregiver to nurture a World Class Citizen,” says Kaduwela.


John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) has decided to extend the acceptance period for the mandatory offer to buy the remaining ordinary shares of Union Assurance Plc until May 4, 2009  due to the public holidays in April 2009.


Angola, around five times the size of the UK, lies on the Atlantic coast of south-central Africa. It is the continent’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria.

With four major ports along an expansive coastline, the nation is a

transshipment point for the region. The country has natural resources including oil, diamonds, gold, iron, copper and uranium.

     Meanwhile Emirates will start flights to Angola, its 17th African destination, beginning on August 2.

Interest rates

President and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently came down on commercial banks (CBs) for the high interest rate regime prevalent in the economy, which, according to him, has had hit the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in particular, the lifeblood of the economy, hard, as that sector is said to provide 80% of employment in the country.

Rajapaksa was reported in a daily of having had asked the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to inquire why CBs continued to make profits, while SMEs struggled to stay in business.

"High interest rates are a big problem for the SME sector. Why can’t banks which continue to make huge profits use some of it to provide relief to the SME sector?" he had asked CBSL officers when they issued CBSL’s 2008 Annual Report to him on April 6.

"This is something I urge the CBSL to look into and regulate. There should be more regulation on the part of CBSL with regard to this problem," Rajapaksa is quoted to have had said.

The President had also said that when the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) initiated its agriculture policy about three years ago, provisions were made in the budget for banks to provide capital to the agriculture sector, which should amount to 10% of each bank’s loan portfolio.

"It’s time for the CBSL to look into this and find just how cooperative they have been in promoting the development of the agriculture sector," he is reported to have had said.

In reading the President’s comments on the issue of high interest rates, he should realise that it is the high inflationary scenario that is plaguing the country’s economy that has pushed lending rates up.

On the flip side, offering high interest rates particularly on fixed income instruments in a high inflationary economy, is one way banks (to beat competition from finance companies) entice savers to deposit their moneys with them, which in turn is lent at higher rates by banks to borrowers so that they can profit from this exercise.

The situation is further aggravated with GoSL being the biggest player in the market, i.e. its biggest borrower, thereby creating an illiquid situation in the market, which only helps to push up rates, while at the same time crowding out the private sector from the market.

In this regard, CBSL till a few weeks ago was selling Government debt in the form of Treasury (T) Bills and Bonds to the market at high yields.

The management of inflation is the prerogative of the CBSL and not of CBs. In fact the two essential prerogatives of CBSL are inflation targeting to ensure price stability and bank supervision, which comes under the broad umbrella of financial system stability (FSS).

CBSL operates under Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister. And if CBSL has missed the bus in inflation targeting, the cause for a high interest rate regime, then it’s the CBSL and the President who has to shoulder the blame, and not CBs.

The President in this regard should take a leaf on economic management from the brief two year period of the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime of December 2001 to April 2004, where inflation and even lending rates came down to the single digit level as a result.

This was possible by that Government maintaining a tight fiscal and monetary policy, reining in government expenditure and by keeping the Government small, i.e. by giving space to the private sector or to the market to operate, without the government crowding them out as is the case today, complemented by the immensity of goodwill on the external side due to the ceasefire agreement, which was translated into an influx of foreign inflows.

On the charge that CBs are making high profits, if Rajapaksa cares to look at recent CBSL statistics in relation to the banking sector, he would note that bank profits in fact have had come down last year, with some banks even making a loss, the reason for the latter however being not solely the economic condition of the country, but also possibly due to bad management by some of those banks.

In this regard, CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told reporters recently that they would strengthen the Corporate Governance code for banks and would bring amendments to the Finance Companies Act in order to strengthen FSS.

The main reason for the fall in bank profits is due to a drop in credit volumes caused by the high interest rate regime prevalent in the economy which has been a disincentive to borrow, compounded by the fact that banks on the other hand preferred to lend to the government, i.e. by subscribing to government securities that comes in the form of risk free, gilt edged T Bills and Bonds, rather than to the market, where in the case of the latter there has been a rise in banks’ non performing loans due to the present economic downturn.

But with yields on government securities coming down, coupled with State banks cutting down on their lending rates, CBs, in the enfolding scenario, have no option other than to cut down on their lending rates too, if they are to be competitive vis-à-vis State banks and stay on in business.

This evolution was made possible with inflation declining, probably due to the global economic downturn that had resulted in oil imports, the country’s single biggest import, that saw their prices fall by almost 2/3rds since July of last year, coupled with the fall in prices of certain other commodity imports as well, and in the domestic sector, the fall in prices of essential commodities such as rice.

Fall in import prices would have had helped to ease pressure on government buying foreign exchange (forex) to settle petroleum bills, with a soothing effect on rupee or money market rates as a result, due to the lessening of demand pressure internally, caused by the easing of pressure (supply side) on the external side, and not necessarily due to good fiscal and monetary management on the part of CBSL or the Government.

The full benefit of falling commodity prices in the international market has however not been passed on to the consumer with a plethora of taxes being imposed to meet the revenue shortfall of the government which is cash strapped.

But the point to point inflation as a result (as measured by the new Colombo Consumers’ Price Index) of falling prices was reported to have had fallen to 5.3% last month (it was a high of 28.2% in June 2008), complemented by the moving annual average inflation declining to 18.6% last month (from 22.6% last year).

However, with GoSL continuing to be the biggest player in both the forex and rupee markets, does not augur well for inflation or interest rate targeting, even in the context of a post war economy, unless there are foreign inflows to do the balancing act, i.e. the availability of external borrowings to ease pressure on the country’s sparse reserves, and therewith the easy convertibility of foreign exchange into rupees.

However, in the context of the global recession, with liquidity being tight, and multilateral donor agencies such as the World Bank and the ADB having had already finalized their country assistance programmes for the current period, fresh inflows from such agencies are unlikely, with the only hope therefore being the IMF’s US$ 1.9 billion bailout package which is currently being negotiated.

There are talks of a US$ 500 million aid package from Libya, the details of which are however not clear.

On the context of 10% lending to the Agriculture Sector, the President should look inwards and first check whether the two GoSL CBs, namely the Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank have had subscribed to this Presidential decree, without faulting CBs as a whole. In fact former Forbes & Walker Chairman Chrysantha Perera recently told a forum organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, that even a State bank had refused to honour a directive from the Treasury Secretary to provide working capital loans to the Tea Sector, a sector which has been hit by the fall in prices due to the global recession.

New Sahana Board

Lanka Software Foundation (LSF), the non-profit open source software development organization announced recently the graduation of Sahana, the disaster management software system developed in the wake of the 2004 South Asian tsunami. A new independent foundation is being set up to take permanent ownership of Sahana and lead its future development.

LSF is engaged in research and development of free and open source software (FOSS). LSF’s objective is to provide fellowships and internships to talented developers who would like to contribute to FOSS. The goal is to brand Sri Lanka as an open source development centre for the world. In keeping with this goal, the foundation incubates projects and graduates them once they become self-sustaining.

"We are pleased with the new direction that Sahana has taken. LSF’s aim is to create economic impact. With Sahana LSF has been able to build an ecosystem that has sustainability in the software development industry in Sri Lanka", said LSF Chairman Mano Sekaram. In four years Sahana is accepted as the global de-facto disaster management software system. It has been deployed in major disasters around the world such as in Pakistan during the Asian Quake.

And in Indonesia during the Yogjarkata Earthquake and in three other disasters that occurred in the Philippines. As one of the first global free and open source software projects for disaster management, Sahana has received many awards and accolades, including the Global Free Software Foundation award for Social Benefit in 2006. At the LSF and Sahana joint board meeting held recently, it was decided to set up the new Sahana Foundation as a US 501-C3 non-profit organization with the vision of building and sustaining a global community of open and collaborative ICT for emergency management.

The Sahana board and Project Management Committee members unanimously appointed Global Crisis Services, Inc; President and CEO Brent Woodworth as the Chairman of the interim Sahana board which will be functional for six months. Founder, Director Dr Sanjiva Weerawarana was also voted into the Sahana board.

Alleviating slums

Lack of improved sanitation and water facilities are two of the four defining characteristics of urban slums.

Others are durable housing and sufficient living area.

Simple low cost interventions to correct those deficiencies would go a long way towards improving the lives of many slum dwellers.

In 2005 slightly more than a third of the urban population in developing regions lived in slum conditions. In Sub Saharan Africa the proportion was over 60%.

