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5th November 2000
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Tourism looms up in the rock city

By Ruvini Jayasinghe and Chanakya Dissanayake 
An amber haze lit up the night sky. The hoards of workmen who kept moving around in the deep, dark craters looked no bigger than Lilliputians from above. 

An outsized grey monster sputtered into action every once in a while, spouting a concrete mixture. One of the long line of trucks parked in the far corner of the huge expanse of land quietly loomed up beside a Imagecrater and turned on the cassette. 

Tbe blaring baila jackknifed a worker into a little dance, breaking the eerie silence of the night shift at the Dambulla international cricket stadium, to be completed for its first floodlit series next March.
As the huge construction cranes and bulldozers work throughout the day and into the night to build Sri Lanka's first floodlit stadium outside Colombo, Dambulla has jolted out of its slumber to reap the benefits of international cricket brought right up to its doorstep.

Tea kiosks have mushroomed around the construction site. Dambulla damsels are making a fast buck serving tea, bananas and buns to hungry workers. At any time of the day or night they are behind the kabuk counters pouring out cup after cup of tea.

The air of camaraderie is infectious and one worker even shouts out that the nangis behind the counter have put him in a permanently good mood even though his wife left him to go to the middle east on a job and has not been heard of since!

There is plenty of room for every small time and (big time) entrepreneur in the sprawling wide-open landscape, which is the approach to the stadium. 

So right next to the tea kiosk in friendly competition is a buth kade which serves everything from the buth packets to the malu pan. 

When international cricket gets underway in the scorching dry heat of the rock city the mulitnationals from Colombo will swoop down on the city, pitching their tents along the way offering to quench your thirst, pep you up, make you bubbly and what have you.

Yes, it's only a matter of time before smalltime becomes big time and the cart track that billows orange dust when trod upon will become the road to the rock city's revival.

According to Saliya Dahanayake of "Gimanhala", a transit hotel in Dambulla, land prices have been sky-rocketting with the construction of the cricket stadium. Never-say-die entrepreneurs who still hold out hope for tourism in Sri Lanka have been buying up little plots in
Dambulla to provide guest house type accomodation, anticipating a large number of cricket fans in Dambulla from from March 2001 onwards. 

In Dambulla the majority of the land belongs to the Rangiri Dambulu Chapter under the Royal Duty, since the time of ancient kings. Land owners occupying these lands should pay a nominal fee to the temple for occupying these lands. Lands under the Royal Duty can be freely transferred, but their titles indicate that they are under the Royal Duty to the temple.

Dambulla gained popularity as the centre for leisure in the dry zone mainly because of its strategic location . It has easy access to all main archaeological sites including, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. 

The lack of star class accommodation in Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura have steered tourists towards Dambulla which boasts of two of Sri Lanka top hotels, Kandalama and the Culture Club. Apart from these two main hotels many small scale resorts are also coming up in the Dambulla town.

However hotel operators said that the low budget tourist who frequent the dry zone has lowered their profits. According to Dahanayake , the present day "backpackers" are very budget conscious and create very little revenue for the hotels.

The Culture Club attempts to attract the high end tourists who are keen on blending with nature. Situated near the historic Kandalama lake, its chalet type layout attempts to recreate the " village in the dry zone" atmosphere. It offers all the amenities of a star class hotel plus some dry zone specialities like freshwater fishing and jungle trekking.

The common industry sentiment is that Dambulla will become a central tourist location in the island , provided the security situation improves. " No other town has so much to offer, jungle trekking,archaeological sites, fishing, you name it- we have it", said a leading tour operator.

Cricket loverly cricket 

As the queen's men led by Nasar Hussain (hopefully !) play the one day international against Sri Lanka, they will be turning a new leaf in the cricket history books. Dambulla International Cricket Stadium will be the First Day night Stadium outside Colombo and the second in Sri Lanka. During the first stage the BCCSL will construct the grand pavilion, the road network and the ground, amounting to an investment of Rs 200 million. 

The grand stand will be fully air-conditioned and will have a capacity of 1800 seats. The car park will be able to handle 500 cars and 30 buses. The Sunday Times Business team was able to witness the 24 hour construction work carried out by the local contractors, Sierra, in order to make the stadium "cricketworthy" by March 2001. 

The multiplier effect of the investment is already evident. The tourism industry has already taken the cue and investing on expanding their capacity. 

Another interesting development is the revival of the small businesses in the vicinity of the stadium. These businesses can be easily developed into refreshment stalls and fast food outlets with a little government support.


