Big Libyan order for Ceylon tea
Exporters of Ceylon tea have clinched a "massive" order from Libya, brokers Asia Siyaka Commodities said last week.

In a recently concluded tender, the Libyan government bought a record 20 million-kg from Sri Lankan exporters for delivery in 2003. Buying is expected to start towards the year-end.

"We have virtually captured the whole Libyan market," said Anil Cooke, senior vice president of Asia Siyaka Commodities. "This is superb for Sri Lanka." The entire order is in value added form and is more than the highest ever quantity of 18 million kg shipped by Sri Lanka to Libya in 2000. Libya usually buys around 20 million kg of tea a year from different sources.

"Ceylon tea has always been the No. 1 choice in the Libyan market," Cooke said. "Also, in the last few years Sri Lanka has been seen as a responsible, reliable and very efficient supplier. Our exporters have really delivered on their promises while other countries have let down buyers."

Exports to Libya so far this year have trailed last year's shipments of 18 million kg.

Good results, budget to drive prices up
The stock market is expected to move up this week on expectations of an "investor-friendly" budget and good quarterly company results, brokers said. The uncertainty that prevailed during the previous week with talk of the government going for a snap election has now been cleared, and together with the second round of peace talks that commenced last week, contributed to improved sentiment.

Shares that are likely to move up and would be watched with keen interest include JKH, NDB, Aitken Spence, ACL Cables and Tokyo Cement. These firms are likely to benefit from the recovery in tourism, reconstruction work in the north and east, and improved quarterly results, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index closed the week at 817.23 while the Milanka Price Index ended at 1377.05. Forced selling by brokers who lacked staying power caused the market to dip on the last day of the month. - Thushara Matthias

British bus firm says no fare hike yet
The British consortium that acquired stakes in six state-owned bus companies last week has said it has no immediate intention of raising fares to turn the loss-making firms around and make them profitable.

"There'll be no immediate price hike," said Ian Bulley, the Managing Director of the newly formed consortium which invested Rs 1.45 billion through the Colombo Stock Exchange to purchase 39 percent stakes in the bus companies.

"The new management cannot do any changes with regard to price hikes or changes in the bus routes without the approval of the Transport Commission and the Bus Monitoring Unit (BMU) to be established by the government," he told The Sunday Times FT.

The consortium, comprising of three companies Ibis, Transbus and Mayflower, bought 39 percent stakes in the Colombo, Metropolitan, Mahanuwara, Kalutara, Gampaha, Sabaragamuwa and Rajarata bus companies on Thursday.

Bulley said that they are hoping to invest around Rs 600 million in the first year. The newly formed consortium is to commence commercial operations within at least the next two weeks.

It will also sign a deal with Latec Engineering and Management Services Pvt. Ltd - one of its local partners - to assemble 300 buses a year. Bulley said that there would be no voluntary retirement scheme for employees. Their immediate concern is to repair the 2,000 buses that need urgent repair and to later introduce double-deckers on certain routes.

The Court of Appeal last week dismissed a case filed by two employees of the CTB against the sale of the bus companies who said employees should be given a stake. The Public Enterprise Reforms Commission (PERC) called for expressions of interest to divest the 39 percent stakes in the bus companies held by the government with the aim of forming public/private partnerships to improve the transport service.

This was in keeping with the government's policy of obtaining the resources and expertise of the private sector to enhance the services and efficiency of the bus companies. PERC said that regulatory action would be carried out through a Bus Monitoring Unit (BMU) to be set up shortly.

The present service to the customers, which include school trips, the first bus and the last bus and season tickets would be continued even after the new management takes over the operations, it said in a statement. (Thushara)

Back to Top  Back to Business  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.