19th March 2000

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Emirates to fly new corporate livery

Emirates will fly its new corporate livery at ITB Berlin - a stylish and contemporary look for an airline set to become a global carrier in the next two to three years. The ITB Berlin takes place from March 11 to 15, a release said.

Emirates' Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who will lead an airline delegation to this year's ITB, said: "I envisage that by the year 2003 we should be ready to commence services into the North America and place ourselves among the global carriers of the world."

Preparations for this are already underway. New aircraft orders will deliver to Emirates the world's longest range airplane - the Airbus A 340-500 between 2002 and 2003. The A 340-500 will help Emirates realise its ambitions of non-stop flights between Dubai and the US West Coast or Australia.

Emirates has six A 340-500 on firm order, with 10 on option. Other new aircraft due to join the fleet are another 11 A 330-200 between now and 2003, and two more Boeing 777-300s by the first quarter of 2001.

Fleet expansion is in tandem with a fleet renewal programme, where the A 330-200s are replacing the A 310-300s and A 300-600Rs.

This will ensure Emirates maintains one of the world's youngest and most modern fleets. ITB Berlin will present Emirates with vital opportunities to emphasise the airline's new century goals to the world's travel industry leaders.


March 21-24: Trade and Investment promotion Mission to Indonesia. Organised by the Sri Lanka-Indonesia Business Council which functions under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Those interested in joining should contact Mrs I. P Domingopillai, Senior Assistant Secretary- General of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Tel: 422084 or 421745.

March 23: 8.30 a.m. Seminar ( full day) on "Internet based E- Commerce Business Models and Strategies " at the Hotel Galadari. Organised by CIMA. Presenter Dr. B Mahadevan, Associate Professor in Production and Operations Management, Indian Institute of Management. Banglaore.

March23: Seminar( half day) on Leave, Holidays, Overtime, and Recoveries from Salaries" at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Auditorium. Organised by the Institute of Personnel Management.

March23-31: 900 a.m -5.00 p.m. Workshop on " workperfect" at the Hotel Intercontinental. Conducter Mr Gamini Rajakaruna. For registration call Career Consultants and Developers on Tel: 077372915 or 509264.

March25: Seminar on " Managing people for better results" at the Trans Asia Hotel. Seminar leader Gerard Muttukumaru, Founder of the centre for Global Management Training based in California. For further information call ESL Training and Conventions Ltd.

March25: NASCO 2000- First ever National Sales Congress. Organised by SLIM Sri Lanka.

Impoverishment not caused by globalisation

In an article in the London Financial Times entitled 'The Big Lie of Global Inequality", Martin Wolf makes the assertion that the claim that globalisation is increasing the gap between the world's rich and poor is not borne out by the facts. Wolf begins his article by quoting from a declaration of Bill Clinton at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "I think we have to reaffirm unambiguously that open markets and rules-based trade are the best engine we know of to lift living standards, reduce environmental destruction and build shared prosperity". Wolf says that it is unfortunate that the US President has done so little since the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations to promote the cause of liberalization.

Those who oppose trade and foreign direct investment, says Wolf, argue that globalisation means the rape of the planet and the exploitation of the poor. The critics also argue that globalisation has caused a "horrifying rise in inequality". Wolf says that this is not merely wrong, but it is also an example of the big lie.

Wolf says that much of the case against globalisation is made by Jay Mazur, President of the Union of Needle trades. Industrial and Textile Employees of the US in an article in Foreign Affairs January/ February 2000. Mazur has observed that "Globalisation has dramatically increased inequality between and within nations, even as it connects people as never before."

Wolf acknowledges that the gap between the world's rich and poor is huge and that it has grown since the industrial revolution. But, he says, those who oppose globalisation say that inequality has continued to rise in the present era of globalisation, that it has caused this increase in inequality and that the way to halt these trends is either to stop integration altogether or to load a host of labour and social standards on it.

None of these propositions is, according to Wolf, convincing. He observes that the 1980s and 1990s appear to be the first decades in the past two centuries in which global inequality declined rather than rose. The chief reason, he says, was the rise in living standards of China and to a lesser extent of India. There appears, he says, to have been an improvement in the relative incomes of a large number of people in the bottom 60 per cent of the global distribution.