Markets

  • Nations Trust goes electronic
  • Money Market Update.
  • Nations Trust goes electronic

    Nations Trust Bank opened a new electronic means of accessing their bank last week. Internet banking, ATM's and telephone banking were added to the existing channels of supermarket units and branches. 

    A well designed nationstrust.com site aims to provide customers with internet banking. While the site, not suprisingly, does not allow cash withdrawals or deposits, it aims to provide most other features. In the personal section, clients could start opening accounts and applying for loans. According to Iftikar Ahmed, AGM Personal Banking, they would immediately post the forms or send someone over.


    Money Market Update First Capital Ltd.

    The inter-bank call money market and the overnight repo market
    Given the long prevailing liquidity shortfall, which we estimated to be in the range of Rs. 13 Rs.15Bn, most of the players in the inter-bank money market were on the borrowing side. In spite of the marginal reduction in the cash in circulation, possible dollar purchases by the market from the Central Bank aggravated the liquidity shortfall. Therefore, the pressure on the inter-bank call money rate continued to build up. During the week ended 2nd November, the call money rate further pushed up and moved within the boundaries of 16.5% and 17.5%. As the liquidity shortfall and the uncertainty continue to build up, more demand stemmed for term money. The term money rates up to three months escalated by approximately 25 basis points, while the longer terms improved by 12.5 basis points. The weekly call money average shot up to 16.8%, marginally higher than the previous week. Given the unchanged Central Bank's reverse repo rate, the market repo rates were ranged bound at 16%.
    Central Bank open market operations
    The Central Bank's overnight repo and reverse repo rates persisted unchanged at 13% and 16% respectively. On Wednesday, the market borrowed Rs. 16Bn from the window, the highest ever amount borrowed on a single day. During the five days of the week, the market players borrowed Rs. 69.88Bn from the Central Bank's reverse repo window averaging Rs. 13.99Bn a day. Given the prevailing liquidity shortfall in the money market, we expect the Central Bank's reverse repo window to remain as the main lender in the market.
    Treasury bill auction.
    During the week Rs. 3067Mn worth of treasury bills matured and the full amount was offered in the auction. As the treasury bill yields are at the highest in recent history fair amount of interest was depicted in the auction. The auction was oversubscribed by almost two times. However, due to the prevailing liquidity shortfall and the comparatively high short term money market interest rates, the investors continued to bid for higher yields. Central Bank accepted less in the categories of 91 days and 182 days and picked up more in the 364 days category. The Central Bank intervention in the bill auction was kept at a modest level of Rs. 283Mn. The treasury bill yields continued to strengthen further. As a result of treasury bill yields are being administrated, the gap between one year and two year yields stretched further during the week and stood at 146 basis points. 
    Treasury bond auction
    During the week a bond auction was held offering Rs. 1500Mn of 2-year bonds and Rs. 1500Mn of 3-year bonds. The investors showed more interest for 3- year bonds than the 2-year bonds. More 2-year issues in the recent history and the investor preference to invest long-term at the prevailing yield attracted more investor interest for 3-year bonds. 

    Therefore, the yield curve inverted in the bond auction held during the week. We expect these anomalies to prevail in the market until the current uncertainties become extinct. 

    Foreign exchange -dollar spot movement
    After more than three months, on Friday the Central Bank widened the dollar/rupee trading band by 67cents. With this the trading band expanded to Rs.4.54 from the earlier of Rs. 3.87. From here onwards the Central Bank is likely to adjust the band on a daily basis. As at Friday 2nd November, the rupee depreciation on the Central Bank middle rate stood at 7.98% (annualized 9.4%). During the week, until Thursday, the spot rate dropped gradually, mostly due to the sustained higher interest rates. However, with the band widening on Friday, the spot surged to Rs.80.15~Rs. 80.20. Three months forward was quoted at Rs.82.40 to Rs. 82.60, while six months was at Rs.84.05 to Rs. 84.25. 

                     91Day 182 Days 364 Days 

    Last Week 15.74 15.82 15.98
    This Week 15.87 15.96 16.06
    Change 0.14% 0.14% 0.08%

    Maturity 01-Nov-01 01-Nov-01
    Coupon 10.75% 11.00%
    Amount offered
    Rs.Mn 1500 1500 
    Amount
    Accepted Rs.Mn 1250 2500
    Weighted
    Average 17.52 % 17.30%
    Change 0.66% 0.37%


    News

  • The perfect job is just a click away
  • Belgian businessmen to visit Sri Lanka 
  • UAL launches quality programme 
  • In Brief
  • Radiant IT education in Sri Lanka
  • Health care products exhibition in March
  • US Airways in Sri Lanka
  • HNB corporate report best in SAARC
  • "Tango" from Celltel 
  • The perfect job is just a click away

    Take you job search on line? Yes, technology and an increasing need for speed has driven companies and job seekers online. The latest addition - jodseye.com - by Houston based Zee Sites Inc. 

