29th October 2000
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  • JKH among top 300
  • 3S Adelphie partners with IDSS, Bangalore
  • A meeting of business peers SLIM CEO's forum 
  • NIIT launches its first batch of the DNIIT program 
  • JKH among top 300

    John Keells Holdings Limited has been selected among 300 of the world's best small companies by Forbes Global, in its issue of October 30, 2000. 

    Forbes Global is now more widely read by Europe's business leaders than Newsweek, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Europe, as indicated the latest European Business Readership Survey, says a news release. 

    For the second year running, Forbes Global is presenting the world's best small companies. By the "best" the magazine states that to begin with, they must be publicly quoted. Two thirds of them must pass several financial screens annual sales of less than $ 500 million, strong earnings growth and high returns on shareholders' equity over the past three years. Flash-in-the pan companies - those that do well for one year, or even two, but then falter - would fail these tests. The John Keells Group, which has continually been in the forefront of the financial services sector by being the first company to issue Global Depository Receipts to international markets in 1994. In June 1997 JKH became the largest market capitalized company on the Colombo Stock Exchange. At the end of the financial year March 31, 1998 the Group went over the Rs. 1 billion mark in pre-tax profits, the first Sri Lankan company to do so and since then, the company's profits have continued to be over this threshold. The company was awarded first place in the Business Today evaluation of the Top 10 companies for the second time running and today, is the only Sri Lankan.

    3S Adelphie partners with IDSS, Bangalore

    By Akhry Ameer
    3S Adelphie signed a partnership agreement with Intellect Data Systems & Software (Pvt) Limited (IDSS) of Bangalore, India to market IT solutions to the Hospitality Industry.

    IDSS is a product-oriented software company that focuses on the hospitality industry. Incorporated in 1987, IDSS is recognized as one of the leading hotel software and Central Reservation Software (CRS) vendors in the world. Through its products the company manages a clientele of over 400 medium and large hotels spread across 18 countries. 

    IDSS also designs, develops and markets the Fortune Solution series which comprise a variety of scalable Operations Management Systems and Property Management Systems for the hospitality industry.

    3S Adelphie which was formally Adelphi Electronics (Pvt) Ltd. merged with Streamlined Solutions and Services S.A. (3S) of Luxembourg, Germany with the aim of transforming itself into a technology software and hardware company. 

    Streamlined Solutions and Services S.A. provides consultancy and streamlining, software development and online services to the global financial and telecommunication industry. 

    Adelphi Electronics has been a well known name in the Sri Lankan corporate circle specializing in the supply, installation and maintenance of customer premises equipment such as telecommunication solutions, radio communication, fire detection and protection, intelligent security and access control systems, data networking and structured cabling and UPS systems.

    A meeting of business peers SLIM CEO's forum 

    The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing will once again hold the CEO's forum on 9 November 2000 at the Hilton Hotel. 

    The forum enables CEO's and decision makers of the country to share and brainstorm issues of national interest, with the country's policy makers, as well as with fellow business leaders. 

    This year's theme is Opportunities beyond national boundaries, where the Free Trade Agreement between India and Sri Lanka and beyond will be discussed. A distinguished panel will share different perspectives on economic, fiscal and technological trends that will evolve as challenges of the new millennium, a SLIM release said.

    The panel will include Dr. P.B Jayasundara- Secretary Minister of Finance and planning who will talk on The role of the state and treasury function. Thilan Wijesinghe Chairman /Director General Board of Investment will talk on Foreign Direct Investment and regionalisation. Saman Kelegama -Executive Director Institute of Policy Studies will cover Economic trends in the region. From the Business community Mahendra Amarasuriya Chairman Commercial Bank will share his views on the Pros and Cons of regionalisation a business perspective and Tony Weerasinghe CEO - Millennium Information Technologies Ltd will add his knowledge on the E- Marketplace.

    The CEO's Forum thus promises to be a lively and stimulating dialogue between business peers and policy makers, as well as a forum to take up issues and voice suggestions of the business community to relevant authorities.

    NIIT launches its first batch of the DNIIT program 

    NIIT, a computer education and training organisation launched its first batch of the DNIIT program leading to e-Technology Software Engineering, at their new training centre at Union Place, Colombo in September, says a news release.

    The DNIIT program, which uses the revolutionary e-Technology curriculum, is based on NIIT's own Internet-based software expertise and eCommerce capabilities. The program trains students on Web Programming, emerging Web Technologies and Multi-User Operating Systems.

    NIIT uses the patented MCLATM methodology simulates the actual workplace and its environment to facilitate effective learning, which makes the student comfortable in a potential working environment from the first day at work.

    Other unique features of this program include:

    Task-based learning
    100% computer time
    On-line Classrooms
    Industry relevant ISO Certified Curriculum
    NIIT's TechEdgeTM
    Access to internationally recognized Microsoft and Java Certifications
    Access to international Degrees in Computer Science from leading Universities in Australia and UK

    The licensee of NIIT in Sri Lanka is MMBL CyberSkills (Pvt.) Ltd., which is a BOI approved joint venture project between Mercantile Merchant Bank and The Maharaja Organization. The second state-of-the-art Training Centre under this project would be opened shortly in Kurunegala.

    A city that never sleeps

  • At your service 24 hours a day...
  • They are the backbone



    Vegetables and cricket are strange bedfellows. But just about anything would be compatible if it ignites an economic revival, in a once majestic city. 

    The city is bustling, land prices are shooting up and Dambulla is quivering in anticipation of the inauguration of the international cricket stadium in March 2001 which would put the city right back on the map of tourism, edging out its neighbouring competition.

    But the city is already galloping ahead, with its rather recent status of being the largest vegetable hub in the country.

