26 February 2010

World's Mobile Workers to Reach 1billion in 2010

21st February 2010, www.nation.lk

The world’s mobile worker population will pass the 1 billion mark this year and grow to nearly 1.2 billion people, forming a third of the world’s workforce, by 2013, according to a forecast by IDC.

The most significant gains will be in the emerging economies of Asia/Pacific, where economic recovery and new interest in unified communications will drive growth in all aspects of mobility spending, IDC said.

The US has the highest percentage of mobile workers in its workforce, with 72.2 percent of the workforce mobile in 2008. It will remain the most highly concentrated market for mobile workers with 75.5 percent of the workforce, or 119.7 million workers, being mobile in 2013. Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan, represents the largest total number of mobile workers throughout the forecast, with 546.4 million mobile workers in 2008 growing to 734.5 million or 37.4 percent of the total workforce in 2013.

At the end of the forecast, 62 percent of the world’s mobile workforce is expected to be based in this region. Western Europe’s mobile workforce will enjoy a CAGR of 6 percent over the forecast period to reach 129.5 million mobile workers, 50.3 percent of the workforce, in 2013, surpassing the total number of mobile workers in the US. Japan’s mobile worker population will total 49.3 million in 2013, representing 74.5 percent of its total workforce.

This is essentially the sustainable limit of Japan’s mobile worker penetration, IDC said. The rest of the world, which comprised Canada and the emerging market countries in central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America, will see its mobile worker population grow to 153.2 million by 2013. In APeJ, the low penetration of mobile workers in the total workforce, which is at13.5 percent, signals significant growth potential in these markets.

Mobile worker refers to someone whose job involves working in different places. Research by IDC divides mobile workers into three categories, namely office-based, non-office-based and home- based mobile workers.Home-based mobile workers include telecommuters, or corporate employees who work at home during normal business hours. (Courtesy Telecom Paper)

SriLankan Airlines on Image Revamp Process to Give Passengers a Richer Taste of the Paradise Island

21st February 2010, www.nation.lk, By Azhar Razak

Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has embarked on a total image revamp process to give passengers a richer taste of the paradise island while signalling a new journey to the carrier, the airline announced last week. The airline has introduced a whole new experience on ground and in the air that promises passengers a total “Change in the way you fly”.

“We are changing in a multi-dimensional manner whether it is the uniforms or the in-house hospitality, our change will be genuine,” SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Manoj Gunawardena said last week announcing the launch.

Beginning the journey with its iconic logo, the monara or the peacock, the airline’s frontline staff from cabin to ground crew is to sport a brand new look and a warmer smile although the charm, elegance and grace of the peacock is to be preserved while undergoing the transformation, officials said.

“The iconic Kandyan Saree uniform still retains its oriental charm, but yet will have a distinctive modern appeal and contemporary look,” Gunawardena said. The new colour palette plays with the soft hues of sea blue splashed with multi-hued motifs of the peacock feather with its shimmering iridescent bursts of electric orange mottled with dark, light blue and white.

“The ground and in flight staff will offer a vastly improved level of service, decked in their new uniforms. The airline’s onboard kitchen has turned an entirely new chapter in their in flight meal service and offers its passengers a tempting array of signature dishes and cocktails never served on board before,” Gunawardena said. He said that passengers will also have the added choice of ordering from a new A la carte menu and having their meals literally cooked on board.

“Trimmings and trappings on board like the seat covers will also change to give a completely new look while we have added a new list to the duty-free products sold onboard,” he said. He said that the airline had recently hired the renowned airline rating organisation, Skytrax to conduct a full audit of the customer experience.
“The audit is in progress and will run for several months as the Skytrax team travels on board Sri Lankan flights in all regions and evaluates every aspect of customer service and our product. I’m proud to say that refurbishment and re-fleeting are on the cards in the near future, and these will reflect in our aim to achieve a five-star status in the quality of our service”, he said.

He said that it was a public fact that the industry had struggled to survive in the last two years.

“However, the time is now right to dispel this notion and bring the customer into focus,” he added.

