Events and announcements
Are foreign workers to blame for Singapore's
Lanka Ceramic reports losses in uncertain climate
ColorZone opens for business
Lubricants: A slippery playing field
Strict conditions for use of Indian credit
line - BoC
UAL sponsors FCCISL entrepreneur awards
NSB, SCB launch new co-branded credit card
Stock Market Report
Newspaper price hike sends COL index up
chamber team for WTO
Win more with Mobitel
Lanka Bell invests in IBM server
New MP3 players from LG
People's Leasing flying high
German sports group in Sri Lanka
Events and announcements
With the opening of the Chilaw Branch, NDB has now extended its network
to 12 offices in Sri Lanka. Chilaw is a fast developing commercial centre
and the opening of this branch will give an added impetus to the economic
growth of the region, the NDB said in a statement.
The Chilaw branch will offer medium to long-term project loans, working
capital and leasing facilities for business enterprises. The branch will
also operate special lending schemes such as SMILE, The Perennial Crop
Development Project (PCDP) and Environmentally Friendly Project (E-Friends).
M. F. M. Fakir, Manager, Chilaw Branch, said: "We are very excited about
our prospects in Chilaw. We found that lots of business people and industrialists
from this area were going all the way to our Negombo or Puttalam branches
to get facilities from NDB. Now those financial facilities and more will
be available at their doorstep."
The 43rd annual general meeting of the National Chamber of Commerce of
Sri Lanka (NCCSL) will be held on November 19 at the Galadari Hotel in
Colombo. The chamber has invited Trade and Industries Minister, Ronnie
de Mel as chief guest, and Karu Jayasuriya, deputy leader of the United
National Party and Prof. G.L. Peiris as guests of honour.
"Khomba baby" range grows
Swadeshi Industrial Works recently launched baby talc and baby cologne
expanding its portfolio of products branded "Khomba Baby" the popular nature-friendly
baby products brand.
The new products contain extracts of "Khomba" (Margosa) and Venivel
(Coscinium fenestratum) traditional herbal remedies with antiseptic properties,
making them unique in the local market, the company said.
New CIM chairman
Lasantha Abeywickrema has been elected chairman of the CIM Sri Lanka branch
for 2002, taking over from Dr. Uditha Liyanage who served in this position
for the last two years.
Abeywickrema is the managing director of MTI Consulting Sri Lanka, the
local subsidiary of the international marketing consulting firm, MTI. His
prior appointments include being CEO of Spectrum Marketing (Pte) Ltd, the
local distributor for Procter & Gamble and Marketing Director of Hemas
Marketing (Pte) Ltd.
CDB Conventions (Pvt) Ltd together with the National Contractors' Construction
Association of Sri Lanka (NCCASL) is organising a delegation from Sri Lanka
to visit BAUCON ASIA 2001 to be held in Singapore from November 20 to 23.
BAUCON ASIA is the largest exhibition in the construction industry in
South East Asia and attracts more than 25,000 visitors from overseas, CDL
said in a press release.
New ComBank outlet
The Commercial Bank has opened a special customer service outlet at the
Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation head office promising added convenience
to customers of both institutions.
In addition to the normal banking facilities, the outlet will also have
instant banking (CAT machine), opening of savings and deposits both in
local and foreign currencies and issue and encashment of travellers cheques,
a bank statement said.
Sri Lanka was a participant at the International Convention on Quality
Control (ICQCC) 2001 held in Taipei last month. Sunil Wijesinghe, president
of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Quality & Productivity
(SLAAQP) attended the meeting and those of the coordinating committees.
The ICQCC, one of the biggest international quality events held every
year in a member country, attracted 820 delegates from 15 countries. Sri
Lankan companies generally participate in all these conventions but this
year due to poor economic conditions in the country, only one company took
part, the SLAAQP said.
Sampath ties up with Ananda College OBA
Sampath Bank recently joined hands with the Old Boys' Association (OBA)
of Ananda College to launch a Visa affinity Credit Card.
