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Murunga, the wonder crop

Murunga, the wonder crop

Will the ubiquitous Murunga (drumstick) take Sri Lankan farmers out of poverty with a drought staring in their face?  Hayleys Agriculture, under a new project in the northern province, claims Murunga is a miracle tree with the leaves and pods classed as ‘super-food’, globally and containing the protein of plain yogurt, four times the calcium [...]

EU, Germany concerned over unfair labour practices

The European Union and the German embassy in Sri Lanka have raised strong objections over allegedly unfair labour practices at two factories in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) also suggesting that the problem – if not resolved – could derail the country’s bid for GSP+. The intervention came at the request of IndustriALL Global [...]

CSE to revamp listing rules on IPO cash but is it enough?

With new regulations, firms which aim to go public won’t be able to  raise cash at their whims and fancies, but these deterrents may not do the trick entirely. The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) aims to issue stringent directions on funds raised through Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) in their yet-to-come listing rules. “We’ll be issuing [...]

15% interest: The merry-go-round continues

The uncertainty over an increased interest rate on bank deposits for senior Sri Lankan citizens, an issue that has been brewing since early 2015, continues. Despite the 2017 budget proposal to permit banks to offer 15 per cent interest on deposits up to Rs.1.5 million, which is a repeat of the 2016 proposal, senior citizens [...]

Hela Clothing eyes Mexico

Sri Lanka garments entrepreneur Dian Gomes is planning to expand production facilities of Colombo-based Hela Clothing to Mexico this year. Mexico has been considered as it provides speedy access to the US market, Mr. Gomes, chairman of the company, told the Business Times on Thursday. He noted that with trade agreements between the two countries [...]

Snakes and ladders

Snakes and ladders

What can you expect? The much-hyped, much-awaited bond debate in Parliament came and went like a whirlwind. Ending rather on a quiet note, more or less a damp squib. On the eve of the parliamentary debate, a Buddhist monk filed a fundamental rights petition challenging the contents of the bond report by the parliamentary Committee [...]

GSP+: Gearing to reap its benefits amidst huge shortage of labour

GSP+: Gearing to reap its benefits amidst huge shortage of labour

The 23rd Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters was held last week at the Hilton and every one present was talking of the GSP +. But many had no idea as to how the resumption of this facility will help the manufacturer. In simple terms the restoration of GSP + [...]

Imminent threat from protectionism

Trade has been stuck for a while now. That matters for Asia: the region’s economy has been built on trade, and despite lacklustre demand in the West over recent years, and the pivot to local leveraged-fuelled demand, exports still matter hugely. Signs of strength in the US, and one might even hope Europe, should thus [...]

Status report on Public Debt Management Office to Cabinet in Feb

It’s challenging when a country has a large, increasing, and possibly unsustainable debt path that requires a major primary fiscal adjustment to restore debt sustainability. In this context, a dedicated agency to manage the  country’s public debt in line with last year’s budget proposals is in the works. Treasury sources told the Business Times that [...]

Sri Lanka’s ranking unchanged in 2016 Corruption Perception Index

Sri Lanka’s score in the Corruption Perception Index remains unchanged as per the 2016 data released this week by Transparency International, the global movement against corruption. The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which ranks countries according to the perceived level of public sector corruption has placed Sri Lanka 95th out of  176 countries with a poor [...]

Seminar on ‘Future of Agriculture”

The Marga Institute and Gamani Corea Foundation will conduct a seminar on “The Future of Agriculture in Sri Lanka and Food Security” on Monday, January 30,  from 3.30 – 6.30 the BMICH Committee Room D. The main speaker is Professor Buddhi Marambe of the University of Peradeniya while other speakers are Dr. Parakrama Waidyanatha, [...]

BOI scheme to engage job seekers outside Colombo

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Ministry of Strategic Development and International Trade, District Secretary’s office, Kurunegala and the Export Development Board organised a job fair at Sir John Kotalawela College, Dambulla Road, Kurunegala recently. It was organised in parallel with the Government’s programme on “Poverty Alleviation year – 2017”, [...]

EZY Distribution drives Transcend to market leadership in 2016

EZY Distribution, the innovative technology distribution company, has been the key driver of enabling Transcend memory products to take to market leadership. With the extensive range of memory products from pen drives, to SD cards and Hard Drives – Transcend is on an upward trend with the increase for storage products and surge in information [...]

