26th August 2001
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Channel a doctor at Durdans through Sampath Bank 

Channelling a doctor at the Durdans hospital is now being made simpler through via 15 Sampath Bank branches.

"Simply walk into a Sampath Bank branch and give your appointment details to the teller and a confirmed booking will be made for you on the spot. You will receive a receipt that will be accepted at the hospital. You do not have to be a Sampath Bank account holder to take advantage of this service," said CEO of Sidath Chandrasena in a statement issued by LDB Lintas advertising agency.

Chandrasena told The Sunday Times Business Desk that the bank branches are linked to the hospital's database. "For instance if a doctor is not available on a date requested by the patient, it will show on the data base and another date is then suggested." He said the patient would be asked to pay a small transaction fee for this service.

The Sampath branches are at Nawam Mawatha, Dehiwala, Kiribathgoda, Nugegoda, Fort, Old Moor Street, Borella, Wattala, Bambalapitiya, Piliyandala, Wellawatte, Moratuwa and Ratmalana.

Initially eChannelling will offer its services to Durdans and subsequently to the Nawaloka hospitals through branches of Sampath Bank and hope to make the service available through pharmacies, supermarkets and post offices in the very near future.

The system has been designed to be extremely user friendly and efficient. In the future patients will also have the convenience of booking and paying for appointments, vaccinations, x-rays, blood tests through banks, pharmacies, post offices, supermarkets and strategically located information kiosks, thereby eliminating the hassle and queuing associated with booking and paying for health services, "We believe the system will empower the rural population who currently suffer from inadequate healthcare infrastructure by giving them convenient access to specialised medical treatment available in major cities islandwide," Mr. Chandrasena said.

Udan - UAL's million dollar man again

UAL's insurance advisor, Udan Silva, qualified to attend the prestigious MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) for the second consecutive year, the company said.

The MDRT is a conference held annually in a world capital to reward the highest achievers in the insurance field worldwide. Participants qualify to attend by meeting pre-set targets. 

Participants from 70 countries attended the conference this year, which was held in Toronto in three five-star hotels.

Silva joined UAL in 1996 as an insurance representative of UAL's Kalutara branch and was promoted to Insurance Advisor in 2000. He won the gold sovereign for the New Business Producer in 1999, qualifying to attend the MDRT, both in 1999 as well as in 2000.

Chamber awards for public service

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has decided to recognise and encourage public service officials who contribute towards realising the long-term goals of the private sector set out in the "Vision 2020" document.

"Vision 2020" was prepared by the chamber highlighting the private sector view on how Sri Lanka will operate by 2020.

According to "Vision 2020", the war should be over by 2002 and Sri Lanka would be confidently moving towards economic, political and social stability, a chamber statement said.

"Towards achieving this end and recognising and encouraging public service officials, it has been agreed that the chamber will annually award three 'Seven Star Awards of Excellence" to public service officials," the statemetn said. 

Nominations for the awards can be made by any member of the chamber and will be evaluated by a special panel of chamber committee members.

The criteria for eligibility of awards:

Officials who have upheld law, order and security, practiced good governance, transparency and accountability, and implemented reform measures.

The nominations will require endorsement by the Chief Executive Officer of the member company and must be based on an actual event or action directly contributing to any of the goals stated. 

Politicians and elected representatives will not be eligible for nomination.

The awards will be made up of seven gold sovereigns each while the evaluation period will cover a calendar year. 

Awards will presented at the chamber's AGM.

Corporate performance reports show mixed results

Sri Lanka's business community has begun rolling out its quarterly or six-month performances for the period to June 2001 with mixed results from most companies.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Ltd ended the 3-month period with gross profits of 930 million rupees versus 837 million rupees in the March-June 2000 period while after-tax profits fell to 117 million rupees from 209 million rupees in the same periods.

Group chairman Vivendra Lintotawela said that the group has the resilience to overcome the current crisis (in the country).

"However, we strongly urge the relevant authorities to put aside political considerations and to give immediate priority to taking steps necessary to restore peace and stability without which we cannot have the economic growth that is so badly needed to address the needs of the population of the country," he said in a report to shareholders.

Lintotawela said the general downturn of the economy and the resultant reduction in general spending power had its effect on the food and beverage sectors. While group revenue rose by 12 percent, issues outside the control of the relevant companies took their toll, he added.

