30 September 2009

Deccan Aviation Opens City Check-In Lounge in Colombo, Sri Lanka

30th September 2009, www.thebottomline.lk

Domestic airline and helicopter operator Deccan Aviation Lanka announce the opening of a check in lounge and facility in the city at Landmark Building in Colombo 3.

Similar to city check facilities in European metros, the conveniently located modern facility enables passengers to check in directly in the city while enjoying the facilities at the lounge. Passengers will then be transferred via luxury coaches to the airport for their onward flight to Jaffna.

The new air conditioned facility, open to all passengers, provides comfortable and relaxed seating, cable TV, and broadband access. Passengers will also be served hot or cold drinks and snacks.

“What we hope to achieve with this is to change the perception of air travel to Jaffna. Our guests have a convenient and comfortable check in location and we take care of them from that point onwards. Its time that passengers on flights connecting our country’s two biggest cities are treated to a world class flying experience,” Deccan Aviation Lanka Managing Director Suren Mirchandani said.

At present, most passengers on domestic flights to Jaffna have to undergo rigorous security checks at the airport entrance and move is seen as a means to offer passengers a better class of service.

Similar facilities are also planned for the rest of the island, most importantly Jaffna. They will have the same architectural elegance and standardised amenities as the Colombo lounge. Deccan Aviation Lanka is Sri Lanka’s premier domestic airline and only helicopter service. Deccan offers an experience unmatched by any other in the industry as customer service and the experience of flying on board Deccan is what drives the management and team passionately forward.

French Multi-Sport Adventure Race Exclusively for Women in Sri Lanka for the First Time

30th September 2009, www.dailymirror.lk

The Organizing Committee of LE RAID L’ARBRE VERT AMAZONES, the world’s biggest multi-sport adventure race exclusively for women, arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday (September 25), ahead of the international event set to take place from October 5 to 12.

Seen in the picture are the teams from Sri Lanka Tourism and CONNAISSANCE DE CEYLAN, the ground handling partner for the adventure race, welcoming the first team of the Organizing Committee. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director, Mr. Dileep Mudadeniya and CONNAISSANCE DE CEYLAN Chairman Mr. Chandra Wickramasinghe were also present at the BIA to receive the team.

CONNAISSANCE DE CEYLAN specializing in tours for the French market believes that this event will assist in promoting Sri Lanka’s true beauty and tourism potential as a preferred and premium travel destination to the world.

Picture by Kumarasiri Prasad –Airport Corr.

UK Tour Operator Records 10,000 Tourists to Sri Lanka

30th September 2009, www.dailymirror.lk

Mercury Direct/Sunspot Tours Ltd., a tour operator in the UK, has garnered in excess of 10,000 outbound tourists to Sri Lanka for the year 2009. Geraldine Stimson, Product Director of Mercury Direct/Sunspot Tours Ltd., was pleased to have exceeded their target for this year. She added that “due to the continuous marketing support we have given for Sri Lanka, we have produced almost 10,300 pax so far. There are still a few months to go, bearing in mind that we are taking a lot of late bookings”.

This phenomenal feat was achieved through Mercury Direct/Sunspot’s aggressive advertising campaign in the UK print media, promoting Sri Lanka and its resorts.

The UK has traditionally been a stronghold for Sri Lanka in terms of inbound tourism. Post conflict, the island has seen overall tourist arrivals jump nearly 35 percent with the UK market registering nearly 17 percent increase in the month of August, compared to August 2008. This comes in the wake of the UK travel advisory on Sri Lanka being further relaxed with the end of the conflict. According the current advisory, there is now a “general” as opposed to “high” threat from terrorism.

Sri Lanka Central Bank to Cut the Cost of Borrowing for Private Sector

30th September 2009, www.thebottomline.lk

Central Bank last week sent a strong signal to the commercial banking industry that cost of borrowing for private sector must come down further on the strength of the fact that rates for Government debt has reached a single dighit.

The yields at the Treasury bill primary auction held on September 23, 2009 declined to a single digit level of 9.70 per cent for three months Treasury bills for the first time after November 2005.

With this reduction, primary market yield rates of the Treasury bills have declined by 763 – 795 bps during the year 2009. The primary market yield rates of Treasury bonds also followed the same trend and declined by up to 956 bps, Central Bank said.
The decline in yields is witnessed in all maturity classes of Government securities extending up to the 10 year maturity horizon. This reduction in yield rates is in line with the gradual easing of the monetary policy stance by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and increased foreign investor participation in the Government securities market.

“In line with these developments, a reduction in the entire interest rate structure in the economy, including the lending rates of the commercial banks is expected,” Central Bank said in a statement.

Indian External Minister S. M. Krishna Hails Sri Lanka’s New Begining at the UN

30th September 2009, firstlanka.com, By Walter Jayawardhana

India’s External Minister S.M. Krishna told the United Nations that there is a new beginning in Sri Lanka today.

He said, ”peace, security, stability and the welfare of India’s neighbourhood is vital for India.” This was an obvious reference to the end of the war by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)and the beginning of the development in the Northern and Eastern Provinces today.

“There is a new beginning in Sri Lanka; in Nepal strengthening the peace process is in our collective interest; and in Afghanistan, the international community must remain intensively engaged and support its development efforts and the maintenance of peace and stability. India is committed to establishing good neighbourly relations and resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through peaceful dialogue,” the Indian Foreign Minister said, according to the transcript of his speech available on the UN website.

Tourism Week Inaugurated at Marine Drive, Bambalapitiya, Sri Lanka

30th September 2009, www.news.lk

The World Tourism Day was celebrated on 27 September 2009 with a host of activities at the Mt. Lavinia Beach and the Marine Drive, Bambalapitiya.

The inaugural ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Tourism, Nandana Gunatillake with the participation of industry stakeholders including hoteliers, officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Sri Lanka Tourism, as well as tourists visiting the country.

With focus on the environment, a tree planting campaign and the handing over of a garbage truck was held to commemorate the occasion. Children participated in a competition painting facades of walls depicting locations of tourist interest. A kite competition also brought colour to the event.

A significant item on the day’s celebrations was the launch of the tourist friendly 3-wheelers, an initiative of Sri Lanka Tourism to introduce metered three wheel taxies with specified standards for the benefit of foreign tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Titled “Tourist Friendly Tuk Tuk”, and decorated with traditional stylized paintings depicting the country’s various tourist attractions, with the traditional motif of liyaval bordering the paintings, 50 of these 3-wheelers were introduced to the Colombo area with plans to extend this facility to other areas of the country.

The Ministry of Tourism, along with Sri Lanka Tourism, under the guidance of the Minister of Tourism, Nandana Gunatillake has initiated a Tourism Week that will be celebrated from 27 September to 3 October 2009, in many areas in the country.

Furthermore, essay, art, and poster competitions are also being held for school children, as well as awareness campaigns to inculcate tourist as well as environmentally friendly ideas among the future generation.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Tourism, Nandana Gunatillake, said, “We have initiated a tourism week for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka Tourism, to facilitate travel within the country for both local and foreign tourists alike, to develop specific tourism locations, and to ensure that all sectors of the public economically benefit from the tourism industry.”
We are fortunate to receive the support of Provincial Councils, government institutions, school children, and many other rural organizations in organizing the tourism week, successfully, the minister further added.

A cultural show with low country dance performances was held at the Panadura Beach Park last evening, as well as a beach cleaning campaign this morning, at the same venue.

A cultural show on a floating stage on Kandy Lake was held last evening and a repeat performance is scheduled for this evening at the same venue. Cleaning programmes and an exhibition of souvenirs are also scheduled to be held throughout the day today, in Kandy. More events are scheduled to take place in Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Pasikuda, Beruwala, Mahiyanganaya, Sigiriya, Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa, and Weligama.