In Sub Saharan Africa half of slum households suffered from two or more shelter deprivations, lacking a combination of access to improved water, improved sanitation, durable housing or sufficient living area.

Improvement in the lives of slum dwellers will require large investments in this region.

In many countries in Northern Africa, Asia and Latin America, vast majority of slum households suffer from only one shelter deprivation.

Northern Africa not only has the lowest slum concentration, but nine out of 10 slum households lack only improved sanitation or sufficient living area.

Homes of nearly three quarters of slum households in Asia also have only one slum characteristic, usually either insufficient living area or non durable housing.

Even in Sub Saharan Africa there are slum households that lack just one service, often improved sanitation. (Source: UN’s 2008 Millennium Development Goals report)

Peace in our times

"I believe that peace should be achieved through a political

solution. Because this problem, what we have experienced and what we are experiencing right now is a political problem.

And a political problem should be ultimately solved with a political solution. Maybe military intervention is required at a certain stage due to certain background situations, but finally we should seek a political solution," former Defence Secretary Austin Fernando told Benchmark last Sunday.

Responding to a question on whether he felt the war was at an imminent end, he noted that this appeared to be the case. But he pointed out that with an end to the war, there was the possibility of certain other difficulties arising "because a defeated terrorist group will not be kind or nice towards the Government that has defeated them".

"Everybody is talking about peace building, how to make peace, but the peace building process should expand or go the next step of state building or state reform. And that is more or less a constitutional and legalistic situation. From there onwards, it has to go on to nation building. Because nation building has broken down, our legal system and constitutional provisions have broken down. So from peace building, go to state reform and then to nation building," Fernando said on the widely-watched business TV programme that is presented by LMD.

As to what the government should do to address the grievances of minorities, he noted: "Consider the grievances put forward by the people who speak on behalf of the LTTE and the Tamil community. They are thinking of violence. And violence has to be wiped out. Then they are thinking about respect. What does this mean? Respect for language, culture, ethnic groups and areas which they inhabit. Civil society, the

clergy, the youth and women must be listened to."

And Fernando added: "There are certain things which have to be done to win the hearts and minds of the people. To do that, one must understand why their hearts and minds are not with us-the Government and the country.

My personal opinion is that it has more to do with self-respect than economics and such.

If you want to win over the Tamils or Muslims, and if you want to win over the Sinhalese in some of those areas, you must understand their restrictions and the problems they face. Do we respect the other man’s culture, religion, ethics and traditions? Are we giving them equal opportunity?"

Benchmark 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.

$ 4.7 bn., in losses

The global air transport industry can expect losses of $4.7 billion in 2009, reports the International Air Transport Association (IATA), revised from a December forecast of a $2.5 billion loss.

Industry revenues are expected to fall by 12% ($62 billion) to $467 billion. In the post-9/11 decline, revenues fell by 7% ($23 billion) over the 2000-2002 period. Passenger traffic is expected to contract by 5.7% this year, cargo by 13% and yields by 4.3%.

In January passenger traffic was down 5.6%, with premium off 16.7%; cargo traffic fell 23.2%.

IATA also revised its forecast losses for 2008 from $5 billion to $8.5 billion. "This is a resilient industry capable of catalyzing economic growth. But we are structurally sick. The historical margin of this hyper-fragmented industry is 0.3%. Bail-outs are not the prescription to return to health.

Access to global capital, the ability to merge and consolidate and the freedom to access markets are needed to run this industry as normal profitable business,"

said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO. As freight traffic fell 22.1% year-on-year in February, Bisignani said, "We may have found a bottom to the freight decline, but the magnitude of the drop means that it will take time to recover."

Passenger traffic fell 10.1% from February 2008; a 5.9% cut in capacity was not enough to match the decline in demand, said IATA, and load factor fell to 69.9%.

(Washington Aviation Summary)

WTO rules

World Trade Organization warns that state aid packages meant to forestall financial crises need to be implemented so they do not violate global trade rules or discriminate against foreign companies.

In the airline industry, Boeing and Airbus have long waged a dispute over illegal state subsidies.

Meanwhile, France will guarantee up to Euro (€) 5 billion in loans to allow bank financing of export contracts in the aeronautical sector and maintain production during the current credit crunch.

Further, U.S. Export-Import Bank plans to increase guarantees for sales of Boeing jets by nearly 50%, to up to $9 billion, this year.(Washington Aviation Summary)

US$ 1.7 bn. to defend rupee

Central Bank, in the seven months to March 2009, has expended US$ 1,728.2 million of the country’s reserves on a net basis to defend the rupee value at various levels vis-à-vis the US dollar.

The sum expended, on a net basis, last month alone was US$ 54 million.(Source: Central Bank)

Bringing honour to Lanka

Ralston Joseph and Sithum Walter, two of JWT Colombo’s emerging creative stars were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the Young Lotus creative challenge at Adfest 2009 that concluded recently at Pattaya.

The selection was initially made locally as young creative talent from across agencies in Sri Lanka had to compete in an intense local competition run by the Accredited Advertising Agencies Association Sri Lanka (4As) before they are chosen to represent Sri Lanka.

Joseph and Walter emerged winners in the local competition and then went to challenge other countries which included teams from Australia, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Seoul, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and a host of other nations at Adfest 2009 Young Lotus Workshop in Pattaya.

The teams were asked to create a multimedia campaign that would encourage young college graduates to consider a career in advertising. The Sri Lanka team won with a surprising campaign that said "our industry is terrible-You will have to travel all over the world, work long hours, and go to glamorous advertising festivals". It was based on the clever insight that many youngsters are more likely to respond to negativism and can be cynical of positive messages.

It was a difficult assignment, says Dentsu Inc Executive officer and Global Executive Creative Director Akira Kagami who was one of the judges.

"We looked for a unique core Idea, good strategy and integrated communication design. All the teams worked hard, but the most impressive campaign came from the team from JWT Colombo which explained what our industry really represents."

JWT Colombo Chief Executive Officer Thayalan Bartlett said, "We made a conscious decision some time back to recruit young...

"Go young" decisions Joseph and Walter bear testimony of the decision and I’m delighted by their performance. They have brought honour to Sri Lanka. Honour to JWT and above all I am honoured to have them in our team.

Commenting on the win by a team she identified and nurtured, JWT Colombo Vice President and Executive Creative Director Ms. Chandini Rajaratnam said, "I am elated. I remember interviewing them fresh and enthusiastic. In just a few years they’ve been able to compete in an international arena and be the best of 13 teams which is commendable. They just needed an environment that was conducive to harnessing and honing their talent. I congratulate them and wish them more successes in the future.

Insurance cover

In a show of support to Sri Lanka’s resilient tourism sector, Amana Takaful Insurance (ATI) has offered a comprehensive insurance plan for KumbukRiver, the Sri Lankan eco resort which recently created history by being crowned the world’s leading eco-lodge at the World Travel Awards.

"KumbukRiver put Sri Lanka on the global map for all the right reasons and at a trying time for the local tourism industry, we thought it would be a good gesture to protect this eco resort which has brought unprecedented fame to the country", said Amana Takaful Life CEO/CMO Reyaz Jeffrey.

"It is not every day that Sri Lanka produces a world-class brand and it is just the kind of endorsement Sri Lanka tourism needed. ATI is about partnerships that take care of one another, bringing home to Sri Lanka a revolutionary insurance product hailed as the world’s most rewarding concept of insurance. So we thought of extending our goodwill to a home-grown brand which has made Sri Lanka proud," he said.

In a special insurance package tailor-made for KumbukRiver’s challenging and unique operation in an idyllic yet far-flung location in Buttala, ATI now covers its property, employees as well as, visitors-both international and local tourists in search of a unique travel experience. The 14-acre responsible tourism initiative on the banks of Kumbukkan Oya, features among its facilities a uniquely designed villa in the shape of a 40ft elephant.

"It’s a wonderful gesture by ATI to make a commitment to an enterprise which has beaten the odds in pushing Sri Lanka in the right direction. KumbukRiver is a pioneering venture and serves as a watchdog in the conservation of the area’s bio-diversity, especially considering its close proximity to Yala. It’s a magnificent gesture when a Sri Lankan corporate volunteers its support; so we can continue to preserve this international destination", says Dinesh Watawana, Managing Director of the resort which won the travel Oscar.

Ad sparks

Sri Lanka Advertising And Creativity School (SPAACS) held the graduation ceremony for their first two batches at the BMICH amidst media & advertising personnel, friends and well wishers recently.

