The Sunday Times on the Web Business
14th June 1998

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Re invention of the sports saloon

Alfa Romeo's new medium segment model,The Alfa156,is a sports saloon in a great tradition,created to reinterpret the brand ethos in the light of the most advanced automotive engineering.

Here is a car that contains Alfa Romeo's heritage of sports character and superlative engines within a design which inherits all the elegance of the Italian school.

This is a car that excites in appearance and performance. Saloon that sets new standards in handling and driving pleasure,while epitomizing a sports car concept that incorporates all the comfort and elegance of a luxury saloon.

At 4.43 metres long,1.74 wide and 1.41high ,the Alfa 156 is an assertive yet compact saloon with 2.595 mm wheel base (5mm more than the Alfa 155).It is a safe,sturdily built car with the ability to transmit all its engine power to the wheels. This car's exciting styling is highlighted by a number of distinguishing features,unique aesthetic details that proclaim its powerful personality and make it instantly recognizable.

As befits a saloon with a distinctly sporty character, the interior is built around the driver's seat.Facing him he will find the classic sports car array of two round instrument dials:speedometer and rev counter. The gear lever is positioned high, close to the steering wheel,to be in easy reach.At the centre of the wraparound facia a console holds three smaller dials also circular and oriented towards the driver;the optional built -in radio,the climate control commands and ashtray are positioned lower down.

An extroadinary car for road holding,handling and driverbility ,the Alfa 156 owes most of its excellent road manners to its suspension layout. The double wishbone arrangement at the front combines the superlative stability of front wheel drive with exceptionally precise steering.

This configuration maximizes tyre contact with the road surface,independent of any body shell or suspension movement,for optimum grip on bend,in acceleration and braking.

Swarnamahal goes with the latest to Las Vegas

Swarnamahal Jewellers, will move into the international jewellery market when they unveil an entire range of custom designed new jewellery at the international JCK convention in Las Vegas next month. Company sources say the new venture will be a separate enterprise. The new company EAP Expo (Pvt) Ltd. will retain the Swarnamahal brand name for overseas marketing.

Swarnamahal is also set to open their first overseas outlet in Singapore next month."This is a logical and necessary step for us given our strength and dominance in the local market", said a senior official of the company. The showroom is in the prestigious Orchard Road shopping district and promotional strategies have been planned for the launch.

According to master designer Bernard Mederipitya, the General Manager of EAP Expo, the entire range of jewellery to be displayed in Las Vegas was designed specifically for the overseas market."The initial offering will be three separate collections of gem studded gold jewellery, with the emphasis on Sapphires and other Sri Lankan stones",he said. In accordance with western tastes and current trends in the world-wide jewellery industry the collections consist of simple yet delicate designs with the central emphasis being on the stone.

The first of the three ranges, the Peacock Collection , comprises "delicately designed jewellery set with Sri Lankan Sapphires," according to Mr. Nanda Nakkavita, the marketing executive of, EAP Expo. The sapphires in this collection are magnificent , ranging from lustrous blues and yellows to dazzling pinks.

The Sunset Collection also features Sri Lankan Sapphires. However this range consists of a fusion of the multihued beauty of sapphires amidst the dazzling brilliance of Diamonds. According to Mr. Mederipitiya this is essentially a collection of wedding jewellery, and was designed with this in mind.

Finally, the Rainbow collectioin is a dazzling array of Sri Lankan stones. The designs here are simple and elegant. Attention is focused on the stones themselves rather than design. Many of the items feature two or more different stones creating an interesting contrast and mix and of colours.

Infotel will focus on Lanka's potential

Infotel Lanka which has built a reputation as one of the largest lT events of South Asia, aims to primarily give attention to the tremendous potential of the Sri Lankan IT industry taking into account the phenomenal progress that has been made in the field. A wide spectrum of products ranging from regional data base management technologies to 3-D interactive modelling is now available in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, with the Government's declaration of 1998 as the "Year of Information Technology" Infotel's role has broadened even further.

The Principal Sponsors of Infotel '98 are themselves Firms with a strong involvement in the field of IT. They are Lanka Internet Services Ltd., Sri Lanka Telecom, Suntel (Pvt) Ltd., Debug Computer Peripherals (Pvt) Ltd,, Datamini Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Springfield Data Systems (Pvt) Ltd and East-West Information Systems Ltd to name just a few.