Colombo Stock Exchange - Trading Tuesday: Sri Lankan Shares Up by 0.56 Percent

29th September 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lankan shares closed up Tuesday as investors bet on an expected rally in the coming weeks when market liquidity is lifted by refunds from two Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), brokers said.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.56 percent (16.29 points) to end at 2,909.93 while the more liquid Milanka gained 0.29 percent (9.41 points) to close at 3,259.16, according to provisional stock exchange figures.

Turnover was 729.4 million rupees.

"The market is expected to consolidate from its technical correction as renewed buying interest was witnessed today," Manjula Kumarasinghe, director at stock brokering house SKM Lanka Holdings said.

"The refunds from the Hemas Power IPO and entry into the market by NAMAL Fund are expected to improve market liquidity, which will enhance the hunt for favorable shares."

Over 6.6 million Seylan Bank non-voting shares changed hands today to close at 15.25 rupees, up 1.50.

Index heavy conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH) closed at 150.75 rupees, up 50 cents, while Distilleries Company of Sri Lankan closed at 86.75 rupees, down 75 cents.

Sri Lanka's largest bank, Commercial Bank of Ceylon closed at 172.00 rupees, up 2.25 while National Development Bank closed at 189.75 rupees, down 25 cents.

Hatton National Bank closed at 163.25 rupees, up 1.25, while DFCC Bank closed flat at 151.00 rupees.

Sampath Bank closed at 169.75 rupees, down 25 cents.

Ship builder Colombo Dockyard closed at 160.00 rupees, up 2.50, while Chevron Lubricants Lanka Limited, a unit of US based energy company Chevron closed at 151.00 rupees, up 1.00.

Celco Dialog Telekom, the Sri Lankan unit of Telekom Malaysia closed at 6.25 rupees, down 25 cents, while Sri Lanka Telecom closed 44.75 rupees, up 50 cents.

Retailer favorite Touchwood Investments closed at 99.25 rupees, up 10.25, while Tokyo Cement closed at 187.50 rupees, up 7.50.

Rent-Seeking as Bad as Money Laundering. Are Sri Lanka Airport Taxis a Prime Example?

22nd September 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com By W A Wijewardene

Rent-seeking, the use of one’s time, knowledge and efforts to earn an income which is not directly contributory to the national wealth, has been frowned upon by economists for many decades.

Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University economist, branded India’s economy as a paradise for rent-seekers when India had everything under control, nicknamed ‘licence raj’, since independence in 1947 to mid 1990s.

He in fact coined the phrase ‘directly non-productive economic activities’ to describe India’s vast-spread rent- seeking economy.

Rent-Seeking is as Harmful as Money Laundering

Like money laundering, rent-seeking too is harmful, injurious and inimical to the good health of an economy.

However, the irony has been that, politicians in both developing and developed countries, while taking action on a global basis to outlaw money laundering, have by word and by deed promoted opportunities for ‘rent- seeking’ in their respective economies.

Hence, the recommendation which mainstream economists often make to policy makers in governments that a full-stop should be placed to rent-seeking if an economy is to grow on a sustainable basis has been largely left unheeded.

Normal Economic Activities

How does rent-seeking differ from normal economic activities? In a number of ways.

In a normal economic activity, all the people who are involved in the economic activity make a value addition to the activity thereby contributing to create wealth. Hence, the removal of anyone from the process would reduce the value and make it impossible for the activity to take place. In other words, everyone involved in the activity makes his or her living by adding to the value. Therefore, the payment he or she would receive for the services provided is not at the expense of the others.

Take, for example, rice production. Farmers produce paddy by toiling the land and using other types of inputs needed for that.

Millers buy that paddy and mill into rice consumable by consumers.

Wholesalers and transport providers bring that rice to the market and distribute among retailers.

Consumers buy rice from the retailers and enjoy a good rice meal.

All these people add value to rice at every stage and provide an essential service to the process of making it available to the ultimate rice-eaters. The removal of anyone from the process would interrupt its smooth functioning and impose hardships on others in the process.

For instance, if the miller is removed, either the farmer or the wholesaler or the transporter or retailer or the consumer has to mill the paddy before consumption. It is not impossible, but it entails an additional unwanted hardship that each party would impose on himself or herself.

Similarly, the removal of any other person from the process would require the others to devote their time, energy and effort to provide the service given by the removed person. Thus, in normal economic activities, all the people involved are essential, all of them add value to the production and payments received by all of them are fully justified.

Room for Rent-Seeking

How could this smooth economic activity be distorted, giving room for rent-seeking by some?

Suppose, hypothetically, the government makes it necessary for transporters to obtain a ‘transport licence’ to take paddy or rice from one place to another. To issue the licence, the government has to appoint an officer or establish a bureau. To police it, it has to set up road blocks at strategic places and appoint further officers to man them.

Then, it has to strengthen the judiciary and prison services to try and execute punishments on the violators. The salaries paid to all these officers or the costs of running all the bureaus do not add value to production of rice. Hence, they could be removed without affecting the production, transportation and consumption of rice. Since the government’s intervention does not add value to rice production or is not necessary for the process, the costs incurred thereon represent a loss where no one gains meaning a ‘deadweight’ loss and an opportunity for some people to earn a rent.

When people realise that earning this income is easy and convenient, everyone flocks to seek it, thereby creating a rent-seeking economy. Once it becomes wide-spread, it is impossible to dismantle it as has been experienced in many countries.

Though people appear to have been employed and doing a service, they, in fact, do not add anything to the national wealth and live on the wealth created by others. They eventually grow like a parasite that constantly feeds on the body of a person. Once the person is no longer able to sustain, both the person and the parasite will see their end.

The Dangers of Rent-Seeking

That is why economists frown upon rent-seeking and prescribe policies to eliminate it.

It reduces efficiency, induces people to use their resources unproductively for rent-seeking activities, contributes to create an underground economy and promotes money laundering. From a morality point of view, it also leads to immoral and unethical practices on which courts are subsequently called upon to pass judgments. Hence, once an economy becomes a rent-seekers’ paradise, its unproductive activities thrive and its production base dwindles, making it difficult for the economy to sustain itself. Eventually the old glory of the economy will become a matter in the past.

Rent-Seeking at Katunayaka Airport

The writer had a first-hand experience in rent-seeking at the official taxi service operated by the Katunayaka Airport Authorities.

Every airport has a taxi service (some even a coach service or a fast train service) to facilitate air passengers to travel from the airport to their desired destinations. Since most of the planes land in the night and other public transportation services are not available at that time, airports have assured safe, comfortable and convenient travel to passengers through their official taxi services.

In the case of foreigners, the quality of this taxi service is their first impression of a country.

Hence, countries have taken an extra effort to provide a quality taxi service at the airports, so that foreigners have an incentive to visit the country again and again. The countries desiring to promote tourism as a main economic activity have looked after their airport taxi service well. Some notable examples from the region are Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Taxi Counter Employs Unnecessary Staff

At the Katunayaka Airport, when one steps out of the Customs Barrier, there is a counter at which a passenger could hire an airport taxi. When the writer approached the counter, there were two male officers behind the counter and both of them were holding their hands to ears speaking on mobile phones.

None of them thought it necessary to service the customer who was now waiting at the counter. After about five minutes, one of the male officers, while still being on the call, waved his free hand to someone inside and a lady officer stepped to the counter to take the order from the writer.

The employment of three officers to write taxi orders at the counter was in stark contrast to the single-person manned taxi counters one could see in many countries. In fact in Singapore, the order writing counter has been completely abolished by creating a ‘taxi queue’ outside the terminal with only one facilitator to direct passengers to the appropriate taxis which also wait in line to receive passengers. The additional people who work at the counter at Katunayaka are, therefore, rent seekers who do not add value to the service and without whose service, the taxi service could well be run.

After the order has been produced on the computer print-out, another person has been employed to escort the passenger to the appropriate taxi along with the order paper. This person’s service appear to be essential, because taxis are not lined up in the order of the orders issued and passengers find it difficult to identify the correct taxi for which the order has been written. But, in a market where the taxis are lined up in some order and the order papers are issued in that order, this additional person’s service is not needed. Hence, though it appears that he is engaged in some service, the taxi service, with proper order of taxis lining up, could be run without him.