Gulf Air begins flights to Colombo

Bahrain national carrier, Gulf Air, recently celebrated the launch of its highly anticipated inaugural 5-weekly direct service between Colombo and Bahrain with the arrival last week  of the airline’s first flight into Bandaranaike International Airport. Gulf Air flight GF138 was welcomed into Bandaranaike International Airport, with a water cannon salute and, upon arrival, a celebratory [...]

Sri Lanka needs $1.5 bln to tackle impending drought crisis

Sri Lanka needs $1.5 bln to  tackle impending drought crisis

If the drought continues as predicted, it would be disastrous on the  economy with water for agriculture available only till March, creating problems of a scarcity of water, electricity and food shortages. These alarm bells were sounded by Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, State Minister of Finance when he addressed the launch of Construction Expo 2017 organised [...]

MG Consultants signs landmark consultancy to build new expressway

MG Consultants signs landmark  consultancy  to build new expressway

A trail-blazing, 100 per cent Sri Lankan contract to build the Meerigama – Kurunegala section of the Central Expressway by 2019 was signed recently between the Road Development Authority (RDA) and MG Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, lead consultant for the project. The Central Expressway will be an access-controlled toll expressway from Kadawatha to Dambulla and will [...]

Glamorous actress, Pooja Umashankar is brand ambassador for Bharti Airtel

Bharti Airtel the third largest telecommunications operator in the world with a network in 18 countries, celebrated its 8th anniversary in Sri Lanka at a ceremony held at the Movenpick hotel Colombo recently. “We entered the Sri Lanka market eight years ago, and was the last to commence operations here. Our telecommunication network is found [...]

TPP pact will collapse after US pullout

The US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal implies that the agreement will not be implemented, according to Moody’s. “We had anticipated TPP to reduce the cost of trade and open up new investment opportunities for its 12 members, and in particular, its Asian members,” said Marie Diron, Associate Managing Director, Moody’s Investors [...]

Appeal Court stays contempt of court proceedings against Agalawatte Plantations Plc and its directors

The Appeal Court, in the latest development on the continuing legal battle between Mackwoods Teas Ltd, which is part of the Mackwoods Group of Companies owned by the Nonis Family, and Agalawatte Plantations PLC on January 20 issued an interim order staying contempt of court proceedings against Agalawatte Plantations PLC and five of its directors. [...]

SriLankan Airlines: Not usually late anymore but most punctual

SriLankan Airlines says it has enhanced its reputation as one of the most punctual airlines in the world, being rated as the most on-time member airline of the oneworld global airline alliance in the fourth quarter of 2016, by the global flight data monitoring firm OAG. Oneworld has for many years been rated as the [...]

Frustrated depositors of Standard Credit Finance plan street protests

Depositors of one of Sri Lanka’s collapsed finance companies, frustrated after long years of promises and failed negotiations, are planning to take to the streets in protest. This is because Standard Credit Finance Company (SCFC) is yet to repay more than 4,000 depositors in a total sum of around Rs.1.9 billion. The depositors formed a [...]

Fitch Rating re-affirms Bank of Ceylon AA+ (lka) Outlook Stable

Fitch’s periodic review re-affirmed the Bank of Ceylon’s (BOC) National long-Term Rating as AA+ (lka) Outlook Stable in January 2017 and the International Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) as B+ Outlook Negative. In a media release, the bank said it has obtaining ratings from Fitch Rating Lanka Ltd since 2000 and has been gradually improving [...]

SLSBC concludes successful trade and investment promotion mission to Singapore

The Sri Lanka- Singapore Business Council (SLSBC) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce successfully concluded a business mission to Singapore recently. The mission was organised to coincide with the SBF Seminar on ‘Doing Business and Opportunities in Sri Lanka’ followed by one-to-one business meetings organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the apex business chamber [...]

SL tea exports sink to 7-year low

Sri Lankan tea exports sank to a 7-year low in 2016, recording a figure of  288.7 million kg, compared to 306.9 million kg in 2015, Customs data shows. The last time tea exports fell below 300 mln kg was in 2009, according to a report by Asia Siyaka Commodities Plc. It said with supply pressure [...]

