31 August 2010

Sri Lanka's Hotel Blue Water in Rs 450mn Investment for MICE Tourism

31st August 2010, www.island.lk, By Harischandra Gunaratna

The popular sea side resort on the west coast, the Blue Water, Talpitiya, Wadduwa has emerged as one of the most sought after MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions) resorts in the island.

Owned by Union Resorts Limited, the five star establishment recently launched its new 8,500 sq ft ballroom, banqueting and convention venue, which is the biggest among the resorts.

The Blue Water’s General Manager Roshan Perera in an interview with The Island Financial Review said that there was a void to be filled, and with the ever increasing demand for such a facility, the company decided it was time to invest and thus injected Rs 200 million for the state-of-the-art facility.

"It is the ideal venue for MICE clients with a host of outdoor facilities in an expanse of 14 acre prime beach front," he said.

"With the civil strife coming to an end and normalcy returning, not only Sri Lankan corporates, but a large number foreign corporates are also looking forward to making Sri Lanka the venue for their meetings, conferences and conventions, combined with leisure and we are well equipped to cater to their needs," he said adding that the clientele ranges from Europe, India and the Far East.

During the last two months the resort has maintained an occupancy of 100 percent and we will maintain an average of 85 to 90 percent year round, a confident, Perera said. In the 2008-2009 period, the resort maintained an occupancy level of 75 to 80 percent, he added.

"We are quite optimistic of a good off season as our booking patterns indicate and we have a very good domestic market as well with our own loyalty programme with attractive incentives," he said.

Responding to a query whether our hospitality industry is in a position to meet the target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016, he said "All the owning companies of hotels and resorts are investing in upgrading their existing properties and those who have already finished the job are now investing in new properties, the senior hotelier said.

"We are highly optimistic that the President’s target for 2016 is feasible and there is a lot of enthusiasm in the industry," he pointed out.

British holiday makers are the Blue Water’s main clientele and India tops the list among the emerging markets with more and more Indian corporates as well as FITs choosing this salubrious resort for their next MICE event or holiday.

The owning company of the 100 room property will be investing another Rs 250 million to refurbish and upgrade the existing property ready for the coming winter season.

Asked about the future, the General Manager said the company has plans to expand the existing property but not immediately.

However the company will embark on developing another five star beach front property, a 30 unit luxury boutique hotel built on the Villa concept in close proximity to the Blue Water and another 30-chalet property in Kimbisssa in Sigiriya, once the refurbishment and upgrading of the Blue Water is completed.

Sri Lanka's Northern Roadways to be Developed at $3.5bn Funding

31st August 2010, www.news.lk

A major road rehabilitation and development project is to be undertaken by the Government with Chinese financial assistance in the Northern province. Accordingly, 332km length of roads inclusive of Kandy- Jaffna A9 highway will be developed and modernized on a proposal by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

This road development project covering the most part of Northern Province will help to revive the economic activities of the northern communities who have economically suffered for a long term because of the terrorism. It is also estimated that the economic benefits of these projects to the country as a whole will be far in excess of the financial cost of the project.

Accordingly, 153km length of Kandy -Jaffna A9 highway from Galkulama to Jaffna will be rehabilitated and modernized as part of the main gateway to the Northern Province. The other roadways that will be developed under this projects are 84km length of Jaffna – Point Pedro AB20 road, Puttur – Meesalai AB32 road and Jaffna – Palai AB18 roadways.

Rehabilitation and improvement of 95km length of the of B334, B297 and B296 roads will also take place covering the areas of Mulativu – Kokilai – Pulmudai roadway, Oddusudan – Nedunkerney roadway and the Mullativu – Puliyankulam roadways as separate projects.

The total cost of this project will be US 355 million of which 85% will be financed by the Government of China while the local component of 15% will be borne by the government of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Colombo Dockyard Delivers Supply Vessel to Singapore's Greatship Global Offshore Services

31st August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Colombo Dockyard has delivered the second of a series of four Multipurpose Platform Supply Vessels (MPSV) for Singapore's Greatship Global Offshore Services, a statement said.