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is the National Telecommunication Service Provider in Sri Lanka. Equipped with unparalleled resources, manpower, expertise and technology only SLT can boast of a network of communications that covers the entire country and extends virtually to all parts of the globe. SLT has the largest customer base of telecommunications in Sri Lanka which reached 350,000 in March 1998 and provides coin collection public telephones on a nationwide basis. Its switching and transport network, supported by national and international telecommunication links, serve as the foundation for all other telecom venture companies in the country.

Currently SLT operates 263 telephone exchanges in the island with a switching capacity of 457,000. SLT provides worldwide connectivity through its international gateways. Two submarine cables complement the three satellite earth stations to provide access to the global telecommunication networks. SLT's two gateway exchanges also form part of this network.

With these facilities SLT is able to supply a reliable high-quality link to 210 countries including IDD facilities to 146 countries. In the view of bringing telecommunication facilities within the reach of more people in Sri Lanka, SLT plans to provide 300,000 new telephone connections within 1998 & 99. Furthermore, corporate services such as ISDN, Video Conferencing, Frame Relay, Concert Packet Services are also in the pipeline for 1998.

Lanka Internet is a BOI company and is the pioneering Internet Service Provider in Sri Lanka, backed by Central Finance, Lanka Ventures, Esjay Electronics and International Internet Services, Boston, USA. With a customer base of over 4000 and as the only ISP with a 24 hour help-desk and the highest band width of 256K upgrading of 512K, Lanka Internet is connected to United States SPRINT on the SEA ME WE 11 fiber optic submarine cable.

Thai shippers lash foreign lines

Foreign container lines have been accused of exploiting Thailand's shippers.

The National Shippers' Council claims the liners have raised freight rates and slapped additional charges on exporters' goods without thought for the position of Thailand's shippers amid Asia's current economic difficulties.

Shippers' leaders have condemned foreign liners over their ''arbitrary and unpredictable'' rate rises.

They have singled out for criticism the Asia West Bound Rate Agreement rise of US$ 150 per-TEU and $300 per-FEU announced in July. The shippers point out that AWRA raised freight rates by $100 and $200 per TEU and FEU in January.

They have also voiced concerns at the $300 increase in freight rates per box introduced in May by the Anera group.

The NSC, which represents more than 2,000 exporters, says Thai shippers are handicapped by their lack of bargaining power with the foreign liners.

Efforts to negotiate with shipping lines over freight rates foundered when the liners said they had no legal authority to hold talks.

Thai shippers also say they are obstructed by the lack of legal requirements for foreign liners to register a representative in Thailand, as well as by the absence of other legal measures.

Thailand is said to suffer a geographical disadvantage because ocean-going ships prefer to carry higher-value cargoes from Japan en route to Thailand, leaving less space for less expensive Thai freight such as canned foods.

The current shortage of space means more than 3,000 boxes of foodstuffs are overdue in Singapore because of lack of space.

Cargoes such as textiles are considered to be preferable because they are lighter to ship.

The Thai government has recently approved a maritime business bill designed to compel foreign liners to unveil freight rate adjustments at least 60 days before they are implemented.

They will also be obliged to have a legal representative in the country, to give shippers an avenue for negotiations within 15 days of news of the rate adjustment.

However, Thai shippers claim the bill was halted by the transport ministry when it was reviewed by the Judicial Council.

The transport ministry reportedly said there had been opposition from a Thai-European business council.

There was also said to have been protest from the Dutch and US embassies, which had maintained that the stricter rules were against the spirit of free trade.

(Asian Shipper)

Hanjin Shipping celebrates 21st Anniversary

On March 25, Hanjin hosted a ceremony to celebrate its 21st anniversary. Since 1977, Hanjin Shipping has undergone rapid advancement to become one of the youngest global carriers in the industry, whilst at the same time maintaining service levels to our customers.

Hanjin's strategic investment to establish main trunk routes, dedicated terminals and the development of its infrastructure, has established itself as one of today's top global carriers.

Following the merger with Korea Shipping Corporation (KSC) in 1988, HJS has steadily diversified its business by introducing new container and bulk vessels and developing logistics operations in key service areas. The company started its business with one 750 TEU-class container vessel.

Hanjin now operates a fleet of 48 owned vessels. Last year, Hanjin transported more than 1.6 million TEU of container cargo and 55 million tons of bulk cargo. This has been achieved principally because of the hard work and competitive spirit of the people at Hanjin.

