ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 08, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 54
Financial Times  

CB wants more banks to venture outside Colombo

The Central Bank, in a bid to quicken the pace of development outside the Western Province, this week called for more branches of banks and finance companies to be located outside the west.

In a statement, the Bank said that in future if licensed banks or registered finance companies want to expand in the western region, they must establish at least two branches outside the west as against one new branch in the west.

The Bank said that at present, nearly 40 percent of the branches of licensed banks and 31 percent of the branches of registered finance companies are concentrated in the Western Province.

It said there is a need to accelerate economic development in areas other than the Western Province to achieve balanced regional development in the country.

The statement said with respect to banks, the banking density (the number of bank branches per 100,000 persons) is 11.9 in the Western Province as against a range of 5.3 to 8.4 in the other provinces.

Media being suppressed, accuses Chamber
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka’s premier chamber body, last week strongly condemned attempts to suppress the media and called the recent abduction ‘and despicable assault of a respected editor of a recognized newspaper’ as yet another example of this growing threat.

The chamber, in a statement, deplored the crude attempts at violating press freedom and said democratic principles relating to responsible coverage by the media must be respected. It urged the Media Minister to intervene and bring an early end to this trend, so that the commitment to press freedom will continue in word as well as in deed.

“Civil society has been viewing, with mounting alarm and concern, the wanton attacks on media personnel. Threats and violence directed at journalists, including abductions and murder, unfortunately feature with increasing regularity in the news,” the statement, said.

“Assurances of the conduct of investigations by itself will not win back confidence unless such investigations lead to the apprehension of culprits. Alternatively, at worst, it will be seen as a ploy or a facade to deflect the shock and horror of the initial public reaction and at best it will be seen as pure incompetence and causing serious concerns about the law and order situation in the country as the case may be,” it said.

BoC open to foreigner investors
The Bank of Ceylon, following a Central Bank decision to allow foreigners to deposit designated foreign currencies or local rupees in commercial banks, said it was opening its doors to deposits from foreigners.
Bank of Ceylon Chairman, Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe, said, “The positive move taken by the Central Bank to open its doors to welcome investments and deposits from foreign citizens is indeed commendable.”

SriLankan help for education
SriLankan Airlines has expanded its programme to provide scholarships to its employees’ children, redoubling its efforts to assist in their education. The company said it has made the education of children throughout the country its focus in CSR activities, including that of its charity arm SriLankan Cares.

The widening of the scholarship programme saw three scholarships being awarded to the best performing children at the Year 5 Scholarship Examination, increased from the earlier single scholarship per year, by the Staff Welfare Society of SriLankan Airlines.
Each of the three Year 5 winners will receive an annual financial grant throughout the rest of their school careers, through O-levels and A-levels.

Lankaputhra Bank loans

Lankaputra Development Bank has introduced a special loan scheme to the local footwear industry. The Bank said it is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Industrial Development, Industrial Development Board, the Sri Lanka Footwear Manufacturers Association and the Bank. Ministry of Industrial Development. Loans under the scheme is subject to a ceiling of Rs.500,000 and the money is for the purchase of raw materials and machinery.

WiMax connectivity from Lanka Bell

Lanka Bell has launched wireless broadband access for enterprise and home users, offering Internet connectivity at speeds of up to 10 Megabits per second and taking the company’s product offering to a new dimension of sophistication, the company said.

Three new broadband Internet packages unveiled by the Sri Lanka’s second largest ‘fixed-line’ operator offer homes and offices instant high speed connectivity directly to their computers, relegating dial-up Internet to history, it said.

ICICI Bank wins Asian Banker award
ICICI Bank has won an award from The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services programme for the bank’s outstanding performance in its remittance business in 2007. The bank received the award at The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services 2007 Awards ceremony, held in conjunction with the region’s most prestigious retail banking event, the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Convention in Bangkok.