The delivered vessel, with a 3,200-tonne deadweight capacity, was designed by Seatech Solutions International of Singapore in consultation with the owner and the builder, Colombo Dockyard.

"The role of the vessel is to support offshore oil and gas fields on a twenty-four hour per day basis," said the yard, which books profits on delivery of vessels and is a unit of Japan's Onomichi Dockyard Company.

"The vessel is built for operation in un-restricted waters and is capable of undertaking multi-purpose roles such as transportation of pipes, fresh water, diesel, methanol, bulk cement, stores, equipment, and moving men and materials between platforms and shore."

The vessel has an endurance of about 35 days and a cruising range of about 9,200 nautical miles.

The vessel has a larger accommodation area for 50 persons as against the 24 persons in the previous Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessels built by Colombo Dockyard.

"Over the past few years, Colombo Dockyard operating in joint collaboration with Onomichi Dockyard Company has accumulated a wealth of experience in building vessels for the offshore sector requirements," the statement said.

"(It) is now well-experienced and geared to meet any kind of requirement that may arise in the offshore oil exploration activities being carried out in the Sri Lankan waters."

Colombo Dockyard has said it will deliver a total six vessels this year and will focus more on offshore work with the search for oil off the island's north-west coast.

30 August 2010

Tourist Information Kiosks (TIK) to be Located in Key Places in Sri Lanka

30th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk

Sri Lanka will soon have a 24 hour, 365 day non sleeping Tourist Information provider in the form of a Kiosk network which could provide information tourists need at their fingertips.

The Information Kiosks, similar to a Bank ATM machine in size and looks, are to be installed shortly in places where there is a high tourist foot fall such as airports, harbours, tourist information centres, World Trade Centre, hotels, shopping malls etc with free of charge operational access. Information would be updated 24 hours a day.

The Tourist Information Kiosk (TIK) is a Digital Information Kiosk Network with touch screen operational capability. It is easy to operate and does not require computer literacy. It is equipped with a thermal printer which will print directional maps and addresses and listed locations.

The information in the TIK will be available in the web as well as in mobile phones. It also has the capability to provide information in all major languages.

TIK has been designed by Intelo Networks (Pvt) Ltd in association with the Tourism Ministry.

The information in the TIK will be available in the web for tourists to refer even before visiting the country as well as in the mobile phones while touring the country.

The kiosks will show off the best of Sri Lanka and provide a crucial focal-point of information for visitors. While the Kiosk provides general information on the country, news , weather, currency rates etc. other service providers such as hotels, boutiques, travel organizers have to enlist with the network in promoting their products and services provided for an annual fee.

Interested parties are advised to contact Intelo Networks on 011-2549549 or via email info@intelonetworks.com.

More Info:
How to get listed on a Digital Tourist Information Kiosk Network of Sri Lanka
National Business Directory : SLT Rainbow Pages goes mobile

29 August 2010

Sixth Senses CEO Visits Sri Lanka on Joint Venture with Aitken Spence to Construct Upmarket Resort

29th August 2010, www.thebottomline.lk, By Indika Sakalasooriya

The Chief Executive of luxury spa operator Sixth Senses, Sonu Shivadasani, is to visit Sri Lanka next month, to announce the joint venture between his company and Sri Lanka’s resort operator Aitken Spence to construct an up market resort in the Southern Coastal line of the country.

“Mr Shivadasani will be here to open the construction of the Ahungalle Luxury Resort and Spa Complex, which was originally billed as Evason Hideaway next month,” an Aitken Spence official said.

Aitken Spence Hotels managing director Malin Hapugoda told the media earlier that the joint venture project is to come up near Ahungalla, in Beruwala, a prime beach resort where it has two properties, Heritance and Neptune.

The investment for the project is estimated at USD 20 million and the ownership structure would be 50:50. Presently Sixth Senses operates spas at Aitken Spence-owned hotels, Kandalama and Tea Factory.

