3rd May 1998
A pioneer product, Vesak greeting cards of Greenlands Company, a school-based business education venture was launched at Isipatana College Auditorium last week by Patrick Amarasinghe, President of Young Entrepreneur Sri Lanka (YESL) and of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka.
The Greenlands Company, a student group from Isipatana College, is one of the eight schools selected to pilot the world famous Junior Achievement International programme in Sri Lanka.
This programme was launched in Sri Lanka by Education and Higher Education Minister and the US Ambassador last month at Isipatana College.
Greenlands Company has appointed their own Board of Directors, raised funds by selling shares and undertaken to produce greeting cards as one of the business activities, Mr. Amarasinghe told The Sunday Times Business.
A Vesak card depicting the famous Buddha Statue of Dharmavijaya Buddhist Viharaya - Los Angeles - USA and a verse composed by a teacher Wimal Rajapakse was selected by the Board to be printed.
A very attractive Vesak card has now been produced and put up for sale. It is the first ever product put up for public sale by a school company of the pilot schools selected.
The Seylan Bank and Ceylinco Life are the principal sponsors of this project for 1998, which has targeted at mobilizing 1000 students from eight selected schools in practical business education. W.M. Wijesundara and Mrs. S.K. Jalaldeen of the College staff function as teachers in charge of the Company programme.
By Priyantha Gamage
Rs. 100 million of Treasury funds have been allocated to the Inland Revenue Department, for GST in put credit payments.
The GST Refund Fund will enable speedy refunds within 30 days, Inland Revenue Commissioner O.M.Weerasooriya told The Sunday Times Business.
This will mainly apply to exporters who are placed on a special differment scheme, and whose input credit will be more than their GST payments (exporters are zero rated).
Twenty five percent of GST revenue each month will also be credited to the GST Refund Fund.
Suntel operators have published a directory of subscribers, the first by any private telephone company, in Sri Lanka, claims Suntel.
The directory which comes from the publishers of Sri Lanka Telecom directory will be issued free of charge to all Suntel subscribers along with a Telecom directory.
Nalaka Godahewa, acting Director, Suntel said that this was a 'great leap ahead' of other telecom operators.
He said that in line with the Suntel's philosophy of 'Total Customer Care', a separate department has been set up for this purpose.
Godahewa said that Suntel is the only telecom operator, providing a 24-hour customer care service.
Outlining this service he said; "Our hot lines connected to a highly sophisticated computer network enables us to handle all queries and complaints within a short time span of eight seconds."
"We keep ahead of others, by operating a 24-hour service maintenence centre, which immediately attends to complaints" he said
Godahewa said that Suntel went one step ahead of others by introducing a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. "If one is not satisfied with the phone he could return it within three weeks, for a full refund. But since this was introduced not a single phone has been returned," he said. He said that Suntel has in its pipeline four new services to be launched and that it is their policy to launch a service once every six months.
"Our phone call charges are comparatively less than Sri Lanka Telecom, which recently imposed a thirty percent increase on local calls," he said.
Godahewa said that Suntel is the only telephone operator which guarantees a connection within seven working days.
Finally cognisant of the fact that the eleven major Indian ports will require large injections of capital to bring their infrastructure up to world standards, and also aware that the national exchequer does not have the requisite funds, the Indian government has reconciled itself to the idea of allowing more participation by the private sector.
"Ninety percent of lndia's sea trade moves, through these eleven ports," says M.P. Pinto, Director-General of Shipping (DGS).
"They have become sorely overworked, having handled 227 m tonnes of cargo during l996-97 against our target of 198 m tonnes.
"It is therefore not surprising to find that the high traffic levels have led to congestion, pre-berthing delays and long turnaround time for ships at the overworked ports. We need to develop minor ports to take the load off the big ones, and also to bring in the private sector to build certain facilities at the major ones."
It has been estimated that a huge amount of Rs 400 bn ($11.3 bn) will be required by the major ports during the period of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002).
Since the government simply does not have this kind of money, it has been found essential to rope in private enterprise.
A list of the ports where certain projects will be thrown open to private sector participation was provided by the minister for Surface Transport, T.G. Venkatraman, in his reply to a question in the Lok Sabha (India's Lower House of Parliament), in the first week of August last year.
Ten of the country's eleven ports have been specifically identified for private sector participation over the next couple of years, the minister said.
This will be done mainly on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, with a maximum concession period of thirty years.
The resources of the private sector will supplement the efforts of the port trusts, presently dependent on internal resources, external loans and inter-corporate loans.
At Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the projects involve the construction of a marine chemical terminal, a liquid cargo berth and a six-berth terminal in Nhava Creek.
Among the key proposals from foreign investors is the one for the construction and operation of a two-berth container terminal on BOT basis with a consortium consisting of P&O Ports of Australia, Konsortium Perkepalan Berhad of Malaysia and DBC Port Management Private Ltd. of India.
Says R. Vasudevan, chairman of JNPT, "Our present container terminal has three berths, with a total length of 600 metres With them, we will be reaching about 520,000 TEUs, this year; and in another two years, we will be able to touch a maximum of 600,000 TEUs.
"Considering the demand for container handling, we went in for expansion of the container terminal. We floated a global tender for the construction of two more berths on a 30-year lease. P&O were the successful bidders.
