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10th January 1999

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Moratuwa Varsity signs MOU with AIT

The University of Moratuwa and the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a programme of co-operation for mutual benefit.

Prof. Sam Karunaratne, Vice Chancellor, University of Moratuwa and Prof. Charas Suwanwela, President, Asian Institute of Technology, Prof. Jyoti P. Gupta, Dean, School of Management of the AIT, were present at the ceremony which was attended by the deans of the faculties, heads of departments of the University, members of the Senate and several distinguished invitees from the industry.

PMB Branch at Kurunegala

People's Merchant Bank (PMB) inaugurated its first branch office in Kurunegala, recently, at 70B, Colombo Road, Kurunegala.

This branch office is equipped to provide a wide range of investment banking services which include leasing, short term loans, corporate finance and capital market activities, fund management, consultancy and investment advisory services to the business community of the province.

Ericsson to digitise AMPs network

Ericsson has signed a contract with mobile phone operator Mobitel to digitise the nation-wide AMPS network in Sri Lanka. The upgrade contract is valued at USD 20 million (SEK 155 million), a news release said.

Currently there are 60,000 subscribers using Mobitel's AMPS network and they will all be migrated to the digital network during first quarter 1999.

The selection of the D-AMPS IS-136 (TDMA) technology was based on the smooth and cost-effective digital migration capability; the versatility of the network for customization of services and the future-proof platform that D-AMPS IS-136 provides for third-generation wireless services. Mobitel is a consortium with Australia-based Telstra owning 60% and Sri Lanka Telecom 40%.

Mobitel offers new pricing plans

Mobitel has announced two new pricing plans designed to offer maximum benefit through reduced access fees and call charges.

The first called "Everyday" has an access fee of only Rs. 299 per month. The second termed "Easy 550" has an access fee of Rs. 550/- and gives Rs. 300/- worth of free calls every month.

Both packages have reduced call charges. Common to all packages of Mobitel are the free unlimited incoming calls within the network, free first minute of all incoming calls from any network and free access to all network features including call waiting, call conferencing, call forwarding.

There is a special bonus for Christmas where all new connections in December will be entitled to an additional Rs. 100/- worth of free calls every month throughout 1999.

Hemas renovates Castle hospital

Hemas Marketing (Pte) Ltd., marketers of Baby Cheramy recently renovated the Premature Baby Unit of the Castle Street Maternity Hospital in Borella, as a part of the community projects carried out to mark the group's 50th anniversary, a company release said.

The project was completed at a cost of nearly Rs 500,000 and included installation of a new wiring system, repairs to the plumbing system and other renovation activities.

Ceylinco premium income tops Rs 1b

Ceylinco Insurance's life premium income for the current year topped Rs. 1 billion last week, establishing a historic first in the private sector insurance industry, a company release said.

Premium income had grown by more than Rs 60 million over the previous year, to exceed Rs 1000 million by December.

"Ceylinco Insurance is the first private sector life insurer in Sri Lanka to collect more than a Billion Rupees in a financial year," said R Renganathan the Company's Director/General Manager (Life), adding that the Life Division now accounts for 42 per cent of the private sector life insurance market.

Grindlay's Bambalapitiya at new more modern site

ANZ Grindlays' flagship branch, Bambalapitiya, has been relocated to more modern premises at 28 Temple Lane, facing Duplication Road.

It features a very modern, granite laid serving counter, a 24 hour ATM machine for the convenience of customers and dedicated underground car parking.

According to the branch manager, Ramani Gnanamuttu, "This will be very useful for customers who will now have easy access to the bank together with the ability to withdraw cash any time of the day or night", a company release says.

Committee members

The following Executive Committee has been elected at the third annual general meeting of Sri Lanka-China Business Co-operation Council held on December 18.

President S.D. Liyanage
Secretary General: G. A. Hidelaratchi
Hony. Secretary: J.P. Perera
Vice President: Peter Jayasekera
Vice President: D.H. Wijeratne
Dy. Secretary-General: Priya Batugahage
Asst. Secretary: O.A. Philippulle
Committee Members: Lal de Alwis, Rohan Perera, Ranjit Dissanayake, A.L. Yatawara, J.C. Savanadasa, C.I. Dassanayake, M.P. Wijesinghe.

International Vice President of CIT

Mr. Rohan J. Abeywickrema was elected as the International Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Transport (CIT) for a period of three years at the International Council Meeting held in Zimbabwe in September 1997.