Sonu Shivdasani, Chairman and CEO, founded the Six Senses group together with his wife, Eva. British born, he is a former student of Eton College, and holds a M.A. in English Literature from Oxford University.

Sonu began his career with a two-year induction in the family business which covered many businesses except tourism.

According to an interview he has given to Meridia Capital in 1991, Sonu reduced the amount of time he spent in the family businesses and made a small investment in Pavilion Resorts. The original shareholding was later extended to full ownership and renamed as Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, later to become Six Senses Resorts & Spas.
The company’s focus was changed to the higher end 5 star designer niche. The executive team also changed so that the management’s skills reflected the requirements of the new strategic direction.

In October 1995, he opened his first new build resort in the Maldives, and created the brand: Soneva. This was followed by the Evason brand, initially in Thailand and Vietnam, and Six Senses Spas.

Sri Lanka Continues to Grant Visa on Arrival to Tourists

28th August 2010, www.emirates247.com

Sri Lanka on Saturday suspended plans to scrap on-arrival visas for most nationals, including visitors from UAE.

The government had announced it was withdrawing the landing endorsements from September 30 in a move widely seen as potentially damaging to the island's tourism industry, which is recovering from 37 years of ethnic conflict.

"Notice is hereby given that the earlier public notice on 'Withdrawal of on-arrival visa facility' be treated as withdrawn until further notice," immigration controller W.A.C. Perera said in a statement posted on his website.

There was no further comment from the government.

Earlier a statement said tourists from the UAE, as well as 79 other countries will not get visas on arrival in Sri Lanka from September 30 onwards.

On Friday, the island’s Department of Immigration and Emigration announced that it was withdrawing the visa-on-arrival facility for tourists for several countries, including India, UK, USA, China, Japan and a host of European nations.

It is from the Middle East and West Asian countries that Sri Lanka gets its chunk of tourists.

"Only citizens from Singapore and Maldives will continue to get their visas on arrival as our citizens are extended the same facility by them," RMS Sarath Kumara, deputy immigration controller, was quoted as saying.

More Info:
Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration : Visa on Arrival

Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration : Schedule 'A' - Countries Eligible for 30 Day Visa on Arrival at the Port of Entry in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Power Generation Up by 8.9pct in 1st Half of 2010

28th August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's power output rose 8.9 percent in the first half of 2010 from a year earlier, in a more active economy, official data showed, with larger volumes of cheaper hydro energy being generated.

State run Ceylon Electricity Board had generated 5,215 GigaWatt hours of energy (millions of units of electricity) in the six months to June. Hydro generation was up 47.6 percent to 1,897 GWh, and thermal energy was donw 26 percent to 870GWh.

Private sector power was up 3.4 percent to 2,401GWh.

In the month of June alone energy output rose 9.9 percent to 900 GWh, with CEB's thermal generation down 37 percent to 92GWh and hydro up 34 percent to 386GWh.

Private sector power was down to 7.5 percent to 414GWh.

Sri Lanka's central bank is forecasting 7.0 percent economic growth for 2010.
Last year Sri Lanka's power output contracted amid an economic slump, though official estimates claimed positive gross domestic growth during all quarters.

28 August 2010

Sri Lanka's Udawalawa National Park Gets New Access Road

28th August 2010, www.news.lk

A new access road will be introduced to the Udawalawa National Park enabling people to view locations that have not been sighted hitherto.

The Udawalawa National Park which spans nearly 80,000 acres of land,is located bordering the Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces. The access roads from the Uva Province boundary were limited to one side due to the Walave River.

The other boundary comes within the Sabaragamuwa Province. It spans 10,000 hectares and there is no entrance road from this side. A road network and an entrance to the National park from the Sabaragamuwa Province, constructed across the Handaganapura area in Balangoda, as a solution to this problem is nearing completion.

The road network, built according to a concept of Chief Minister Mahipala Herath has cost 2.2 million rupees. It consists of 18 small bridges. The construction of the bridges was launched recently.