We signed an agreement with them on July 4; and they have already started placing orders for equipment.''
The period of construction is expected to be three years. Within 24 months, P&O will construct 150 metres out of the total 600 metres. This will be followed by another 250 metres, two months later.
They will therefore start operations 26 months after the date of signing of the agreement. The remaining 200 metres will be completed within 30 months.
So far as the oil terminal is concerned, the proposal is to have a 300-metre jetty, at an investment of Rs l bn ($28 m).
A joint-venture project proposal on BOT basis has been submitted by Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC); this has been cleared by the ministry of Petroleum.
The port authorities are working out the modalities of fixing the benefit that will accrue to the port, so that the rental and royalty quantums can be fixed. The jetty has already been cleared for 'B' and 'C' grade chemicals; clearance for 'A' grade chemicals is awaited.
Adds Vasudevan "So far as the marine chemical terminal is concerned, it is still awaiting environmental clearance. It will be a five-berth terminal, constructed with an investment of Rs l7 bn. It will handle all types of chemicals."
At Kandla, bids will be invited for a modern container terminal, a container freight station and various other captive facilities. The aggregate cost of these projects is in the region of $800 m.
The largest and most intricate project at Mormugao is the construction of an outer harbour. This is expected to cost $700 m. The private sector will also be called in to develop berths west of the breakwater ($195 m) and to construct FRII Master Plan berths ($75 m).
New port facilities will be required at New Mangalore on account of the proposed expansion of the Mangalore Refinery there; these will cost $35 m. A bulk handling terminal will cost $100 m.
The Cochin (now better known as Kochi) Port Trust will invite bids for the construction of a modern container terminal at a cost of $800 m; and a terminal at Puthuvypeen for handling liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas (LPG, LNG) at an outlay of $100 m.
In addition to the above projects at the major ports, 21 minor ports are to be opened for exclusive investment by the private sector over the next two years.
Pinto stressed that the need of the hour was mechanisation and infrastructure development, keeping in mind the nine percent cumulative traffic growth every year. (Lloyd's List)
The International Maritime Centres (IMC) efforts have met with considerable success. More than 20 companies have taken advantage of the Canadian reforms.
Well over 2000 vessels are now controlled from Vancouver; newly arrived shipping companies have created more than 350 jobs for Canadian citizens; and the city's maritime infrastructure is growing accordingly — it is, for example, the second largest shipbroking centre in North America after New York/Connecticut.
Foreign corporations account for roughly two-thirds of the companies that have relocated management and control to Canada.
Most of these are from Hong Kong, but others are from the US, Taiwan, China and the UK.
A further seven are Canadian-controlled companies, either expanding into shipping activities that hitherto would not have been profitable for them, or consolidating the activities of various operations into new, Vancouver-based management headquarters.
Probably the most visible of the Canadian-controlled companies is Methanex, the world's largest exporter of methanol.
Once an fob seller, it now operates an international fleet of its own under the auspices of its Vancouver-based, Barbarian-incorporated shipping subsidiary, Waterfront Shipping.
The first, and still the largest foreign owner to arrive was Teekay. In 1991, Teekay moved lock, stock and barrel from Long Beach, California; closing its office there and opening for business in Vancouver.
Other moves have been more gradual: the Hong Kong operators, for example, tended to establish a small subsidiary management operation — presumably testing the waters — but subsequently started to shift their entire management operation to Vancouver, following the lead of Oak Maritime and the Valles Steamship Group.
Oak Maritime's fleet comprises 16 ore, ore/bulk and woodchip carriers operating under Taiwanese, Panamanian, Liberian, Singaporean and Hong Kong flags.
Valles operates seven bulk carriers and three tankers under Liberian and Marshall Island flags.
Establishing a management company seems to be the favoured approach, though a branch office would qualify for the same tax benefits.
The owners themselves do not relocate, but everything is run from Vancouver through the Canadian-registered agency/management company — shipping, operations, maintenance, manning, supplies, accounts, etc.
The idea that an established Canadian presence is nothing but a "bolthole" in case of a political emergency is no longer credible. While political uncertainty was undoubtedly the reason Hong Kong owners were in the vanguard of the movement to set up shop in Vancouver, the economic and geographical advantages will keep them there.
In addition to its favourable tax laws, Vancouver offers:
* very competitive business costs. Office space in Vancouver costs half of what it would in New York, one sixth of what it would cost in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Staffing costs are almost half of those in Hong Kong and less than half of those in Tokyo;
* an abundant supply of skilled labour. Between the well-educated native population and a large pool of earlier immigrants familiar with the maritime industry, finding suitable employees is not a problem. When Teekay arrived, it received 160 applications for 60+ jobs;
* a co-operative immigration service that allows key personnel to relocate with the company under most circumstances;
* favourable location for Pacific Rim traders. London, Tokyo and New York are all within 7-9 hours flying time and the Vancouver work day overlaps both the European and the Asian day;
* a very attractive, cosmopolitan city, already with a large immigrant population (20% of Vancouver's population is of Chinese descent), that is frequently cited as one of the most desirable residential areas in North America.
(Excerpt from Lloyd's Shipping Economist,September 1997 )
Return to the Bussiness Contents
Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to