What one would find at Katunayaka are not taxis which one would find at other airports. These are simply box-like little vans which do not have air-conditioning and are incapable of smooth driving. On many occasions, in addition to the passengers, drivers too take upon themselves the chance to provide a free ride to their friends who also travel on the same route after completing their duties at the airport. Passengers, though unwilling and reluctant, do not have a choice and acquiesce passively. It raises the important issue of safety of the passengers if the travel is in the night.

Inducements for Private Rent-Seeking

The basic factor is that these box-service operators do not get enough business to sustain themselves. They do not get enough business because they provide a sub-standard service. Hence, the drivers try to negotiate with passengers some private hiring presumably without the authority or the knowledge of the airport authorities. According to the drivers, the box-like vans are owned by private operators who have registered their vans with the airport. Airport authorities too would have succumbed to the pressure from influential parties to register those sub-standard vehicles.

It is, therefore, a full-blown rent-seekers’ paradise at the Katunayaka Airport. But, the bad image which it has created in foreigners and other local passengers cannot be easily removed.

How to Eliminate Rent-Seeking?

The source of rent seeking is governments’ monopoly building in providing services and introduction of rules, regulations, licensing requirements and interventions in the market activities. All these are done by governments in the name of promoting and safeguarding public interest. But, they also generate unintended consequences in the form of breeding rent-seekers living on the wealth created by other productive workers.

Hence, to eliminate rent-seeking, the expansion of the governmental activities has to be stopped, if the governments have already expanded, a greater part of such activities should be handed to private people and if the governments need to handle some of them, they should simulate private sector in running those activities.

In addition, unwarranted rules, regulations, licensing requirements and intervention in the markets should also be dismantled or halted.

29 September 2009

Cairn Energy to Have Two Offshore Rigs for Drilling in India and Sri Lanka

29th September 2009, www.bloomberg.com, By Rakteem Katakey

Cairn Energy Plc, the U.K.-listed explorer focused on India, wants to hire two offshore drilling rigs as it seeks new oil and gas deposits in South Asia.

The explorer called for bids for one rig each in India and Sri Lanka, according to an advertisement in the New Delhi edition of the Economic Times newspaper today. Cairn plans to drill in Sri Lanka by January 2011 and off India’s east coast by October 2010.

Cairn started output from its biggest field in India last month. The number of rigs used by oil and gas explorers in Asia fell 9 percent in August as the global recession sapped demand for energy and reduced credit, according to data from Baker Hughes Inc.

The explorer wants to hire a drillship or a semi- submersible rig in Sri Lanka. A drillship currently costs about $250,000 a day and a semi-submersible rig about $280,000, according to rigzone.com.

Cairn plans to drill three wells with an option to drill two more in a deepwater block in the Gulf of Mannar in Sri Lanka, according to the advertisement. It plans to drill three wells with an option on an additional three in a shallow-water area off the coast of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states in partnership with Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Tata Petrodyne Ltd.

Sri Lanka awarded its first exploration rights for an offshore block to Cairn India Ltd. last year after evaluating proposals for one of three blocks offered through competitive bidding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rakteem Katakey in New Delhi at rkatakey@bloomberg.net.

Very High Demand for Sri Lanka's Cinnamon, But Supply is Limited

28th September 2009, www.dailynews.lk

Sri Lanka's cinnamon has a big demand in the international market but there is a danger of losing this valuable market as a result of poor output levels of cinnamon cultivation, Managing Director, G.P. De Silva and Sons International (Pvt) Ltd, G. Lal De Silva told Daily News Business.

Although the export volume of cinnamon is larger this year compared to last year the profit margins are very low due to the shortage of supply. "Sri Lanka is the only country which exports high quality cinnamon but unless we protect the industry by taking measures to cultivate cinnamon sufficiently the country will lose a huge amount of foreign exchange", De Silva said.

A product known as Cassia in Indonesia, similar to cinnamon will replace our cinnamon in the future in the event of Sri Lanka failing to meet the demand. However, a metric ton of Cassia costs only USD 1,000 whereas a MT of cinnamon costs USD 8000, he said.

De Silva said that cinnamon growers must be educated and motivated on the benefits they can gain by receiving a good harvest because they are not aware of the importance of growing a valuable export item.

Therefore, they do not prune the plants on time and maintain them with proper fertilizing and as a result the harvest drops.

Stone 'N' String to Increase Global Presence

28th September 2009, www.dailynews.lk, By Charumini de Silva

Mohksha Limited, which caters to the high fashion jewellery market, hopes to increase its global presence under the brand name Stone 'N' String in near future.
The market for high fashion jewellery is growing locally and internationally, as it has become a trend in people's day-to-day lifestyle. "We have bulk orders from countries such as Canada and Australia which shows the demand for our products. This has encouraged us to expand our branch network around the world," Mohksha Limited, Manager - Advertising and Promotion, F. Rawlins told Daily News Business.

There is a great demand for our products from overseas and especially from Muslims living overseas.

Therefore we branched out into India and the Maldives and hope to expand further.

But we have still not finalized the list of countries where we could expand our business further, he said.

"We have a vast market in India and we have covered three main states such as Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi under the brand name Stone 'N' String, he said. "We manufacture all our jewellery in Sri Lanka and our designs can compete with international designs and brands, he said. The reasons for this demand are the unique designs, quality and the guarantee we offer for our customers.

We were the first to introduce fashion accessories for men and now it has become extremely popular.

Men's accessories and jewellery have also recorded an increase in sales, he said.

He said there was a slight impact on their business due to the global economic downturn but they overcame the drop in sales and maintained the growth rate.

Mahapola Trust Fund to Set Up a University in Sri Lanka

27th September 2009, www.sundayobserver.lk, By L. S. Ananda WEedaarachchi

The Mahapola Trust Fund (MTF) has decided to set up a full fledged university in Sri Lanka.

The MTF met last week under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Asoka De Silva and took several decisions for the benefit of the students and the country’s education sector.

The MTF was inaugurated by the late Lalith Atulathmudali with far - reaching objectives to improve the educational standards in the country and to help needy students by providing financial assistance such as Mahapola scholarships.

The University system absorbs less than 25,000 students annually though over 300,000 qualify to enter the university. This is a serious situation faced by Sri Lankan students, said Minister of Trade, Marketing Development Cooperatives and Consumer Services Bandula Gunawardena.

The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) which was set up by the Mahapola Trust Fund which allocated Rs. 450 million was one of the farsighted steps taken by the MTF.

More than 8,000 students who were unable to attend the university system due to the limited facilities graduated in IT at the SLIIT in Malabe during the past 10 years, he said.

The Minister said that thousands of students who are unable to enter local universities, register themselves for foreign degrees through accredited educational agencies - costing billions in foreign exchange. Many professionals who benefited from the country’s free education system continue to hold eminent positions in foreign countries without returning to serve the motherland.

The MTF has already decided to increase the Mahapola scholarship stipend by Rs. 500 to enable the students to receive Rs. 10,000 in the future.

Sri Lankan Bonds are Attracting Increased Interest from Global Investors

25th September 2009, www.bloomberg.com

Sri Lankan bonds are attracting increased interest from global investors as the government focuses on economic development after the end of the three - decade civil war, said Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

“It’s our priority to make use after the long struggle and effort into meaningful economic development,” he said in an interview at the Asia Society in New York.

The army’s victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May has prompted economists to boost their growth forecasts and spurred a rally in stocks, making the island’s Colombo All-Share Index the best performer in Asia this year.

The International Monetary Fund said this week it expects Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product to rise 3.5 percent in 2009, more than a July estimate of 3 percent. The $41 billion economy is showing signs of “bottoming out,” said Brian Aitken, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sri Lanka. Growth accelerated to 2.1 percent in the second quarter from 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year, the government reported Sept. 14.