The CIT is a professional organization in transportation with over 20,000 members in sixty countries.

Mr. Abeywickrema formerly held the post of Chairman of CIT in Sri Lanka for two years from 1993 to 1995. Mr. Abeywickrema is also a Director of Sea Consortium Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., Sathsindu Group of Companies and several other transport related organizations.

Letter to the President

Trade agreement downsizes industry, says Chamber

The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries has addressed a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga voicing their concerns about the recent trade agreement with India. The full text of the letter:

"The Bilateral Trade Agreement with India has now been signed and we are convinced that it is the intention of Your Excellency to obtain the maximum benefit.

As detailed in our previous letter of December 23, 1998 (copy attached for easy reference) we are concerned that sectors of local industry, (especially small and medium) where tariffs have been reduced to zero have unfortunately faced closure and downsizing with resultant mass unemployment and loss of technology.

Two sectors that come to mind are those of pharmaceuticals and more recently textiles.

We are further concerned that industry is completely unaware of the "criteria" which would govern the selection of items for the negative and preference lists.

We have been discussing with the Ministry of Industrial Development the areas of Sri Lankan industry that need to be safeguarded and would like to be assured that our representations have been incorporated in the preference and negative lists.

We regret also that in the agreement under 'definitions' the word "item" has not been defined. This gives rise to the possibility that an "item" as understood by Sri Lanka to constitute a single product can be sub-divided into several products under the HS Code classification of India, on their preference lists.

As you are aware Sri Lankan consumers are subject to a regime of poor quality and spurious goods entering the Sri Lankan market, as the authorities responsible for quality standards have inadequate facilities to control these. Before implementing a fast track approach, it is imperative that these deficiencies be rectified in order to derive the maximum benefit.

This applies even to the question of goods dumped below cost. Sri Lanka thus suffers a disadvantage as only India has its institutions and laws in place to deal adequately with such imports.

As the leading industrial Chamber in Sri Lanka, we would be willing to make our views available to your officers who are negotiating the annexures to this agreement.

We hope Your Excellency will take this opportunity to make use of our pro offered support to achieve your vision," the letter says.

Lloyd's agency GM retires

Nihal Silva, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Insurance (Pte) Ltd., retired after 22 years of service. He was also the General Manager of the Lloyd's Agency, which Aitken Spence & Co. Ltd., have held for 121 years.

He was responsible in negotiating the opening of a Lloyd's Sub-Agency office in the Republic of Maldives, and organising the first ever regional meeting of Lloyd's Agents in South Asia, in Colombo, in 1991.

During his tenure of office, Aitken Spence embarked into carrying out quality surveys on behalf of Lloyd's of London, pre-shipment condition surveys, hull and machinery surveys and factory inspection surveys for overseas Underwriter's purposes, a company release said. He was one of the first Sri Lankans to qualify as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London and was also conferred with the title of Chartered Insurance Practitioner.

Mr. Silva is a founder member and President of the Sri Lanka Insurance Institute. He was also a Past President of the Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka and served as a member of the National Olympic Committee.

Shell notches 2m injury-free hours

Shell Gas Lanka Ltd has crossed the two million mark for continuous hours without lost time injury. This achievement coincides with Shell completing three years in Sri Lanka, a company release says.

Shell Gas was formed when the Royal Dutch/Shell Group bought 51% stake in the state-owned Colombo Gas Company for US $37 million in December 1995. Since the acquisition, Shell Gas Lanka has invested heavily to improve technology and safety standards and to build the infrastructure to meet the growing market needs. Along with the investment in the existing plants at Mabima and Orugodawatte, Shell is also building an LP storage and import terminal at Kerewelapitiya.

The terminal will comprise four storage spheres. Each sphere is capable of holding 2000 tonnes of LPG.

Asbestos Cement Industries Limited wins ISO 9002

The Asbestos Cement Industries Ltd. (ACIL) was recently awarded the ISO 9002 certification for the elephant brand masconite corrugated and flat sheets.

ACIL was formed in 1955 and pioneered the production of asbestros cement roofing and ceiling sheets in 1956 and, has since maintained its market leadership by focussing on quality, customer focus, employee welfare and the environment.

The quality systems of ACIL was audited by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution and was found to be well in place, in order to be awarded the prestigious certificate immediately, a company release said.