    In this two part series on the "City that never sleeps" The Sunday Times Business team roamed the night vegetable market until shutters were up at 2 am and then joined the Sierra construction team hard at work on the cricket stadium site all through the night.....

    By Ruvini Jayasinghe, Dinali Goonewardene and Chanakya Dissanayake
    A tractor load of villag ers atop 50 kilo bags of vegetables entered the premises beaming happily. The colored jets that bathed the two storeyed buildings seem to wink at them from afar, luring them Imageinto the carnival like atmosphere inside the complex.

    But they meant business... because when they headed back to their village in the wee hours of the morning they had no intention of taking back anything other than hard cash in return for their months long labour....

    A sprawling eight-acre extent of land housing 144 shops consists the hub, which looks innocuous by day. By nightfall hundreds of traders and 800 lorries transform this into what is undoubtedly the People's Alliance Government's most meaningful contribution to agricultural development. 

    The excitement is contagious, when 1060 farmers finally meet the traders who will put a price to their long months of toil and whisk away their vegetables to places as distant as Nuwara Eliya and Matara.

    But the picture behind the scenes can sometimes be bleak. The farmers say they actually got better prices when they sold their harvests on either side of the Colombo Dambulla highway. "The farmer gets a raw deal when traders can check out everything that is on offer before deciding on the price," said one disillusioned farmer. "Mallu Miris (capcicum) fetched Rs. 30 and now its just Rs. 18," he said, referring to the era when vegetables were sold on the roadside and there was no organised Imagevegetable hub. And having 86 toiletes on the premises just doesn't make up for this...

    Meanwhile shopkeepers at the hub earn their bread by charging a commission on the vegetables, which change hands through them. The going rate for a kilo of vegetables costing Rs. 10 is fifty cents. When the deal is struck between Rs. 10 and Rs. 30 per kg a commission of Rs. 1 is levied and when the strike price is over Rs. 30, Rs. 2 may be charged. 

    "This is a text book exercise in demand and supply," crows a delighted official of the traders association. " And it has worked," he says. But even he tells tales of the 35 per cent of produce that goes waste due to bad packaging and inefficient transportation methods. 

    Future Developments....
    The Manager of the Economic Centre, said the main emphasis for the future development should be on the quality. " We are trying to convince farmers that they should select their produce and only high quality produce should be brought to the centre. The high prices for high quality agricultural produce will amply justify their effort. The quality of agricultural produce depends on the quality of the planting Imagematerial, fertiliser and transportation. As the first step, we will be providing farmers with high quality planting material. This will enable farmers to produce high quality vegetables. 

    Also we will be educating farmers on proper storage techniques and better transport methods. This is also aimed at reducing the level of wastage. Due to bad storage and transportation around 35% of all agricultural produce is wasted". 

    However, the initial high cost of implementing proper storage and transportation systems has deterred farmers from implementing them. The Sunday Times Business also learned that a number of high Imagequality seed suppliers will be setting up outlets in the centre. The Dambulla Economic Centre is the flagship economic achievement of the People's Alliance Government. It is an example of the concept of "taking the market to the farmer", bearing results. The success of the economic centre has encouraged the government to open similar economic centres in Keppe-tipola and Hanguranketha, in the near future. The proposed Economic Centre in Hangu-ranketha will be dedicated to rice.

    At your service 24 hours a day...

    11.20 p.m. 

    At the counter was spread a gold chain and some gold bangles. A man in a striped sarong and a white shirt leant over the counter speaking earnestly to the officer who gave him his undivided attention.

    No, the man was not desperately in need of cash. He was not pawning jewellery to take his sick child to the hospital or to bury his dead. 

    He was desperately in need of more cash to buy a bigger stock of vegetables going cheap at the Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre. And the Bank of Ceylon is right there inside the centre to bail out such enterprising vegetable traders in emergencies..

    The Bank of Ceylon's overnight banking unit has become an integral part of the Economic Centre. It mainly caters to the deposit requirements of the traders. The surge in transactions , especially after 7pm in the main branch at Dambulla compelled the Bank of Ceylon to open an overnight unit at the Centre. The unit is open from 6.30 pm and remains open till trading closes.

    Deposits during a working night range between Rs 2 million to Rs. 5 million depending on the volume of trade. 

    " We also provide an overnight mortgaging facility to the traders. Some find this facility very useful, especially when they are short of cash to settle transactions", said manager overnight banking unit.

    Tourists also frequent the facility at night to cash travellers cheques and exchange currency. As dawn falls upon the historic city, the bankers join the departing traders to catch a good day's sleep.....

    They are the backbone

    P.K. Lalith will carry the 56 kilo sacks only until he sees his 14-year-old son through school. Most of the country's vegetables from Matara to Nuwara Eliya have piggy-backed on his wizened shoulders for the last 18 years. 

    Lalith is happy with his lot and has never thought of changing jobs. He even refuses to hold office in his workers' union although he is a life member.

    Lalith along with the 143 members of his union and 400 who are not in the union are the backbone of the Dedicated Economic Centre in the heart of the Dambulla, which has transformed the historic rock city into a modern commercial hub. 

    Just as clean suited businessman prowl Colombo's commercial hubs the hustle and bustle of the nattami's has the same air of purpose. 

    Hundreds of lorries and people throng this distribution centre. And coloured lights like baubles are the only part of the decor which divert from the fact that over here its strictly business. 

    Lalith will earn Rs.5 each time he humps a 50kg sack. Some nights his load stretches to 60 sacks. It is important to curry favour with the traders in this fight for survival. Lalith, with eighteen years behind him is networked for survival but for new entrants to the nattami trade, life is a little less heavy. 

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