1st October 2000
Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business|
Sports| Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine
By Chanakya DissanayakeThe much-awaited Customs Valuation Agreement is about to be implemented in Sri Lanka. According to the new system, all goods will be valued at transaction value (value given in the invoice) given to the Customs. This move is seen as a step to create a trade friendly environment in the business community. The Chairman of the Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Anton Abeysekera told Sunday Times Business that valuation is one area that is currently in dispute, mainly because it is on the discretion of the customs officer.
"Customs officers can arbitrarily value goods high and increase the duty. But under the new system they will have to accept the invoice value", he said.
Customs Valuation Agreement was included in the Uruguay Round of Multinational Trade Negotiations that was concluded in 1993. All WTO members became signatories to the agreement and developed nations were given one year to implement. However, developing nations were given five years to implement which ended in year 2000. Sri Lanka was not ready to implement it then, mainly because the required amendments to the prevailing Customs Ordinance and other necessary legislation were not ready. Subsequently WTO extended its deadline by one more year.
Even though all seems well from an importers point of view, the question remains, whether the new agreement will hinder the ability of Customs to prevent under-invoicing. The new system provides, the customs officer of he has any doubts about the true value of goods, to independently value the goods according to the value of similar goods, substitutes etc.
A senior government official told The Sunday Times Business that, the possible revenue loss to the government from under invoicing could be mitigated by having two different approaches to those with an unblemished record and to those who have been accused of under-invoicing on previous occasions.
"The goods of reputed companies with an unblemished record can be valued at the invoice value, while the goods imported by companies with a history of under-invoicing will be dealt differently if in doubt," he added.
However, whether Sri Lanka will be able to introduce the Customs Valuation Agreement before the 2001 deadline, will depend upon the speed of the legislative process, said Ministry of Commerce sources.
"The speed of implementation will depend upon the importance an elected government will give to the agreement", they added.
Experts have time and again pointed out the lack of a cheap, sustainable alternative to coal power to meet the country's power-hungry development. What many fear is that future shortages in power will be met by diesel generation - causing even, more severe environmental damage than the rejected coal plant at a much greater price per unit generated.
A huge decision awaits the next government. How is Sri Lanka going to meet her electricity needs?
Both major parties, the PA and the UNP have rejected the coal option. They would both have to think up alternatives fast. Expensive power would heavily burden industrial development in a country that already suffers issues of high cost of production. Modernising agriculture sector would also need energy inputs and if electricity is beyond reasonable price, Sri Lanka would be unable to compete in a global market.
Local scientists have developed many environment-friendly options to
fossil fuel energy. One such is dendro-power, using quick regenerating
fuel wood plantations to supply decentralised power plants, but such a
project needs great organisation and government patronage. Although the
CEB has accepted it as a viable alternative, the state has taken no initiative
to support dendro power projects.
By Dinali GoonewardenaThe Commercial High Court recently issued a restraining order preventing Vendol Lanka Company (Pvt) Ltd from marketing Apsara soap.
But the soap opera began in November 1999 when Swadeshi Industrial Works manufactured a brand of soap called Apsara and applied to the National Intellectual Property Office to register its trademark. Swadeshi then proceeded to market the soap in April 2000, having spent over Rs. 5 mn advertising the product.
But Vendol Lanka Company followed hot on the heels of Swadeshi with its own brand of soap called Apsara. An almost identical packaging and similar orange coloured soap ensured customers would remained flummoxed.
The packaging could be differentiated by cellophane wrapping, which Swadeshi used to seal in the soap's fragrance. Vendol uses tissue to wrap the soap but customers have to buy the soap and open the soapbox to spot this difference.
"We don't want to say anything about the soap manufactured by a competitor, it is against our principles.
I'm sure news papers don't point out spelling mistakes in other newspapers. It just isn't done," CEO, Swadeshi Industrial Works Ltd, Ranjith Guruge told The Sunday Times Business.
This old-world-company with its "principles" was established in 1941 and was the first to introduce locally manufactured soap to the Sri Lankan market. It first hit the market with Rani soap but is now diversifying to other related cosmetic products.
Meanwhile Vendol Lanka Company (Pvt) Ltd has time till the 9th of October to file its objections.