"This credit card will benefit the school as well as outside customers,"
OBA Project Manager, Bimal Wijayasinghe said at the official launching
ceremony. He said half of the annual fees for every purchase of this card
would go to the Ananda College fund.
Sampath will also provide special facilities and discounts to cardholders
and promote educational activities.
Cathay Pacific Airways will resume its three-weekly service between Hong
Kong and Colombo from December 1 via Bangkok, an airline statement said.
It said the service had been suspended since July 24 when an insurance
surcharge was introduced for flights operating into Colombo following the
incidents at the Colombo airport.
Kieran Bowers, the airline's country manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives,
noted that Cathay Pacific Cargo has always played an important role in
the Colombo market especially catering to Sri Lanka's garment exports to
the US and tuna fish shipments to Japan. "We will continue to closely work
with freight forwarders," he said.
New Sinhala book on marketing
Deepal Sooriyaarachchi's second book in the series Sinhalen Business on
"Customer Care" will be launched at the Sarvodaya annual book launching
ceremony on November 5 at 5 pm at the John de Silva theatre in Colombo.
This is the second in a series of marketing books in Sinhala by Sooriyaarachchi,
past president of the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing and currently General
Manager -Personnel at Eagle Insurance.
The book is titled "Paribhogika Sathkaraya" and covers key aspects of
Amitha Gooneratne, Managing Director/CEO of the Commercial Bank, will be
interviewed on "Business Matters" on Rupavahini's Channel Eye on November
5 at 10 pm by Parakrama Dissanayake, management consultant.
Blue Diamonds AGM
The annual general meeting of Blue Diamonds Jewellery Worldwide Ltd will
be held at the BMICH on December 11, the company said adding the board
of directors was not recommending a dividend to shareholders this time.
The company has been in the news in recent years due to differences
between Ceylinco Group Chairman, Lalith Kotelawela and former Deputy Chairman,
Daya Senanayake, over alleged irregularities by the latter in the running
of Blue Diamonds (a Ceylinco subsidiary). Senanayake is no more a part
of the group.
Are foreign workers to blame for Singapore's rising
Singapore, like the rest of Southeast Asia, is reeling under a severe economic
downturn. Among its citizens, unemployment is a hot topic. There have been
layoffs in all sectors, from manual workers in the plantations to top executives
in the boardrooms. School-leavers are hitting a brick wall. This year,
an estimated two-third of Singapore's new graduates will be unable to find
work. Lee Hsien Loong, the city-state's Deputy Prime Minister, concedes
that unemployment will continue to rise.
"It's bound to go up," he said recently. "I wouldn't be surprised if
it goes back to 5 percent, which was what it was in 1998, maybe somewhat
higher than that."
What adds to the general discontent is the fact that, while many Singaporeans
cannot find jobs hundreds of thousands of foreign workers continue to be
Of Singapore's 2.1 million-strong workforce, almost a third an astonishing
612,000 are non-citizens. Native folk wonder why their government lets
all these foreigners come in and get jobs when so many of their own people
are unemployed. Should this generous open-door policy on labour be stopped?
Or at least drastically curtailed until the crisis passes?
The Singapore government has shown no indication that it plans to reverse
its liberal policy on accepting foreign workers. Its position is that incoming
foreign talent can lead to more jobs, as a flexible labour market makes
Singapore a more attractive place for overseas investors. "Properly managed,
the admission of foreign workers actually helps to create more jobs and
to protect some existing jobs for Singaporeans," says Deputy Prime Minister
Unfortunately, it is the "properly managed" part that many Singaporeans
are starting to doubt. Why so many foreigners, they lament? After all,
in Hong Kong foreign workers make up just 13.5 percent of the workforce
as opposed to the whopping 29.2 percent in Singapore.
Steve China, secretary-general of the opposition national Solidarity
Party, says he is open to bringing in foreigners for positions requiring
skills or talent that local don't have. "But let us not set up a policy
or attitude that discriminates (against) locals in favour of foreigners,"
he says. A particular problem area is the increasing influx of junior and
middle-ranked professionals who are perceived as taking jobs that Singaporeans
feel they could hold down. As a concession to public sentiment, the government
has sought to curtail the intake of these people by raising the minimum
salary required for a professional work pass.
