31st, August 1997


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By Business Bug

Kandalama then, Pelwatte now

Remember Kandalama and the very much politicised hue and cry raised over the construction of a five-star hotel there?

All that is history now but a somewhat similar controversy seems to be brewing elsewhere-in Pelwatte.

Plans are afoot to build a golf course-cum-resort hotel complex there on land held by a sugar factory.

Murmurs of dissent are however spreading fast and potential investors fear another Kandalama-style campaign…

Honk Kong calling

So, a local cellular network thought it was a smart option to sell out to a Hong Kong based company.

The deal has certainly been good for the industry which is now identified as one with maximum growth potential.

Therefore, it is not Surprising that a Malaysian investor who has dumped his money on another local cellular network now wants to increase his stake…

Exports to decline

Policy makers have warned government officials of relying too much on garment exports, we hear.

The reason? The amounts bought by the United States are likely to decline over the next five years, despite Colombo's strident appeals to Washington.

Just for the record, rearly two thirds of Sri Lanka's garment exports were bought by Uncle Sam last year…

BoE Governor will get strength from two deputies

The Bank of England is to have two deputy governors. According to a report in the London 'Financial Times' by Robert Chote and John Gapper the two deputies are Mervyn King who is an executive director of the Bank and its chief economist and David Clementi, a vice chairman of the German Investment Bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. Mr. King who will take up the post once the proposal to grant the Bank independence to set interest rates has been put into effect by legislation, will be responsible for monetary policy.

The writers say that the position of the governor will be strengthened by the appointment of an insider as deputy governor responsible for monetary policy. It is further observed that the appointment could help to improve the 'at times stormy relations between the chancellor and the Bank'. The writers add that the governor, Eddie George 'angered earlier this year when the chancellor told him that the bank was to lose responsibility for banking supervision,' welcomed the appointments.

With these developments comes a publication issued by the Bank of an outline plan for the supervision of financial services which, as was mentioned in our columns some weeks ago, was to be transferred from the Bank. For this purpose the Securities and Investment Board is to be strengthened and given a new name, but that has not been chosen as yet. In the meantime it is often referred to as "Newro" New Regulatory Organisation.

In an another article in the Financial Times Robert Chote says that "the reform of supervision together with the government's decisions to give the bank operational independence to set interest rates and to shift its responsibility for managing the government's debt to the Treasury, implies a big logistical change. The change, he says, is likely to transform the character of the Bank. He envisages a smaller Bank and says that it is believed that the departure of the supervisors could create the conditions for a more coherent and unified institution".

Chote says that supervision has been the Bank's growth area for the last 20 years, employing growing numbers of staff and absorbing an increasing proportion of operating costs so much so that according to one observer it was getting to the point at which the tail was wagging the dog.

Furthermore, says Chote, the "development" of a specialist supervisory culture within the bank "also made it difficult for staff to pursue a traditional career in which they move regularly from division to division to create rounded central bankers."

In a separate article in the Financial Times John Gapper says that one of the key points in the publication was that the new supervisory authority will adopt the principle of lead supervision, which means that a single supervisor will coordinate its relations with each bank.

The adoption of the lead supervisor principle, he says, is a response to the difficulty of combining supervision of everything from unit trust management to insurance broking under one roof.

He quotes Mr. Howard Davies, the chairman of the Securities and Investment Board as saying there will be a person responsible for overall relations with an institution, and its systems and controls. If this approach is worked out it would be better than the current queue of regulators looking at different parts of the business in an un-coordinated way".

The article states that the new Financial Services Act transferring the responsibility for City regulation to the new supervisory authority will only pass through parliament at the end of 1998.

When the clock ticks to 2000 look for chaos in IT solutions

As the clock ticks away to herald in the millennium, on January 1st, 2000, at the latest, many IT solutions which are still running to the satisfaction of users will become outdated overnight, because they operate with a two-digit year format. Such systems will have to replaced.

Many IT specialists are envisaging bottlenecks throughout Europe during 1998/99. Some observers are accusing the IT industry of creating such a calamity to sell their products. But how many of us in Sri Lanka are still aware of the horrible nightmare we may have to wake-up to?

These were some of the issues highlighted during a seminar titled "Comet Towards the Next Millennium" organised by Informatics (Pvt) Ltd held last week.

Opening the session, Jayantha de Silva, Director-Software Engineering & Marketing Informatics said, the purpose of the seminar was to create an awareness of the issues that business organisation in Sri Lanka would face with the year 2000 around the corner and to introduce Comet's solution to help businesses to overcome this hurdle before the turn of the century.

COMET & ALX COMET, is a product of Siemens Nixdorf, Germany, which has been developed over the past 25 years to cater to the numerous customer requirements, whilst keeping up with the demands of the current years.

"The COMETV3.2, the latest in the series, runs on large-scale Quattro systems, RM computers under UNIX and on Windows NT servers," said de Silva. It offers the opportunity of a gradual transition to those users who would prefer to wait before investing in a new IT solution.

"They can benefit from the power and efficiency of advanced server technologies as well as from the integration of PC's and will be able to use standard technologies and products from Microsoft," he added.

All products have been designed to co-exist with the existing Comet logistics modules on one system. Thus, those users who want to move to the new system has a software migration path to a new IT environment.

The architecture of ALX-Comet lets the accounting modules be combined with vertical solutions and various planning and control systems in the process of manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Comet has been in operations in Sri Lanka for many years, and is usually found in the Hotel industry. Most participants present, were not aware of the dangers the dawn of the millennium would bring in.

However, the organisers hoped that this seminar would be a good eye-opener to Sri Lankan businesses of the possible dangers and the ensuing havoc the millennium would bring for IT users.

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