The court's restraining order was based on there being a violation of Intellectual Property Act, on the face of submissions by the plaintiff, Swadeshi.
But a lot of soapy water has made relations between Swadeshi and Vendol wishy washy. Advertisements placed by Vendol at the height of its marketing campaign advises customers to check whether an Ayurvedic manufacturing licence number is quoted on the soap box.
The license number is another factor which differentiates the two companies' products. Vendol's packaging refers to the license number but registration with the Ayurvedic department is not possible as cosmetic devices and drugs must be registered with the health ministry.
Vendol Lanka Company's factory manufacturing ayurvedic medicine has
been issued a license number and the company is using this to mislead the
public into believing the soap has been registered, Department of Ayurveda
The new system will enable retail investors to quote their own prices and match what is on offer. Primary dealers can use the system to trade on their own account and quote their own prices on treasury bills and treasury bonds.
The system will only permit access by primary dealers and other securities traders may be permitted access to the system once the market picks up, President, Primary Dealers Association, Dula Weeratunga told The Sunday Times Business.
While stock broking firms have long since expressed an interest in getting a piece of the pie and providing investors a choice of instruments to invest in, this would require training of personnel.
Meanwhile the Central Bank will not be the clearing bank for the new debt trading system although primary dealers favour its participation in order to reduce risk. The floor will be left open to commercial banks.
The new system is expected to reduce intermediation cost and improve liquidity in the market. Market players say the cost of not having a central depository system for debt runs into millions.
A proposal to set up a debt trading system was mooted by the Colombo
Stock Exchange four years ago but was shot down by the Central Bank at
the time, but has since had a change of heart.
The company will also undertake corporate finance activities including structuring corporate bond issues and securitisation. Capital Asia plans to use the expertise of Credit Agricole/Banque Indosuez/W I Carr which is a major shareholder of its parent company, Asia Capital in providing these services.
The company has already hatched plans to apply for a primary dealership of government securities and officials say share capital will be increased to accommodate increases in business activity. In the long term the company plans to take its shares to the public.
Asia Capital was formerly a primary dealer for government securities but a change in regulations requiring dealers to maintain a dedicated capital of Rs. 150 mn saw the company let its license to deal, lapse.
As sentiment in the Sri Lankan capital market dipped, the company has
pursued a vigorous strategy of diversification. However the company sees
prospects in the debt securities market, viewing it as the next growth
area in the capital market, Mr. Fernando said. In June the company recruited
an experienced dealing team and installed a specialised back office system
with a view to kick starting the new company dealing in debt.
Feeling the heatWith less than ten days to go for the polls, the business community is feeling the heat, fearing instability if the greens win.
So, a few top business leaders met the think tank of the greens and wanted to know what exactly would happen if the greens do win. There would be no problem if the lady co-operates, they were told. But, even if she does not, business types will not have to worry because the policy of encouraging the private sector will continue, they were assured.
More the merrier in mobilesThe country's cellular phone market is saturated, one would think, looking at the cut- throat competition between the networks. But one well established international cellular network thinks otherwise, after conducting extensive preliminary surveys.
They would like to join the competition and are likely to apply to the watchdog commission soon...
Breaking new groundA recently established bank broke new ground when it set up counters in some supermarkets and encouraged night banking. It's been a few months since the concept was introduced, but the results are not very encouraging. So much so that the bank is now reviewing the overheads involved and considering whether to abandon it all....
The increases in the cost of living or inflation, Milton Friedman has pointed out, is a monetary phenomenon. It is a situation of too much money chasing after too few goods. If inflation is to be controlled then the amount of money in circulation should be reduced or, alternately, the amount of goods and services produced should be increased. More precisely, the rate of increase in the money supply should not exceed the rate of increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the economy. This is a very simplified explanation of inflation.
At least if this much is understood, then we may not have to listen to a lot of nonsense about the cost of living being brought down after the elections by those who come to power. The fundamental reason why the country has faced increases in the cost of living is that government expenditures have exceeded the revenues it could muster.
In addition to this, most government expenditures could be characterized as unproductive as they do not lead to a commensurate increase in the production of goods and services. Most of the government expenditures are on debt servicing, salaries and pensions to the large numbers of public servants, on the war and welfare expenditures, most notably the Samurdhi payments, which are now given to over 50 per cent of households in the country.