Sri Lanka-Italy Business Council Holds AGM

27th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk

The 11th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka - Italy Business Council was held recently at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The Council, which focuses on the objectives of 'promoting investment, trade and joint venture between Sri Lanka and Italy', is one of the twenty bilateral business councils that function under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Groundwork for the formation of the Council was laid by a proposal.

Ambassador Designate for Italy in Sri Lanka Rubens Fedele, and chief guest said he looked forward to working closely with the Council and said that he would like to hear from the membership of any issues faced by them and invited the membership to contact himself or Deputy Head of Mission Dr. Gianluca Rubagotti, if there was any way in which the Embassy could assist them.

Ranmal International (Pvt) Ltd Managing Director, Ranjit Jayewardene was re-elected as President of the Council for the year 2010-2011. He reiterated that the incoming Committee would encourage joint ventures between Sri Lanka and Italy, exchange information on trade and investment, conduct joint meetings with Italian business organizations in Sri Lanka and Italy and will serve as a recognized representative of the business sector interests in Sri Lanka. Jayewardene said that with the assistance of the Italian Embassy, the Council is pursuing a program named 'Invest your talent in Italy', where Italian Universities are promoted overseas. A delegation from Italy is expected shortly for further discussions.

Aus Afrasia Design Tiles (Pvt) Ltd CEO/Managing Director, Daya Ratnayake and Hellmann Worldwide Logistics (Pvt) Ltd Managing Director, Tania Polonnowita were appointed as Vice Presidents.

The committee comprises Allied Trading and Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. CEO, Raja Abeysinghe, Aitken Spence Travels Ltd. Director, Niranjan Rodrigo, Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC, Chairman/Managing Director, Sunil Wijesinha, Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd., Senior Manager, Daminda Dinesh, Lanka Tiles PLC, Managing Director, Mahendra Jayasekera, Mackwoods Ltd., Marketing Director, Arjuna Yatawara, Sherman Sons Trading (Pvt) Ltd. Managing Director, Gihan De Silva and The Autodrome PLC, Joint Managing Director Rajeev Aloysius.
More Info:
Sri Lanka-Italy Business Council

CEAT, Sri Lanka - India Tyre Venture's Exports Go Up

26th August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's CEAT-Kelani, a joint venture tyre firm with India's CEAT group said exports rose in the second half of the year ending March 2010 and exports were up to India and other countries. Kelani was a former privatized state tyre maker, which was heavily protected from imports and was dogged with labour unrest.

Though protection is still there, (protection pushes up the cost of tyres in the domestic market forcing consumers to pay more and fatten the profits of businesses) the firm had contained costs after joining hands with India's CEAT in 1999.

The firm said average annual production has now increased to 12,800 metric tonnes compared to 7,400 in the 1999-2002 period.

The firm was now exporting to India under the Indo Lanka free trade deal and also to Eqypt, Nigeria and Dubai after investing to improve costs.

The firm had invested in new technology and pushed up labour productivity and the firm also started making radial tyres.

Chairman Chanaka de Silva said rising production had brought down the cost of converting raw material to finished products even below the levels seen at CEAT's plant in India.

It was adding 200 metric tonnes a month of capacity to make bias ply tyres by October 2010.

In the year to March 2010 the group had made 209 million rupees in profits, up from 40.6 million rupees as demand recovered. Revenues rose to 2.7 billion rupees from 2.1 billion rupees.

Sri Lanka Central Bank's Guidelines for Mobile Phone Payment Systems

27th August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Central Bank has drafted guidelines for mobile phone payment systems and called for public comments, according to a notice on its website.

Mobile payments will be allowed through accounts in licensed banks and registered finance companies as well as Custodian Account Based Systems operated by non-bank service providers.

Service providers can open 'e-money' accounts for customers and issue e-money by accepting physical money, the guidelines said.