Wage increases in the plantations sector, increases in fuel, gas and power costs, the increase in the national security levy and the 20 percent surcharge on income tax were some of these issues that reduced profitability.

The National Development Bank (NDB) showed more positive results with after-tax group profits at 334 million rupees in the six months to June 2001 against 294 million rupees in the corresponding period in 2000.

Bank chairman S.K. Wickremasinghe said though the equity market continued to drift downwards this year in step with a slowing economy, the impact on provisioning has been much less than during the first half of the year.

He said it was difficult to be optimistic about the rest of the year given the current political and depressed economic environment plus a looming world economic recession.

"While profits and returns should improve compared with last year, business activity is likely to remain depressed," the NDB chief added. A new company, NDB Bank Ltd - which includes the assets of the ABN Amro Bank - will commence business from September 1.

The profit after tax of DFCC bank was Rs. 174 million for the first quarter ended June 2001, up 28 percent when compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, the bank said.

The bank recorded a pre-tax operating profit of Rs. 269 million against Rs. 132 million in the previous year.

The loan and lease portfolio recorded a growth of nine percent. The higher interest margin arising from re-pricing of part of its lending portfolio in April brought in temporary benefits.


  • Ban used vehicle imports
  • No backlog of cargo at BIA - SriLankan Airlines 
  • Asiasoft appointed sole agents for Baan Enterprise Resource Planning
  • provides links to trade chamber
  • Seminar on the proposed Computer Crimes Bill
  • Global study on tea industry
  • New insurance plan from Ceylinco 
  • Commercial Bank launches share issue shortly
  • Shipping crisis hurts aquarium exports 

  • Ban used vehicle imports

    By Ashwin Hemmanthagama
    Sri Lanka's motor trade is once again urging the government to ban the import of used cars and other vehicles saying it is a deterrent to the second-hand market and contributes to pollution.

    The Ceylon Motor Traders' Association (CMTA) Chairman, Ajith Algama, a director at Diesel And Motor Engineering Company Ltd (DIMO), said the government should lower import tariffs on new motor vehicles while phasing out the imports of used vehicles.

    "Used vehicles imported into the country are not checked for their road worthiness unlike in the past and it is time that we encourage the use of brand new vehicles at low tariffs," he said speaking at the 81st Annual General Meeting of the association held in Colombo recently.

    The CMTA, at the meeting, also urged the government not to classify double cabs as a luxury vehicle.

    "This is a utility vehicle and is certainly not a luxury one," noted Gerald Hidellarachchi, Director of Sathosa Motors Ltd, adding, "I do not know whether Transport Minister Dinesh Gunewardene has gone in the rear seat of the double cab, which is very uncomfortable."

    Hidellarachchi said that of the 25,000 vehicles imported annually, 20,000 are used vehicles but don't belong to any proper category as the documents are inevitably flawed.

    These used vehicles also add to the country's pollution problem. "We have urged the government to allow middle-income people to import a vehicle below two litres once in five years. We could then retain the second hand car market in the country rather than going out, saving foreign exchange," he said

    Meanwhile, while motor car registrations rose last year to 13,848 from 10,352 in 1999, registrations of all other categories of vehicles fell, according to official statistics.

    New vehicle registrations, which recorded an increase for three consecutive years from 1997 to 1999, showed a declining trend in 2000 _ falling by 11 percent to 91,929 from 102,853 in 1999, figures disclosed at the CMTA sessions showed.

    The decline was due to the devaluation of the rupee, exchange rate fluctuations, a 40 percent surcharge on import duty, increase in corporate taxes, suspension of duty-free permits to MPs and government officials and a decline in the activities of the business sector.

    CMTA chairman, Ajith Algama said the year under review was an extremely turbulent one.

    "The war scenario had an adverse effect on the economy resulting in high interest rates, devaluation of the rupee, increase in the national security levy, surcharges on customs duty on vehicle imports and other issues. The country has suffered a heavy toll with the continuation of this senseless war," he said.

    No backlog of cargo at BIA - SriLankan Airlines 

    SriLankan Cargo, the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines, has denied reports of a cargo backlog at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) after last month's Tamil rebel attacks saying that "even before our cargo capacity had been under utilised".

    The airline said in a statement that it has not requested any other airline to charge the insurance surcharge of US$ 80 that is currently applicable on a return ticket for travel to and from Colombo.

    "Fearing a perceived cargo backlog, industry fuelled rumours have even lead to media statements from various associations about insufficient capacity to meet the demands of air cargo shippers," the statement noted.