“The conclusion of the civil war should increase foreign direct investment in areas where Sri Lanka is strong, such as tourism, garments and tea, but also more broadly in other sectors of the economy,” said Ashok Parameswaran, senior emerging markets analyst at Invesco Inc. in New York. “For the government to really take advantage of the civil war’s end, it must take steps to improve the investment environment by reducing red tape and improving contract enforcement.”

Dollar Bond Sale

Sri Lanka’s October 2012 dollar bond yielded 7.505 percent as of 10:30 a.m. in Singapore, according to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. The yield fell nine basis points yesterday, narrowing the spread with similar-maturity U.S. Treasuries to 6.1 percentage points. The notes were first sold to yield 8.25 percent in 2007, or 3.97 points more than Treasuries.

The island nation is increasing foreign trade and investment and has sold dollar-denominated sovereign bonds in overseas markets to help fund reconstruction. A $500 million debt issue is “attracting lots of investors,” Bogollagama said.

The country is also receiving aid from the IMF to help avert a balance of payments crisis after foreign-exchange reserves fell to an eight-year low of $1.27 billion in March.

The IMF said on Sept. 22 it’s “cautiously positive” on the nation’s prospects as it reviews the economy for the release of a second payment in its $2.6 billion aid package. Sri Lanka has received a first payment of $322 million and may get the second part in November, Bogollagama said.

Stock Rally

The South Asian country’s Colombo All-Share Index has gained 92 percent so far this year. The index was the region’s third-worst performer in the past two years as record spending on defense strained public finances.

The stock market’s rally is a sign of Sri Lanka’s “very vibrant economy” and shows investors’ confidence in the country, Bogollagama said.

Sri Lankan stocks may offer better returns as the end of the civil war frees up government spending for investments in infrastructure and agriculture, investor Jim Rogers said last month.

A World Class Service Apartment Complex in Kandy, Sri Lanka

28th September 2009, www.news.lk

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to Dynasty Developments Limited for a project to construct a service apartment complex under the BOI. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman / Director General signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to the investors.

The “Crest Elephant Bath Apartment Hotel” a fully serviced condominium project is a distinctive creative architectural masterpiece located in the most eye‐catching area of Kandy, setting the tone for an exclusive lifestyle amidst the age old citadel of great historic value. Residents will have the luxury of been surrounded by cool enchanting ambience of the green valleys, cool country atmosphere that is exclusive to the Kandyan hills and relax by the promenade on the waters edge. At “The Crest” residents are not just amidst a once illustrious heritage, they are very much a part of it. The absolute natural, tranquil ambience that “The Crest” offers will definitely uplift resident’s spirit.

“The Crest Apartment Hotel Complex” with its distinctive, creative architecture will offer 48 apartments equipped with all modern amenities. You can choose from either a studio apartment or a standard apartment with either 2 or 3 bedrooms or an elegant penthouse. The penthouses are designed as two level apartments with 4 bedrooms, additional living space and a private lawn. With a professionalism and work ethic that does not compromise on quality, each unit of this world class mixed development project is designed to high standards along with the most modern accessories sourced from the finest suppliers.

“The Crest Apartment Hotel Complex” being a fully serviced apartment complex offers a number of unique facilities in a compact package to suite the varied requirements of its exclusive and up market clientele. Hot water Jacuzzi, pool, spa, continental restaurants, business centre, fully equipped gymnasium, children’s play area, stream room, sauna, pool side cafĂ©, banquet hall, convenience stores and landscaped area are some of the specialities of the complex.

The brainchild behind this Company Mr N Vakeesan is the Chairman of Seagull Global Holdings (Private) Limited which functions as the Holding Company of Dynasty Developments (Private) Limited. This is one of the exclusive projects of the Company. Mr N Vakeesan has successfully completed hotel and apartment complexes in Malaysia, Canada and in over 1,600 apartments in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka to Have Better Access to China under a Regional Trade Deal

28th September 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lankan exporters will get better access to the Chinese market in a new round of talks under a regional trade deal scheduled for completion in October, officials said.

Sri Lanka will ask for more products to be covered in the fourth round of talks under the preferential trading arrangement, Asia-Pacific Trade Arrangement (APTA), previously called the Bangkok agreement.

Bandula Somasiri, deputy director of the Commerce Department, said Sri Lanka has got received expanded market access to China through concessionary import duties for 1,700 export products under APTA with the margin of preferential duty now 27 percent.

"In the fourth round of talks we've asked for more products. This is expected to rise to 2,000 product lines," he told a Sri Lanka-China business forum.

Saman Kelegama, executive director, Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, said the fourth round of talks is scheduled for completion in October.

"The fourth round of negotiations aims to widen the coverage of preferences to at least 50 percent of the number of tariff lines and provide a tariff concession of at least 50 percent."

The fourth of talks will also extend to areas beyond the traditional tariff concessions in order to deepen co-operation and integration, such as removing non-tariff barriers that act as an impediment to trade ties between two countries, he told the forum.

Trade between Sri Lanka and China has been steadily increasing under the trade deal

"If you add Hong Kong to China's overall trade, you can see it has increased very significantly," said Kelegama.

"Together, they become the second largest source of imports to Sri Lanka after India That's the importance of our trade with China and Hong Kong."

The main Sri Lankan exports to China consist of raw coconut coir, apparel, tea, rubber and precious stones, and bicycles and other cycle products.

Sri Lanka's major imports from China are electrical machinery and equipment, boilers and machinery and parts, cotton, iron and steel, fibres and fabrics, fertiliser, railway locomotives and inorganic chemicals.

There has been a rapid increase in railway items and electrical machinery and textiles as well as fabric imports from China in recent years.

Colombo Stock Exchange Performs Better Again

28th September 2009, www.dailynews.lk

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has performed better during the post war period in the All Share Price Index (ASPI) having recorded 93 percent this year compared to a 41 percent decrease last year. Hence, at present, the Sri Lankan Stock Exchange has reached the state of the best performing stock exchange in the world, said Colombo Stock Exchange, Manager, Business Development, Tushara Jayaratne to the Daily News Business.

He said that the Milanka Price Index for 25 selected companies has increased by 100 percent whereas the daily turnover increased from Rs. 484 million and the number of transactions has seen an increase of 5,000 per day.

The total market capitalization has also increased to Rs. 930 billion and the market capitalization on September 17 was Rs. 942.6 billion, the highest recorded at the CSE, he said.

Four CSE branches in Matara, Kandy, Kurunegala and Negombo have been set up to promote investments among the rural community. The contribution from the rural community has increased and 17 percent of the individual turnover of the CSE is from the rural community, he said.

Foreign investors have shown on interest in investing in Sri Lanka and the net purchases of Rs. 682 million of foreign inflow was recorded after the war in Sri Lanka.

Foreign investors have been actively involved in sectors such as Banking, finance and insurance, diversified oil palm, telecommunication, beverage/food, tobacco and manufacturing.

The CSE has organized regular workshops and seminars to promote investments in CSE for investors, potential investors and educated them about the Stock Exchange.

The CSE conducted over 125 seminars this year all over the country. It is not only to educate investors but also students, undergraduates, lecturers and teachers on the CSE.

The lectures are conducted in all three languages and the public will be educated through the print and electronic media with articles published in the Daily News.

Fresh Plans to Promote ‘Sri Lanka Tourism’ at International Level

23rd September 2009, www.news.lk

As a part of its effort to consolidate a strong growth in tourist arrivals from countries like Russia, China, Middle Eastern countries and India, Ministry of Tourism has put up fresh plans to promote Sri Lanka as a grand tourist destination at the internal level.

Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, A.D. George said that the Government will spend Rs. 700 million for this mega promotional campaign.

This giant step will include all types of advertizing and promotional activities aimed at educating the prospectus tourists to chose Sri Lanka as their tourist destination- a country enriched with naturally beautiful and historically important scenes and places, he said.