It called for public comments on or before October 18, 2010 to be sent to the Director Payments and Settlements at psd@cbsl.lk

The Central Bank said the guidelines are issued with the aim of promoting safety and effectiveness of mobile payment schemes.

The Customer Account Based System through banks is based on the customer accounts maintained by financial institutions from which the service can only be offered to account holders.

Under this system, account holders are able to operate their own accounts via mobile phones to debit or credit their own accounts or credit accounts of third parties within the same financial institution or in another bank.

Two types of facilities are offered, a 'basic level' in which fund transfers are not allowed and only information can be accessed, and a 'standard level' where actual payments can be done.

The Custodian Account Based System to be offered by celcos allows them to open e-money accounts for customers and issue e-money by accepting physical money from customers.

Such non-bank service providers must operate custodian accounts with banks in which they are required to deposit all funds collected from customers.

Mobile payment services are to be allowed only in Sri Lanka rupees and only for domestic transactions.

All foreign inward remittances to the mobile accounts must be routed through the custodian banks and credited in rupees.

Mobile Payment Service Providers (MPSP) are required to report any suspicious transactions of e-money holders based on the guidelines of the central bank Financial Intelligence Unit.

MPSPs also cannot grant any form of credit to mobile account holders, pay interest or profit on the mobile account balances or anything else that would add to the monetary value of the e-money or issue e-money at a discount

Mobile Payment Service Providers are also required to use strong encryption standards for protecting sensitive and confidential information of the bank and customers while in transit.

They are also required to have security measures to prevent criminal activity while using Near Field Communication (NFC) based mobile payment systems.

Related Info:
Mobile Payments Guidelines - Central Bank of Sri Lanka

25 August 2010

Four Wind Power Plants Add 33MW to Sri Lankan National Grid

25th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Indunil Hewage

Hayleys Group and WindForce (Pvt) Ltd are currently building a 10 megawatt wind power plant at Nirmalapura at Kalpitiya in the Puttalam district with a total investment of Rs 2.3 billion.

The new plant will be known as Nirmalapura Wind Power Ltd. WindForce is a company owned by Seguwantivu Wind Power and Vidatamunai Wind Power.

Seguwantivu Wind Power and Vidatamunai Wind Power Chief Executive Officer Manjula Perera said construction work of the plant is scheduled to be completed by April next year. The farm of wind turbine generators will have seven turbines when completed with each turbine producing 1.5 megawatts of power, generating electricity making use of the strong gust of winds from the Indian Ocean.

Currently a three megawatt windpower plant has been built by the Government in Hambantota. Three other wind power plants are being operated in the country. These are the ten megawatt Seguwantivu Wind Power, Ten megawatt Vidatamunai Wind Power and ten megawatt Senok Wind Power. Currently, 33 megawatts are being added to the national power grid by these four wind plants.

Two more plants, the ten megawatt Nirmalapura Wind Power and ten megawatt PowerGen Lanka plant are under construction.

Construction work of ten megawatt Lanka Transformers and 35 megawatt K L S Energy Lanka have not commenced yet.

So far, licences have been issued to generate over 90 megawatts of electricity using wind power by the Ceylon Electricity Board. There is potential to generate at least 500 megawatts within the next three years using wind power in the country.

Related Info:
Sustainable Energy Authority - Winnd Projects
India Invests $ 18.2mn in Sri Lanka Wind Power Project
Two Wind Power Plants in Puttalam, Sri Lanka

IMF to Releast Next Tranche of Loan to Sri Lanka amids Improving Economic Prospects

24rd August 2010, www.news.lk

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Sri Lanka’s economic prospects had improved markedly and it has indicated it will release the next tranche of a multi-billion dollar loan to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka originally agreed a $2.5 billion loan accord from the IMF in June last year.

Following a two week mission to the country, the body gave an upbeat assessment of Sri Lanka's economy. It said government targets for deficit reduction were on track, with taxes increasing and spending being cut.