    SriLankan Cargo said there is no backlog or capacity constraints on cargo in the airline.

    Senior Manager Cargo, SriLankan Cargo, Naveen Gunawardene said the airline's cargo capacity was in fact under utilised before the rebel attack in which six of SriLankan Airlines aircraft were either damaged or destroyed. This was due to the ongoing worldwide slump in the air cargo industry.

    "Although our actual capacity has decreased with six aircraft less, because we operated under capacity before, there is even now no backlog or insufficient capacity in our airline," Mr. Gunawardene said.

    "With the re-entry of our seventh aircraft, a long haul Airbus A340, into the fleet from September 1, our capacity will increase."

    "If you consider BIA's available average tonnage per day of approximately 500 tonnes, there is no lack of capacity. Some airlines have changed the type of aircraft they are operating and therefore the per-aircraft capacity on some flights may be less. Customers who have been using particular carriers may now be having problems with getting their cargo on smaller aircraft used by these airlines."

    The airline also said that while SriLankan Airlines has reluctantly been forced to add a passenger insurance surcharge of US$80 per passenger on the price of a return air ticket, it has not made any representation to the airline industry or indeed any individual requests to airlines, to increase their fares similarly as is being rumoured. "This is purely a commercial decision made by individual airlines," the statement said.

    The airline also noted that while the Ministry of Aviation and Airport Development has temporarily waived the landing charges at BIA on aircraft carrying over 150 passengers, it has not waived ground handling charges, but only deferred a revision of charges due to be implemented on September 1.

    SriLankan Airlines was to revise their charges following a review of costs in the last four years and had informed their customers accordingly prior to July 24. Following events unfolding after the terrorist attack the airline complied with a government request to defer the ground handling charges price revision until further notice.

    Asiasoft appointed sole agents for Baan Enterprise Resource Planning

    By Akhry Ameer
    Asiasoft was appointed as the sole agents in Sri Lanka for Baan Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in Sri Lanka recently. With the award of the agency Asiasoft will now implement and maintain both the existing and newer Baan systems in the country.

    While locally the agency rights was transferred from Millenium Information Technologies (Pvt) Ltd to Asiasoft, internationally the product range was acquired by Invensys, UK, in August last year. Following its acquisition Baan had reported a growth in sales to US$103m during the first quarter of 2001.

    Baan ERP is a modular software for large organisations covering all sectors of businesses and is easily customised to suit each organisation's requirements.

    Local Baan customers will derive greater benefits from the well-trained staff and a Baan competency centre that has been set up at Asiasoft. The company also has a Memorandum of Understanding for sharing of services with the Ashok Leyland IT Group in India, which is also a Baan ERP agent. Their customers therefore would further benefit from their expertise.

    Currently Asiasoft is attending to the implementation of the ERP system at Lion Brewery. Other Baan users are Clipsal Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Richard Pieris Exports Ltd and Pelwatte Sugar Company.

    Asiasoft specialises in business consulting, security assurance, ERP, software development and digital services. The three-year-old IT company has offices in Dubai Internet City and the U.S.A as a joint venture with 3SG Corporation. Its customers for other services include Central Finance, Nations Trust Bank, National Bank of Fujera - Dubai, DFCC, UNDP and People's Bank. provides links to trade chamber, Sri Lanka's first ever business-to-business (B2B) eTrading hub has signed up with the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka to expand its existing database and global eCommerce activity.

    An MOU signed by Lalith Kotelawala, Chairman, Ceylinco Consolidated and Chandra Embuldeniya, Chairman, National Chamber of Commerce, will bring together an agreement to include the latter's 1,300 registered members into this official database. With this breakthrough, Sri Lanka's small and medium entrepreneurs registered with the Chamber will benefit, not only with wider eCommerce publicity but also with one full year of free membership with launched last year, has already teamed up with, an eCommerce oriented search engine for B2B trading on the world wide web with a 1.2 million strong membership. Having further enhanced their trading facilities with this collaboration, eCeylinco looked towards SMISME, Malaysia's eTrade web portal with a 20,000-strong small and medium industry membership.

    Founded in 1948 soon after Sri Lanka gained independence, the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka was established with a vision to be the leading source of service and assistance to businesses island-wide. It has emerged as the leading trade and industrial promotion body in the country during the past five decades.