The government of Sri Lanka has a majority 51 percent stake of SriLankan Airlines while Emirates Airline holds a stake of around 43.6 percent. The airlines serves 44 destinations in 29 countries in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East and has connections that link Europe and the Middle East on one side with Southeast Asia and the Far East on the other.

Sri Lankan Shares Gain Marginally Led by Local Buying

25th February 2010, www.sundaytimes.lk

Sri Lankan shares closed marginally firmer on Thursday as a result of local buying mostly on post-war economic optimism and profit taking, but foreign investors resorted to selling rather than buying , ahead of April polls,analysts said.

"There were retail and institutional buying as investors had no option, under the present economic and political situation, a stock broker said. Foreigners were net sellers in most of the trading sessions so far this year he added.

The All Share Price Index closed at 3,782.25, up by 6.74 points, while the Milanka index of more liquid shares gained 15.29 points to close at 4,347.27. Turnover was Rs. 856 million , and the share volume was 24.4 million according to stock exchange provisional figures.

NDB has made the highest contribution to the turnover with Rs. 113 million. It closed flat at Rs.220.00 , a stock broker said . Walker&Greg closed at Rs. 247.50 , up by Rs.14.75 contributing the second highest amount of Rs.73.4 million to the turnover . 462, 100 NDB shares crossed off the board at Rs.220.00 he said.

Sri Lanka Etisalat unit says to expand 'aggressively'

25th February 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Etisalat's new Sri Lankan mobile subsidiary said it plans to expand coverage to cover the entire island, offer high speed links and use its international group network to give preferential rates to win customers.

"We're here to stay in Sri Lanka," Etisalat group chief marketing officer Essa Al Haddad told a news conference held to announce the launch of services under the new brand.

"As investors and telecom service providers we're here for the long term."

Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates-based telecom firm, acquired 100 percent of the Sri Lanka operation called Tigo from Millicom International in October 2009 and has renamed it Etisalat Lanka.

The celco is the third-largest mobile telephony operator in Sri Lanka with 2.5 million customers and an estimated market share of around 20 percent.

Etisalat Lanka chief executive Dumindra Ratnayaka said the company will set up more base stations to expand coverage throughout the island, including the north and east which are recovering from a war.

The island's 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009, resulting in an economic revival.

Etisalat Lanka has already have set up eight base stations in the north and will launch operations in the northern Jaffna peninsula on Friday, Ratnayaka told the news conference.

"We will aggressively start rolling out our base stations from March," he said.

"We will roll out 450 2G base stations, mostly in the north and east, to fill any gaps we have, increasing the number of stations to 1,500 in the next six months."

Of the new 2G base stations, 100 will be in the north and east.

The firm will also set up 500 3G base stations offering higher speeds over the same period.

Ratnayaka said the company will also promote its international roaming services making use of the group network which has 100 million subscribers in 18 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

"Our group presence helps us to give preferential rates, packages and services," Ratnayaka said.

"When roaming within the group network we will offer preferential rates, which will vary from network to network; for instances in some networks incoming calls will be free."

Etisalat Lanka also intends to capture market share by exploiting the presence of Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Middle East.

"The UAE is host to many communities and nationalities including Sri Lankans who have a lot of connections with Sri Lanka," group chief marketing officer Essa Al Haddad said.

He also said Etisalat's ownership of the company will enable it to benefit from economies of scale. "We can provide scale - such as in accessing technical resources and in buying equipment."

Sri Lanka to Gain from Silicon Valley Technologies

26th February 2010, www.island.lk, By Mario Andree

The import of technologies from Silicon Valley will empower businesses, helping entrepreneurs to raise revenues and boost profits, said Latitude 655 chief execrative officer Shanil Fernando.

It will also assist Sri Lanka to gain a fair global market share in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), he added.

He was speaking at the launch of Latitude 655, a new company.

Silicon Valley has remained the leading high-tech hub for the past several years with a large number of entrepreneurs investing in the IT engineering fields.

However, Sri Lankan companies have so far been unable to gain major benefits from these latest technologies, innovations and insights, Fernando pointed out.