Sri Lanka's 'eZ Pay' showcased on the world stage
Sri Lanka's pioneering mobile commerce solution 'eZ Pay', which incidently was also South Asia's first commercially launched mCommerce solution in August 2007, was recently showcased at Asia-Pacific's premier Cards & Payments summit. The 'eZ Pay' case study was presented jointly at the summit by Druvi Sirisena - Unit Manager, Mobile Commerce Group of Dialog Telekom and Gehan Dias - AVP, Cards & Alternate Distribution Channels of NDB Bank, the Bank said.

100 German travel agents on tour
Sri Lanka Tourism together with SriLankan Airlines and ground handling agents will host a ‘Mega Familiarization Tour’ and a workshop for 100 German travel agents of Thomas Cook, REWE Touristik, Berger & Meer and Sun Trips in Sri Lanka, from June 8 to 14, the state tourism agency said.

The agents, while in Sri Lanka, will be exposed to various attractions of the island and will gain first-hand experience and knowledge in selling and recommending the destination to their clients. This mega familiarisation tour is planned to generate maximum promotional publicity through FVW and Touristik Aktuell, the leading travel magazines of Germany. Two journalists from these travel magazines will also be in Sri Lanka.

New ComBank savings account
A new savings account with an interest rate of 12% has been launched by the Commercial Bank having identified the need among dynamic savers for a high yielding Savings Account with full operational flexibility.
Branded ‘Commercial Bank Super Saver,’ the new savings account carries an Annualised Effective Rate (AER) of 12.68% and requires a minimum initial deposit of Rs 50,000 without restrictions on the number of withdrawals, the Bank said this week.

Hilton Colombo wins top awards at Hilton Brand Awards
The Hilton Colombo was recently singled out from over 500 hotels across the world to be awarded two of the most prestigious and coveted Hilton Brand Awards - the Asia Pacific Regional Hilton Brand Award Hotel of 2007 and the World-wide Hilton Brand Award Hotel of 2007, the hotel said in a statement.

The Hilton Colombo was the best hotel in Asia in the Balanced Scorecard category. The Balanced Scorecard measures a hotel’s performance in team member satisfaction, team member training, guest service feedback and Hilton International’s Hilton Hhonors loyalty members’ feedback.

The Colombo hotel also achieved the most improved guest satisfaction scores for Asia in 2007 and the most improved hotel in the Asia Pacific region. The region covers 51 hotels from Sri Lanka to New Zealand to Japan.

Tracking Lankan passenger buses
The National Transport Commission (NTC) plans to introduce a vehicle tracking system for public and private passenger transport buses to streamline bus services in the island. The new system will enable owners or another approved party to track buses plying on roads and find out as to whether the buses are operating in accordance with the time schedule as well as to identify the actual location.

It will also help to avoid delaying of buses purposely at bus halts by private bus operators, the NTC said. The first phase will involve 3,000 inter-provincial buses and it will expand to 25,000 buses initially NTC is expected to develop this system to provide web-based real time information to operators and passengers.

The NTC has called for expressions of interest from organizations that are capable of providing such systems. NTC officials said fleet management systems are advanced versions of vehicle tracking systems that utilize past and present records of the vehicles movements to make the best use of a fleet of vehicles and unauthorized driving, etc.

Undergraduates learn valuable skills at SriLankanAirlines
SriLankan Airlines is providing invaluable support for undergraduates of several universities to learn new skills which will enhance their prospects for employment. The national carrier has carried out several programmes to provide assistance to undergraduates from the universities of Ruhuna, Moratuwa, and Colombo, and also the Tharuna Aruna programme run by the Government of Sri Lanka for unemployed graduates, the airline said.

Pradeepa Dahanayake, Head of Human Resources at SriLankan, said: “Our country’s business leaders often complain that many graduates lack necessary skills for employment. We at SriLankan Airlines believe in playing a leading role to help expand their skills, so that they can be given opportunities for employment which will benefit both them and the country.”

AGM of Moratuwa University Alumni Association
The Annual General Meeting of the Alumni Association of the University of Moratuwa for 2008 is scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 12 at the IESL Auditorium, 120/15, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7. The agenda for the evening consists of electing the new committee who will take forward the activities and projects undertaken by the current office bearers. Nalaka Gunawardena will also make a presentation on Sir Arthur C Clarke, former Chancellor of the University, at this event, the organisers said.


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