The Chief Guest for the event was 4As President Ms. Laila Gunesekere with Brand Partners Managing Director Philip Goodstein attending as keynote speaker.

In his speech, he highlighted on the career potential in the advertising industry.

He also spoke of the responsibilities that new advertising professionals must take on, giving them an insight to challenges they will face in their careers.

Graduating students have successfully completed the course ‘Introduction to Advertising’ at SPAACS which focuses on the basics of the industry. The course which was completed over 10 weeks covered a spectrum of advertising related topics.SPAACS was established as a step towards bringing in new faces to the advertising industry, while fine tuning the skills of those already in it. Many of the students that graduated from SPAACS have already secured jobs in leading advertising agencies and advertising-related fields, while others are undergoing internships in the same."Joining SPAACS was a key turn in my life, as advertising helps open your mind to the colours in between the black and white of everyday life. On a personal perspective, I have learnt a lot not only in terms of advertising, but especially about marketing. What I learnt certainly turned the tables around on my understanding of the field," said Sankha Nandakumara, a student of the recently concluded course.

The launch of SPAACS was an innovative venture that will help students gain a knowledge of advertising and its related fields. It has proven to be a success, and this, the first of many graduation ceremonies, is a clear indication of the developments to come.

Overseas assignment

DFCC Bank (DFCC) has won a mandate from Oman Development Bank (ODB) to undertake a consultancy assignment to recommend a roadmap for launching deposit products for the first time in ODB’s 31 year history.

The only government owned and funded development finance institution in Oman, ODB invited proposals from international consultants to select a suitable consultancy to handle the assignment, which resulted in DFCC winning this contract.

ODB which has hitherto been offering term loans for development, has been receiving operating funds exclusively from the Omani Government.

Recently the Bank was permitted to offer working capital loans to businesses, provided the required funds for additional activities are garnered from other sources.

DFCC has leveraged its expertise gained as a DFI to provide consultancy services both in Sri Lanka and overseas. Recent overseas consultancy assignments include mini hydropower development related work for the Philippines Energy Department and Energy for Rural Transformation Project, Uganda.

DFCC CEO Nihal Fonseka said, "DFCC is not a normal consultant who makes recommendations based on third party experience. We are an institution that having started life as a pure DFI providing capital asset funding over 50 years ago, has successfully made the transition in the last 10 years to a financial services group that provides follow on working finance, trade finance, forex, investment banking and payment services while retaining our core strength and position in development financing; a transition that is important for the sustainable growth of DFIs.

We have walked the talk and are happy at being given the opportunity to share our experience with ODB."

Rewarding performers

Ceylinco Insurance General, recognized as the leader in the insurance industry with outstanding results, recently held their Annual Sales Conference and Awards Ceremony 2008, in which top performers were recognised and rewarded.

Held under the theme " Together we stand to serve our customers On the Spot", focused on providing customers with an even speedier and unparalleled service that borders on the exceptional.

Over 500 sales personnel were given awards based on a rewarding criteria, in which the top achievers are graded as Members, Certificate Members, Bronze, Silver, Gold and going on to the Hall of Fame.

With rewards based on these membership categories, three members who earned their places in the prestigious Hall of Fame for the first time received brand new cars and a brand new house, while a fourth member received an all expenses paid world tour for the entire family.

The Chief Guest at the event was Insurance Board of Sri Lanka Chairman Udayasri Kariyawasam who in his speech referred to the great responsibility the company has as the industry leader.

He also said that the company performs a key role in the Sri Lankan Insurance Industry, acknowledging the role of Ceylinco Insurance General as both an innovator and a catalyst for change.

Ceylinco Insurance General Deputy Chairman Ajith Gunawardena said that the company will go relentlessly forward unscathed by whatever has taken place around them while he also took the opportunity to thank the staff for their support and loyalty.

Over 850 sales personnel representing the entire branch network and city offices of the company took part in the event. The Ceylinco Insurance General team is recognized as the largest sales force in the industry.

The company confirms them to be well motivated and dynamic in providing an outstanding level of service to their customers. Moreover the team is backed by the widest network of branches in the insurance sphere in Sri Lanka. In 2008, the company made a major investment in upgrading its IT and technology infrastructure, making Ceylinco Insurance General state-of-the-art in information technology.

In 2008, Ceylinco Insurance General, announced an unprecedented growth, with total premium income for the year standing at Rs.11,793 million (Rs.11.8 billion), indicating a14.5% growth, a Rs.1,443 million increase over the previous year.Ceylinco Insurance was chosen as the People’s Insurance Company for the 3rd successive year in 2008 while the Ceylinco Insurance Brand remained among the brands rated highest in the country, with a ranking of AA-. In 2008, Ceylinco Insurance also bagged the Gold Award for the Insurance Category at the National Business Excellence Awards.

Expands Piliyandala operations

Following its outstanding growth in the retail banking sector in 2008, NDB Bank (NDB) shifted its operation at Piliyandala to a more spacious and convenient location, offering customers easy access and enhanced service.

The branch is manned by a team of banking professionals offering customers best-in-class service and the range of innovative solutions presented by the bank.

In 2008, the NDB Group reported a profit after tax of Rs 1.7 bn, an increase of 4% over the previous year, whilst bank’s profit after tax was Rs 1.2 bn, an increase of 8% over the previous year.

Growth of the bank will result in improvements and value additions this year at many of its branches to ensure customer convenience. The upgrade of NDB’s Piliyandala branch is the first in a series of developments the bank aims to carry out at some of its key branches islandwide.

"At NDB we always keep the customer in mind; to serve them better at all times. This was our key objective in effecting this relocation," said NDB Vice President and Retail Banking & Marketing Head Indrajit Wickremasinghe.

"Our new branch will provide better access to customers together with world-class services that we offer all Sri Lankans. Reliability, outstanding customer service and an extensive range of products and services are some of the key strengths of NDB, and we promise to deliver the best solutions at every instance."

NDB offers it’s customers a comprehensive range of retail banking products and services including Current Accounts, Savings Accounts, Foreign Currency Accounts, Leasing Facilities, Fixed Deposits, Personal Loans, Education Loans, Children’s Savings Accounts, Housing Loans, Bancassuarance, Travellers Cheques, Debit Cards, and Western Union Money Transfers.

NDB is the fastest growing force in the retail-banking sector in the country. Maintaining the highest standards of competence and probity, NDB is on track to achieve its cherished vision-to be a World Class Sri Lankan Bank.

Go "green"

John Keells Office Automation (Pvt.) Ltd., (JKOA) recently announced the islandwide launch of its environmental campaign, "Go Green".

The announcement was made at a seminar jointly organised by JKOA and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), with the patronage of the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) at CEA Auditorium.

The ‘Go Green’ campaign was launched in 2004, making JKOA the first company in Sri Lanka to introduce a scientifically proven method for disposing of toner cartridges in order to reduce its environmental footprint. This initiative introduced a process to collect and dispose of empty original Toshiba toner cartridges in an environmentally friendly manner.

The recycling process is carried out by certified plastic recycling plants and the recycled plastics are used to manufacture a variety of other products for domestic/industrial use.

JKOA Chief Executive Officer Chandima Perera said, "We invite interested institutions and individuals to join the ‘Go Green’ campaign. Many more seminars are scheduled to take place throughout the year, taking the ‘Go Green’ message to every corner of the country. As part of our mission to create a less polluted world, we will give rewards to the people and community at large."

He added, "We are committed to plastic recycling and hope that others too will follow suit in whatever ways they can. Many economic and environmental benefits could be derived through the systematic implementation of the latest developments in plastic recycling technology, as case studies show, and we should all make an extra effort towards this end."

JKOA is the leading provider of office automation equipment, software solutions and services in Sri Lanka. The company is the authorized distributor for Toshiba office automation products such as Multifunctional Colour Copiers, Notebook computers, Multi-media projectors and software solutions. JKOA commands the dominant market share in the respective product categories and sets benchmark service standards in the industry.

Working poor

For millions in the world, jobs provide little relief from poverty because their pay is so low.Employed persons living in a household where each member earns less than US$ one a day are considered the working poor.

In Sub Saharan Africa, over half the workers fall into this category.

The number of working poor is unlikely to be reduced without increases in productivity.