There are around one million online users in Sri Lanka at present and the growth rate has been phenomenal over the years. Most of the technology and services used overseas are not available in Sri Lanka, a vibrant market,

"Sri Lanka is at the early stages of an economic boom, and our analysis in the past three years has shown that the economic boom will be followed by a technology boom," he said.

The CEO also said that Latitude 655 had assembled a world-class team to form this partnership. "Our partners are veterans in the global IT industry and have been instrumental in luring high potential talent from local as well as foreign companies and universities."

Gampaha, Sri Lanka to be an Aviation & Knowledge Hub - Basil Rajapaksa

25th February 2010, www.news.lk

Senior Presidential Advisor, former Parliamentarian and UPFA Gampaha District Group Leader Basil Rajapakse said the Gampaha District will be converted into an Asian aviation services hub and a knowledge hub. He made these comments at several meetings yesterday with intellectuals from the Gampaha District.

He pointed out that the ‘Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma’ manifesto targets to transform Sri Lanka into an aviation, naval, trade, energy and knowledge hub.

Sri Lanka participates at the inaugural AFIE

25th February 2010, www.news.lk

Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Channa De Silva in a press release says that their Chairman Mr.Udayasiri Kariyawasam was invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the Asia Forum for Investor Education (AFIE) which was held on 3rd and 4th February 2010 in Seoul, Korea.

Mr. Kariyawasam had attended this inaugural meeting and made a presentation on the “Current Status and Challenges of Investor Education in Sri Lanka”. This forum was hosted by the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA) and the Korea Council for Investor Education (KCIE). The AFIE is the Asia-Pacific regional body for the International Forum for Investor Education (IFIE).

The primary objective of the AFIE is to facilitate investor education and information exchange, ultimately contributing to the development of capital markets in the Asia-Pacific region. The AFIE will provide a platform for investor education experts in the region to work together and explore more effective strategies in their efforts to promote investor education.

Sri Lanka Tea Output to Rise as Rain Eases Dry Weather

22nd February 2010, www.bloomberg.com, By Anusha Ondaatjie

Tea production in Sri Lanka, the world’s fourth-biggest grower, may increase this year as rain in the main growing areas eases dry conditions that damaged the crop last season, according to the nation’s tea board.

Output may exceed 300 million kilograms, compared with 290 million kilograms in 2009, said Lalith Hettiarachchi, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, in a phone interview today. Warm weather and a wage dispute reduced the previous crop.

A global tea shortage may widen this year and extend into 2011 as a rebound in production in Africa, Sri Lanka and India trails demand growth, McLeod Russel India Ltd., the biggest tea grower, said last month, predicting the deficit may be as much as 130 million kilograms by April.

“The rise in production is not significant to bridge the global deficit,” said Hettiarachchi. “The biggest suppliers like China and India are increasing local consumption so the exportable surplus is getting reduced.”

Shipments from India, the largest grower, dropped to 191.49 million kilograms last year from 203.1 million kilograms in 2008, after the driest monsoon in almost four decades damaged crops of tea, sugar cane and rice, according the country’s tea board.

“The weather has been conducive and we should reach at least 300 million kilograms provided there is no labor unrest over any unscheduled wage hike this year,” Hettiarachchi said.

Average prices at the Colombo tea auctions reached a record 405.77 rupees ($4) a kilogram in the third quarter of last year. In January, 26.4 million kilograms sold for as much as 440.41 rupees a kilogram, the board said on its Web site.

‘Buoyant Demand’

“Prices should hold through this year or go beyond,” said Hettiarachchi, helped by “buoyant” demand from Russia and the Middle East, Sri Lanka’s traditional markets.

Still, Sri Lanka, the third-biggest supplier of black tea, may earn $1.2 billion from exports this year, little changed from 2009, according to the board. Tea is the country’s second- highest export earner after apparels.

“Although prices compensate, Sri Lanka’s export growth is limited by our production levels,” Hettiarachchi said.

Production last month was 26.9 million kilograms, compared with 17.9 million kilograms a year earlier, the board said.

The board is in talks with plantation companies to increase re-planting programs and grow more high-yielding variety.

“With the production costs high, companies aren’t willing to inject more capital into the business,” Hettiarachchi said.