Secondly, says Wolf, much the most important determinant of global income distribution has been relative economic growth. Wolf cites the World Bank as observing that the number of people living on less than $1 a day in East Asia fell from 418m in 1987 to 265m in 1996, before rising to 278m in 1998 in the wake of the financial crisis.

Wolf says that this decline in the number of the desperately poor in the East Asian region is itself largely explained by the growth of China which had an average rise of 7.7 per cent a year in private consumption per head between 1980 and 1997. Behind this success, says Wolf, was the huge increase in the ratio of exports of goods and services to GDP from 6 per cent in 1980 to 22 per cent in 1998 and also the growth in inward direct investment.

The rapid growth that reduce poverty, says Wolf, is built on the successful exploitation of global opportunities. He points out that the critics themselves admit this when they complain (inconsistently) that globalisation has excluded most countries. Mazur protests that 80 per cent of foreign direct investment in developing and transition economies in the 1990s went to just 20 countries, much of it to China.

Wolf observes that Mazur is right because the so-called era of globlisation did not secure sufficient growth in many emerging economies, because such a large proportion of them failed to integrate, the reason being, according to Wolf, that liberalization did not go far enough and furthermore did not offer the fundamental conditions such as macroecomimic stability, secure property rights, non-corrupt administration and basic public services.

Wolf points to some of the "least economically free economies in the world" such as Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Myanmar, Madagascar, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Algeria, The Republic of Congo, Burundi, Albania, Syria and The Ukraine and asks "are these impoverished countries victims of globalisation? "hardly" he says. "They are victims of their refusal to globalise".

Many critics, he says, recommend a halt to globalisation. If they succeed, Wolf warns, they condemn most of humanity to perpetual poverty.

The anti-globalisers, asserts Wolf, are wrong. The chief failure of the past two decades, according to Wolf, was not that integration went too far, but that it has not as yet gone far enough. Too many, says Wolf, have remained marginalised. Wolf concludes that if the critics now persuade governments to turn their economies inward, they will have thrown away the world's best hope of a sustained reduction in poverty and global inequality. ( Courtesy Financial Times)

Japan economy improves

TOKYO, (Reuters) - Japan said on Friday its long-suffering economy is headed toward a full-fledged recovery but is not there yet because consumers remain worried about their jobs.

Despite reporting just this week that the economy slipped into technical recession late last year, the government has become more bullish on the outlook and predicted further deficit spending won't be needed to nurse the economy back to health. "With corporate activity apparently becoming more positive, movements towards a self-sustaining recovery are gradually appearing," the Economic Planning Agency said in a monthly report.

The wording indicated an upgrade in the government's economic assessment, which for months had stuck to the phrase "gradually improving".

Economists largely agree that the worst is over, but many are skeptical of the government view that improved corporate profits will boost wages and spur shell-shocked consumers to spend.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, facing general elections by October at the latest, told parliament the economy is on track to eke out 0.6 percent growth in the fiscal year ending this month, and one percent growth in fiscal 2000/01.

Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said he thought a massive budget for the coming fiscal year, expected to be voted into law on Friday evening, would be the last round of stimulus.

"Economic developments indicate we can get by without compiling a big supplementary budget," said Miyazawa, who is eager to staunch deficit spending, which has caused the national debt to balloon to 130 percent of GDP, the highest rate among advanced industrial nations.

Govt. plays down technical recession

The world's second-largest economy has struggled for a decade to crawl out of the slump it slid into after the collapse of the late 1980s asset-inflation "bubble". A series of extravagant economic stimulus packages and a paring of interest rates virtually to zero have so far failed to produce a convincing recovery.

After a surge of growth early last year, the economy sank back into recession by shrinking over the last two quarters of 1999, the government announced this week.

The government blamed the October-December decline on one-off drags on consumption, which comprises three-fifths of the economy. Officials say spending has picked up this year and they emphasise a surprising fourth-quarter jump in corporate capital spending, the second-biggest chunk of the economy.

In Friday's report, the EPA upgraded its assessments of consumption, capital spending, corporate profits and housing construction.

Agency official Takashi Omori said capital spending appears to have started rising, a view supported by a survey published on Friday in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The business daily said Japanese manufacturers plan to increase spending on plant and equipment by 0.5 percent in the year from April, the first rise in three years.

