27th August 2000
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  • Money Market Update First capital Ltd.
  • Market Report
  • Mums lose out

  • Money Market Update First capital Ltd.

    First Capital - Money Market 
    The Inter-Bank Call money market and the Overnight Repo market

    The week ended 24th August, the inter-bank call money rate witnessed a marginal decline over the previous week. The week started high and slightly dropped towards the end, as a state bank became a lender. However, the prevailing liquidity shortfall remained unimproved and still estimated to be in the range of Rs.8~9Bn. During the week the call money rate saw moving in between 15.63% and 14.25%. The weekly call money average dropped by 2 basis points to close at 15.04%. Given the persistent liquidity shortfall, the call money rate is likely remain at the current levels.

    Central Bank open market operations
    For yet another week, the Central Bank overnight repo rate and the reverse repo rate remained unchanged at 11% and 15% respectively. The reverse repo window of the Central Bank continued to bridge the unfulfilled demand in the money market. During the week, market borrowed Rs. 23.6Bn from the reverse repo window, averaging Rs.4.72Bn a day. The amounts recorded at the repo window were remained insignificant. 
    The Treasury bill auction.
    Rs. 4.13Bn worth of treasury bills matured during the week and Rs. 2.83Bn worth of bills were offered to the market. The Government of Sri Lanka retired further, Rs. 750Mn worth of bills, which were issued for 21 days in the special bill auction held early this month. However, it is unlikely to have any impact on the liquidity level in the market as the bills were held by the Central Bank. In addition, the Central Bank reserved and bought Rs. 1000Mn of bills. The auction was under subscribed by approximately Rs. 500Mn. Therefore, the Central Bank further intervened for Rs. 975Mn. The bill yields continued to surge. 
    Treasury bond auction
    Rs. 750Mn worth of 2-year bonds were offered in the bond auction held during the week. In order to keep in line with the escalated yield curve, the 2-year bond yield rocketed by 101 basis points. 

    Given the prolonging liquidity shortfall, the budgetary pressure on the domestic interest rates and the rising inflation, the investors are expecting higher yields. The secondary market activities remained on a lackluster note as most of the investors were on a wait and see approach. 

    Foreign Exchange - dollar spot movement
    The Central Bank dollar/rupee trading band remained unchanged, buying at Rs. 75.60 and selling at Rs. 79.47. During the week, the rupee gained slightly as the exporters sold dollars. Holding on to dollars became expensive as the rupee interest rates sustained higher. The spot ranged between Rs.78.00 and Rs. 78.30. Three months forward was quoted at Rs. 79.75 to Rs. 79.90, while six months was at Rs.81.25 to Rs. 81.45. 

    91 Days 182 Days 364 Days

    Last Week 12.57% 12.70% 13.51%

    This Week 12.68% 12.86% 13.68%

    Change 0.11% 0.16% 0.17%

    Maturity 01-08-02

    Coupon 10.75%

    Amount offered R .Mn 750

    Amount Accepted Rs.Mn 750

    Weighted average 14.87

    Change 1.01%

    Market Report

    Politics casts a shadow
    Minor parties came to the forefront of news this week with the successful JVP sponsored motion to oust the western province chairman. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress row over sharing was also in the limelight. Both these issues brought to light concerns of a less strong government if minor parties strengthen their position in the up coming elections

    Meanwhile the indices edged upwards on meagre turnover. The All share Price Index gained 1.8 per cent to close at 504.6 while the Milanka Price Index rose 2.4 per cent to register 824.4. Average turnover during the week was Rs. 15.2 mn. Net foreign outflows were Rs. 2.3 mn.

    "Elections raised concerns that parties contesting could make expensive spending commitments which could put even more pressure on the budget deficit," Head of Research, Jardine Fleming HNB Securities, Amal Sanderatne said.