Labor makes up about 60 percent of total costs, more than double than in other tea-growing countries such as Vietnam, he said. Productivity, gauged by the kilograms plucked per person in an eight-hour period, is less than half of India’s “in a similar terrain,” he said.

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

Sri You Around - Daily Candy Goes to Sri Lanka

13th January 2010, www.dailycandy.com

The civil war is mostly over, and Sri Lanka is now stable and safe — and as beautiful, tropical, and friendly as ever. The conflict was primarily in the north, and our itinerary will have you roaming the south for adventure (elephant safaris), history (colonial fort towns, old Buddhist temples), rain forests (and mountains and tea plantations), and gorgeous beaches. It’s pretty much the best place we’ve ever been.

i'll take a king coconut to go!GPS
The island is far from everywhere, so you’ll want to stay about ten days. Jet Airways flies from the U.S. to India and connects to Colombo. (And why don’t all airlines serve curry?) For the best weather and the calmest seas, go between December and April. August and September fall between the monsoon seasons, but our October rainstorms lasted only a few minutes (and made for great photos). Small roads means it takes a while to get around, but the passing scenery is entertaining and captivating: water buffalo in rice paddies, men biking in plaid sarongs, palm trees as small as you and as tall as buildings. When you get thirsty, stop at a grubby lean-to along the road and get the guy to machete open a king coconut. Everyone says it’s the best hangover cure. (Check out our Sri Lanka photo gallery.)

walla walla!Kandy Whirls
To decompress from the flights, spend a night near the airport at The Wallawwa. Otherwise, head inland to the Kandy District and The KandyHouse, the eight-room hotel that was once the 1800s home of a ruling family, to spend a few days visiting the too-cute Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, the bird-rich Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, and the brilliantly named Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

tea thrills!Tea for Two
Next stop, the mountains of tea country. Until 2004, Sri Lanka was the world’s biggest tea exporter (cuppa Ceylon, indeed), and touring a plantation is really interesting and beautiful. Rest your head at Dilmah’s Tea Trails, a hotel of four colonial bungalows that used to house estate managers. Castlereagh has the best views; Tientsin has the most beautiful gardens.

mulgirigala statues!You’re Wella-come
Now you can go to the beach. The swank Amanwella compound consists of bungalows scattered across a coconut grove outside Tangalle. The service is Amanawesome, but prices are more affordable than Aman’s usual rates (a rare civil war perk). Force yourself away from the blissful beach to visit Udawalawe National Park. You’ll see monkeys and peacocks, but elephants are the main event. Please tip your guides well: They’re all volunteers. Also great is the ancient Mulgirigala Buddhist temple complex. Brave the ascent up the mountain and you’ll be rewarded with insane views and a blessing from one of the monks in residence on the way down. Farther west around Weligama Bay, Mirissa Hills is a gorgeous art-filled home in the hills on a working cinnamon estate.

taprobane!The Tap of the World
Sri Lanka is incredibly chic, very India meets Vietnam. (You’ll hear architect Geoffrey Bawa’s name a lot.) But the most breathtaking place to stay is Taprobane, a five-bedroom house on a tiny private island just off the coast. There’s no ferry: You wade through the Indian Ocean, carrying your clothes above your head (yes, really). The mythology speaks for itself: Founded by a descendant of a Napoleonic general, it used to be the residence of Paul Bowles, as well as fashion icon Isabella Blow. Now it’s part of the chic hotel chainlet Taprobane Collection, which also includes The Sun House and The Dutch House in Galle. If you don’t stay at the hotels, at least go for dinner and be on the lookout for Henri Tatham, the fabulous manager.

good galla!Good Galle
Walled fort town Galle was colonized by Arab traders, then the Portuguese, then the Dutch — and all left their mark. Amangalla may be the ultimate colonial fantasy, you’ll note, as you sip arrack sours on a rattan lounge chair at sunset, in recovery from the Ayurvedic consult and baths treatment at the exquisite spa. If the delicious hoppers at breakfast get you in the culinary mood, take a cooking lesson (click here for an easy curry recipe). And spend time with Olivia Richli, the kind and gorgeous general manager (who helped us plan this amazing itinerary), and ask for stories about Nesta Brohier, the grand dame who used to live in the hotel (with her much younger lover), and about taking in hundreds of locals left homeless by the tsunami. Richli can also help arrange a tour of Handunugoda Tea Estate, where you can watch glove-clad women clip white tea leaf by leaf with small scissors and learn how it is harvested, dried, and aged. Handunugoda brews make great souvenirs, as do bottles of arrack, but for something longer lasting, pick up handwoven napkins and coconut shell serving spoons at Barefoot. Galle Fort Hotel is a more budget option, but the perks at Amangalla are worth the splurge.