These expenditures increase the amount of money in the hands of the people without increasing the production of goods and services to the same extent as the increase in the amount of money in the hands of the people. Hence the inflation.
There is another important related factor which causes a rise in the cost of living. This is very well known even by the common man. That is the depreciation of the currency. When the rupee depreciates the costs of imports rise. Since we import a number of basic items such as wheat,milk, sugar, kerosene, petrol and diesel, drugs and even a certain small quantity of rice and other foodstuffs, the currency depreciation increases the cost of living of most people significantly.
Compounding this problem is the fact that in recent months international prices of crude oil has shot up and our requirements of oil increased to maintain our power generation. The question to ask is how these fundamental factors could be changed? Can public expenditures be brought down? Can the depreciation of the currency be halted? Can we reduce imports of the items mentioned? Can we alter international prices of commodities?. Not only that we can't do any of these things, but we are also increasing public expenditures on the very items which create inflationary pressures. What is even worse is that we are promising to increase expenditures on those same items.
The readers of this column know fully well the facts we have pointed out. The question to ask is whether the common people know these facts. The danger is not merely that the promise to curb inflation cannot be kept, but that the elections would unleash fresh sources of public expenditure by the implementation of election promises.
Far from controlling inflation our electoral politics would fuel inflationary pressures even more. Inflation can be controlled only through prudent management of the public finances and economic growth. The prudent management of the public finances is hardly possible owing to the debts incurred in the past, the massive war expenditures of the present and the other heavy committed expenditures.
In this context it is very unrealistic to be able to bring down the
cost of living. Election promises are perhaps not expected to be kept.
This certainly is a promise that cannot be fulfilled in the foreseeable
future. The chances are that whoever is elected the cost of living will
continue to rise.
By Gamini RajakarunaDo you know that your company is entitled to the service of both your conscious and subconscious mind?
When a man takes a position with a business in an executive or administrative capacity, the enterprise that employs him is entitled to the services of both parts of his mind, but in far too many cases it gets the benefit of only one, says John. K. Williams, the former Executive Director of the Alabama Association for Mental Health and Regional Director of the American Social Hygiene Association in the United States.
He further adds that the conscious mind goes on the payroll as a matter of course, but the subconscious mind which as a rule does far better work, is allowed to loaf. Manifestly, this is unfair to the business; and it is just as unfair to the man, because the organisation, hiring out his shallow surface mind and letting the rich depths of his subconscious mind slumber while time hastens him toward the end of his usefulness.
What the subconscious is...."There is no artist, man of science, or writer of any distinction, however little disposed to self-analysis, who is not aware by personal experience of the unequalled importance of subconscious", wrote Gustave Geley, distinguished French psychologist. He also said that the best results in life were obtained by close harmony and co-operation between the conscious and subconscious minds.
Erna Ferrell Grabe further describes in her book "The Sub-Conscious Speaks" as follows:
"There is dormant in each human being a faculty, whether it is developed or not, which will enable that particular individual to succeed if the Desire for Success is present in his conscious mind. This "faculty" has always been known and recognised for its strange and unusual powers."
Today the word conscious and subconscious are widely understood, and it is recognised that we all have two minds, each one endowed with separate and distinct attributes and powers, and each one capable, under certain conditions, of independent action.
The subconscious mind is the Latent Resource that all of us possess. But few of us have become acquainted with the subconscious area of our mind and learned the technique of using it. We have not proved to ourselves that the mind, in very fact, the originating and determining influence in all that we are and all that we have.
It is the conscious mind that is the source of thought. Also, it is the mind that gives us the sense of awareness in our normal waking life. The chief powers of the conscious mind are reason, logic, form, judgment, calculation, conscience and normal sense.
Just as the conscious mind is the source of thought, so the subconscious is source of power. Also, it is one of the greatest realities in human life. The powers of the subconscious are many. The chief of which are intuition, emotion, certitude inspiration, suggestion, deduction, imagination, organisation and of course memory and dynamic energy. Psychologists have found that it is a distinct entity, it possesses independent powers and functions, with a unique mental organisation all its own, and it sustains an existence that is closely allied to the physical body and the life of the individual, and yet that also operates independently of the body. They found the subconscious mind has three primary functions. They are:
1. With its intuitive understanding of the bodily needs, it maintains and preserves the wellbeing and indeed the very life of body.