Sri Lanka’s small car market seen entering a recovery phase

Sri Lanka’s small car market seen entering a recovery phase

Sri Lanka’s small car market appears to be entering a recovery phase as a result of the entry of five car brands into the local market competition offering affordable prices and options amidst a tax hike imposed in the  2017 budget and a weaker currency. Although a drop in vehicle sales is anticipated this year [...]

Is government’s vehicular carbon tax plan workable?

Is government’s vehicular carbon tax plan workable?

Sri Lanka will be imposing a carbon tax on motor vehicles running on petrol or diesel fuel with the aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the combustion of fossil fuels. But the lack of clarity in the implementation of the tax has created confusion among vehicle owners although it is aimed at tackling air [...]

Toyota Lanka inaugurates HINO National Skill Contest

Toyota Lanka, has stepped into evolve a long-term solution to improve the skills and productivity of Sri Lankan motor technicians by inaugurating the first-ever HINO National Skill Contest 2016 (National Skill Grand Prix) recently. In line with this move, this national dealer distributor for TOYOTA and HINO brands in Sri Lanka and a member of [...]

Renault Kwid makes major impact in Sri Lanka

Renault Kwid makes major impact  in Sri Lanka

Since its launch in June 2016, Renault Kwid (800cc), the popular small car from the French automaker has made a major impact in the Sri Lankan car market, quickly becoming the second highest selling automotive brand in the country. The Kwid has become a buyers favourite in Sri Lanka and has skyrocketed the brand’s sales [...]

Audi to expand Sri Lankan operations by popularising Q2

Audi is set to expand Sri Lankan operations with the launch of Q2, the latest addition to the German luxury car makers range in the island this year. The Q2 is the latest Q model in the Audi range serving as the entry level SUV in the brand’s ever expanding Q line up. This latest [...]

Tourist transport sector gets 100 % leasing facility for cars, vans

Tourist transport sector gets 100 % leasing  facility for cars, vans

Sri Lanka’s tourism transport sector will get some relief with the government’s decision to grant 100 per cent leasing facility from finance and leasing companies when purchasing vehicles. The Finance Ministry announced recently that the  tourism transport sector is exempted from the restrictions imposed on leasing of vehicles limiting the facility to 50 per cent [...]

Oshin, culture and business at Japan Expo 2017

 Oshin is coming to Colombo! If that’s a reason to want to witness the Japan Expo Premier Sri Lanka this year where about 30 companies  would be participating and the embassy partnering to promote their food, culture and entertainment, visitors to BMICH can meet the renowned actress in person. The Japan Sri Lanka Expo Premier [...]

Appreciation: Life and times of Prof. A.D.V. de S. Indraratna

Appreciation: Life and times of Prof. A.D.V. de S. Indraratna

Prof. A.D.V. de S. Indraratna, a national icon who passed away peacefully on January 18 was a person known to have unflinching courage, especially when dealing with matters pertaining to his profession or proposals for national economic development. So much so in 2007 he wrote with three other colleagues in the Sri Lanka Economic Association [...]

Aitken Spence Hotels Turyaa Chennai amongst top 5-star properties there

Aitken Spence Hotels Turyaa Chennai amongst top 5-star properties there

Turyaa Chennai, owned and operated by Aitken Spence Hotels, has successfully met criteria for obtaining ’5-Star Deluxe’ classification, ranking it as one of five hotels in Chennai to have obtained this highly sought after accreditation. Turyaa Chennai now joins Hilton Chennai, Hyatt Regency Chennai, ITC Grand Chola Chennai and Park Hyatt Chennai in the ’5-Star [...]

JKH 9-mth pre-tax profit up 22 per cent

The John Keells Group’s profit before tax (PBT) grew by 31 per cent to Rs. 6.72 billion in the third quarter with PBT for the first nine months of the financial year 2016/17 at Rs. 15.48 billion. This was 22 per cent growth aided by its leisure, consumer foods and retail, transportation, financial services and [...]

IBM motivates staff at Union Bank

Union Bank following their acquisition of a majority share in TPG Capital in 2014 has engaged IBM to improve on its employee performance appraisal system in a bid to motivate staff to meet the new changing goals. This meant that the bank needed to undergo a complete change to rapidly expand and acquire new clients [...]