Really, there’s only one downside to Sri Lanka: Eventually, you have to leave.

Take the hard part out of it: Book your trip with DailyCandy’s Travel Desk at blacktomato.co.uk. Want more eye candy? Breeze through our Sri Lanka photo gallery.

Photos: Courtesy of The Wallawwa; Courtesy of Tea Trails; Courtesy of Amangalla.

13 February 2010

Sri Lankan Economy to Boom. Growth Shows Self-Sustainability, Non-Dependence on Policy

13th February 2010, www.island.lk, By Devan Daniel

With the war over and Asia leading the world out of the global recession, an economist says Sri Lanka is charged up and raring to go, showing signs of being self-sustainable with little dependence on policy initiatives but the fiscal situation remains under a dark cloud.

"Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2010 and there are signs that this growth is self-sustaining and with little dependence on policy," HSBC Asia Pacific Senior Economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde said in a recent visit to the island nation.

However, ADB Sri Lanka Country Director Dr. Richard Vokes that stable macro and micro level policies are a prerequisite for sustainable economic growth.

Since the war ended there is an estimated 30 percent increase in arable land, access to new markets in the once war-torn region of the North and East with 2.8 million people, FDIs and remittances are expected to boom along with the agriculture and tourism industries. All these factors are expected to affect economic growth along with the reallocation of public resources previously tied up with the war effort.

Wandesforde said policy interest rates were the lowest in five years with the prime lending rates of commercial banks down 7 percent during 2009. Large scale infrastructure developments amounting to 12.5 of GDP and US$ 2.6 billion IMF standby facility are some of the policy measures contributing to economic growth.

Earlier this year, the Governor of the Central Bank too highlighted Sri Lanka’s solid economic performance in 2009, estimated to grow by 3.5 percent despite fighting the last stages of a 30-year-old war and the global economic crisis, which led to an environment of low inflation and low interest rates. But the governor warned all this could be risked if the government does not improve its fiscal discipline.

Wandesforde said the IMF target for Sri Lanka’s budget deficit as a percentage of GDP would be missed.

The target for 2009 is 7 percent but Wandesforde said estimates point to deficit of 7.5 percent.

However, the IMF has already said it would allow the target to be exceeded on account of development and emergency spending on account of the IDPs.

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals Rise in January by 31-pct

12th February 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

The number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka rose sharply in January with a recovery in traditional Western European markets and more visitors from newer south Asian markets after the end of the war.

Latest data from the government tourism authority showed arrivals rose 31.9 percent to 50,757 in January 2010, albeit from a low base the year before.

“We were at the height of the war in January 2009,” said Dileep Mudadeniya, Managing Director of the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau.

“But this year, with the end of the war, and the winter season in the Western countries, the number of tourists has picked up very well.”

The island’s 30-year ethnic war, which had long kept the tourism industry in the doldrums, ended in May 2009, and was followed by an almost immediate recovery in tourist arrivals.

“Usually we have around 50,000 tourist arrivals in a good year, and we can see that after 4-5 years, Sri Lanka is coming back to its usual numbers,” Mudadeniya told LBO.

The number of visitors has been on the rise since the end of hostilities and hotels have been reporting high occupancy in the current winter season, with listed hotel companies also reporting profits after years of losses.

Arrivals from Western Europe, the traditional tourist generating market, rose 36.3 percent to 21,230 in January 2010 from a year ago.

The number of visitors from the UK went up 24.6 percent to 8,225, those from France up 25.9 percent to 2,272 and from Germany up 54.1 percent to 4,470.