Over the past 10 years productivity has risen by at least 4% annually in South and East Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

As a result, there were fewer working poor in all three regions. In contrast, the generally low and volatile changes in productivity in Sub Saharan Africa have limited the decline in working poverty in that region. (Source: UN’s 2008 Millennium Development Goals report)

After the war

Today Sri Lanka lives in the threshold of concluding a war which prolonged for nearly three long decades. End of a terrorist war which costed the country billions of dollars and thousands of human lives will undoubtedly set forth a new era of living, business opportunities and economic conditions.

‘Beyond the war’-Building: Human capital, organisation and economy was the topical discussion at the CEO Forum organised by CIMA The Chartered Institute of Management Accountant in collaboration with SIM The Singapore Institute of Management at a Colombo hotel recently.

‘When the guns cease to fire, are we ready for peace?’ was a thought provoking question raised by Mourad Mankarios, Principal Coach, SIM at the start of his address as the keynote speaker at this Forum.

Mankarios emphasised on the importance of being ready to take charge of the controllable factors in pursuit of capitalising on opportunities by development of the talent pool of people and constant innovation to give the extra edge in taking the organisation and the economy beyond the spheres of war.

He also focused on inculcating strong values and exercising transparency, as two vital aspects of leadership in establishing a sustainable eco system. Mankarios, as the former Chairman and CEO of Philips Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd drew insight through his varied experience in areas of operations, IT and regulatory framework working in the Middle East, Africa, Netherlands and East Asia.

His presentation was followed by a discussion with a panel of business leaders bringing in their diversified knowledge and experience to this forum. This session was moderated by Colombo Stock Exchange Chairman Nihal Fonseka.

He noted the importance of Foreign Direct Investments in achieving the required level of development and expressed that there’s a higher possibility of attracting the necessary capital flow given the end of war. As a panel member, Rohantha Athukorala, Director Economic Affairs, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process provided insight pertaining to the current economic impact of war. He indicated that the war has costed US $ 20 bn to the economy. He also focused on the way forward in positioning Sri Lanka in the Global market. Panellist Jeevan Thiagarajah, Executive Director, Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, Colombo emphasised on the importance of reconciliation and healing the hearts of people to avoid best laid efforts being derailed.

Dr Gamini Wickramasinghe, Chairman, Bank of Ceylon, another panel member brought in his insight relating to development of livelihood in the north and east via an agricultural and a knowledge based economy by promoting professional education and industries such as Business Process Outsourcing. The discussion session concluded with further insight from Mankarios, about the key learning from the success story of Singapore.

Creating value to the business community by facilitating discussions of timely and relevant topics to business leaders of the day remains a commitment of CIMA.

Corporate Governance

Union Assurance (UA), one of the leading composite insurers in Sri Lanka believes in true Corporate Governance.

Displaying the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility, Union Assurance PLC started its 9th Phase of the Crime Prevention programme together with the Sri Lanka Police (SLP) in Trincomalee by installing crime prevention awareness boards.

This is a unique project UA started together with the SLP to minimize the crime rate in the country by erecting display boards with telephone numbers of the relevant police stations to encourage citizens to call and inform the authorities when they detect crime. This also helps motorists to identify the relevant police area they are in, while driving.

This project initially started out from the Western Province in 2005 and gradually extended as an islandwide project covering Western, North Western, Southern, Central, Sabaragamuwa, North Central, Eastern, Uva and Northern Provinces as well, with over 300 crime prevention boards having been mounted islandwide.UA, being in the business of protection, goes a step further through this initiative to be in line with its brand promise "We will take care of you for life."

"Epic" partnership

Lanka Bell recently announced it will partner Epic Lanka Technologies to introduce the first CDMA credit card swipe terminals, also known as point of sale or PoS terminals to Sri Lankan businesses, achieving another technology first.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two companies will result in the launch of PoS terminals that can be used with CDMA connectivity, as opposed to conventional fixed lines currently required for such machines. This will enable merchants all over Sri Lanka to transact electronically taking advantage of Lanka Bell’s CDMA coverage.

The new technology will also create the opportunity for banks in Sri Lanka to expand their electronic business capabilities islandwide while improving their credit card and debit card reach by being able to provide merchants in the remotest parts of the country with the ability to perform electronic transactions.

Epic will be responsible for the sale, software application developments and maintenance of the equipment, while Lanka Bell will provide the connectivity.

"The arrival of CDMA PoS machines will mean a new dimension in convenience to merchants," said Lanka Bell Managing Director Prasad Samarasinghe. "Businesses can set up and run a PoS terminal much faster, and there is also the ability to support field sales units with this new technology."

Epic Chairman/Managing Director Nayana Dehigama said: "We are pleased to have Lanka Bell as our connectivity partner for the new PoS terminals with CDMA technology. A high quality connection is important to ensure an uninterrupted service, which is why Lanka Bell is the exclusive service provider for this groundbreaking development."

Insurance benefits

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) recently partnered with Sri Lanka Insurance (SLI) to provide bank’s customers with "exclusive" benefits from the motor insurance brand "Formula Plus" (FP).

This partnership will enable SCB clientele to enjoy benefits of FP motor insurance solutions through the bank’s service network. The offer comes to SCB customers with competitive rates coupled with a personalized service offered to FP policyholders ensuring customer convenience at every customer contact point.

Policyholders enjoy benefits such as the option of obtaining an "accurately" assessed claim within 24 hours or having their vehicles repaired to manufacturers’ specifications at Formula World Collision Repair Centre free of charge in addition to other benefits such as personal accident covers.

"We believe that this breakthrough Bancassurance partnership enable us to provide customers with benefits which will add value to their motor insurance requirements. SCB is always looking to provide its customers with the best propositions in the market under one roof. This is another example of such an effort," said SCB Sri Lanka Consumer Banking Head Anvirvan Ghosh Dastidar.

SLI CEO (General) Suren Galagoda commended SCB for making the right choice in selecting SLI as their insurance partner and pointed out that SLI is the first insurance provider in Sri Lanka to receive a global rating for stability from an internationally recognized rating house, Fitch Ratings London.

He added, "SLI is happy to partner with SCB and we hope that this move will enable more people to enjoy the benefits offered by FP motor insurance.

Stock market announcements

Central Finance Plc has declared a Rs. 1.25 interim dividend. Excluding dividend (XD) date: April 23, 2009 and payment date: May 5, 2009.

Lanka Tiles plc has declared a Rs. 1 interim dividend for the financial year 2008/09. XD date: March 17, 2009 and payment date: March 27, 2009.

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka plc has declared a Rs. 1 first and final dividend. Shareholders’ meeting: March 30,2009; XD date: March 31, 2009 and payment date: April 6, 2009.

Sigiriya Village Hotels plc has declared a rights issue at an issue price of Rs. 20 a share and in the proportion of 1:1. EGM & provisional allotment: March 24, 2009; X rights from March 25, dispatch of provisional letter of allotment: March 3, 2009; Splitting: April 8, 2009; renunciation: April 23 and trading starts on: April 6, 2009.

Tea Smallholder Factories plc has declared a Rs. 3 interim dividend. XD date March 23, 2009 and payment date: April 2, 2009.

Agalawatte Plantations plc has declared a Rs. 1 first and final dividend of Rs. 2 per share for the financial year 2008. AGM: March 31,2008; XD date: April 1, 2009 and payment date: April 7, 2009.Associated Electrical Corporation plc recently informed the Colombo Stock Exchange that they have received permission from the Securities & Exchange Commission to delist from the Board.

Selvanathan bros. moves

Several companies controlled by the Selvanathan brothers Mano and Hari were involved in inter-company transactions on March 6.

In this connection Carsons Management Services (Pvt.) Ltd. informed the Colombo Stock Exchange that Carson Cumberbatch PLC’s holding of 5,205,506 ordinary shares of Shalimar (Malay) PLC which accounts for 75.01% of the voting rights of the company was sold to GoodHope Asia Holdings Ltd., a fully owned Carson Cumberbatch subsidiary incorporated in Singapore

Also, 3,482,497 shares of Selinsing PLC held by Carson Cumberbatch (50.18%), 54, 216 shares of Selinsing held by Mylands Investments Ltd. (0.78%) and 472,324 shares of Selinsing PLC held by Watapota Investments PLC (6.8%) was bought by GoodHope Asia.

Similarly, GoodHope Asia bought 3,590,438 shares (51.3%) of Indo-Malay PLC held by Carson Cumberbatch, 1.13% (78,960 shares) of Indo-Malay held by Mylands Investments and 0.52% of Indo-Malay (36,000 shares) held by Weniwella Investments on March 6.