    John Keells Holdings AAA rating was very beneficial to the share which rose Rs.3 to close At Rs. 46.25, Head of research, CDIC Sassoon Cumberbatch, Diluk Desinghe said. A lot of foreign brokers who couldn't buy in because of the absence of a rating will now be looking at it, he said. Investors will adopt a wait and see attitude in the market, Desinghe predicted.

    Market interest rates are moving upward, restricting investors leaping into the market, Senior Fund Manager, Eagle NDB Fund Management Co. Ltd, Channa de Silva said. Government pre election expenditure is increasing and interest rates are rising painting a bleak picture for the stock market, he said.
    A trader on the floor of Jakarta's stock exchange rests his head on his desk as another reads the morning paper during trading August 24, 2000. Indonesian financial markets took a beating on Thursday as stocks fell to two-week lows and the rupiah lost most of its recent gains on disappointment over the country's new cabinet line-up. REUTERS 

    Mums lose out

    LONDON, (Reuters) - Women investment bankers in Britain's financial district, the City of London, say that getting on the "Mummy track" makes it far tougher for them to join the fast track.

    In fact, having children often means women bankers have to abandon their careers altogether, according to the women who took part in a Reuters survey.

    "The general impression is if you've opted to have a child, then your career is secondary in importance and a lot of women will choose to leave at that point," said one woman banker.

    "There's no physical reason why women can't do the work but it's often because they have home responsibilities and this is such a competitive atmosphere that those who have a large career break find they're left behind," said another woman.

    Reuters discussed sexual discrimination in the workplace with 20 women who work as traders, economists, company analysts and saleswomen at top investment houses in the City. All requested anonymity.

    They cited a macho culture of 12-hour days, lack of job-sharing and part-time work, along with unsympathetic management, as reasons why women who have children frequently end up having to accept less high-profile posts or jettison their jobs.

    "In the absence of family-friendly policies and general working conditions, women have to choose lesser careers for other obligations," said a bond saleswoman.

    Earlier this year, City high-flyer Aisling Sykes won an unfair dismissal award from leading investment firm JP Morgan. She told a tribunal that she was fired from her job as vice-president when she asked for more flexible working hours to spend more time with her children.

    Last month, Britain's Department of Education and Employment said a survey of the banking industry showed that 40 percent of companies were unlikely to allow staff to move from full-time to part-time work and only 10 percent allowed 'flexitime' working.

    Investment houses in Britain are light years behind financial institutions in the United States in their attitudes to women, said one U.S. analyst based in London.

    "American women expect to be able to combine having children with a career. It's not an 'either or' sort of thing," she said.

    "Where it does come up as an issue in the United States is if you're a woman with five children and want to be a CEO. Then it becomes more difficult," she said. "But in Britain, most often we're talking about women who just want to maintain a middle management position."

    A spokeswoman for Britain's Equal Opportunities Commission deplored perceptions among some women that they would have to quit working in the City if they wanted to be mothers.

    "It's a waste of talent," she said. "Not only do they lose out in their career but also the employers lose those people and their experience when they can't balance this with a family."

    She said the Commission was keen to push a greater "life-work" balance in offices. Employers "will be able to retain more workers over longer periods of time if they enable them to balance their responsibilities at work and at home."

    She said that women were "seriously under-represented" at the higher levels in banking and finance. She also noted that women working full-time in banking and finance earn only 55 percent of men's average earnings in that sector.

    Windsor Park - the multi-crop farm 

    By D.C. Ranatunga 
    As we reach Minneriya town at the turn off to Hingurakgoda, a name board indicates the way to our destination - 'Windsor Park', the CIC Seed Farm. We drive up to Hingurakgoda town, turn left and a few metres away is Windsor Park, the former government farm run by the Department of Agriculture. Under the government's privatisation programme, CIC Fertiliser Company has been given the 1300 acre farm on lease. The farm, with a history of over half a century, has been producing seed paddy to meet farmers' needs but the operation has been a Rs. 20 million loss to the government every year. Hence the decision to privatise. 