    Careers are more important than ever before for both men and women. Most teenagers' dream of wallowing up the corporate ladder, following many millions before them. However, finding a ladder to climb has historically proven to be a tussle. Newspapers are the commoners' most likely option, while most well to dos' get in and up the corporate ladder with good connections.

    The induction of the internet into life saw it change from a medium paced lifestyle to a fast and rapidly changing one. 

    Harping on this increased need for a good vocation, the knowledge that job seekers are willing to travel overseas, that companies are scanning the globe for talent and that people wanted a fast and efficient service, many online recruitment portals have made their way to the web. 

    However, they fail to provide a fast and efficient option for the underprivileged and the small companies. 

    The creators of jobseye.com say that this is where they differ from the rest of the pack. Speaking to the Sunday Times, CEO Ramesh Anand said that they would probably be the first company to launch a country specific on line recruiting web site.

    He said that country specific meant local jobs for local people and most probably in a local language. Mr. Anand was here last week to launch his company's first country specific site and to announce that Zee Sites had tied up with Teccom Lanka (Pvt) Limited to provide the human touch to the virtual venture. 

    Mr. Anand said that jobseye.com would balance the manpower demand and supply scenario of the world. He said that it was a effective, efficient and cheaper alternative to go global with job searches and recruitment. 

    The main site or the country specific site provides links to two resource sites, www.careerseye.com and www.hreye.com. Mr. Anand said that the two sites provided job seekers and recruiters with vital information other than the obvious, such as working conditions, currency conversions, industry situation, economic situation in the respective countries. 

    Mr. Anand said that the site offered full confidentiality to the job seeker and many more options for both the prospective job seeker and the recruiter. 

    Jobs are classified under industry, vocation, full time, freelance and out of university. Officials said that they also hoped to launch a free e-mail service to complement the site. They said that this would make correspondences easy, fast and affordable to the underprivileged to keep in touch with the companies. 


    Belgian businessmen to visit Sri Lanka 

    Following the success of the first ever Belgian trade promotion at the EU Trade Fair last week a Belgian delegation will visit Sri Lanka from November 30th to December 1st. 

    For the first time, export Vlaanderen (trade promotion office of Belgium-Flanders) and the Honorary Consulate of Belgium in Sri Lanka displayed products, samples and catalogues of nearly 30 companies at the EU Trade Fair, held last week. Many contacts were established with potential Sri Lankan agents/representatives and joint venture projects were discussed, an embassy news release said. 

    Belgium is Sri Lanka's fifth largest importer (about 4.5 % of Sri Lanka's exports) buying mainly textiles, rubber, food products and jewellery and diamonds. Sri Lanka's current trade surplus is about Rs. 5 billion and there is still export potential for furniture, jewellery, agro products, services such as data-entry etc. 

    Belgain co-investments in Sri Lanka amount to Rs. 1.75 billion employing some 4000 people, the release added. 

    With Antwerp as the diamond capital, diamonds dominate Belgium's exports to Sri Lanka but not many other products reach its shores currently. The business delegation will focus on consumer goods, food processing, IT, environment, infrastructure and logistics. 

    Belgium and Sri Lanka are situated in different continents yet Belgium has a lot in common with Sri Lanka. Both are small countries with big neighbours. 

    Both have a very open and export oriented ecomomy, a central location in their region with major ports, a developed sense for quality. Both countries are also positioning themselves as the ideal hub for their region and attracting foreign companies to use their logistic facilities. Belgium-Flanders in particular has been very successful in this and it is time for Sri Lankans to discover the enormous potential for co-operation, the release says. 

    Besides getting access to Belgian quality goods, Sri Lanka could benefit enormously from this.


    UAL launches quality programme 

    Union Assurance Limited (UAL) is making dramatic enhancements in quality standards across- the- board that will soon bring about a dynamic company culture that delivers a service far exceeding customer expectations says a UAL release. 

    All areas of the company's activities, every department and branch office, are being swept along in this wave of change, which is now gathering momentum as the process unfolds. Existing services are being upgraded, and areas that are not adding value to the organisation, trimmed down. 