Discussion on free trade pact

Following the Free Trade Agreement signed between Sri Lanka and India on December 28, 1998 the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with the High Commission of India will be organising a discussion session led by Shri Shivshankar Menon, High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka, tomorrow at 10.a.m. in the Ground Floor Auditorium of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The discussion will be followed by an open forum, where the participants could clarify any issues of relevance to the agreement, from the High Commissioner.

Software accord

Mercator, the Information Technology subsidiary of the Emirates Group, has signed an agreement with John Keells Computer Services of Colombo, which will establish an advanced software development facility, specialising in airline systems.

This development centre, in Colombo, will support the needs of both AirLanka and Emirates Airline.

The agreement was signed in Colombo recently between Hugh Pride, Senior General Manager Mercator, and Ajith Gunewardene, Director of John Keells Group, with Suresh Dominic, Managing Director of John Keells Computer Services, a company release said.

Pan Asia in Rajagiriya

Vibrant sounds of the Sri Lankan Army Band playing a selection of favourite Sinhala and English music announced the opening of Pan Asia'a newest branch at No. 1334 Old Kotte Road, Rajagiriya.

The bank declared open by Deshamanya Dr. W.M. Tilakaratna amidst the sound of traditional drumbeats was well attended by a distinguished gathering of businessmen and leading personalities from the area.

Addressing the gathering CEO/General Manager Daya Muthukumarana said he was proud of Pan Asia's peformance during its short span and whilst thanking corporates and individuals who placed their trust in Pan Asia, attributed its success to the quality of his staff who were well experienced and qualified bankers.

Dr. Tilakaratna stated statistical details to project the bank's growth and mentioned that they would perceive with plans of development emphasizing of Rural Credit.

The first corporate account at the branch was opened by Lanka Orix Leasing Co., Chairman C.P. De Silva, the first industrial account by Butani Exports, first business account by Wickramaratne Distributors, first business deposit by Arch Pvt. Ltd., while the first individual deposit was made by Wijedasa Rajapakse, Attorney-at-Law.

First printer to achieve ISO 9001

Graphitec (Pvt) Ltd., achieved a milestone in the Printing Industry by becoming the first ever Lankan printer to be certified for ISO 9001 Standard by an International certifying body DNV (Det Norske Veritas) in December last year. Sudath Silva, MD Graphitec (Pvt) Ltd., receiving the certificate from the Country Manager DNV N.Gunawardena. Others from left: Errol Kelly, Shewan de Silva, Nihal Silva (DNV), Mrs. H.E. Silva, Stephan Moraes, Deepal Amuwala (3rd Wave).


New safety culture: Challenges it faces

The rapidly changing nature of the new safety culture is one of the most significant challenges facing classification societies today, Vaughan Pomeroy, Lloyd's Registers head of engineering services, Marine Division, said.

Presenting a paper to the New Safety Culture conference, held by the Institute of Marine Engineers, in London, Mr. Pomeroy highlighted his overall message:

"Safety does not just happen because ships comply with certain prescriptive requirements and crew members hold certain necessary certificates. Safety is achieved by well founded, proactive management processes, supported by rules and regulations which take a holistic approach to safety."

The paper 'Classification - adapting and evolving to meet the challenges of the new safety culture' looks at recent initiatives which have substantially changed the framework within which the safety of merchant shipping is managed.

These include revisions to the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code) and to the International Safety Management (ISM) Code with their respective emphases on the human factor in ship safety; the High Speed Craft Code of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has led to requirements for a wider application of safety assessment methods; and the IMO supported concept of Formal Safety Assessment (FSA).

Mr. Pomeroy also considered the impact of the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, which covered safety aspects of ship design and technology. The Committee, to which Lloyd's Registers submitted evidence, noted that there has been a significant improvement in the reduction of ship losses over the last 20 years despite an increase by a factor of 1.6 in the average age of ships.

The Select Committee recommended a safety case regime for merchant shipping, similar to that already adopted by the oil and gas industry. It also recommended support for the development of ship science, a move towards performance standards in place of prescription and concentration on the management of safety.

Mr. Pomeroy then examined the extent to which Lloyd's Register has responded to these recommendations, and has adapted to the associated shift in safety culture in the industry. Lloyd's Register has already worked closely with industry authorities in developing the FSA process in a way which was suitable for the regulatory framework of the IMO and, ultimately, for the development of its own Rules for classification.