Employees who have served with HJS for 10, 20, 25 and 30 years were recognized for their loyal service. In all, 164 employees were shown recognition.

In his speech, President Cho Sooho appreciated employees' contributions to the companyand said'.Although present conditions are difficult, I believe that based on our past experience, we can successfully endure the opposing crisis intelligently as long as all employees' mindset is focused on unity and strong determination. I also believe that the present crisis will be an opportunity for us to move forward to the next phase in our company's growth."

Air base to become container terminal

A former US air force base on Luzon island in the Philippines is being groomed for development into a container terminal.

Initial plans for Wallace Air Station had called for the construction of a modest 33-hectare port, but the Bases Conversion Development Authority, which administers the development of all former US bases in the Philippines, has said that as the site is so well located it would be best to spend more money turning it into a world-class facility.

The authority has therefore proposed a much larger-scale 250-hectare project costing an estimated US$1 billion, that will ultimately provide container handling and ship repair operations and an airport suitable for medium-haul aircraft such as Boeing 737s.

The former base lies on La Union province's Poro Point, and opens onto the South China Sea. The development authority claims it is significantly closer to Hong Kong and Kaohsiung - both busy trans-shipment hubs - than any of the Philippines' current container ports, giving a significant fillip to its chances.

The proposed project would require the reclamation of about one square kilometre, and the authority says it has already aroused interest of overseas companies in becoming part of a joint venture in the reclamation.

(Asian Shipper)

Strategy 2002: putting Sri Lanka on the-hi-tech map

Sitting on a silicon valley

  • Quartz mines key to hi-tech prosperity?
  • The costs compared
  • The silicon valley
  • Why electronics?
  • The Norwegian Connection
  • Quartz mines key to hi-tech prosperity?

    By Asiff Hussein

    Priyantha Dias

    One of Sri Lanka's grandest ever na- tional development strategies to be spearheaded by the country's private sector has reached its final stages of planning and will be presented before the government and the country's business community shortly.

    If all goes according to plan, this formidable US $ 500 million 24 project programme is expected to catapult Sri Lanka's per capita GDP to the second place in Asia-excluding city states-by the year 2002. It will also help to bring down the country's youth unemployment rate of 17.2 percent to a mere 2.0 percent. Basically, the programme envisages the establishment of a massive plant and related infrastructure to manufacture metallurGical-grade silicon from locally obtained vein quartz for microchips and solar cells at a cost far below prevailing production costs worldwide.

    This trigger project is expected to pave the way for the large-scale establishment of hi-tech. electronic firms with foreign participation for the manufacture of labour-intensive products such as computers, televisions and laser printers and energy-intensive products such as glass and silicon carbide.

    The establishment of science and technology parks, wind farms , a new port, road and railway and an eco-industrial city are also envisaged in the scheme. A new company, Gic (Pvt) Ltd. comprising local and foreign partners is due to be incorporated to facilitate and run the programme, with some nominal governmental involvement .

    The architect of the programme, Industrial Development Strategist Priyantha Dias-a professional Chemical Engineer who has been intimately associated with the North American Space Agency's (NASA) Aerospace programme-proposes that Gic Pvt. Ltd. Design, Build, Own and Maintain (BOM) the entire programme as it evolves with only those investing at this point being allowed equity participation.

    Outsourcing of the necessary components of the strategy from hydropower generation to glass production will therefore have no place in the scheme.

    Mr. Dias contends that by following such a scheme, Gic would be able to get a number of reputed foreign firms involved in various projects for capital and technical expertise thereby leading the way for the formation of a consortium for the smooth implementation of the strategy. 70-80 percent of the feasibility study has already been done in the Pre-Feasibility Report on Strategy 2002, although a more detailed study of the hydropower projects will have to be undertaken.

    A number of local and foreign partners in the strateGic alliance as well as leading financial institutions have also been identified.

    The state will of course have a facilitatory role to play by supporting the programme administratively and providing the necessary land for mining and construction.

    Mr. Dias expects that large investments in kind in the form of lands would be forthcoming from the government once it is fully appraised of the programme.

    The Janatha Estate Development Board (JEDB) under whose purview a number of suitable vein quartz deposits such as Galaha comes, has also been invited to make an in-kind investment by offering the land for the Energy Intensive Industries Park.