    Seminar on the proposed Computer Crimes Bill

    The Law and Society Trust has organised a seminar on the effectiveness of the proposed Computer Crimes Bill of Sri Lanka and the impact it would have upon the business environment of the country.

    The seminar and discussion will be held on August 30, at the Law and Society Trust office at Kynsey Terrace. The presentations are: "The effect of the proposed bill on the commercial environment" by Aritha Wikramanayake, Partner, Nithya Partners and Director SASIA NET, and "the need for legislation with regard to computer crimes and the scope and provisions of the proposed bill" by Jayantha Fernando, member of the sub-committee on computer crimes, Law Commission of Sri Lanka and member of CINTEC Internet committee.

    Global study on tea industry

    The Planters' Association (PA), through the ADB-funded Plantation Reform Project, has initiated a study to formulate a medium term strategy for the tea industry in Sri Lanka.

    A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm, has been engaged to carry out this study which encompasses the external and internal factors that affect the tea market, according to the PA's latest newsletter.

    Since "Ceylon Tea" has to compete globally with different types of beverages such as coffee, soft drinks and fruit juices, a comprehensive study of the global market for beverages would be carried out and market segments identified where opportunities exist for marketing 'our' tea, it said.

    New insurance plan from Ceylinco 

    Ceylinco Insurance Company Ltd introduced their latest multi-benefit insurance scheme Ceylinco Triple Wasi at a ceremony held recently. This is the first time in Sri Lanka an insurance package that combines investment with several other benefits has been introduced.

    The main benefits of Ceylinco Triple Wasi are that it combines financial returns, general insurance benefits and life cover. Any deposit over 25,000 rupees will be eligible to receive benefits under this unique scheme, the company said in a statement.

    The features of Ceylinco Triple Wasi are that it provides the insured with an open door to select any general insurance policy and not pay for it, said Mr. Ajith Gunawardane the Chief Executive Director of Ceylinco Insurance Company Limited. "When you invest your money you are eligible to select from a wide range of insurance covers to suit your need absolutely free. At the end of the period you not only collect your money, but you take home the bonuses and the relevant insurance benefits as well", explained Mr. Gunawardane.

    Ceylinco's strategic partner and Japan's insurance giant, Mitsui Marine Insurance Company, introduced a similar product in Japan and later it was successfully introduced in the Philippines as well. Sri Lanka is the only country where Mitsui Marine Insurance Company does not have a financial interest.

    Commercial Bank launches share issue shortly

    Commercial Bank will be launching its five-year redeemable, cumulative preference share issue at the end of August, the bank said in a statement.

    The main benefit of the share issue would be the tax effectiveness. Companies and other corporate bodies would receive an annual dividend, which is not liable for corporate tax (and consequently the surcharge of 20 percent).

    A bank official said that liquidity would be available, as the shares would be quoted in the stockmarket. The bank would also open and operate a Capital Redemption Reserve Fund for the purpose of redeeming the preference shares at maturity.

    Commercial Bank is known to be the strongest among quoted private banks in Sri Lanka, with the highest capital adequacy, which is a yardstick for measuring the stability of the bank, the statement noted. 

    The only rating agency in the country, Fitch Rating Lanka Ltd, has rated the bank AA + (Double A plus), which denotes a very low expectation of credit risk, a very strong capacity for timely payment of financial commitments and that the capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable events.

    Shipping crisis hurts aquarium exports

    By Diana Mathews
    "If the current shipping crisis continues there would definitely be an adverse impact on exports," said Sita Yahampath, managing director of Kandygs Handlooms.

    An industrial source stated that Sri Lankan products would become less competitive in the international market with the increase in insurance premiums on shipping.

    The exporters of ornamental fish, already facing problems with exports, have been further troubled with imported raw materials costing much more. "The recent shipping crisis has affected the ornamental fish exports as well," said Vibhu Perera, managing director of Lumbini Aquaria Ltd. Packaging materials have to be shipped into Sri Lanka and the resulting increase in costs would have to be passed onto the customer, he said.

    "Ornamental fish exports were adversely affected after the recent attack at the airport for a few weeks," said Mr. Perera. "However, after Lufthansa operated a new flight the pressure was reduced," he added.

    "Most of the raw materials are imported hence the shipping surcharge would have an impact on costs," said Prema Vanniarachchi, president of the Ornamental Fish Exporters' Association.

    "We deal with live fish so transport is very important. The pressure on the exporters would be eased if the government provides freighters for transport," he said.

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