Central to many risk scenarios used in FSA is the human factor. FSA methodology does not allow the consideration of a technical solution without due regard being paid to interactions with people. The introduction of the ISM Code has given classification societies an ideal opportunity to get more involved with human factors. Mr. Pomeroy pointed out that Lloyd's Register has taken additional steps by becoming active in promoting the assessment of crew training establishments, required by STCW, in association with the Warsash Maritime Centre of Southampton.

(-Lloyd's Register)

Indian intermodalism - where to next?

Intermodalism in India has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Its developments has taken place despite a lack of investment. This situations, it would seem, looks set to continue.

In 1950, 90% of freight moving within India by land was hauled by rail. Today, that figure is only 40% . However, during the same period, volumes moved by rail have increased from 73 million tonnes in 1950 to 409 million tonnes in 1997. In 1998, that figure is expected to rise to 430 million tonnes. The contribution made to these figures by containerized cargo is 703,000 TEU moved in fiscal year (July June) 1996 /7 an anticipated 720,000 TEU in 1997 . The split of these container volumes is, at present, 60% international and 40% domestic business.

To cater for these substantial freight volumes, rail track capacity in India has increased by a mere 17% over the period and over the past six years the track capacity has remained static. This is because the freight rail network has been starved of investment.

US Jha executive director (freight and marketing) for the Ministry of Railways in India, which owns Indian Railways (IR) points out that despite this, increased capacity overall has been achieved in other ways, including the introduction of a freight block train system.

A number of initiatives are being investigated by IR with a view to encouraging commercial investment in both infrastructure and freight equipment. These include:

* partnership in rail terminals with other companies, such as railway siding owners. This would help to encourage direct loading and unloading at shipper/receiver premises

* private investors to acquire rail wagons which would, in turn, be leased back by IR with tax benefits to the investor

* the outsourcing of non-core activities, such as catering and tourist lines

IR's marketing strategy, meanwhile, is slowly becoming a customer driven one, with a view to making it more user friendly. Jha explains: "Our marketing strategy is to focus on customers. We are a supply led organization, but we are trying to be customer led. Product managers are being introduced to identify market segmentation.

"Our focus is on high risk customers, that is to say those who may easily switch to road, taking with them high values of freight. Reliability of service must be ongoing and consistency is being looked for."

Intermodalism is high on IR's agenda. Jha comments: 'The piggy back/ RoadRailer concept is being investigated by the Indian Railways. Meantime, we are trying to integrate with other forms of transport like the roads and waterways. The government recognizes the importance of environmental issues and a National Transport Commission is to be created to look at intermodal mixes'.

The task of promoting containerisation within India is the responsibility of the Container Crop of India (Concor) a subsidiary of the Ministry of Railways. Concor, an intermodal train and inland container depot (ICD) operator, was set up in 1988. Its functions are:

* to spearhead the container revolution in India

* to build and operate infrastructure and organize rail and road links for accelerated and inland penetration of international containers in India

* to set up and manage ICDs and CFSs throughout the country

* to act as an effective liaison with all agencies involved in containerisable trade in India, so as to provide comprehensive services for door-to-door movement of international cargo.

The first ISO container was moved inland to an ICD in 1981. The ICD, in Bangalore, was managed by Indian Railways. By 1988, the number of ICDs had increased to seven. Today Concor operates a total of 30 with another eight planned.

The positioning of the ICDs is not accidental. Part of Concor's brief was to aid de-congestion at the ports by providing efficient rail links and conveniently close ICDs. Concor's success can be measured by the fact that between 1989 and 1996, the percentage of container traffic moving to the ports by rail increased from around 8% to 30%.

Secretariat and library for ICS, new head pledges

Bandula Dissanayake of Maersk Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., was elected the Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), Sri Lanka Branch at the annual general meeting held recently at Hotel Galadari Meridian.

Mr. Dissanayake, a Fellow Member of the Institute since 1985, is a senior member of the Sri Lankan shipping community. He started his career in 1976 at the Ceylon Shipping Corporation and was the Assistant Operations Manager (Europe Service) at the time he left them in 1990 to join Scanships Ltd. He is the Operations Manager of Maersk Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., who are the local agents for the world-renowned Maersk Line of Denmark.

Mr. Dissanayake graduated in Professional Shipping Management from the Norwegian Shipping Academy in Oslo in 1984.