    Mr. Dias believes that the state will be willing to invest in Strategy 2002 not only in the form of the lands to develop the projects and the lands on which the quartz deposits are found at fair market value but also in the form of rupee capital from sources such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees Trust Fund (ETF)

    The First Phase

    The first phase of the programme which will entail the establishment of the Energy Intensive Industrial park including the 150-acre metallurGical-grade silicon production plant, three hydropower projects, the large-scale mining of vein quartz at a selected deposit and the construction of a new road and railway to the deposit is estimated at USD 250 million.

    The silicon plant is planned to have a production capacity of 30,000 metric tons of silicon metal per annum.

    40 percent of the initial capital of USD 250 m is expected to be raised from equity funds, while about 60 per cent is expected to come from commercial debt taken at 8 per cent interest applicable to USD.

    The rest of the capital is expected to constitute of debt at a concessionary rate of interest (0.75 percent) from foreign donor agencies engaged in development co-operation activities here as well as a small portion in the form of grants.

    According to a leading Sri Lankan investment bank raising the necessary capital for the project will not be a difficult task.

    The first step in the implementation of the scheme will be to identify a suitable and sizeable vein quartz deposit.

    Mr. Dias notes that power purchase agreements are not infrequently renewed, especially in developing countries, thus placing the entire business at high risk.

    This however entails the power partner agreeing to take a portion of the silicon produced to recoup their investment or agreeing to let the silicon manufacturer export the power company's share along with other investors' shares at no charge, he notes.

    Mr. Dias proposes that the silicon metal so produced be shared on a percentage basis by weight between the government and the consortium.

    He wants the consortium be allowed to export all or a portion of its share to redeem its debt and equity, though other options such as supplying its entire share to electronics firms in FTZ's and Industrial parks expected to spring up in due time or even taking equity possession to maximise its profits in the electronics sector are not ruled out.

    The government is recommended to sell its share as raw material to the value-added, labour-intensive industries manufacturing electronics chips end products and solar cells.

    It is proposed that government allocate its share in such a manner as to help in dispersing factories producing electronics end products all over the island.

    This would mean that the government mark-up the price of silicon to firms on a regional basis, the criterion here being, the remoter the area, the lower the price of silicon.

    This is especially desirable in a context where the price of locally produced silicon metal is expected to be extremely low, thereby allowing the government considerable flexibility in setting such mark-ups.

    Mr. Dias is hopeful that once the silicon metal is made available at a fairly low cost, reputed electronics firms such as Sony, Sanyo, Canon and Fujitsu would flock to the country to establish hi-tech factories here, to manufacture products such as computers, televisions and laser printers where silicon chips figure prominently.

    Silicon chips are the intermediate products forming the basis of the vast electronics and computer industries worldwide and could be easily produced in Sri Lanka by employing an etching process easily procurable under licence from hi-tech firms like Intel and Motorola.

    Such a scheme of things is of course expected to have far-reaching global implications. It is also expected to place Sri Lanka in the top per capita income bracket in Asia, after Japan and the three city-states, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brunei. It is also contended that the country's average labour cost at USD 60 per month (which is relatively low when compared with that of other countries in the region, especially in South East Asia) will serve as a further incentive in attracting foreign investment here.

    Appropriate investment at the highest level is expected to be generated once the two integrated circuit design facilities in the University of Peradeniya and in the vicinity of the Moratuwa University are established with foreign collaboration.

    About 300 hectares in the Peradeniya University have been identified by Prof. P. Vitanage, former Chancellor of the University, for the establishment of a Science park.

    Prof. Vitanage had been closely working with Mr. Dias on Strategy 2002 until his untimely death in early February this year.

    The establishment of a Technology Park close to the Moratuwa University is expected to pose no serious problem as the University is already a well-established and reputed centre for technoloGical studies. It is a well known fact that in the absence of proper research facilities and improper remuneration, many electronic engineers and computer scientists tend to emigrate overseas to further their prospects. This brain-drain is expected to cease once the facilities become operative.

    Medium-grade professionals like technicians, testers and assemblers are also expected to benefit considerably from this exercise.

    It is also correctly argued that the ready availability of high-and medium-grade professionals in the country would serve as an added incentive to foreign entrepreneurs thinking of setting up operations here.

    Mr. Dias contends that once the most difficult problems associated with Strategy 2002 are solved in this manner, it will pave the way for firms like FDK and Tandon which have already established operations here, to expand 'ad infinitum' and churn out electronic end products which it is hoped will cost less than 50 per cent of the prevailing world market prices.