    Hierarchies are being rapidly dissolved, as rigid power structures stifle initiative. Current policies and procedures are also being examined and revamped to make them more customer-friendly. 

    The process begins with identifying UAL's many points of contact with the customer, be it customer visits to the company, communication via telephone, or correspondence and visits to the customer's premises. 

    Customer expectations of the standard of service he should receive when he accesses UAL, are assessed. It is at these points that service standards far surpassing customer expectations will be set. 

    Several criteria must be considered if the service is to be improved in terms of increased efficiency and speed: for instance, factors like the time taken by the customer to access the service he requires, the time taken by service personnel to acknowledge the customer's presence, and the speed with his request is met, will all be carefully monitored and improved on. 

    UAL has engaged a professional management consultancy to facilitate the process. The aim is to make staff more focused, which involves training, analysing and redefining their job descriptions. 


    In Brief

    Autocare range launched 

    Asian paints (Lanka) Ltd., the successor to Delmege Forsyth (Paints) launched its international standard automobile paint "Autocare" in Sri Lanka recently through dealer seminars in Colombo and Kandy says a company news release.

    The " Autocare" range is expected to be a major player in the NC (Nitro Cellulose) paints segment, which is the most widely used in Sri Lanka, with the introduction of more than 50 dynamic shades of high-gloss, durable paints. 

    At the launch of Autocare, the company introduced a booklet that will help dealers and garages to keep track of the paint they purchase because the company plans to award special prizes based on the volumes bought. 

    Asian Paints also introduced a book for owners of vehicles, providing answers to questions that arise when one decides to re-paint a vehicle. This booklet will be made available at garages and paint dealers for easy access.

    Internet Research from MBL

    Market Behaviour Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., a leading international market research agency in Sri Lanka, signed a MOU with Megadynamix (Pvt) Ltd. a leading IT provider in Sri Lanka operating as the sole provider of web hosting facilities for MBL on all internet related research studies. 

    Market Behaviour Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. MBL, is part of NFO Worldwide, Inc., a leading provider of research-based, marketing information and counsel to the worldwide business community. 

    Incorporated in 1992, Megadynamix has been a systems Integration company, providing core IT resources for Software Development and networking. Being the distributor for the complete range of Compaq desktop PCs and servers, Megadynamix has focused on providing these services to corporate clients, specializing in handling medium to large networks.

    Galgo from Metropolitan

    Metropolitan Office Limited recently introduced Galgo laid paper in Sri Lanka. It is marketed with its characteristic impressed water mark, appropriate for any printing or reproduction technique. Galgo laid is perfect for industrial stationery, cards, invitations, mailings and editions, says a news release.

    Galgo paper and boards allow for much as 30% economies in ink consumption because of the moderate depth of the patterns, saving in ink while accounting for less time taken in the drying process.


    Radiant IT education in Sri Lanka

    By Akhry Ameer
    Radiant Software Limited, an Indian IT organization entered the Sri Lankan IT education market recently. Mastermind (Pvt) Ltd., a fresh BOI company signed up as Radiant's Education Partner. The first of its training centres was opened in Maligawatte.

    According to its Indian officers, Radiant Software, as a Software education and training, projects and consultancy organization, has been growing at a rate of more than 400% every year since its inception. 

    In its short span of three years in existence the company has conducted job-oriented internet training programmes for over 25,000 students.

    Radiant offers courses on Visual Basic, C++, Oracle and Unix including administration subject areas while focusing on a niche area of internet tools like Java, Active Server Pages (ASP), Cold Fusion, Site Server Commerce. 

    The training methodology will follow the traditional instructor led lecture sessions together with on-line demo based sessions. One of the unique introductions will be the availability of the lab for practical sessions 24 hours of the day with co-ordinators for assistance. 

    As part of its evaluation procedure every student will be expected to work in a team on a project. 

    With 40 centres already established in India the company plans to expand in India and overseas through a premium IPO in December 2000. As part of its overseas expansion the company is expected to have fully operational training centres in Malaysia, Singapore, USA and UAE by the end of the year.

    Radiant has also tied up with MS University in India to offer post graduate degree programmes. These programmes will offer candidates Master of IT and E-Commerce qualifications.

    Mastermind as the Sri Lankan Education Partner aims to open more Radiant education centres in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and in other parts of the southern province. 

    Radiant also plans to contribute towards a software development centre for the locals to prove their technical skills and thus make Sri Lanka a hub for technology. 


    Health care products exhibition in March

    Sri Lanka will be the venue for a major international exhibition featuring the latest pharmaceutical products, equipment and services in the health care sector early next year says a news release.