    As one drives in on the right is a block of land retained by the Department of Agriculture with a few buildings, one of which is being used as a seed certification centre. If the surrounding land is any indication of how the bureaucracy has been running the farm, it's no wonder that the government was incurring losses every year. In contrast, the opposite land belonging to CIC Fertilizer is in fine shape, well cleared with a lush plantation of coconut and mango and neatly fenced wth painted fence poles, symbolising the efficiency of the private sector. 

    The farm is dominated by paddy - 750 acres out of a total 1300 acres being covered with paddy fields. The Yala crop is in full bloom. A most pleasing sight. It's one massive patch of green whichever side you look. Divided into 14 blocks for easy identification, the fields are well nurtured. Weeding goes on systematically throughout the season, water is fed into the blocks through irrigation channels and constant monitoring is done in order to ensure a high yield. 

    "When we took over, the average yield recorded was 56 bushels per acre. That was in 1998 Yala. In the following Maha we increased the Yield to 62 bushels per acre and the last Maha recorded an average of 81 bushels per acre. We are confident we will get over 90 bushels this Yala," says Edison Kumarage, Agricultural Operations Manager. His target is to top 100 bushels by next Maha. 

    How have the yield increases been obtained? Improved management techniques, is Edison's short answer. Then he explains. Timely planting plays a key role. The introduction of Japanese technology in transplanting helps in getting a better crop. Transplanting manually is a tedious process. Japanese made transplanters are used to do the job mechanically. The process is faster and more economical. Proper fertilizing is vital. Balanced Plant Nurtient (BPN) fertilizer mixtures based on scientifically determined crop needs have been introduced. The overall result is better yields. 

    With harvesting due in the next few weeks, Edison is getting his team geared for the job. He is excited about using the newly acquired Combine Harvester from Thailand extensively for Yala harvesting. It should set new standards for the operation. An American harvester is also available. Using of Combine Harvesters will make the job quick and more efficient. Of course, manual operation will go hand in hand, providing employment for a large number of persons. 

    CIC Fertilizer has also invested in highly sophisticated machinery for processing of seed paddy. This machinery brought down from Germany ensures a top quality product since sand, stones and other muck is extracted during the processing. It does a fine job in cleaning, sorting and grading the seed. Constant quality control checks are done in the laboratory set up in the premises. 

    A wide choice offside paddy is offered to the farmer. During the current Yala, a dozen varieties have been planted enabling the farmer to select what he prefers. In the South, for example, there is a preference for red rice. The farmer will be able to select what is best suited for his field.

    The paddy operation is quite a tedious process. After harvesting, the paddy is dried, threshed and made ready for processing. While the seed is being made ready for dispatch to sales centres, the preparation of the land for the Maha season will begin. Thus the labour force (they are from surrounding villages and number around three hundred at any given time) is assured of work throughout the year.

    Two young graduates in agriculture, R.D. Samathapala from the Raja Rata University and H.P.D. Sisira Kumara (Peradeniya University) function as one of two Paddy Production Managers. Out in the field before seven in the morning on their motor cycles, they instruct the Field Assistants (there are eight of them) on what has to be done and closely supervise the world during the day. The paddy area has been divided into two divisions with each Production Manager being responsible for a division. In addition, Samathapala is in charge of research and development work- while Sisira Kumara looks after quality control.

    A fleet of 22 tractors is in operation. Each one of them has been completely overhauled by the Company since none of them had been in working order at the time the farm was handed over. A mechanical engineer is on hand to ensure the smooth functioning of the workshop.

    The Company has an outgrower programme whereby registered farmers grow seed paddy which is bought by the Company at a guaranteed price. A close watch is kept on the crop thus ensuring that they too meet the Company's high quality criteria. There are around a thousand farmers registered under this programme in the three CIC farms, Hingurakgoda, Talawa and Kalukelle near Dehiattakandiya. 

    Training sessions are conducted regularly for the outgrower farmers both by foreign and local experts. They are brought in and taught the correct methods of cultivation and fertilizing. New varieties are introduced and they also get an insight into new technology in farming. 