    FDK a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese giant Fujitsu and Tandon Associates of USA currently manufacture magnetic head assemblies (the most labour-intensive intermediate component going into disk drives) in Sri Lanka.

    In fact, FDK's factory in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone which employs 3500 persons is said to be the only place in the world where head assemblies are produced for Fujitsu's disk drives.

    The main reason these firms have started operations here is the country's relatively low skilled labour costs.

    As for the proposed 10,000 hectare Eco-Industrial city envisaged in the programme, Mr. Dias proposes that it be located in Madulsima in Moneragala where sizeable deposits of quartz have been found.

    4000 hectares in the area have already been identified for the project. The location of the site in Moneragala is particularly important as it remains one of the most economically depressed regions in Sri Lanka ever since the days of the first Kandyan uprising against the British in 1917-1918.

    It should be noted that the employment generation from the first phase (costing USD 250m or Rs. 16,000m) is projected to to be in the region of 250 (100 jobs in the silicon plant and another 150 at the most in the three hydropower plants).

    As such, the strategy is not meaningful if the subsequent phases are not undertaken forthwith.

    Mr. Dias avers that if for some unforeseen reason, the programme is stalled at the second phase, Gic will still be capable of exporting metallurGical grade silicon amounting to 30,000 metric tons per year from the silicon smelter facility. This however will only become effective as a last resort.

    After all, the entire thrust of the strategy is to generate maximum value-addition and employment. There will be ample time, viz 42 months left to achieve the goal of the strategy if ground for the initial phase is broken by July this year. Mr. Dias is also of the view that work on the Eco-Industrial city planned for Moneragala should commence simultaneously in order to achieve the desired results.

    The success of the programme will depend largely on the support of the government and the country's private sector in raising the necessary capital to making it a reality.

    The costs compared

    Comparison of costs applicable to silicon manufacture in Norway and Sri Lanka:

    Norway is the world's largest silicon metal and transistor-grade silicon manufacturer, with its silicon metal going in to as many as 50 percent of the world's computer chips.

    Transistor-grade silicon could be produced in

    Sri Lanka at a cost 10-15 percent as that of Norway.

    1* 'First phase of the Energy Intensive Industries Park
    2 Technology Park in Kesbewa
    3 Vitanage
    Science Park near University of Peradeniya
    Energy intensive manufactures
    4* Silicon metal (trigger project)
    5 Silicon purification
    6 Silicon carbide
    7 Carbide
    8 Glass
    Labour intensive manufactures
    9 Solar cells
    10 Integrated circuit design
    11 Small turbines
    Power generation
    12 wind farms
    13 Tiny power plants
    14* Hydro-power project 1
    15* Hydro-power project 2
    16* Hydro-power project 3
    Mining, transport, port on east coast, industrial city
    & hi-tech design centre
    17 New port on the east coast
    18 Extension of West-East Highway A 1 all the way
    to the east coast.
    19 New Engineering Faculty in Eastern University
    in collaboration with U.S.A.
    20* Large-scale mining of a selected quartz deposit
    21* Building new road or widening of existing road
    to the deposit
    22 New railway to the deposit
    23 10,000ha - Eco-industrial City in East & Southeast for which 4,000ha in Moneragala District have already been identified
    24 Restoration of ancient tanks including Kirioruwewa and Kollallawattewewa to provide water to the City.
    *First phase of Strategy 2002 Silicon Valley

    Meanwhile, government sanction of the programme has also been forthcoming. Kandy District MP and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kiriella recently pledged his support for strategy 2002 in an interview with The Sunday Times. Minister Kiriella in whose district (Kandy) the Galaha deposit is located said that the strategy shows mush promise in converting the region in to the Silicon Valley of Sri Lanka.

    The silicon valley

    The location of a suitable site is important considering the fact that the smelter and the industrial park would have to be set up in its vicinity to avoid transportation costs.

    The Geological survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) has located over 110 sizeable vein quartz deposits across the country particularly in the Anuradhapura, Ratnapura, Moneragala and Hambantota districts.

    Although a suitable vein quartz deposit at Galaha has been tentatively identified, Mr. Dias proposes conducting an in-depth study of the 110 or so deposits to ascertain which of them display the best furnace characteristics in undergoing the delicately controlled carbo-thermic reduction process for silicon metal production.