2. In times of great emergency it springs into immediate action and takes supreme command, acting with incredible certitude, rapidity, accuracy and understanding in the saving of the life of the individual.
3. It is operative in the psychic world in which the psychic powers of the subconscious are manifested.
But, also, it can be summoned to help the conscious mind in time of great personal necessity, when the conscious calls upon the subconscious to use its powers and resources to solve a vital problem or bring to pass that which is sought or desired by the individual.
Reaching the subconscious"How many times have you heard it said, just believe you can do it and you can," ask Claude M. Bristol, a hard headed American businessman who has used the amazing power of subconscious to solve his business problems. He further adds whatever the task, if it is begun with the belief that you can do it, it will be done perfectly. Often belief enables a person to do what others think is impossible. It is the act of believing that is the starting force of generating power that leads to accomplishment, says Bristol.
"Come on, fellows, we can beat them," shouts someone in command, whether in a game of cricket, on the battlefield or in the strife of the business world. The sudden voicing of belief, challenging and electrifying, reverse the tide and - victory! success! from defeatism to victory - and all because some mighty believer knew that it could be done.
This is the identical force and the same mechanics that Hitler used in building up German people to attack the world. A reading of his Mein Kampf will verify that. Dr. Rene Fauval, a famous French psychologist, explained it by saying that:
Hitler had a remarkable understanding of the Law of Suggestion and its different forms of application, and that it was with uncanny skill and masterly showmanship that he mobilised every instrument of progaganda in his mighty campaign of suggestion. Hitler openly stated that the psychology of suggestion was a terrible weapon in the hands of anyone who knew how to use it. He worked it to make the Germans believe what he wanted them to and once that belief took hold, how they started their campaign of terror. Slogans, posters, huge signs, massed flags appeared throughout Germany. Hitler's picture was everywhere.
Mussolini, too used the same Law of Suggestion in an attempt to make a place for Italy in the sun. Signs and slogans such as "Italy must have its great place in the world", "We have some old scores and new scores to settle" covered the walls of thousands of buildings, and similar ideas were at the same time dinned into people via the radio and every other means of direct communication by the spoken word.
Stalin, too, used the same science to build Russia. The Institute of Modern Hypnotism recognised that Joseph Stalin had been using the great power of the repeated suggestion upon the Russian people.
The Japanese warlords used it to make fanatical fighters out of their people. From the very day of their birth Japanese children were fed the suggestion that they were direct descendants of heaven and destined to rule the world. They prayed it, chanted it and believed it: but here again The Law of Suggestion was used wrongly. For 41 years, ever since the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese immortalised naval warrant officer Magoshichi Sugino, fabled as one of Japan's early suicide fighters and greatest heroes.
This shows the human imagination, or visualisation and concentration as the chief factors in developing the magnetic forces of the subconscious mind.
Dr. Emile Coue, the little French doctor who threw so much light on The Law of Suggesstion, declared that imagination was a much stronger force than willpower. When the two are conflict, he said, imagination always wins.
When we realize that the subconscious mind is sensitised to the point that it works accurately to externalise the suggestion which is most greatly impressed upon it, we then get a better understanding of the necessity for concentration and for constant repetition of the one suggestion. The repetitive words and phrases said aloud are merely methods of convincing the subconscious mind, for autosuggestion, no matter what form, is the only way of moulding its pattern.
The subconscious is extremely receptive, and it can be convinced of the propositions you present to it; be they true or false, positive or negative, once they are imbedded in the subconscious mind, it goes to work with all of its faculties and engorges to materialise them, to make them real in life.
Glance around you, says Bristol. If you are in a furnished room, your eyes tell you that you are looking at a number of inanimate objects. That is true so far as visual perception is concerned; but in reality you are looking at "Mental Pictures" or ideas which have come to materialisation through the creative work of some human being. It was a "Mental Picture" first that created the furniture, fashioned the window glass, gave form to the draperies and coverings.