    Apart from paddy, around 200 acres have been demarcated for horticulture crops. Mango is grown extensively along with banana and papaya. The produce is sent regularly to Colombo to be sold through supermarkets and other selected outlets. Seasonal crops are also grown. These include water melon, sweet corn and vegetables. 

    A yard with twenty cattle overlooks a picturesque setting adjacent to the tank which stores water for the use of farm activities. The paddy fields get the water direct from the Minneriya tank along the channels. 

    The management of the farm has been streamlined and restructured to optimize productivity. The staff comprises just five managers, five executives and fifteen others (assistants and clerks). 

    The community has gained with CIC's presence. The surrounding villages show a marked improvement in their living standards due to in increase in income generation. The payments to labour has seen a 66% increase (Rs. 9 million a year to Rs. 15 million) after CIC took over the farm. This has led to an expansion of activity in the villages. At one end of the farm is a government junior school. The teachers say the children now dress better and look better.

    The comment made by former Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Secretary to the Treasury, Dixon Nilaweera after a visit to the farm, a few months back, sums up the success of the CIC effort. "It's fantastic", he has written in the visitors' book.

    CIC operations have ensured a regular supply of quality seed paddy to the farming community. Commenting on the paddy crop, the latest Annual Report of the Central Bank says that the private sector is expected to play an important role in the seed industry. "The privatized seed farm at Hingurakgoda is progressing well and positive results are evident from the fact that there was no scarcity of seed paddy during the Maha season", it states.

    CIC has just been taken over the 530 acre farm at Pelvehera (on the Dambulla/Habarana road) under the Privatisation programme. The experience gained over the past two years will help the Company to plan it. "We are happy with the progress made so far. We are convinced that high quality seed is the key to success. So we are continuing with our research to produce such seed obtaining the best global advice and guidance. We have many more plans for the future. We are confident of improving our services to the farmers thereby contributing our share to the national effort", says CIC Fertilizer's Managing Director Rohan Karunaratne.

    Israeli banana for dessert!
    Like to taste Israeli bananas grown in Hingurakgoda? You will soon get your chance when bananas from Windsor Park will reach the city markets. There are two varieties identified as 'William' and 'Grand Nain' and resemble the local 'ambun'.

    The mother plants were brought all the way from Israel. 

    They are tissue cultured plants from Rahan Meristem, the world leader in micropropagated banana plants.

    They are grown in a 12 acre plot under drip irrigation taking great care and concern. In fact, a new concept of fertigation is being tried out whereby fertilizer is applied with water two days a week through a drip irrigation network.

    Eight months after planting, the trees are bearing. 

    The banana clusters are covered with a special kind of imported light blue bag to prevent them from being attacked by insects.

    When the plants arrived from Israel they were taken to the CIC biotic nursery in Ragala and kept in green houses for one and a half months. 

    They were then put into polypots and kept for another one and a half months before bringing to Hingurakgoda. A team from Israel advised the Company staff on the preparation of beds, cultivation and follow up care.

    CICs Horticultural Manager, A.H. Kulasiri also a graduate in Agriculture, under whose charge the project got going, is a happy man seeing his sweat and toil bearing fruit.

    Park within a park
    In Windsor Park is a ten acre block devoted to a Nature Park.

    Five cottages are ready for anyone who wishes to spend a few days relaxing amidst a host of herbal and other indigenous plants coming up in the nature park. I counted over sixty varieties from the common 'Kohomba' and 'Ehela' to the not so popular varieties including 'Ankenda', 'Ahu', 'Aratta', 'Heen Bovitiya' to 'Damitha'. The better known herbal plants like 'Ranawara', 'Katukaroshana', 'Eethana' are all there - identified by both the botanical name and the Sinhala name. The 'Siyambala' and 'Divul' drinks we enjoyed after a good outing in the farm, courtesy bungalow keeper Serasinghe, were from trees around. 

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