According to IMF sources Sri Lankan government will use the money to pay for post-war reconstruction following the end of fighting with the LTTE.The head of the Sri Lankan mission Brian Aitken has said they were in a position to recommend to the IMF board approval for the next loan instalment worth over $200m. Since the third trench of the loan was made available the IMF decided to grant the loan in equal instalments.The IMF said: "Overall economic conditions are improving, and the economy is likely to show strong growth this year."

Pooneryn, Jaffna to be Developed as a Tourist Destination in Sri Lanka

23rd August 2010, www.news.lk

A tourism promotion campaign is to be organized in the Jaffna Peninsula with the intention of developing Pooneryn as a tourist destination for the local tourists while developing the boat service between Jaffna and Pooneryn.

This measure was discussed at a meeting held under the Chairmanship of
Governor, Northern Province, GA Chandrasiri at the Office of the
Regional Assistant Commissioner of Local Government, Jaffna recently.
It was also stated that people who go to Jaffna would then visit
Pooneryn on their way. The discussion at the meeting also centered on
the Boat Service between Pooneryn and Jaffna, Development and
renovation of historical and archeological sites, Sales Centres for
local products like Palmyrah products with the assistance of
Cooperative Societies.

Sri Lanka Gets $5mn Canadian Auto Parts Plant to Manufacture OEM Parts

23rd August 2010, www.news.lk

A Canadian Automative Firm specialized in Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) is planning to invest U.S.$ 5 Million to establish a manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka. The Firm Matcor Automative Inc., is specialized in manufacturing body parts for almost all the auto brands including the leading American cars. The Company expects to use Sri Lanka as a strategic location to cater to the booming Indian auto market.

The Vice President of the Matcor is presently in Sri Lanka for negotiations with the Board of Investment officials and for finding a suitable location for establishing the plant.

The visiting Vice President of the Company has said that the Sri Lankan plant will be mainly manufacturing OEM body parts for India’s GM, Ford, Chrysler and Mercedes Benz, for export to India taking advantage of the Free Trade Agreement Sri Lanka has with India. The plant is expected to provide employment for about 500 workmen and the senior management of the plant will come from Canada.

The company has its presence in 16 locations in Canada, USA and Mexico. Apart from automotive operations, it has a fabrication unit which accounts for 30 percent of its revenue that manufacture construction, agriculture and off-road equipment.

22 August 2010

Sri Lanka India Ferry Service between Talaimannar & Rameshwaram to Resume

21st August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

India and Sri Lanka have prepared the draft of an agreement to resume ferry services across the narrow strip of water separating the two countries, the Indian envoy in Colombo said. "We've finalised the draft of the agreement," Indian high commissioner Ashok Kantha said.

"The two countries have in principle agreed on starting the ferry services."

The proposal is to revive a ferry service disrupted by the island's ethnic war and start new services.

The ethnic war, which ended in May 2009, disrupted the ferry service between Talaimannar, on Sri Lanka's north-west, and Rameshwaram, in south India.

India is giving a loan to Sri Lanka to rebuild a rail track to Talaimannar with the contract being awarded to IRCON, an Indian government-owned firm.

The two countries also plan to start ferry services between Colombo port and the southern Indian ports of Cochin and Tuticorin, Kantha said.

20 August 2010

Sri Lanka Policy Interest Rate Down to 6 Year Low to Revive Economy Following Slowing Inflation

20th August 2010, www.bloomberg.com

Sri Lanka’s central bank unexpectedly cut a benchmark interest rate to the lowest level in almost six years, taking advantage of slowing inflation to boost economic growth.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka lowered the reverse repurchase rate by half a percentage point to 9 percent, the lowest level since November 2004, and kept the repurchase rate at 7.25 percent, according to a statement on the Colombo-based bank’s website today. All four economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected no change.

Sri Lanka’s inflation slowed in July for a fifth straight month on increased farm supplies, as land recovered from Tamil Tiger rebels after the end of the island’s civil war helped expand cultivation. The central bank said today it expects domestic credit conditions to ease, supporting a revival in economic growth.