The automobile, the skyscraper, and thousands of other things around us - where did they come from? At one stage all these things are "Mental Pictures" in minds of some human beings. As we analyse further, we realise that these achievements, and in fact all our possessions, came as a result of creative thinking, says Bristol.
It has been found that in the private offices of many industrial leaders, businessmen, bankers and others, there are pictures, photographs, busts, slogans and so forth. Some of these photographs shows early leaders in the industry, some great financiers of the history. Why do most people belonging to successful category require these things? There can be only one answer, says Bristol. That is that they serve as constant reminders - getting the "Mental Picture" over to the occupant of the room that he too can succeed as did those before him.
It is reported that F.W. Woolworth, who became known as the Napolean of business, had his private office in quarters that were a replica of Napoleon's study. He sees and feels the eyes of Napoleon upon him when he sits at his desk.
In other words these pictures, busts and photographs etc., are a form of mechanics that an executive can use to excite his imagination, to form a "Mental Picture" to inspire him, or a series of suggesting forces that reach his subconscious mind.
Bristol compares this procedure to planting of vegetable or flower seeds. Once the soil is prepared and the tiny seeds are placed in it, it is but a short time when they put forth roots and sprouts begin to appear.
The moment they start upward through the soil in search of light, sunshine, and moisture, obstacles mean nothing to them. They are determined to emerge from the ground. They blossom and give forth fruits, vegetables or flowers, and they succeed unless some greater force destroys them. While we are not aware of the details of nature's secrets, we observe the seed buried for a long time in the dark gradually expanding and exerting itself until it becomes a thing of beauty or usefulness. Cultivate it, attend it, give it sunshine and water, and it grows into full life. It always produce after its kind, be it single or hybrid.
So with you and the suggestions you impart to your subconscious mind, says Bristol. The result will be pure or complex, depending upon the original seed and the attention which you give it.
It was Desire that brought progress to the world, says Bristol. He further adds that without it, we all would still be living in a primitive age.
Everything we have in our modern world is the result of desire. Indeed desire is the motivating force of life itself. Hunger promotes a desire for food, poverty a desire for riches, cold causes us to desire warmth, inconveniences a desire for better things. It is the generating power of all human action, and without it no one can get very far. The keener, the more urgent the desire, the sooner its consummation.
It marks the difference between the uneducated ditch digger, and the person of accomplishment, between the clerk and the executive, between the failure and the success. Hence Bristol says you must start with desire, keeping in mind that you must create a mental picture of your desire. The mechanics are, for the purpose of helping you to focus sharply your desire - picture on the screen of your subconscious mind, as well as enable you to shut off and keep out all distracting thoughts, negative ideas, or any fear or doubt projections that might otherwise penetrate to your subconscious mind.
Use of SubconsciousFollow the method given below, used by Claude M. Bristol, so that you too can use the power of your subconscious to achieve whatever objective you desire.
1. Secure three or four cards. In your office, your home, your room, or any other place where you can have privacy, sit down and ask yourself what you desire above everything else.
2. When the answer comes and you are certain that it is your uppermost desire, then at the top of one card write a word picture of it. One or two words may be sufficient. It may be a job, a better job, more money, a home of your own or any thing else.
3. Then on each card duplicate the word picture on the original. Carry one in your purse or hand bag, place another on your dressing table, and still another on your desk. The whole idea is to enable you to see mentally the picture at all hours of the day. Just before going to sleep at night and upon waking in the morning are highly important moments of the 24 hours in which to concentrate upon your thoughts with added force. But don't stop with merely those two periods, for more often you can visualise the desire by this method, the speedier the materialisation.
4. At the start you may have no idea of how the result is to come. Yet you need not concern yourself. Just leave it to the subconscious mind, which has its own ways of making contacts and of opening doors and avenues that you may never have even thought of. You will receive assistance from the most unexpected sources. You will find that ideas useful in the accomplishment of your programmes will come at most unexpected time. You may be suddenly struck with the idea of seeing a person you have not heard from for a long time or calling uon a man you have never seen before. You may get the idea of writing a letter or making a telephone call.
5. Whatever the idea is follow it. Keep a pad and pencil on a stand near the head of your bed, and when these ideas come during the night, note them on a pad, so they will not be forgotten by morning. Many successful people get ideas during the night that are immediately transcribed to a pad so they will not be lost.