NGOs help build homes for cyclone victims

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (HFHSL) has partnered with Alwaleed Philanthropies in an initiative to rebuild the lives of families affected by landslides caused by Cyclone Roanu, in May 2016. Together with the Government of Sri Lanka, District Secretariat of Kegalle and Divisional Secretaries of Aranayake, Yatiyantota and Deraniyagala, 80 families were identified as key [...]

Artificial Intelligence will replace accountants

Although many people today talk of poverty alleviation, the fastest way and, perhaps, the only way of alleviating poverty was through enhancing  skills development of the people. These remarks were made by Prof. Ho Yew Kee, former Professor of Accounting and Head, Department of Accounting of the NUS Business School of Singapore, who said that [...]

Political and economic challenges have bearing on SL businesses: MTI survey

Nationwide political and economic challenges such as policy inconsistencies, political stability, fiscal and monetary policies are expected to directly impact the businesses making them the key concerns for business leaders. All the Sri Lankan companies and business leaders are encouraged to consider re-strategising and gearing their organisations to overcome the mentioned challenges, to achieve the [...]

Microsoft offers support to achieve national digitalisation goals

Microsoft offers support to achieve national digitalisation goals

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently met with Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, on the sidelines of the 47th Annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. At the meeting the premier and Courtois, discussed how Microsoft could  best assist the Sri Lankan Government to create a cross-government productivity platform to enhance the ICT landscape and [...]

Local universities strengthen ties with INSEE Cement

Ties between new kid on the block, INSEE Cement and the Universities of Peradeniya, Moratuwa and Ruhuna were cemented last week resulting in 18 civil and environmental engineering students, six from  each university, being granted scholarships annually. They are ‘new’ only in name for Sri Lanka’s most-popular cement manufacturer Holcim (Lanka) Ltd changed its name [...]

Sri Lanka poised for disruption with open source technology

While digitisation is conquering the world and open source technology is enabling easy access to businesses and governments, Sri Lanka is poised for an era of disruption with new and innovative technology, industry experts say. At a media briefing organised by Red Hat at the Cinnamon Lakeside in Colombo recently, Red Hat India Director, Presales, [...]

Thumbs up for economic outlook amidst fears populist politics might derail fiscal gains

The unanimous verdict from a group of Sri Lankan experts was that the economic outlook for 2017 was positive but it came with a caveat – the government should resist the lure of playing populist politics and wooing the public with the local government elections around the corner. “There are many reasons to be positive [...]

Sri Lanka pursues economic diplomacy

Sri Lanka pursues economic diplomacy

Sri Lanka is gearing  to become the economic hub of the Indian Ocean region strengthening capabilities and improving the business environment as its strategic location potential depends on the right mix of economic reforms and investments. Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, a pragmatist about engaging with the world especially with South Asia as [...]

Sail Lanka Charter hosts Ranil and wife on board latest luxury catamaran

Sail Lanka Charter hosts Ranil and  wife on board latest luxury catamaran

Sail Lanka Charter recently hosted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his wife on-board the company’s 53ft sailing catamaran, Sapphire, during the Fairway Galle Literary Festival. The vessel reflects local indigenous talent as it was built in Sri Lanka using local materials. Established in 2014 as part of the Sri Lanka Yachting Group, Sail Lanka Charter [...]

Hayleys ‘Jeevadhara’ to improve rural livelihood and nutrition with 1 mln murunga plants

Hayleys Agriculture, the agriculture arm of the leading multinational conglomerate Hayleys PLC, has launched the ‘Jeevadhara’ programme to provide one million Moringa (Murunga/Drumstick/Moringa Oleifera) plants to families in Jaffna and neighbouring areas of the Northern Province via a network of 100,000 out-growers. ‘Jeevadhara’ intends to enhance farmer incomes and livelihoods while creating a sustainable supply [...]

Sri Lanka Customs faces modernisation challenge amidst workers protest

Sri Lanka Customs faces the challenge of modernising its functions, overcoming age old customs being practised by employees of the department at present to earn much needed revenue for the country, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) report revealed recently. Protests of employees of the department are now mounting against a bill for a [...]

SriLankan’s A350 business plan and termination

SriLankan Airlines this week clarified reports appearing in the media on the penalty amount paid to return the three A350 aircraft. “The total penalty paid was US$98 million or Rs. 14.7 billion not Rs. 150 billion as reported,” the airline said in a statement to the media.  It said among the many challenges inherited by [...]

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