The government should hold firm on its open door labour policy. In this
global era, any attempt to set the clock back by putting up barriers, be
they for trade, funds or workers, is doomed to failure. Foreign workers
have contributed to keeping Singapore's economy humming over the past decades,
and it is their influx that has topped up the labour market when local
people have failed to provide the numbers to do so. The foreigners are
held responsible for taking away much-needed jobs. But in most cases, the
positions are ones Singaporeans either reject or are not qualified to fill.
The majority of such jobs involve manual labour that locals deem beneath
their dignity; a small proportion are in top-end executive posts for which
there are simply not enough qualified and experienced Singaporeans. To
turn on the "outsiders" simply because there is an economic downturn would
be extremely short sighted.
That said, the government and employers must be understanding. Qualified
Singaporeans who have been retrenched should be considered ahead of younger
foreign workers. Rejecting people simply because they are over 35 or 40,
as is routinely happening, is as senseless as blaming foreign workers for
the high unemployment. This need not be a zero-sum game. (Courtesy Asiaweek)
Lanka Ceramic reports losses in uncertain climate
Lanka Ceramic Ltd, now part of the Ceylon Theatres group, says its net
losses for the year ending March 2000 are partly due to an uncertain economic
"The company has continued to operate, overall, in an environment in
which it was restrained by many factors arising from weak economic fundamentals,
which were not conducive to growth of private enterprise," company chairman
G.V. Divitotawela told shareholders.
The company's net loss after taxes rose to 69 million rupees from 59
million in 1999.
This was also due to the inability to achieve higher selling prices
to offset the increasing cost of manufacture.
However, turnover of LCL and its 100 percent subsidiary LCL Distributors
Ltd, through which local sales are channelled, rose by 6.5 percent from
the previous financial year.
The company said the Ceylon Theatres group made a mandatory offer and
acquired controlling interest of the issued share capital of LCL during
the year, resulting in the board of directors being reconstituted to reflect
the current shareholding.
The report said the company was unable to achieve the required volumes
of production for a new range of crockery at both its factories, which
led to losses.
This was aggravated by fuel and electricity costs rising sharply by
approximately 86 percent. This added 30 million rupees to the cost in the
"Repeated attempts made by energy intensive industries to get concessions
from the government proved futile, threatening their long-term stability,"
the chairman noted.
The report said a new executive deputy chairman and a finance director
were appointed to the board in August this year.
The board of directors of the company, in addition to the chairman,
comprises Air Vice Marshal P.M. Fernando (executive deputy chairman), J.A.
Jayasekera (executive director), S.R. Casie Chitty (finance director),
Prof. C.V.L. Jayatillake, Anthony A. Page, E.A.D. Perera, Ms. C. Muttukumaru,
T.D. Jayanithie, V.R. Page and A.T. Edirisinghe.
ColorZone opens for business
ColorZone (Private) Ltd, a new BOI approved screen printing company, began
commercial operations last month at an ultra modern factory at Pannipitiya
costing Rs. 35 million.
According to Firoze Cassim, Chairman and Managing Director, the company
employs over 150 workers and adopts several screen printing techniques
such as table system, board system, semi- automatic carousel system, etc.
The company already has a high profile customer base such as Next Sri
Lanka, NV Production, Hemas, Jewelknit, Readywear Industries, Ranliya Group,
WW Group and Nobleswear. Some of the brands it services are Next, Disney,
BHS, Blues, Woolworths, La Redoute, Ralph Lauren, Adams, J C Penny, Kickers,
Warner Bros, Reebok and Slazenger.
Picture shows ColourZone Director Tissa Weerasinghe (right), a Sri Lankan
based in France, and Chairman/Managing Director, Firoze Cassim (next to
him) at the opening of the new screen printing venture at Pannipitiya.