    Extremely pure deposits containing over 99 per cent silica (silicon dioxide) have been found at Rattota, Pussella, Opanaike, Pelmadulla, Kebitigollewa, Ratnapura, Pallerota and Binkema.

    The country's vein quartz deposits are also sizeable. So much so that it is estimated that Sri Lankan quartz could supply the entire world's silicon requirements for the electronics sector for several decades.

    The GSMB estimates that the two main vein quartz deposits so far identified, viz. at Ambalamana and Akarella alone contain over 12 million tons of quartz.

    It is indeed fortunate that the government has banned the export of vein quartz in its raw form, in order to encourage the establishment of industries based on the commodity such as glass.

    Prior to this a metric ton of quartz mined at a cost of USD 2.62 had been exported for USD 100-140, though this is minuscule when compared to the value-addition the production of silicon metal and silicon chips is expected to generate.

    According to ITMIN, Ltd, a metric ton of 98-98.5 percent grade silicon costs USD 1,373-1 , 484 in Germany, USD 1, 400-1,483 in the UK, USD 1,454-1,498 in the USA and USD 1,529-1,696 in Italy.

    There does exist a number of proprietary carbo-thermic reduction processes applicable to Sri Lankan quartz which can be easily procured from reputed European firms such as Elkem, Siceo Jena, Treibacher Schleissmitel and HULs Akjtiengesellschaft .

    The process will be employing vein quartz and coal reacted at a high temperature to produce silicon metal of a remarkably high purity. The purer the silica the purer the resultant silicon metal.

    The metallurgical-grade coal (of 95 per cent to nearly 100 per cent carbon purity) necessary for the carbo-thermic reduction process will however have to be imported.

    According to the analyses made by Elkem, local quartz contains 700-1600 units of impurities compared to 15,000 in quartz obtained elsewhere typically yielding 98.5 per cent grade silicon containing 1.5 per cent impurities. This would mean removing 93-95 percent fewer impurities from the local silicon than others provided the coal used in the carbo-thermic reduction smelter is also 100 percent pure.

    This would mean that 99.5 percent grade silicon metal could be produced from Sri Lankan quartz at a cost far below that needed to produce the usual 98-98.5 percent grade silicon metal typically yielded by quartz elsewhere This superior grade silicon will also have a far greater market value.

    Silicon metal will have to undergo several more stages of refining at a high cost in order to produce the almost 100 percent pure silicon wafers used in the manufacture of electronics chips.

    Solar-grade silicon requires a silicon content of 99.9999 per cent while transistor-grade silicon would have to be further refined to yield a silicon purity of as much as 99.9999999 per cent.

    It is estimated that 89 per cent lesser impurities will have to be removed to produce solar-grade silicon from the 99.84 per cent grade silicon which is likely to be yielded by local quartz of 99.84 per cent silica purity.

    Thus in employing purer silicon, manufacturers of silicon chips will have to incur fewer costs in refining the product which would mean that they would be willing to pay a higher price for locally-produced silicon metal.

    It is this that is the over-riding factor in realising Strategy 2002.

    Why electronics?

    The government should emphasize on the electronics sector rather than on garments, especially in a context where the quota system is due to expire globally in 2004 as per World Trade Organisation (WTO) requirements," Mr. Dias says.

    Besides, value addition in electronics is far greater than garments.

    The only significant foreign content in silicon metal manufacture is the coal for the carbo-thermic reduction process which is estimated to be a mere 13 per cent of the total production costs.

    Apart from this, the major raw material (quartz), labour and power could all be sourced locally.

    Thanks to German and Japanese hi-tech investments in Malaysia, the country is today the world's leading silicon chips exporting nation after Japan and the USA, and there is no reason why similar investments in Sri Lanka should not help propel the national economy to greater heights.

    The relatively high GDP of Malaysia which is six times as much as that of Sri Lanka is said to be primarily due to its electronics sector.

    The Norwegian Connection

    Elkem of Norway will participate in the establishment of the silicon metal plant, business circles say.

    Another Norwegian firm, ABB Kraft, currently active in several power transmission projects in the island, has been proposed to be the power partner to generate the necessary power to compensate the government for the vast amount of electricity that will have to be drawn from the national grid.

    The proposed park to house energy intensive industries, which is to be set up at a selected location will probably be undertaken by yet another Norwegian company NOCON.

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