Mr. Dissanayake recalled the many milestones reached since establishing the ICS Sri Lanka Branch in 1988 and stated that the Institute will continue to remain the voice of the shipping professionals in Sri Lanka and also the prime source of education for the new entrants to the industry.

"ICS will soon open a full-time secretariat of our own and will have a Maritime Library, which will be the best of its kind in Sri Lanka, for the benefit of our members," Mr. Dissanayake said. He added the commitment of the ICS to the shipping education in the country and stated that the growing number of students, which stands over 175 today, will be supported by a more elaborate local education program in future.

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers which received the Royal Charter in 1920 is the most recognised shipping institute in the world, committed to the development of the industry and education of the members of the shipping community.

The Sri Lanka Branch too, in the same vein has prominently contributed to the uplift of professional standards of the shipping industry in Sri Lanka.

"We have participated in various consultative committees appointed by the shipping ministry and had our past Chairman, Parakrama Dissanayake, serving in the task force that drafted the National Shipping Policy of the present government," Mr. Dissanayake added.

The office bearers: Parakrama Dissanayake (FICS), immediate past Chairman; Capt. D.J. Amarasuriya (MICS), Vice Chairman; M.S.M. Ilmy (FICS), Secretary; Mrs. Ruwenika Jayasuriya Boteju (MICS), Treasurer; Capt. Priyantha Dias (FICS), Education Officer; Russel de Alwis (MICS), Committee Member; and Mrs. Anoma Ranasinghe (MICS), Committee Member.

New way for Sea-Land

Major US carrier Sea-Land Service Inc. has launched a new way of doing business via an Internet web site.

It has been chosen as Containerisation Internationals favourite web site of the month (

While this site may not be the most artistic or visually imaginative, it is nonetheless very well laid out and easy to use. Most important, it is up-to-date in all areas, providing essential information about Sea-Land's major markets worldwide, financial results and import and export shipping schedules, including a comprehensive list of all ports connected on a worldwide basis.

However, it is the level of additional applications available that make the revamped Sea-Land site so impressive.

The FASTrac facility is very useful. Using a simple booking number, B/L or individual container number, FASTrac can locate and advise the current status of goods held anywhere within the Sea-Land ,system up to a maximum of 60 days.

Customers can also obtain side-by-side comparisons of the shipment's scheduled trip plan versus actual moves.

In addition, Service Request is a rules-based booking application which can generate customised lists to provide shipper, consignee, commodity and shipment information.

There is also a facility for customers to input information directly into the Internet applications, meaning no future re-keying. This will allow for improved accuracy and reduce future processing time.

With B/L printing and invoice/payment processing soon to be available, Sea-Land's desire to deliver consistent and accurate information to all customers will be a step closer.

Linking the internal ship management functionality with the Internet's capabilities allows for worldwide visibility and easy access for customers and users alike.

Also linked to the Sea-Land site is information on its parent CSX Corporation. CSX's site is also extremely well laid out and very informative. It uses a simple but effective design concept that break down all data into three main areas for the customer, the investor and the media.

NYK building transloading base

United Warehouse & Distribution Center Corp. (UWDC) a U.S. distribution arm of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) is now constructing a trans-loading base on a 10.25-acre (41,000 square metre) tract on the north side of its existing distribution centre in Carson, Calif.

Scheduled to open in January, the new facility will occupy 7,000 square metres, embracing storage space and an office building. It will feature 72 truck docks for re-loading cargoes from marine containers to large (48-53 feet) trailers for inland transport. UWDC targets cargoes imported from Asian countries by Target Stores, Dollar General and other U.S retailers.

UWDC opened its first distribution center in the Carson area in December 1989. The center has since been expanded to 42,000 square metres.

Pioneer Electronic Corp., a major audio visual equipment manufacturer, has used the center as its distribution base until moving its main distribution functions to a 34,000 square metre warehouse leased by UWDC at Mira Lama in the outskirts of Carson early this year.

The facility now under construction will have a storage space in the center, flanked by truck dock lanes for incoming an outgoing vehicles. The 72 truck docks will have space for assorting cargo. The truck yard can accommodate 193 vehicles.

NYK intends to have marine containers entering from Asian countries devanned and assorted according to customer needs and devanned at the new distribution centre before transporting them by trailers to delivery depots around U.S.

Reloading cargoes from marine containers to trailers used to be called trans-loading, but the term "cross-docking" has recently been coined because cargoes go through docks at warehouses.

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