The late Dr. Elmer Gates was one of the world's greatest scientists who has practised a method similar to the above to tap his subconscious resources. He patented more than 200 inventions. He had what he called the "personal communication room." It was light proof and sound proof, equipped only with a small table, a chair, a pad of writing paper and some pencils. When Dr. Gates desired to focus his subconscious forces, he would shut himself in his room, sit at the table, and concentrate upon the known factors of the invention upon which he was working. Soon ideas would begin to flash into his mind concerning the unknown factors of the invention. On one occasion he wrote rapidly for three hours, hardly aware of what he was writing. When at last he examined his notes, he found they contained principals which had been discovered nowhere else in the scientific world. These principals solved the problem, and broke the ground for other men to follow.
Dr. Gates earned large fees merely by "sitting for ideas." Imagine a large corporation paying an outsider merely to sit in his room and think! He was one of them who knew how to tap the subconscious forces to solve problems and the method used was similar to one suggested by Claude Bristol.
In his book "Magic of Believing" , Claude Bristol, describes how some business executives used their powers of subconscious minds to tackle the day to day business problems.
In his book he wrote, "It is accomplishment that we are after, not more activity. Accomplishment knows no office hours. Progress has little to do with desks or office routine."
He wrote further, "Desks are not thinking machines; in fact they, with the papers that clutter them, are apt to be distractions rather than help thinking. They are the one place where a man gets so close to his problems that he can get little perspective on them. Desk bound thinking is probably more reasonable than the lack of business acumen for many poor plans and decisions. Certainly it is responsible for the lack of progress in many businesses, and for the paucity of fresh ideas and new conceptions."
He points out that one reason the late Henry Ford was able to evolve so many original and revolutionary policies was that he seldom used a desk. His thinking was done on his feet, whenever he happened to be.
Such desk-free thinking is likely to be sounder thinking because it gives the subconscious mind a better opportunity to operate. Ordinarily, too, it is less of a strain on the conscious mind, for it is less concentrated, and the thinker is subject to less mental irritation from the interruption of office routine, says Bristol.
In his book Bristol quoted how one businessman used his power of subconscious for his advantage while he was travelling to office.
This businessman whose conventional office is in skyscraper, says his real office is a mile of side walk. He always walks to the station in the morning, and as he walks his mind leisurely arranges the matters to which he wishes to give attention to that day. When he arrives at the office, after 30 minute ride on the train during which he has an opportunity to read the morning newspapers and get a focus on the news of the world, the major projects for the day are sharply outlined in his mind. No matter how many interruptions he may encounter, those major projects stand out clearly in his mind all day and he works them out between interruptions.
This man uses his mile-long office again at night for reviewing the day, mentally noting what he was able to accomplish and marshalling the problems of the morrow for his subconscious mind to work during the night. Arriving at his front door, he drops all thought of business and lives normal and relaxed life with his family. In the morning when he again starts on his mile walk he has the benefit of overnight "cooking" of major problems confronting him, and their solutions often emerge and fit right into his thinking for the new day, without his having had to give them a moment's conscious concern.
Modern psychologists have found the working principal of this phenomena. They have observed that thoughts, ideas, plans, hopes and purposes placed in the conscious mind find their way into subconscious section, where they are picked up and carried out to their logical conclusion, through a law of nature which is known as the law of Cosmic Habit Force. Transfer of thought from the conscious to the subconscious section of the mind may be hastened by the simple process of "stepping up" or stimulating the vibrations of thought through faith, or any other highly intensified emotion, such as enthusiasm, a burning desire based on definiteness of purpose. Thoughts backed by faith have precedence over all others in the matter of definiteness and speed with which they are handed over to the subconscious section of the mind and are acted upon.
So called "hunches" often are signals indicating that subconscious forces are endeavouring to reach and influence the conscious section of the mind, but they usually come in response to some idea, plan, purpose or desire that has been handed over to subconscious mind. "Get this truth into your mind and you will find yourself in possession of sufficient power to solve any problem with much less effort than most people devote to worrying over their problems," says Claude M. Bristol, who made his own fortune by using the power of his subconscious mind to his own benefit.
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