George also said that the campaign will include wide range of promotional activities including international tourism exhibitions and will extent to providing firsthand experience of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination for the international correspondents and journalist representing media stations in the field of Business and Tourism by inviting them to visit Sri Lanka at the cost of the Government.

“With these types of moves the Ministry expects utilize the service of such professional bodies to promote Sri Lanka at the international tourism market,” he added.

He further said that with the dawning of sustainable peace in the island, there is an immense potential to expand the vistas in the tourism sector which could be a great source of income for the country.

Sri Lanka’s Longest Bridge to Open Shortly

27th September 2009, firstlanka.com

Construction work on Sri Lanka’s longest bridge is now nearing completion. It will be vested in the public soon.

Action on this bridge was initiated to link Trincomalee with Kinniya by building it under the Eastern Resurgence programme at the behest of the President, to overcome difficulties encountered by the people for a long period. It is the longest bridge that is under construction on the A-15 Highway.

Trincomalee is one of the main cities of the Eastern Province. Civilians frequently cross the Kinniya Lagoon to reach Kinniya and Muttur areas. They sought the support of a ferry. Its length is 396 metres and its width 10 metres. 7.4 metres has been allocated for the movement of vehicles while there are two pavements each 1.5 metres wide for the pedestrians.

The total cost of the bridge is 710 million rupees. The Government of Saudi Arabia is assisting. A Chinese Firm is handling the construction work.

Sri Lanka's East Coast Tourist Resort Region Takes Off

26th September 2009, firstlanka.com

In the Trincomalee District, an area of approximately 500 acres have been identified for tourism development projects. The land earmarked for projects borders the beach and is situated in the village of Kuchchaveli, north of the popular Nilaveli beach.

A Conceptual Zoning Plan is currently being prepared for the area by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) with the assistance of the Urban Development Authority (UDA). The resort will be developed according to the SLTDA guidelines.

In addition to the hotels, the resort will include other facilities to supplement the accommodation units and make it a self contained tourist resort. This resort will provide a wide range of land and water based activities.

The private sector has expressed keen interest and enthusiasm in developing Kuchchaveli. According to the applications received to date, 3000 to 5000 rooms would be in operation by 2016.

Jaffna Lagoon in Northern Sri Lanka to be Rehabilitated

26th September 2009, firstlanka.com

The Ministry of Construction & Engineering Services has taken steps to rehabilitate Jaffna Lagoon scheme balance work at Thondamanaru barrage and rehabilitation of Ariyale barrage, kapoothu bund and other 13 earth Bunds.

According to the Ministry sources, steps also have been taken to convert following 3 lagoons into fresh water lakes by constructing barrages and bunds whenever necessary.

(a) Vadamarachchi lagoon with a surface area of 77.5 sq.km which will be fed from its catchments area of 300 sq.km.

(b) Uppuaru lagoon with a surface area of 26.5 sq.km which will be fed from its catchments area of 220 sq.km.

(c)Elephant Pass logoon with a surface area of 77.5 sq.km. which will be fed from its catchments area of 940 sq.km and convey its water to Vadamarachchi lagoon through a 4 km. long link channel.

HERTZ Comes to Sri Lanka

16th September 2009, www.etravelblackboardasia.com

The Hertz Corporation, the world’s largest general use car rental brand, has entered Sri Lanka with a multi-faceted approach to offering car rental within the country. The Company has signed a licensee agreement with Andrew The Car Rental Company Pte Ltd., is working with Discover the World Marketing to handle international car rental reservations, and has joined forces with SriLankan Airlines’ FlySmiLes frequent flyer program.

“Hertz has entered Sri Lanka with a three-pronged approach – we signed a license agreement with Andrew The Car Rental Company which is part of Andrews Travels, one of the oldest tour operators in the country; we appointed Discover the World Marketing Sri Lanka to handle outbound; and we are the exclusive car rental partner in SriLankan Airlines’ FlySmiLes frequent flyer program,” commented WONG Soon Hwa, HERTZ Vice President and General Manager, Asia and Japan “The integrated approach has been engineered to position Hertz to fully maximize the Sri Lankan market’s potential in leisure as well as corporate rentals. Hertz is dedicated to this region and believes that our induction into the TTG Travel Awards Travel Hall of Fame is a testament to our commitment to excellence.”

“Andrews, a pioneer in the Sri Lanka tourism industry, is delighted to be the latest addition to the Hertz global network. As Sri Lanka spears ahead in its nation building on the threshold of a new dawn, we see a new era in tourism. Hertz Sri Lanka will be the first choice brand for vehicle rental in Sri Lanka, delivering the best service and products that Hertz is known for by both corporate and leisure customers”, said Maahen Kariyawasan, Managing Director of Hertz Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is famous for its tropical forests, beaches, landscape and its rich cultural heritage. Economically, it is poised for growth and expansion, after the government successfully rooted out a separatist group earlier this year winning a long civil war.

The Licensee Agreement with Andrew The Car Rental Company Pte Ltd. provides Andrews the right to operate the Hertz brand throughout Sri Lanka. Hertz Sri Lanka will initially be operating from Colombo the capital and gradually expand country-wide; driven by demand.

Self-drive, chauffeur drive and airport transfers on compact and midsize cars are available.

A fleet of brand new Nissan vehicles is offered. Hertz is the only car rental company in Sri Lanka that offers brand new vehicles.

Driver-cum-Guide packages, which incorporate sightseeing opportunities and local area attractions, are available. Chauffeur service is provided by highly experienced, professionally trained English-speaking drivers. Chauffeurs speak fluent English, are equipped with mobile phones and are licensed by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

As the exclusive car rental partner of SriLankan Airlines FlySmiLes frequent flyer program, Hertz offers program members discounted Hertz Affordable Rates when they rent with their FlySmiLes corporate discount number and offers members mileage with each qualified rental at participating locations worldwide. SriLankan Airlines is the national carrier of Sri Lanka.

To celebrate its entry into Sri Lanka, Hertz is offering SriLankan Airlines' FlySmiLes members triple miles for qualifying rentals at participating locations worldwide as well as contributing US$1 to the “Sinha Salsevana” Girls Orphanage for every domestic and international rental.
The Hertz Corporation, a subsidiary of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. , is the world’s largest general use car rental brand, operating from approximately 8,000 locations in 145 countries worldwide. Hertz is the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. and at 42 major airports in Europe, operating both corporate and licensee locations in cities and airports in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, the Company has licensee locations in cities and airports in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Product and service initiatives such as Hertz #1 Club Gold®, NeverLost® customized, onboard navigation systems, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and unique cars and SUVs offered through the company’s Prestige, Fun and Green Collections, set Hertz apart from the competition. In 2008, the Company launched Connect by Hertz, entering the global car sharing market in London, New York City and Paris. Hertz also operates one of the world's largest equipment rental businesses, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, offering a diverse line of equipment, including tools and supplies, as well as new and used equipment for sale, to customers ranging from major industrial companies to local contractors and consumers from approximately 350 branches in the United States, Canada, China, France and Spain.

Controversial Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project in Palk Strait Stops

16th September 2009, www.lbo.lk

Work on the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project in the Palk Strait between Sri Lanka and India has halted again after the last dredger digging the channel was pulled out of service, a media report said.

The project, about which Sri Lanka has expressed reservations, is meant to create a shorter shipping route between India's eastern and western coasts, India's Livemin business newspaper said.

Billed as India’s Suez Canal, the Sethusamudram project is expected to reduce ship journeys between India’s western and eastern coasts by as much as 30 hours or up to 424 nautical miles by creating a channel between the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka.

Ships now take a detour around Sri Lanka in the absence of a continuous navigational channel connecting the coasts, because of Adam’s Bridge, a network of reefs and shifting sandbanks south-east of Rameswaram near Pamban in Tamil Nadu.

Sri Lanka has expressed concern about the project on environmental grounds while shipping industry officials have said it might also help reduce transhipment traffic through Colombo as Indian harbours become more accessible.

The Sethu project involved boring a new shipping lane connecting the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal through the Palk Straits and Palk Bay.