Arrivals from South Asia, a relatively newer tourist generating market for the island, were up 44.3 percent to 12,524 in January from a year earlier.

The numbers were boosted by a surge in visitors from India, up 73.5 percent to 9,141, following promotions in the sub-continent by the Sri Lankan tourism authorities.

“We have been very active in India with a number of tourist promotions and Sri Lankan Airlines (the national carrier) flying there regularly,” Mudadeniya said.

“The visa policies being easy, the number of Indian tourists to the country, is on a rise.”

Sri Lanka now gives visas on arrival to tourists from India, which has become the main tourist generating market for Sri Lanka since 2008.

Tourist arrivals from the Middle East, another new market Sri Lanka is targeting, rose 50.1 percent to 1,722 in January.

The numbers from the Eastern Europe rose 8.7 percent to 4,407, although the number of arrivals from Russia fell 17.6 percent to 2,308 in January 2010 from a year earlier.

Arrivals from East Asia have increased 18.9 percent to 4,728, with those from Japan up 42.5 percent to 1,227.

Mudadeniya said that Japan is one the countries in the East Asian region Sri Lanka is targeting to lure more tourists to the island.

Tourist arrivals were not affected by presidential elections in January, despite some violence and uncertainty.

“The numbers speaks for themselves; there has been no drop in tourist arrivals,” Mudadeniya said.

The island’s tourism promotion bureau is currently doing a number of campaigns overseas, targeting mainly the UK, France, Germany, India, the Middle East, Australia and also, for the first time, Scandinavia.

A guide book on tourist attractions in the former northern and eastern war zone is also being produced by the tourist authorities and will be available soon, Mudadeniya said.

The island’s east coast is known to have some of its best beaches and also a well-known surfing site, in Arugam Bay where the World Surfing Championship is to be held.

Mudadeniya said tourist hotels as well as roads and other infrastructure are being built in the region.

Related Info:
Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals

Russia’s Gas Giant Gazprom Plans Oil Exploration in Sri Lanka

08th February 2010, www.dailymirror.lk

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom plans to take part in exploration of offshore hydrocarbon fields in Sri Lanka. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is visiting Moscow, discussed this issue at the talks on Monday.

“The parties discussed prospects for Russian-Sri Lankan cooperation in the oil and gas sector,” the gas giant’s information department said. “In particular, they focused on Gazprom’s possible participation in the development of offshore hydrocarbon deposits in Sri Lanka.”

According to the Sri Lankan government, the republic has eight oil and gas blocs in the Mannar basin, northwestern coast.

11 February 2010

Jaffna Fish Production Increases with the Lifting of All Restrictions in the North

11th February 2010, www.news.lk

The fishing industry in the North has seen a marked increase in fish production. This follows the lifting of all fishing restrictions by the Government and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has planned a two-year development project in the North at a cost of 1.7
Billion rupees to provide extended facilities to the fishing community, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Jayantha Senanayeka told www.news.lk.

He pointed out that, the Ministry has adopted measures to transport the excess yield to Colombo to compete with the market in the city areas and fishing communities have resumed their traditional livelihoods with greater freedom and freer access to fishing grounds with the elimination of terrorism.

He stated that the Ministry expects to set up Jaffna Fish Stalls in Colombo and suburbs. It will provide several insulated trucks to transport the fish harvest from North to the capital.Meanwhile the Government plans to set up fresh fish outlets at Lak Sathosa and Coop City outlets.

Sri Lanka to Raise $500 Million in Dollar Bond Sale After May

11th February 2010, www.bloomberg.com, By Anusha Ondaatjie and Asantha Sirimanne

Sri Lanka plans to sell $500 million of dollar-denominated sovereign bonds in 2010 in its third overseas offering, to fund the rebuilding of roads, ports and power plants after the end of a 26-year civil war.

The South Asian island will likely issue 10-year bonds after the government announces its budget for this year in April, Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Nivard Cabraal said in an interview in the northern Jaffna peninsula today.