Carsons Management also informed that 472,324 shares (6.8%) of Selinsing PLC held by Watapota Investments PLC were also sold to GoodHope Asia.

Further, a total of 3, 705,082 shares of Good Hope PLC held by Carson Cumberbatch (53.92%); 106,835 shares of Good Hope PLC (1.55%) held by Mylands Investments Ltd. and 30,852 shares of Good Hope PLC (0.45%) held by Weniwella Investments Ltd. were bought by GoodHope Asia.

Additionally 9,733,607 shares (24.14%) held by Shalimar (Malay) PLC in Equity One PLC was bought by Carson Cumberbatch, increasing its stake in the company to 94.59%.

Customer service

Pan Asia Bank (PAB)maintains consistent policy in developing its human resources (HR) through continued staff development programmes and believes that it is crucial to invest in training during challenging times.

Towards achieving its objectives in developing its HR, the most valuable asset of an organization, the Bank in co-ordination with CIMA Sri Lanka division conducted a Master Course: "Financial Aspects of Selling" as part of an ongoing programme to develop the skills and uplift service standards of its young and enterprising outfit.

It was conducted by Marketing & Management Consultant Prasanna Perera.

This session covered various aspects connected to staff development, mainly focused with emphasis on various aspects of selling the bank’s "innovative" financial products and customer service of which the bank boast of "first class Banking," the two essential ingredients in today’s context of competitiveness and excellence in service.

The bank as a policy sets training sessions to its entire staff irrespective of their grade or position. These productive sessions has equipped the Bank staff at various levels to understand and cater accordingly to the specific needs of the Bank’s customers to ensure service delivery, an important tool in attracting customers and enhancing business opportunities.

CIMA Mastercourses have established a name for itself and offer professional training solutions to accounting, finance and other professionals.

These programmes cover a wide range of current topics and techniques, relevant and applicable to all sectors, both corporate and government.

CIMA Mastercourses are conducted for the benefit of its members, passed finalists and their business associates.

To Bangkok

Union Assurance’s top life achievers toured Bangkok for a five day visit recently.

The tour was offered based on their business performance, with customer retention in 2008 also been taken into consideration to be qualified for this tour.

Among the selected 52 participants were insurance advisers, team leaders and the sales management team.

Assistant General Manager Life Distribution Nalaka Dharmaratne paid tribute to the winners for their contributions and business achievements in the life business. Assistant General Manager Sales Force Administration J.M Niyaz said that tours of this nature motivates the sales staff to benchmark themselves against their own performance year over year since the organisation each year raises the bar to qualify for this type of tour.

Penal rate cut by 175 bps

The significant fall in inflation from July 2008 demonstrates that inflationary pressures in the economy have dissipated significantly. The year-on-year change in the new Colombo Consumers’ Price Index declined to a single digit level of 7.6% by end-February, from 14.4% at end 2008. The declining trend in inflation is expected to continue and inflation is expected to remain at single digit levels during the remainder of the year, benefiting from the containment of demand pressures in the economy and healthy developments in both international and domestic supply conditions, the Central Bank (CB) in a statement said. Average inflation in 2009 is also expected to be comfortably less than 10%.In line with the developments in inflation and inflation outlook, the CB has revised its monetary policy stance, allowing for a gradual relaxation of market interest rates.

In line with such policy stance, the penal rate of interest charged on reverse repurchase transactions with the CB was reduced by 250 basis points (bps) in two steps and the Repurchase and Reverse Repurchase rates were reduced by 25 bps each. The Statutory Reserve Requirement (SRR) imposed on rupee deposit liabilities of commercial banks was also revised on three occasions, starting October 2008, bringing it gradually down to 7% from 10% to improve market liquidity.

In a move to signal to the market its desire for a further reduction in market interest rates, the Monetary Board has decided to reduce the penal rate of interest charged on reverse repurchase transactions with the CB by a further 175 bps to 14.75% with immediate effect. Any shortage in market liquidity will also be addressed by the CB through its open market operations. In addition, the CB has also decided to remove the margin requirements imposed in late October and early November 2008 in relation to opening of Letters of Credit (LC) for certain non-essential items and in respect of imports on Documents Against Acceptance (DA) terms, with immediate effect. The deposit requirement against the opening of LCs on the importation of motor vehicles which was increased to 200% in November 2008, has reverted to 100% with immediate effect.

As a result of the reduction in interest rates and the injection of additional liquidity, domestic interest rates have indicated a clear decline. Yields on Treasury bills have declined by 140-190 basis points since end 2008. The Average Weighted Prime Lending Rate also declined to 18.27% in the second week of March 2009, the lowest level recorded by it in 2009 thus far. CB expects that the further relaxation of its monetary policy stance would encourage financial intermediaries to expand their lending portfolio, enhancing the flow of credit to the economy at lower rates. This would promote domestic demand and support economic activity.

The release of the next regular statement on monetary policy will be on April 22, 2009.

Winners for 3rd time

Seylan Bank "A" team emerged winners at The Trade Finance Quiz 2009 organized by the Trade Finance Association of Bankers that was held recently at a Colombo hotel.

The Trade Finance Quiz is an annual event and Seylan Bank has won it for the second consecutive year and have been the winners thrice out of the five times the event has been held so far.

Almost all commercial banks entered teams along with a team from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka totalling 24 teams in all.

Sanitation & disease

Some 2.5 billion people remain without improved sanitation-more than a billion in Asia and another half billion in Sub Saharan Africa.

In 2006, there were 54 countries where less than half the population used an improved sanitation facility, three quarters of those countries were in Sub Saharan Africa.

Half the world’s population now live in rural areas.

Nevertheless rural dwellers represent more than 70% of the population without improved sanitation.

In urban areas, improvements in sanitation have failed to keep pace with population growth.

In 21 countries in Sub Saharan Africa, only 16% of the poorest quintile of the population have access to improved sanitation compared to 79% of the population in the richest quintile.

Almost a quarter of the developing world’s population live without any form of sanitation.

An additional 15% use sanitation facilities that do not ensure hygienic separation of human waste from human contact.

Open defecation jeopardizes an entire community, not just those who practise it, because of an increased risk of diarrhoeal diseases, cholera, worm infestations, hepatitis and related diseases.

While open defectation is declining in all regions, it continues to be practiced by almost half the population in South Asia and more than a quarter of those living in Sub Saharan Africa.

Of the 1.2 billion people who practise open defecation, more than a billion live in rural areas. (Source: UN’s 2008 Millennium Development Goals report)

Otara’s latest venture

Providing personalised fitness training to health and body-shape conscious individuals has become the latest project of Ms. Otara Gunewardene, Sri Lanka’s celebrity fashion and style entrepreneur with the launch of ‘Otone,’ a personalised fitness training facility.

Located at Odel’s landmark Alexandra Place outlet, the new facility which opened on March 6, is designed to cater to the individual needs of fitness seekers of all ages, and is equipped and furnished to provide personal fitness training including aerobics, cardio kick boxing, massage, boot camps and children’s fitness programmes.

The training programmes at Otone include general fitness, weight loss, body toning, sports conditioning, performance and corrective exercises. Its group exercise classes include ‘Otone Kick out,’ a high calory-burning total body conditioning workout, ‘Otone Boot out,’ a motivation group workout using simple accessories such as cones, tyres, ladders and obstacles and utilises one’s own body weight and ‘Otone Sporty Kids’ to get children out of harmful lifestyles and improve their coordination, flexibility, speed and balance.

"Being fit and staying in shape has always been an essential part of my life. However, I discovered that working out on my own did not give me results. Working out with a trainer with a programme tailor made for me was what changed the shape of my body and gave me the results I wanted. This is what I’m sure many others realize as well and that is why I have come up with this concept," said Gunewardene, founder and CEO of Odel. "The most important aspect of this facility is its privacy and its personalized services which are uncommon with other standard gyms."

"Keeping fit can be tedious and boring, but our approach will be to make it fun and unconventional, achieving results together with physical and mental balance," Gunewardene added.

She said that once it becomes interesting, people will not look at fitness training as a hassle but take it as an enjoyable daily activity which will help them to make a difference to their body shape.

To be run by Ranil Harshana, a fitness specialist, the new facility at Odel which occupies 2,100 square feet of space, can offer performance training and general or specialized training to adults and children. It also offers group or individual training covering eight year old children to business executives, college level athletes to Olympic athletes. Otone uses simple yet effective functional equipment such as medicine balls, speed ladders, tyres, punching and kicking bags, free weights, power plates, speed chutes and other sports conditioning equipment to achieve results.