Dredging work in the Adam’s Bridge region, the controversial part of the project, was stopped after India's Supreme Court ordered a halt in September 2007 on the basis of petitions filed against it on religious grounds.

Hindu groups say the project would destroy a rock and sand ridge built by the god Ram, as mentioned in the religious text Ramayana.

Livemint quoted Indian experts as saying stoppage of dredging will undo the work already done as silt will accumulate again.

State-run Dredging Corp. of India Ltd (DCI) removed its dredger—a specialized ship used to deepen the channels of ports and harbours—from the project when its four-year contract with Sethusamudram Corp. Ltd ended on 27 July.

"Nobody knows when the work will start again," the newspaper said.

"We are trying to revive the dredging contract between DCI and Sethusamudram Corp. Ltd," a shipping ministry official said, but he could not give a time frame for reviving the contract.

Meanwhile, dredging continued on the non-controversial Palk Straits area.

22 September 2009

German/Hong Kong Apparel Manufacturing Venture in Sri Lanka to Commence Operations in October 2009

22nd September 2009, www.news.lk

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval J C R Garment Limited to commence operations. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman / Director General signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to the investors.

J C R Garments signed an agreement for a project to manufacture garments for the export market. The project is an investment sponsored by investors from Germany and Hong Kong for an investment of US $ 265,000. The apparel company will be manufacturing shirts and blouses for export markets in Central Europe, Switzerland and Australia. The venture is expected to commence operations in October.

Mr. Johannes Hille, Director of J C R Garments stated that “ Skills Level of the Sri Lankan workforce is of high standards while quality of products manufactured in Sri Lanka is much better compared to products manufactured in other countries in the region”. He also noted the Sri Lanka has a strategic location which enables access to international markets.

Mr. Sarath De Costa, Chairman / Managing Director and Mr. Johannes Hille Director of J C R Garments (Private) Limited signed the agreement on behalf of the company.

Work on the Tallest Twin Tower in Sri Lanka to Commence Shortly

22nd September 2009, www.news.lk

Construction on what will be the tallest twin tower in Sri Lanka will commence shortly. As first step of presenting the concept, design and drawings relating to the proposed structure for the Urban Development Authority a ceremony was held in Colombo.

The project will comprise of a 40 floor commercial complex and a 70 floor Residential Tower at Battaramulla, near the UDA building.

Under the dynamic and progressive leadership of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the challenging face of the Government is represented by this significant measure of creating and redefining in place the Government infrastructures as the proposed commercial complex is being buidt up to house entirely the UDA requirements.

Speaking at the occasion Dr. Y. Kiron Kumar, CEO of Suchirindia said ‘Working in close association with Sri Lanka, its various Government representative bodies and officials has been a pleasure in view of their unending willingness to support and help on all counts.

“We hope to foot print into Colombo, Sri Lanka with this project and hope to extend it further and further into new areas,” Mr. Kumar added.

Suchirindia, a Hyderabad based business group roots in real estate, has ventured into construction of this twin towers in collaboration with NEB Rapid Infrastructure and the Government of Sri Lanka is being developed at a cost of US$ 250 million.

The 1.2 million sq.ft foot structure will be completed in a time span of 30 month and renowned Architects CPG Construction India Pvt. Ltd a subsidiary of the Singapore CPG outfit, have been appointed as the Architects of the Project.

The company is executing the project under the name 'SUCHIR NEB PROJECTS Pvt Ltd.' a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for this purpose along with our partners.

Massive crowds at the Colombo International Book Fair - 2009

22nd eptember 2009, firstlanka.com

Massive crowds throng the Colombo International Book Fair now on at the BMICH,Colombo with over 250,000 having visited the site up to today.

Book Publishers Association Secretary, Upali Wanigasuriya claimed the increase of visitors on this annual event was the interest shown towards reading by the public.”Irrespective age, they flock to the venue”, Wanigasuriya noted.

He said the turn out this year would be more than the previous years considering the number for just two days.

The exhibition will continue till September 27 as the largest book fair in the country on an annual basis.

This is the eleventh consecutive year the fair is being held and had attracted publishers from many countries.

IMF Says Sri Lanka's Economic Revival is Better than Expected

22nd September 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's economic revival is better than originally expected when the International Monetary Fund approved a stand by loan, and tax revenues are improving, a review mission said in Colombo.

The IMF was originally expecting 3.0 percent growth for the island for 2009 but has revised it up to 3.5 percent.

"Things are on the upside, the economy is bottoming out," IMF mission chief Brian Aitken said.

"Export and imports are improving and we have a. cautiously positive outlook."

Sri Lanka has met the key foreign reserve target in the program defined as net international reserves, and a budget target of 7.0 percent remained "ambitious" though revenue is picking up, he said.

Sri Lankan Premier to Address UN General Assembly

22nd eptember 2009, firstlanka.com

Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka who is leading the Sri Lanka delegation to the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, commencing today will address the General Assembly on September 26 regarding the “Strengthening of Multilateralism and Dialogue among Civilizations for International Peace, Security and Development.” He will also meet United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

During his visit he will also address the Asia Society in New York on the theme “Sri Lanka’s Challenges ahead: Post LTTE Scenario and Ensuring Sustainable Peace.” The Prime Minister will participate at the High Level Event on Climate Change and the 4th Summit of the Heads of States/Governments of the Group of 15 (G 15) where Sri Lanka assumes the Chair.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama will lead the Sri Lanka delegation to the Commonwealth Meetings of the Foreign Ministers, and on Terrorism, and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). He will also participate in the interactive Ministerial Meeting on Combating Violence Against Girls, Ministerial Meetings of the SAARC, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Group of 77 (G 77) and the Group of 11.

Minister Bogollagama is also scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings with his South Asian counterparts from Bhutan, India and the Maldives, and also from South Africa, Fiji, Denmark, Jordan, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Chile, Austria, Oman, UK, France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Cuba and Spain.

He will also meet High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javiar Solana, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma.

In Minister Bogollagama’s interactions with the United Nations, he is scheduled to meet with the Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Sir John Holmes, Under Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy and the Executive Director General of the UNICEF Ann Veneman.

Iran Extends Credit Facility for Oil to Sri Lanka by Another Year

21st September 2009, www.news.lk

The Iranian Government has extended by another year the four month interest free credit facility to Sri Lanka originally granted following President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Iran in November 2007.

Consequent to talks with Iranian President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Government granted the facility beginning January 2008 and ending on August 31, 2009.

In 2008 alone, Sri Lanka imported crude oil under this facility to the tune of US$ 1.05 billion (Rs.110,550 million) nearly all of its requirements, helping release the pressure on the island’s foreign exchange requirements in a year of significance for the Government’s war with the LTTE. Treasury circles have acknowledged this as a substantial rolling facility that helped ward off any financial crisis, last year.

An additional three month credit package at a concessionary rate of interest was also accommodated in Sri Lanka’s favour if the country needed further time. Further to the discussions, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Iran M.M. Zuhair had with the Iranian authorities on the instructions of President Rajapaksa, the National Iranian Oil Co. under the oil Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran has extended by another year the special facility on the same terms as earlier.

Finance Ministry Secretary Sumith Abeysinghe, and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Major General A.B. Thoradeniya coordinated with Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Tehran. Meanwhile, former Iranian Commerce Minister Mir Kazemi, has been appointed as the new Petroleum Minister.

Mir Kazemi was the Minister in attendance when President Rajapaksa visited Iran. He also accompanied President Ahmadinejad, when the latter visited Sri Lanka in May 2008 on the invitation of President Rajapaksa and inaugurated the Uma Oya Hydro Power and Irrigation Project - the US$ 450 Million project, 85 percent of which is funded by Iran.

During that visit, President Ahmadinejad formally inaugurated the US$1.47 billion Sapugaskanda Refinery Expansion and modernization Project, 70 percent of which has been committed to be financed by Iran.