Govt not ready to declare victory

Nonetheless, the agency refrained on Friday from saying the economy has finally broken free of the slump and embarked on an autonomous recovery.

"For the government to declare recovery, these movements toward self-sustaining recovery will have to continue to some extent," said EPA chief Taichi Sakaiya.

Omori, head of domestic economic affairs at the agency's Research Bureau, said improvements relied on fiscal and monetary policy stimulus, and the question now is whether the private sector can take over when the policy crutch is removed.

A full recovery, he told Reuters Television, will require a rebound in personal consumption, which remains depressed in the face of corporate retrenchment and near-record unemployment.

Omori said the agency hopes recent rises in profits and overtime hours will put the last pieces of the recovery puzzle in place.

The biggest remaining downside risks to the economy are a tumble in U.S. stocks, further rises in the yen or in oil prices, and a spike in Japanese unemployment, he said.

Pan Asia Funds MRI scanner

In a gesture of goodwill, the staff Pan Asia Bank, successfully raised contributions to fund the MRI Scanner at the National General Hospital Colombo.

The project handled by the Sports Club helped raise rupees half a million mainly due to this substantial contribution made by the Board of Directors of the Bank.

A cheque for Rs. 500,000 was handed over to Dr. Colvin Samarasinghe , Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon by Mr. M. H. Omar, Deputy Chairman of the Bank. Mr. Daya Muthukumarana, General Manager /CEO and the senior officials of the Bank were present at the ceremony.

Dr. Samarasinghe expressed his sincere gratitude to the Board of Directors, General Manager /CEO and the staff members for their devotion, dedication and perseverance having come to their aid and thereby to the aid of those who cannot help themselves.

Website for Foto Design

Foto Design will launch its website "" on 24 March at the office 2000 exhibition at the BMICH. The service which is designed for the local and international market will provide information on Sri Lanka's business and commercial ventures and new opportunities in investor friendly Board of Investment projects, a company press release stated.

Srionline will be able to refer inquirers directly to relevant authorities enabling interested parties to obtain first hand information. Sri Lankan companies will be afforded the opportunity to list themselves on the website free of charge.

Srionline will also cater to the needs of businesmen, students and holiday travellers by providing them with analytical data.

Foto Design also turns black and white photographs into coloured ones. Designing and producing identity cards, metal badges and laminating are among the many lines of business underetaken by the firm. The company provides its services to Uniwalkers Packaging Ltd, State Printing Corporation and M D Gunasena Co. Ltd.

TCI launches new website

The Competitiveness Initiative (TCI) launched its new website, TCI is a project to improve the global competitiveness of Sri Lankan business and industry.

The project is being implemented with support of the United States Agency for International Development by the Nathan-MSI Consortium and the U.S. Management consulting firm J.E. Austin Associates (JAA). JAA's resident advisor on competitiveness, Mr. David B. Flood, hired the local firm of Cyber Trade (Pvt) Ltd. to develop the website, a release said.

The site provides a wide range of information on the project's activities and links to other sites that deal with competitiveness.

The TCI website also will include information about the project's work with the clusters for rubber, tea, tourism, jewellery, information technology, and others to be added later.

The site contains JAA's 1998 "Sri Lanka Competitiveness Study" funded by USAID, and it contains links to presentations made at the November 1999 conference on "Competitiveness: South Asia and the Global Challenge."

Included on the website are copies of the presentations by former Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres, former Irish Prime Minister Garret Fitzgerald, New York Times Foreign Affairs Correspondent Tom Friedman and other popular speakers at the conference.

UAL profits up

Union Assurance Limited (UAL) has made a profit before tax of Rs. 144. 6 million for the year ended December 31, 1999. This was a 40.5 percent increase from profit before tax of 102.9 million in 1998, a company press release stated.

A gross written premium from life and general insurance business increased from Rs. 1308 million in 1998 to Rs. 1497 million in 1999. The net assets of the company increased from Rs 585 million in 1998 to 670 million in 1999. A strong financial position enables the company to retain a greater share of risk insured which reduces the outflow of reinsurance premium overseas. The company will differentiate its product by quality of service and speed of response in a changing business environment. Accelerated competitiveness will be a key issue. In May 1999 UAL made a bonus issue of one share per every two shares held. Consequent to this issue the paid up share capital of the company was increased from Rs. 133.3 million to Rs 200 million. For the year 1999 the directors of UAL recommended the first and final divident of 25 per cent on the increased share capital of Rs 200 million.