The experts at Otone will also show customers how to use locations and objects in their own homes as fitness aids to maintain their fitness.

With outdoor group activities like ‘Otone Kick Out,’ ‘Otone Boot out’ and ‘Otone Sporty Kids,’ the new facility will provide speed training as well as balance training, helping to build up strength, fitness, health and body shape.

According to Harshana, Otone will also help people with postural problems and those needing rehabilitation after illness or accidents. "Otone can takeover when a physiotherapist completes treatment and can also provide customers with access to experts in sports medicine as well as Rheumatology," he said.

Harshana who has 10 years experience in the fitness industry possesses a Diploma in Fitness and Nutrition from the American Council on Exercise and is also certified in personal training and group fitness and fitness therapy. He has received specialized certifications in sports conditioning, performance enhancement and corrective exercises from the American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sports Science Association USA, and Performance Training Academy UK.

A former fashion model and the founder and CEO of Sri Lanka’s unique department store Odel, Gunewardene is also the owner of ‘Backstage’ and ‘Six Runs’ brands.

Backstage is a brand name encompassing a wide range of trendy women’s jewellery and fashion accessories that has fired the imagination of Sri Lankan women. Six Runs is a brand for an extensive range of items including sports and casual wear and fun accessories at value-for-money prices.

Savari at Leisure World

A unique feat of communal amity on a large scale was achieved recently, when some 2,400 people from all over Sri Lanka met for an overwhelming full-day outing at Leisure World theme park, thanks to Ceylinco Life Family Savari promotion conducted by the life insurance leader.

The second phase of the 2009 Family Savari brought together policyholders from 600 families for a once in a lifetime experience of novel water-based amusement activities.

All participants, including those from the north and east enjoyed the day, clambering on to rides, slides and chutes or plunging into pools in a stimulating environment made possible by the Family Savari promotion. They were also able to interact with cricketing icon Muttiah Muralitharan, a Ceylinco Life Brand Ambassador, who accompanied them on the outing.

Addressing the families selected for the outing through a draw, Ceylinco Life Deputy Chairman R. Renganathan said: "Ceylinco Life has united people from the North, South, East and West at one exciting place. We are happy to share our success with our policyholders through this type of fun-filled event."

He said that Ceylinco Life policyholders can look forward to more such life-long memories in the future as the company enhances its prizes to policyholders year by year.

"Providing an all expenses fully paid day outing for such a massive number of persons and arranging transport to and from the theme park was not a small task, but the ability to execute this programme successfully demonstrates the company’s strength and capacity," Renganathan added.

The first phase of this year’s Ceylinco Life Family Savari presented 20 lucky winners with a four-day tour of Singapore and Malaysia which included a cruise on the Malacca Straits on the ‘Star Virgo’ luxury liner.

Maximising returns

The upward trend in interest rates since the launch of NAMAL Flexi Income Fund (NFIF) has helped us to deliver increased return to investors than expected, said NAMAL Chief Executive Officer S.Jeyavarman.

When the fund was launched the one year Treasury (T) bill rate was around 14.50% and this rate peaked at 19.96% in December 2007 and declined thereafter. We think the current limited bank credit to corporate sector would increase the appetite for corporates to seek funds more from capital market instruments such as debentures, commercial paper and trust certificates. A fund of this nature can match investor needs with that of the corporate borrower. "Currently interest rates seem on its decline and our Flexi scheme can provide the opportunity for investors to lock in their capital for a fixed period to generate better returns compared to other forms of savings" he said. The first close ended fund in Sri Lanka, NFIF pays quarterly dividends to investors as proposed in its initial offer in March 2007, NFIF paid two dividends of Rs 0.43 and 0.46 in 2007 and four dividends of Rs 0.40, 0.46, 0.48 and 0.45 in 2008 and one dividend of Rs 0.41 in year 2009.

PDA powered

Ceylinco Development Bank (CDB) recently launched a Personal Data Assistant (PDA) base recovery online monitoring solution to enhance the productivity of its recovery field officers.

The total PDA solution consists of Credit and Investment Marketing Module, Recoveries Module and Collection Module.

In Brief

Chillies ’09

This year’s edition of Sri Lanka Advertising Awards, the Chillies, will again be preceded by Chillies Week 2009, a series of creative opportunities, offering local creatives interaction with the worlds’s advertising industry trendsetters.

The first seminar will be held on Tuesday at Taj Samudra Colombo, with Dentsu Japan’s Creative Director Ms. Masako Okamura and JWT India’s Vice President & Executive Creative Director Senthil Kumar, highlighting how creativity manifests in their respective cultures.

Chillies Week 2009, kicks of with a “Brief to a Grand Prix”, a workshop conducted by Cannes Lion Grand Prix winner Agnello Dias tomorrow at the same venue, with the main event being held at SLECC on May 2, with other programmes thrown inbetween, during the course of that week.

Poor 1st qtr. ’09

The first quarter ended March 31, 2009 is going to be poorer to corporates on a year on year basis due to the downturn in the global and local economies, market sources told The Sunday Leader.

Those results are however not out as yet.

They based their statements on account of the fall in both exports and imports and also the hit taken by the construction industry, coupled with the downturn in the banking and financial services sector due to the high inflationary and interest regime that beset the economy.

The tourism sector is already down.

The 4th quarter ended December 31, 2008 was also bad for corporates, but they said that it was difficult at this juncture to say whether first quarter (1Q) 2009 would be better than 4Q 2008.

Deflation meaningless to jobless

A deflationary economy is of no use to a consumer who does not have a cent in his pocket, a market source told The Sunday Leader when it was pointed out that the Central Bank (CB) told reporters that deflation has entered the economy.

The source was referring to the retrenchment that was taking place, or is about to take place in some blue chip companies as a result of the economic downturn.

CB Superintendent of Public Debt C.J.P. Siriwardena said that according to the basket of goods used by the Census and Statistics Department to determine inflation, it was in fact deflationary conditions that were currently pervading the economy.

Inflation is when prices rise over a pre-determined period of time, while deflation is the reverse of it.

Meanwhile the stock market, led by retailer hype over war wins made gains at Friday’s trading, albeit on thin volumes, with this trend expected to continue in the week beginning tomorrow, complemented by falling interest rates, sources said.


Investors who depended on fixed income instruments to give them a return, will now be looking at the stock market, in the context of falling rates, they said. 


He said that the reason for fixing MRPs was to prevent black marketers, prevalent during the Avuruddhu season.

“Though our prices are reasonable, still the masses are seemingly reluctant to do their shopping in supermarket outlets,” said Guneratne. They are apparently over-awed, and therefore prefer doing their shopping from petti kades  (corner stores), he said.

“For instance, when we open up outlets in rural areas, consumers enter our premises after removing their slippers,” added Guneratne.

IMF tranche

The first IMF tranche of the US$ 1.9 billion standby arrangement applied for by the government is expected either this month or the next, informed sources told The Sunday Leader.

They however said that the government having to divest its stake in Sri Lanka Telecom was not part of the IMF loan agenda.

But the sources did not rule out the possibility that part of those proceeds may be used to settle Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s  oil hedge liabilities, estimated at some US$ 800 million.

Foreign collaboration

Most of the offers received by the Central Bank (CB) to buy a 1/3rd equity stake in Seylan Bank for US$ 50 million, were offers made by parties who said that they will be coming  in with foreign collaboration, informed sources told The Sunday Leader.

They however declined to give the number of offers received, when requests for proposals closed last week.

However, Sampath Bank made their offer independent of any collaboration, they said. Commercial Bank did not make a bid. When asked whether Hatton National Bank also made a bid, they refused to give an answer.

Bidders who pass CB’s technical evaluation will be asked to make firm offers this week.

Unconfirmed reports said that cash rich John Keells Holding plc (JKH) was also interested in Seylan, but it was not clear whether they submitted an offer.  JKH’s associate company is Nations Trust Bank Plc.

Rates bottom-out?

Weighted average yields (WAYs) of Treasury (T) Bills of 182 and 364 day maturities remained unchanged at 15.88% and 16.40% respectively  week on week (WoW) at Wednesday’s T Bill primary auction, while that of the 91 day maturity moved down marginally by seven basis points WoW to 14.09%.

This auction was for the re-issue of Rs. 4,500 million worth of maturing T Bills, with the Central Bank ultimately accepting offers worth Rs. 5,290 million from the market.