“It will most likely be after May,” Cabraal said. “The funds will go towards capital expenditure and reconstruction. We think Sri Lanka has now matured and gained confidence amongst investors.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who won reelection at a Jan. 26 ballot, plans to spend $1 billion on rebuilding to help the island economy expand as much as 7 percent this year. Police fired tear gas and water cannons in the capital yesterday when opposition supporters protesting the arrest of their candidate, former army chief General Sarath Fonseka, clashed with backers of Rajapaksa, the Associated Press reported.

Cabraal said yesterday that Sri Lanka may find it “challenging” to meet the 2010 budget deficit target of 6 percent of gross domestic product and may seek some “leeway” from the International Monetary Fund, which approved a $2.6 billion loan to the country in July.

Previous Debt Sales

Governments and companies in developing nations from Turkey to Slovenia and Indonesia have raised $70 billion from debt sales so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Indonesia sold $2 billion of 10-year bonds on Jan. 13, the Philippines issued $1.5 billion of debt the previous week and Vietnam completed a $1 billion offering on Jan. 26.

Sri Lanka in October attracted bids for more than 13 times the $500 million bonds offered in its first overseas sale in two years. It issued the 7.4 percent notes due in January 2015 to yield 5.06 percentage points more than similar-maturity U.S. Treasuries. They traded at 6.32 percent yesterday.

The nation’s debut overseas bond sale in October 2007, a $500 million sale of debt due October 2012, was sold at 8.25 percent, 3.97 percentage points over Treasuries.

Standard & Poor’s in October raised its outlook on the island’s credit rating to positive from stable. The nation has a long-term foreign currency debt rating of B, five levels below investment grade and two levels below the Philippines.

Peace has spurred economic growth and helped Sri Lanka to exceed its target in building foreign-exchange reserves, Cabraal said yesterday. The current level is $5.1 billion, enough to pay for about 6.2 months of imports, he said.

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

Russia Keen to Invest in Sri Lanka Tourism Industry

11th February 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Russian investors are keen to invest in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, which is recovering after the end of a 30-year war, a senior official said.

Export Development and International Trade Minister Gamini Peiris said Sri Lanka gets a large number of Russian tourists and that Russian companies were keen to develop the industry in the island.

The Russian investment figured in talks between Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s and his Russian counter part Dmitry Medvedev during a recent visit to Moscow, Peiris said.

Russia itself has a well-developed tourism industry especially near the Caspian Sea and Black Sea regions.

“So we want to get Russian investment in hotel development. This figured in talks between the two sides and the Russian president was keen,” Peiris told a news conference.

Tourist arrivals in the island have rebounded with the end of the ethnic war last May and hotels are reporting full occupancy after many years.

Sri Lanka Private Container Terminal Volumes Up by 33pct. South Asia Gateway Terminals Handled 162,890 TEUs

11th February 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Cargo volumes at a Colombo port private container terminal in which John Keells Holdings has a big stake rose sharply in January, albeit from a low base the year before as trade recovers from recession.

South Asia Gateway Terminals handled 162,890 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent container Units) in January 2010, data released by the firm showed.

The container volume was up 33 percent from the same month the previous year when trade volumes had slumped owing to recession.

It was SAGT’s second highest-ever monthly volumes, according to analysts.

The rise in container volumes indicates the recovery in trade was gathering momentum, analysts said.

SAGT, in which John Keells Holdings has a 42.2 percent stake, handled a record high volume of containers in 2009 despite the global economic slump which reduced shipping volumes worldwide.

In 2009 SAGT’s volumes were up 1.4 percent to 1,749,796 TEUs from the previous year and it also took market share from the government-owned terminals.

In December 2009, SAGT’s container volumes rose 26.5 percent to 155,691 TEUs from a year earlier.

However, 76 percent of SAGT’s container volumes consist of transshipment traffic on which profit margins are lower.

Container volumes at the government-owned Jaya Container Terminal are also recovering as trade flows picked up with global recession coming to an end.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority said the JCT handled a total of 153,317 20-foot containers in December 2009, up 12.5 percent from the same month a year ago.

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Price asked: US$ 250,000.

More Info: investsrilanka@gmail.com

Negombo is a town approximately 37 km north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Negombo is located at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon, about 7 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Negombo has a small port, and its economy is mainly based on tourism and its centuries-old fishing industry.

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