Merchant Credit records net profit of Rs19.3 million

Merchant Credit of Sri Lanka Ltd has recorded a profit of Rs 19.3 million during the year ended December 31, 1999. The company announced that they have achieved and exceeded most of the targets set at the beginning of the year. This profit is after providing for bad and doubtful debts fully in terms of the more stringent direction of the Central Bank.

The deposit base which stood at Rs 420 million at the beginning of the year reached Rs 603 million by end December 1999. The lease portfolio has grown from Rs 506 million in December 1998 to Rs 802 million in December 1999.

The company has invested in state-of-the-art computer technology which will enhance the company's competitive advantage,by serving customers better.

The company's two branches at Kandy and Kurunegala recorded substancial profits contributing immensely to the company's growth.

The company is considering opening up a few other branches in order to popularize the present lines of business and some of the new products it hopes to introduce during the year. A unique deposit scheme intended for small savers, is under consideration with new products to be introduced.

Special Emirates packages to Rome for Sri Lankans

Emirates, the international airline of the UAE, has compiled attractively priced new holiday packages catering to Sri Lankans visiting the eternal city Rome this year, which has been designated a special year of forgiveness and reconciliation by the Vatican.

The airline's Colombo Office in collaboration with Emirates Holidays, is now offering three nights in Rome from Rs. 76,500 upwards per person.

These prices are inclusive of airfare and three star to five star Hotel accommodation for travellers to Rome on board Emirates. The packages can be customised to individual requirements and will be available till October 31, 2000 says a company news release.

Emirates Area Manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Tissa Bibile said: "The designation of 2000 as a Holy Year, assumes greater significance since it marks the change of a millennium, as well as the celebration of 2000 years of Christ's presence and transforming effect on human history."

Sri Lankans who avail themselves of this opportunity may also sign up for a tour to the Vatican Museums, Rome by night, or Tivoli (Trips to the hill countryside surounding Rome, Baths of Rome etc). for US $ 50 per tour per person (approximately Rs. 3600) Emirates Holidays is the largest wholesale tour operator in the Gulf and Middle East.

The company's products are distributed via travel agents throughout the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tanzania, Kenya, Greece, Maka, Cyprus and Turkey .

Tokyo Cement to receive ISO 14001 certification

Tokyo Cement Co. Ltd., manufacturers of the superior quality 'Mitsui' and 'Atlas' brands of cement, are the proud recipients of the ISO 14001 certification .

"In fact we are the first company in Sri Lanka to have been awarded the ISO 14001 certification," said a justifiably proud Mr. Yanagihara - Joint Managing Director of the Tokyo Cement Group of Companies, says a news release.

With the cement plant located at Cod Bay in Trincomalee and manufactured under stringent quality control methods, with strict adherence to the latest Japanese production techniques, Tokyo Cement has long been a force to be reckoned with in the local construction industry.

The ISO 14001 international standard specifies requirements for an environmental management system which enables an organization to formulate a policy and objectives taking into account the legislative and management requirements, which describe the aims, commitments and endeavours of the company, with the final goal being to implement and maintain this system, and thereby improve the environment. This international standard is applicable to any organization that wishes to implement, maintain and improve an environmental management system, assure itself of its conformance with its stated environmental policy, demonstrate such conformance to others, seek certification/registration of its environmental management system by an external organization, and make a self determination and self declaration of conformance with this international standard.

Mr. S.R. Gnanam - Joint Managing Director of the company, said that they had a strong company policy based on their aims, commitments and endeavours towards the environment.

Abans/ Prima health food demo

Abans and Prima two leading companies in Sri Lanka dealing in household and home appliances and chicken and processed chicken products together presented a demonstration on the preparation of healthy food for healthy living. The demonstration was held at Abans Main Showroom in Kollupitiya.

Abans Home Makers Chef de Excellence Mrs. Manel Perera gave a dazzling display on the methodology of health food preparation using equipment from Aban's wide range of Kitchenware and selected items from the Prima range of health food products. The demonstration was attended by a large audience who were allowed to sample the dishes after the demonstration. Abans will be holding the Microwave Health Food Cookery Contest " Microwave Magic" for the second year on Saturday March 18.

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