Not luxuries

ICTs are general purpose technologies, even linking the poor. Sri Lanka has a 55% mobile penetration rate and a 20% fixed line penetration rate.-Dialog Telekom CEO Dr. Hans Wijaysuriya at an international telecoms forum that was held in Colombo recently.

"Hospital ombudsman"

It would be helpful for the people who are allegedly at the receiving end of various injustices from private hospitals, if an ombudsman is appointed to deal with complaints made against such, a lawyer said.

Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya, Insurance Ombudsman, speaking at a seminar recently said that there around 196 private hospitals.

He added that there are 15 insurance companies in the country and all these companies agreed to work with the ombudsman.

Ombudsman is a player on alternate dispute resolution.

In Sri Lanka several ombudsmen operate, such as Parliamentary Ombudsman, Financial Ombudsman, Insurance Ombudsman, Tax Ombudsman and Tourism Ombudsman.

In the proceedings of the ombudsman there are no lawyers and no legal rules and no rules of evidence.

The conclusions are "just, reasonable and equitable."

Weerasooria said that except one case, in all other cases insurance companies agreed with his decisions and payments were accordingly made. An ombudsman saves lot of time.

He said that people are not aware of the relief that could be brought in by the ombudsman.

The seminar was organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka.

Bird strikes

Federal Aviation Authority USA (FAA) has proposed to seal records on aviation bird strikes "to encourage continued voluntary reporting of wildlife hazard data."

Releasing raw data could produce inaccurate perceptions of the bird-strike danger, FAA said, and cause under-reporting of incidents.

FAA’s Wildlife Hazard Database is said to contain more than 100,000 reports of strikes that have been voluntarily submitted since 1990.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long recommended mandatory reporting and says the database grossly underestimates the magnitude of the problem and lacks critical information, such as the species of birds in a strike. A comment period on the FAA proposal ends April 20.

(Washington Aviation Summary)

Crew management

4th Maritime HR and Crew Development Conference organised by Active Communication International (ACI) and which will be held in Dubai from April 21-22,’09, will highlight topical issues relating to acute shortage of skilled crew especially for the tankers and offshore sector.

The manning crisis is now at a critical point and is affecting different aspects of the shipping industry.

The lack of skilled crew has resulted in safety and environmental concerns as well as inhibiting the growth of shipping companies.

In this conference, delegates will have the opportunity to hear from their peers on the latest HR and crew management strategies to overcome these challenges.

Participants will also have the opportunity to join interactive discussions where issues such as safety, environmental protection and realistic solutions to the manning crisis will be discussed.

The expert panel of speakers comprises leading HR, Crew & Operations Management senior executives from global ship owning and ship management companies which include Kersi N. Deboo of Anglo-Eastern Maritime Training Centre, Bjorn Simonsen of OSM Crew Management, Ali Shehab of Kuwait Oil Tanker Co (K.O.T.C), Khaled Jamil of Qawareb Ship Management L.L.C and Eduard Tkalcic of OSG Ship Management, Manila Inc. amongst many others.

(Marine Talk)

Bulk carriers

ClassNK Japan has just released a new information booklet entitled "Bulk Carrier".

This publication presents a broad overview of various aspects of the Society’s involvement with this dynamic and vital part of the marine industry.

In addition to introducing the role of the surveyor in building better ships and some key activities of the Society, the booklet also outlines the history of the development of bulk carriers and explains about the various types of bulk carriers in use today.

(Marine Talk)


Nations Trust Bank Plc (NTB) recently announced the launch of the Nations Auto Sweep Account-a proposition that combines the flexibility of a current account and the benefits of a savings account, said a statement.

NTB DGM Consumer Banking Ms. Renuka Fernando said, "We are delighted to launch this new solution that transfers the surplus funds in the current account to a savings account that earns interest – so that the accountholder gains the maximum benefit from both these accounts."


The Royal Institution of Naval Architects’ booklet "Guidance on the Safety Role of the Naval Architect" provides information and guidance to all naval architects on safety management and associated methods.

The booklet has been revised to reflect the latest developments in ship safety.

Initially published in 1993 as "Guidance for Members Concerning Safety Assurance", this revision reflects the latest developments in ship safety.

(Marine Talk)

Atta flour

Serendib Flour Mills Pvt Ltd.’s "Seven Star" Atta Flour is high in nutrition and yet the most economically priced flour in the wholesale market, said a statement.

Its high bran content makes it a fibre-rich food from which Rotti, Naan,Chapathi, Parata, Poori, and Pittu may be made, its CEO/Director Sathak Abdul Kadar said.

Chief Marketing Officer Suren R. A. Abeywickrema also made his comments in this regard.

In K’gala

Chartered Institute of Marketing Sri Lanka Region (CIM SLR) in partnership with MAS Institute of Management and Technology (Pvt) Ltd (MIMT) ventured into Kurunegala recently.

CIM SLR Education Head Ajith Medis, Education Services Manager Mrs. Ranmal Ekanayake, Student Affairs Executive Mrs. Priya Kodithuwakku, Marjan Manzil, Mrs. Ayin Shah Jahan, MIMT CEO Chandan de Silva, MAS Holdings’ Corporate Branding and Strategic Sustainability Director Ravi Fernando, nearly 100 students and school teachers representing Maliyadeva Boys College, Kurunegala; St. Joseph’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Kegalle; St. Mary’s College, Kegalle and Babul Hussain Central College, Warakapola participated at this event.

Disaster recovery

"Disaster Recovery Management-Knowledge & Experience Sharing" session was organized by Suntel with the collaboration of Information Technology Professional Association in Katunayake Export Processing Zone (ITPA-KEPZ) and conducted by Prof. Gihan V. Dias, an industry professional recently.

The main objective of this event was to raise the awareness levels on Disaster Recovery Services. Other topics discussed were: Theory of Disaster Recovery Management, Data Duplication, Importance of Disaster Recovery Hot Site and Important points when selecting a service provider for Disaster Recovery.

Remittances down 8%

Private remittances declined by 8.4% year on year to US$ 228 million on a net basis in January 2009.

(Source: Central Bank)

Offshore safety

OSV (Code of Safe Practice for the Carriage of Cargoes and Persons by Offshore Supply Vessels) Asia-Pacific Conference will be held during Singapore Maritime Week from April 22-23, 2009 in Singapore.

It focuses on design and commercial trends for OSVs, sessions on Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessels (AHTS) and crewing vessels and will discuss engineering and operational aspects.

Presentations from ship owners and operators, exploration managers, shipyards, naval architecture firms and classification groups will give delegates a holistic view of building and operating these workhorses of the sea.

It will feature leading industry speakers such as George Horsington, General Manager, Swire Production Solutions Representative from Dolphin Offshore; Jon Corner, Senior Vice President-Commercial, Inchcape Shipping Services; Nazery Khalid, Fellow-Centre for Economic Studies and Ocean Industries, Maritime Institute of Malaysia; Arnstein Eknes, Business Director for Offshore Support Vessels, DNV; Surendera Agarwal, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Neilsoft and Commodore Naresh Kumar, Director -Technical, Hindustan Shipyard.

(Marine Talk)

Freedom to develop

Worldwide economic turmoil is having an unprecedented impact on airports across Europe, says Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, which released a paper that calls for five urgent measures: 1) ensure economic regulation and incentivize airports to modernize and develop infrastructure; 2) Give them more flexibility to financially support vital regional air routes; 3) Reduce the "astonishing" costs of security and make it more efficient; 4) Get rid of economically nonsensical national taxes on aviation and 5) Commit to full and prompt aviation liberalization.

"Airports are catalysts for job creation," said Director General Olivier Jankovec. "They can do a great deal for economic recovery, but for that to happen, they now need to be given the freedom to develop."

(Washington Aviation Summary)

Tourism down 32%

Tourist arrivals and tourism earnings, each declined by 32.4% year on year to 38,468 and US$ 30 million respectively in January 2009.

(Source: Central Bank)

Risk management

3rd Maritime Risk Management Conference organised by Active Communication International (ACI) conference which will be held in London from April 28-30,’09, will address the most topical risk management and safety issues currently faced by the maritime industry and examine how the industry is managing those risks to maintain onboard safety standards and drive profitability.

Throughout the two days participants will hear from industry peers and discover how modern risks are being managed to achieve lower costs, ensure business continuity and increase productivity, thus achieving competitive advantage.