Thinnaveli Agriculture Research School, Jaffna to be Upgraded

21st September 2009, www.dailynews.lk, By Lakshmi de Silva

Thinnaveli Agriculture Research School, Jaffna, Sri lanka, is to be rebuilt and upgraded to a high level with Indian agriculture expertise and exchanging bio-technology and the other modern agricultural methods with assistance from Tamil Nadu experts, Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara said at his Ministry yesterday when he met visiting Indian agriculture experts.

India has done a lot of research in agriculture and it was beneficial for both countries to share the expertise and especially to help our people in the North and East who had suffered during the past 32 years. Farm mechanics, appropriate technology, soil management, bio technology and other agricultural know-how in Tamil Nadu should come to Sri Lanka, the Minister said.

The Indian delegation including Vice Chancellor University of Agricultural Science Banglore Dr. P.G. Chengappa, Vice Chancellor Tamil Nadu University Dr. P. Murugesa Boopathi, Representative from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute Dr. K. Vijayaragavan and Indian High Commission First Secretary B. Shyam said they were willing to help the agriculture development with IDPs in the North and East and to start their livelihood in agriculture sector by providing seeds and assistance after assessing the situation.

First Secretary Indian High Commission B.Shyam said India was assisting in the revival of agriculture in the North and East so that the people of those areas could benefit by it.

Minister Nanayakkara said in the 2000 home garden projects under the food production drive in Sri Lanka the best home gardens were those cultivated by women.

Profits through investments in Sri Lanka will be three fold - Singaporean investor, Managing Director of Bloomberg, Roman Scot

20th September 2009, firstlanka.com

Profits through investments in Sri Lanka will be three fold. There is no dispute in the island’. This confident claim has been made by Singaporean investor, Managing Director of Bloomberg, Roman Scot during an interview with a TV Channel in Singapore.

In response to a query as to why he was encouraged to investing in Sri Lanka, he said the country’s GDP stood at 6.6 percent despite a war environment. He hope that it would reach nine percent with the return of total peace to the country. As such, anyone can increase earnings three fold through investments in the island, Scot opined.

Questioned on the canards carried out by pro-terrorist supporters overseas on Sri Lanka,Scot in response said any person visiting Sri Lanka will be able to understand the reality. ‘Everyone should work according to their conscience’,Scot shot back in conviction.

‘There are no problems in Sri Lanka. Companies in the island face a dearth in the capital. And, he emphasised that if they invest in those companies, they could increase their earnings two to three fold. No one in Sri Lanka wants another war. Even the Tamils in the country wished to lead better lives, having a vehicle and a property and house of their own. They do not encounter other problems’ Scot noted clearing all doubts.

France to Fund a Saline Production Plant in Sri Lanka

20th September 2009, firstlanka.com

A saline production plant is to be established in Sri Lanka with the objective of fulfilling the local requirements. France will extend financial aid amounting to 6.4 million euros.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning said the proposed plant will help to save around 2.5 million US dollars, spent annually to import saline. The government of France has also agreed to provide concessionary credit of 9.5 million euros for an oxygen concentrator project. This will enhance the current capacity of the production of oxygen.

Jaffna Grapes Reaching the Colombo Market, Sri Lanka

19th September 2009, firstlanka.com

The cultivation of grapes is taking place in the North at a major scale under the “Uthuru Wasanthaya” Task Force with the supervision of Senior Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa and the guidance of the President to boost the cultivator. The yields are not only released to markets in the North but also to the South.

Grapes were destroyed during the LTTE era as the cultivators could not sell their produce. With the opening of A-9 road, a prosperous era has dawned to the farmers.

The land in the Jaffna Peninsula is fertile for the cultivation of grapes while the climate is also suitable for this exercise. Cultivators as well as traders experienced many difficulties in the past due to LTTE threats. As a result, many gave up the cultivation.

However, the farmers have now taken to the cultivation of grapes on a major scale.

Grapes stocks are also reaching the Colombo Market. A kilo of grapes in the Jaffna market fetches 200 rupees.

TAFE South Australia (TAFESA) to Offer Training Courses in Sri Lanka

19th September 2009, firstlanka.com

Internationally recognized post secondary (High School) education system known as the ‘TAFE system’ which comprises job oriented training courses for youth conducted by the TAFE South Australia (TAFESA) will offer several training courses for Sri Lankans in collaboration with the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training.

Accordingly demand driven courses in Hairdressing, Bakery, Commercial Cookery, Management and Construction, Healthcare and Nursing, Construction Industry related disciplines are introduced here in Sri Lanka through the recent affiliation between the TAFESA and TAFESL established under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP).

Courses will be offered that range from Certificate to Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels. TAFESA is a part of the ‘vocational education and training’ network, which ensures that learners are able to gain the skills required by employers.

The programs combine on and off the job elements to ensure the workplace relevancy of the qualifications in maintained. This combination of practical knowledge and skills give TAFE graduates the distinct advantage which helps them to gain employment in the competitive global marketplace.

Sri Lanka Hires HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and Royal Bank of Scotland to Sell $500 Million Bonds

18th September 2009, www.bloomberg.com, By Anusha Ondaatjie

Sri Lanka, which is rebuilding its economy after the end of a 26-year civil war, hired HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc to sell $500 million of bonds overseas, the South Asian island’s first in two years.

The selection was made from among seven banks that submitted proposals to manage the sale planned for October, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said in an e-mailed statement today. The government is seeking to raise funds to build roads, schools and hospitals on the eastern and northern parts of the island.

Bank of Ceylon was appointed as a co-manager to work with the three joint lead managers for the sale, the statement said.

The end of almost three decades of civil war in May and a $2.6 billion loan from the International
Monetary Fund helped restore investor confidence and attracted foreign flows, the central bank said July 23. Standard & Poor’s raised its outlook on the island’s credit rating on Aug. 25 to stable from negative, citing improved foreign-exchange reserves.

HSBC, JPMorgan and Barclays Capital arranged Sri Lanka’s debut $500 million global bond sale in October 2007. Investors placed orders for more than three times the amount on offer. The five-year notes due October 2012 were priced to yield 8.25 percent, or 397.2 basis points higher than U.S. treasuries of similar maturity.

Sri Lanka’s foreign currency debt is rated B by Standard & Poor’s, five levels below investment grade, and B+ by Fitch Ratings, the fourth best junk rating. Reserves rose to a record $3.9 billion, aided by IMF funds and foreign buying of rupee- denominated debt, the central bank said on Aug. 28.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anusha Ondaatjie in Colombo at anushao@bloomberg.net.

Colombo Stock Exchange - Sri Lanka Shares Becalmed, Profit Taking Seen

18th September 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lankan stocks ended flat Friday with trading heavy but volatile and some profit taking seen and investors buying blue chips in anticipation of future foreign buying, brokers said.

The All Share Price Index fell 0.16 percent (4.61 points) to end at 2,939.44 while the more liquid
Milanka rose 0.11 percent (3.46 points) to close at 3,293.48, according to provisional stock exchange figures.

Turnover was almost 1.2 billion rupees.

"We saw some volatility in the market and some profit taking also came in but investor participation remained at higher levels like during the previous four days," said Chinthana Hatangala of Lanka Securities.

Conglomerate John Keells Holdings was the highest contributor to the day's turnover with 448.58 million rupees followed by Hemas Holdings with 121.03 million rupees.

JKH closed at 155, up 50 cents while Hemas ended at 130, up 1.50 with several crossings or off-the-floor deals in both stocks.

"During the day we saw higher interest on blue chip, especially the index heayweights," said Hatangala.

"Maybe this was because of expectations of more foreing funds and institutional investor participation in the market in the coming weeks. They try to buy blue chips which have more liquidity as most shares have a small free float."

Central Bank cuts in policy rates and further falls in government treasury bill rates also helped improve interest in equities, Hatangala said.

There was heavy trading in banks and hotels throughtout the week during which foreign participation amounted to 27 percent.