    The exhibition, Medi Pharma which is scheduled for March 31 to April 2 2001, will be a forum for suppliers as well as their corporate clientele, health care professionals, administrators and others involved in the health care sector, said the Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka which is organising the exhibition in collaboration with CDC Conventions (Pvt) Ltd. 

    More than 200 exhibitors of pharmaceutical products, medical, bio-medical and diagnostic devices and equipment, pharmaceutical machinery, analytical equipment, diagnostic chemicals and bio- chemicals are expected to participate at the exhibition a news release said.

    A significant number of overseas exhibitors from the South Asian and South East Asian regions as well as local representatives for several multinationals in the pharmaceutical and health care sectors are expected to confirm their participation. 

    The Sri Lanka Medical Association and the Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka will organise technical seminars for administrators and professionals of the health care sector during the exhibition.

    Visitors to the exhibition will include medical practitioners, medical administrators, pharmacists, paramedical personnel, health care providers, hospital administrators, pharmacy owners and medical and pharmacy students, and reservations for stalls may be made with CDC Conventions (Pvt) Ltd., explained its Director, Manoj Rajayah. 

    Medi Pharma is supported and endorsed by key agencies of the government of Sri Lanka including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industrial Development, Ministry of Internal & International Commerce and the Sri Lanka Medical Association, Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry, Sri Lanka Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and the High Commissions of India and Bangladesh in Sri Lanka.

    The Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka which has a membership of 600 was formed in 1969 for the advancement of the profession of pharmacy including all its branches and practices to contribute to the development of the health care system of the country. 

    The main objectives of the Society are to promote the science of pharmacy and its applications and promote education and training in pharmacy to ensure the maintenance of high professional standards, to advice the Government on all matters connected with the application of pharmacy and to promote and facilitate the acquisition, dissemination and exchange of pharmacy knowledge and information. 

    CDC Conventions (Pvt) Limited which is a subsidiary of Connaissance de Ceylon Group organises over 80 per cent of the exhibitions in Sri Lanka.


    US Airways in Sri Lanka

    Discover the World Marketing (DTWM) with representation from 78 offices in 52 countries, headquar-tered in Scottscdale, Arizona has appointed Hemas as their affiliated company in Sri Lanka. 

    Discover representing 37 major travel corporations including 27 airlines, hotel chains, tourist boards, cruise lines, will bring in US Airways as the first client under the Discover - Sri Lanka office in November 2000, a news release says.

    US Airways, the 5th largest Airline in USA operating 2,500 daily departures together with US Airways Express which is part of the US Airways system, is a network of ten regional airlines and will offer a wide choice of flights and experience to the Sri Lankan traveller.

    For nearly two decades, Discover the world Marketing has pioneered excellence in global outsourcing.

    No longer must companies send expensive expatriate managers around the world.

    No longer are traditional GSA's the primary option in remote markets.

    No longer must companies maintain large infrastructures to support a global network. Discover the World Marketing believe that they have a solution. Discover the World Marketing's simple idea, with US headquarters, regional centres, and more than 78 worldwide satellite offices, provide a neutral presence, producing cost-effective, incremental sales in international markets for marketplace, they bring innovation, market sensitivity, and commitments to excellence through their team of experienced professionals.


    HNB corporate report best in SAARC

    The HNB Corporate report for the year 1998 was adjudged as the winner in the financial sector for the best presented accounts in the SAARC region for the fourth consecutive year says a bank release. 

    The competition for the best presented accounts was conducted by the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA).

    SAFA which is a recognised body of the SAARC countries, is comprised of the accounting bodies of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

    The award ceremony will be held in Lahore, Pakistan.

    Hatton National Bank has also won several awards at the competition organised by the Institute of Chartered accountants of Sri Lanka) ICASL). the report which won the award at the SAFA competition, also secured the overall award for the "Best Corporate Report and Accounts-1999" in the competition organised by the ICASL.

    The report was also adjudged as the winner in the category of Banking Institutions.


    "Tango" from Celltel 

    "Tango" from celltel makes it possible for a family to own a phone with an investment of Rs. 4999, and make and receive calls at near landline rates says a company news release. 

    Outgoing calls within the region cost Rs. 3.30 a minaute at peak time and Rs. 1.10 a minute off peak. Incoming calls are free for the first three minutes, and thereafter cost Rs. 2 per minute (peak) and Rs. 1 per minute (off peak). Calls made outside the region will cost only Rs. 4.50 a minute (peak) and Rs. 1.50 (off peak). 

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