The expert panel of speakers comprises senior representatives from global ship owning and ship management companies which include John Dobson of Alphaship, Francesco Messineo of Salerno Port Authority, Jaime Veiga of European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Les Chapman of RTI Forensics and Volker Heil of CMA Ships UK Ltd, amongst many others. (Marine Talk)

Stripped of powers

The Finance Company PLC (TFC) informed the Colombo Stock Exchange recently that the Monetary Board has stripped its Board of executive powers. Those are Lalith Kotelawala, Mrs. Padmini Karunanayake, S. R. Wijesinghe, A. R. Gunewardena, Ms. Mala Sabaratnam, K.A.S. Jayatissa, Y. B. Ratnayake and T. N.M. Peiris. They will however continue to serve on the Board.

Additionally, K.J. Yatawara, T. B. Ekanayake, Mrs. N.C. Rupasinghe and Mrs. V.W. Dissanayake have been appointed as key executives. Lankaputhra Development Bank headed by its chairman Sarath De Silva has been appointed as managing agent.

Rs. 60 mn. project

Government will procure over Rs. 60 million worth of computer related furniture from a private company under a scheme to propagate ICT in the country this year.

Among the targeted areas in this venture are schools. The supplier is Metropolitan Office (Pvt.) Ltd (MOL).

Associated at an event held in this connection were: MOL Senior Marketing Manager M.I. Fakhir, CEO Ivor Maharoof, Education Ministry’s Secondary Education and Modernization Project II and Education for Knowledge Society Project Project Director Anura Disanayake and Procurement Specialist Mrs. L.S. Senanayake.

60% wasted

Studies have revealed that 60% of the coconut kernel is wasted by the traditional method of scraping and extracting coconut milk, Renuka Group Marketing Director Shamindra Rajiyah said.

Renuka Group is the largest coconut milk products exporter from Sri Lanka and available in over 52 countries.The organisation has over 700 employees and provides indirect employment to over 2,500 farmer families.Renuka is the only coconut product manufacturer with its own coconut plantations.

Payment channels

DFCC Vardhana Bank (DVB) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Assurance PLC (UA) where customers of the latter are provided with making their insurance premium payments from any of DVB’s branches. This agreement is part of yet another initiative by DVB to expand its range of financial services.

UA CEO Ms. Marina Tharmaratnam and DVB Managing Director L.G. Perera spoke at this occasion. Others involved at this event included DVB Director/COO Lakshman Silva and UA Deputy CEO Dirk Pereira.

Wood preservative

National Science and Technology Award 2008 under the category of "Value Addition to Local Biological Resources" was bestowed on the Industrial Technology Institute’s (ITI’s) research team from the Materials Technology Section who devised a method to produce a natural wood preservative using cashew nut shell liquid.

The team led by Lal Motha comprised Saman Weeraratne, Dineth Samarawickrama and Sarith Kasun de Alwis.

The technology of the devised method was transferred to the Cashew Corporation at a ceremony held at ITI last year.

The award ceremony was organised by the National Science Foundation and was held at the Presidential Secretariat recently. (ITI)

Ordered to sell three airports

UK Competition Commission ordered BAA, a unit of Spain’s Ferrovial, to sell three of its seven British airports within two years.

The company which said it may appeal can retain Heathrow, Aberdeen and Southampton and either Edinburgh or Glasgow, but must sell Gatwick and Stansted to different buyers.

"We expect that the new airport owners, with the operating capabilities and financial resources to develop them as effective competitors, will have a much greater incentive than BAA to be more responsive to their customers," said Christopher Clarke, Chairman, BAA Airports inquiry.

A sale of Gatwick is underway; confirmed bidders are: Global Infrastructure Partners, a fund with General Electric and Credit Suisse as founding investors, which already owns London City Airport and Citigroup unit Citi Infrastructure Investors, with Vancouver Airport Services and John Hancock Life Insurance, bidding jointly as Lysander Gatwick Investment Group. A third group made up of Manchester Airports Group and Canadian pension funds, reportedly is also bidding for Gatwick.

(Washington Aviation Summary)

Challenging times

Challenging times call for innovative technological developments and operational experience, those are the topics which the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) is looking for in publishing its Call for Papers for the 2009 IMCA Annual Seminar to be held from November 4-5,in Rio de Janeiro.

The event will include separate Marine, Diving and Offshore Survey/Remotely Operated Underwater (ROV) sessions with presentations on commercial/contracting issues and parallel workshops on a variety of issues, as well as the associated exhibition.

(Marine Talk)

Kolitha on Board

Ceylinco Insurance, the market leader in the sphere of insurance in Sri Lanka, has appointed lawyer Kolitha Dharmawardena as an independent director to its board effective from March 2009.

Recently, Ceylinco Insurance , announced an unprecedented growth, with total premium income for 2008 standing at Rs.20 billion, indicating a 16.5% year on year growth. Ceylinco Insurance was once again chosen as the People’s Insurance Company at the Power of People Awards by the Sri Lankan public, for the third consecutive year, while the Ceylinco Insurance Brand continued to enjoy a rating of AA- from Brand Consultants UK, for the second year running. Moreover, Ceylinco Insurance also bagged the Gold Award for the Insurance Category at the National Business Excellence Awards in 2008.

Top award

JWT Colombo’s Vice President and Executive Creative Director Ms Chandini Rajaratnam was awarded the ‘Zonta Woman of Achievement 2009’ for advertising.

She was one of 20 women who were decorated for their contribution in their respective fields.

$ 700,000 grant aid

Japan recently provided grant assistance of US$ 700,000 (Rs.80 million) to Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) in order to accelerate de-mining activities in the conflict affected areas of Mannar and Vavuniya, so that the resettlement of IDPs will be further facilitated.

Japan has so far contributed about US$ 18 million (Rs. 2,050 million) for mine clearance activities through INGOs as well as for the establishment of the Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation Ministry’s De-mining Unit.

In top 100

Virtusa Corporation, a global information technology (IT) services provider has been included in the 2009 Global Services 100, a list of the top global providers of business and technology services.

"A company that figures in this list bears testimony to the fact that it can serve global customers from multiple locations," said Global Services Editor Ed Nair.

Virtusa has offices in the USA and the UK, and global delivery centres in India and Sri Lanka.

Free milk

With a third of Sri Lankan schoolchildren suffering from some form of malnutrition, Fonterra Brands Lanka recently launched the Anchor Kiri Shakthi Jaya Shakthi campaign which aims to improve the country’s nutrition standards.

It kicked-off simultaneously in four schools in Biyagama, Anuradhapura, Ampara and Hambantota.

At the main launch which took place at the Biyagama Kanishta Vidyalaya, free milk was distributed among the schoolchildren.

21.6% of Sri Lankan pre-school kids are underweight and 18% are stunted as a result of inadequate nutrition. As much as 29.9% preschool children suffer from anaemia3 while 36% suffer from Vitamin A deficiency that affects eyesight. If malnutrition continues unabated, the nation would not only face a higher cost of healthcare, but it would have an effect on gross domestic production (GDP). It has also been estimated that iron deficiency contributes to a 5% loss in GDP in developing countries leading to reduced worker efficiency.


Axiata Group Berhad’s subsidiaries and affiliates have launched an initiative to enhance customers’ data roaming experience by offering a daily unlimited data roaming plan.

Cheapest in the region, it’s offered by Dialog Telekom-Axiata’s local subsidiary, and it can be used with Axiata’s network of mobile operators: Celcom in Malaysia, XL in Indonesia, M1 in Singapore, Aktel in Bangladesh and Hello in Cambodia.


Nations Trust Bank PLC (NTB) now provides estatements.

NTB DGM Consumer Banking Ms.Renuka Fernando said, "We hope our customers will opt for an e statement as opposed to the standard monthly paper statement."

The Bank will donate Rs.100 to the Wild Life and Nature Protection Society for every customer who chooses to go green.

Top spot

Sri Lanka was selected location of the week recently by The Location Guide website; a resource website for location filming worldwide. The ‘Home Page’ of the website was adorned with a scene of Talawakelle and is a working still of ‘NESTEA’ TV commercial.

NESTEA was launched at the Beijing Olympics and the bottle has a graphic of our island and the product "Tea Of The World." (Sri Lanka Tourism)

Joint venture

Civaro, a joint venture company between Hayleys Advantis Ltd. and CJ Patel and Company, an FMCG distribution in Fiji, began operations on April 3.




 In Brief







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