The week ended with a foreign inflow of funds there being net foreign purchases worth 386.86 million rupees, although some selling was also seen.

17 September 2009

Sri Lanka to Build a $500 Million Coal Power Plant in the East with India's NTPC

16th September 2009, www.colombopage.com

Sri Lanka is planning to sign a commercial and power-purchasing agreement with India's National Thermal Power Corporation to build a $500 million coal power plant in the East.

The Power and Energy Ministry announced on Wednesday that it will sign the agreement next week to build the 1,000 MW, coal power plant in Trincomalee.

"We are going to sign the commercial and power-purchasing agreements next week with India's National Thermal Power Corporation," Reuters news agency quoted Power and Energy Minister, John Senaviratne.

According to the Ministry the project is to be carried out in two phases and the first is expected to be completed by 2012.

"Initially both parties will invest $75 million each and later $350 million will be invested by both parties," a Ministry statement said without elaborating the terms and conditions of the funding arrangement.

India and Sri Lanka to Sign a New Economic Agreement

17th September 2009, firstlanka.com

India and Sri Lanka are expected to sign a new economic agreement next year covering both goods and services, Minister of Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake said.
He pointed out that, discussions are expected to iron out differences, paving the way for the signing of an expanded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement before 2011.

Bilateral trade volume between the countries went up 3.2 billion US dollars last year, he added.

Sri Lanka and India have close trade and bilateral over decades.

New Machines Accelerate Demining in the North of Sri Lanka

17th September 2009, firstlanka.com

The demining process in the North has been accelerated with the addition of new machines imported recently.

The LTTE has buries thousands of mines in civilian settlement areas before the terror outfit was wiped out by the security forces.
The resettlement of the displaced was hindered from time to time due to minefields in civilians areas.

The government, despite all obstacles has moved speedily to demine areas to resettle the displaced.

The security forces work round the clock to accelerate the process for early resettlement of the displaced.

Hambantota Port to Attract Ship Plying to Singapore and Dubai

16th September 2009, firstlanka.com

The proposed Hambantota Port already set in motion would be a major source towards uplifting the national economy, to financial analysts claimed.

The port after completion is expected to attract new traffic that would add more to the national volume. It is designed ships plying to Singapore and Dubai would pass through Hambantota, a source that would bring additional foreign exchange to the national coffers.

For such traffic, the Hambantota port could provide bunkering services and other maritime services.

The first phase of the Hambantota port is expected to be completed four months ahead of the schedule.The cost is Us dollars 360 million.

Hambantota Port (Harbour) on Google Maps

UK Further Relaxes Travel Advisory to Sri Lanka

16th September 2009, www.news.lk

The United Kingdom yesterday (15) updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka reflecting on their latest assessment towards the country and its current situation.

Issuing a statement the British Acting High Commissioner, Mark Gooding said that the UK Government has further relaxed of its travel advice to Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner said that this latest change reflects the latest available information and is intended to help UK nationals make informed decisions on whether to travel to Sri Lanka.

“We continue to recommend strongly that UK nationals who are resident, working, or visiting Sri Lanka for over a month also register with the British High Commission, Colombo,” the statement added.

Sri Lanka’s ‘Queen of Melody’ to Launch Two CDs

16th September 2009, firstlanka.com

Sri Lanka’s ‘Queen of Melody’ who leads the oriental and classical type of music with her ringing voice, Visharada Nanda Malani will launch two CDs on September 19 to coincide with the International Book Fair launch at the BMICH, Colombo.

The two CDs are titled- ‘Dedunu Paya’ and -’Mahagiri Arane’ which comprise popular and award winning film songs of this renowned songstress.

These two albums will contain 32 unforgettable hits of this ever green singer which have not yet come out in CD form.

Renowned music directors like the late Premasiri Khemadasa, WD Amaradeva,Shelton Premaratne and Rohana Weerasinghe have composed melodies and music to these ever popular hits.

The CDs have been produced to high quality under award winning Sound Engineer, Dayananda Perera.

Sep 27 - World Tourism Day

16th September 2009, www.news.lk

World Tourism Day (WTD) is celebrated on September 27 annually in worldwide. This year will mark the 30th Anniversary of the UNWTO World Tourism Day and UNWTO has declared this year’s theme as “Tourism Celebrating Diversity”.

The Government has declared a Tourism Week to mark “World Tourism Day” which falls on September 27. The Tourism Week will begin on the 27th of this month and will continue until October 3. The aim is to achieve an environment friendly tourism growth. The Ministry of Tourism is keen to give vigor to the industry to usher economic prosperity.

In this context, Sri Lanka Tourism is planning to organize several programmes to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day in Island wide with the cooperation of provincial tourism authorities.

The main ceremony will be held in the Mount Lavinia Beach. In addition to that, 2009 WTD celebrations would include a cleaning and tree planting campaign in the Marine Drive.

London Stock Exchange to Buy Sri Lankan Technology Services Company Millennium IT to Gain New Trading System

16th September 2009, www.bloomberg.com

London Stock Exchange Group Plc, Europe’s largest bourse by value of listed companies, agreed to buy Sri Lankan technology services company MillenniumIT for $30 million in cash and stock to gain access to its trading systems.

The London-based exchange expects to complete the acquisition by October and to start moving customers to the new trading system from its TradElect platform by the end of next year, LSE said in a Regulatory News Service statement today.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. estimates the LSE could save “almost 70 million pounds ($115 million) in costs, largely as a result of staff cuts, replacing the TradElect system and migrating MTS trading onto the new platform,” Dirk Hoffmann-Becking, a London-based analyst, wrote in a Sept. 14 report.

Traditional exchanges including LSE, Frankfurt-based Deutsche Boerse AG, and NYSE Euronext are moving to new trading systems to cut trading times and costs as a host of new rivals, so-called multilateral trading facilities including Turquoise and Chi-X Europe Ltd., take market share.

“This transaction enables the group to implement a new, more agile, innovative and efficient IT capability for our future business development as well as running a new cash trading platform which will provide substantially lower latency, significantly higher capacity and improved scalability,” LSE Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet said in the statement. “It will also offer cost saving opportunities in the future and give the group a footprint in Asia.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Rummer in London at arummer@bloomberg.net.

Sri Lanka’s First International Construction Trade Fair from October 30

15th September 2009, firstlanka.com

The Chamber of Construction Industry will hold the Sri Lanka’s First International Construction Trade Fair titled – “Excon 2009″ from October 30 to November 01 at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre in Colombo.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Sri Lankan Missions abroad has provided a wide publicity for the event to attract overseas markets. “Excon 2009″ is an event of National importance.

Excon 2009 is expected to attract a massive participation of Indian Companies as trade stall holders, in addition to a few enterprises from Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. This will facilitate the transfer of technology to the local industry. The exhibition could lead to mutually beneficial joint ventures and other partnering arrangements.

Excon 2009 will also enjoy the presence of “Kedella – Art of Living”, the premier interiors exhibition which will have the participation of 50 or more trade stall holders. Industrial Development Authority of the Western Province will also present “Karmantha Navodaya” as a concurrent event of Excon 2009 which will feature around 100 industrialists from the SME Sector.

5,000 French Tourists to Visit Sri Lanka

13th September 2009, firstlanka.com

A French company has informed Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris that 5000 tourists will arrive in Sri Lanka within the next three months. In addition,several leading French firms have expressed their willingness to invest in Sri Lanka with the peaceful situation prevailing in the island.

Authorities of these firms who met the Minister in the French Commercial City of Lyon expressed their desire to go ahead with investments in Sri Lanka and expand their trade. One of these firms is making arrangements to bring 5,000 French tourists to Sri Lanka from October to January.

Minister G.L. Peiris, during an interview with our French correspondent Jagath Wickramaarachchi said more companies were mulling over in making investments in the health, power and constructions sectors.

The Minister said several leading companies which were hitherto not interested in Sri Lanka have displayed their interest. It is due to the peaceful conditions in the South asian island nation, they have said.