“There is no danger to inflation with the rate cut,” said Sarath Rajapakse, director of research at Capital Trust Securities Pvt. in Colombo. “One of the biggest obstacles to growth had been high commercial bank lending rates.”

Consumer prices in the capital, Colombo, climbed 4.3 percent in July from a year earlier after gaining 4.8 percent in June.

Inflation in Sri Lanka has slowed to less than half the average rate of the five years through 2009.

Regional Moves

Sri Lanka’s move contrasts with those in other Asian central banks including India, Malaysia and Thailand, which raised borrowing costs this year to tame rising prices and prevent asset bubbles.

Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said earlier this month the central bank would gauge the impact of last month’s quarter- point interest-rate cuts before making its next move.

“While inflationary pressures in the domestic economy have continued to be benign in the recent months, enhanced prospects for domestic agricultural produce have further improved the outlook for inflation,” the bank said today.

The yield on the four-year government bond fell 5 basis points to 8.95 percent at 8:45 a.m. in Colombo, according to Standard Chartered Plc. The Sri Lankan rupee, which has gained about 2.4 percent since the civil war ended in May 2009, was little changed at 112.35 per dollar.

European Concessions

Rajapakse said low funding costs will also help boost consumer demand after the European Union withdrew concessions for Sri Lankan exports this year, saying the country failed to respond to European demands to improve human rights.

Sri Lankan exports, which make up about a fifth of the island’s $42 billion economy, gained 15.1 percent to $620 million in May, after advancing 24.2 percent in April.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is aiming to accelerate growth to 7 percent in 2010, the fastest pace since 2006, after ending a 26-year civil war by defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels in May 2009.

Prospects of peace and faster growth are attracting overseas investment.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the United Arab Emirates’ biggest phone company, on July 20 announced plans to spend as much as $163 million in six months to expand its network in Sri Lanka. Minor International Pcl, Thailand’s biggest hotel

operator, has bought a controlling stake in a resort off Sri Lanka’s southern coast, amid growing leisure and business travel in the island.

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

19 August 2010

Sri Lanka Ranked 66 by Newsweek's World's Best Countries by Health, Education, Economy & Politics

19th August 2010, www.dailymirror.lk

Sri Lanka has earned the 66th slot in a Newsweek magazine survey to pick the best country in the world to offer a healthy and prosperous life to its citizens. Finland has been ranked the best country in the world followed by Switzerland and Sweden in the 2nd and 3rd places.

India has been placed 78th while the US ranks 11 and Germany 12.

In the sub categories Germany leads the list of the countries with the best quality of life while Japan has earned the slot for the country with the best healthcare system. Singapore is the country with the best economic dynamism according to the survey results published in the latest Newsweek issue.
More Info:
The World's Best Countries - A Newsweek study of health, education, economy, and politics ranks the globe's top nations

Ag-Biz 2010, Sri Lanka's Largest Agri Trade Exhibition from 20 to 22 August at BMICH

19th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk

The largest agricultural trade exhibition ‘Ag-Biz 2010’ will be held from August 20 to 22 for the fifth consecutive year at the BMICH along with the Profood - Propack exhibition.

This exhibition provides an opportunity for local and foreign Agribusiness companies, research and development institutions and agribusiness development service providers to exhibit new agricultural products. Over 50 companies and the Agriculture Ministry will participate at the exhibition.

Agricultural machinery and equipment, seeds, fertilizer and pesticides, flower plants, foliage plants, modern irrigation systems, landscaping, rock gardens, tissue cultured plants and many more items will be displayed at this event.

The special attraction will be the ‘Urban Agricultural Systems’ displayed by the office of the Western Province Provincial Agriculture Director.

The Ag -Biz exhibition was launched in August 2006. The exhibition is organized by the National Agribusiness Council (NAC) which is the apex body for Agribusiness in Sri Lanka.

As the organizer for the Ag-Biz exhibition and trade fair, NAC operates as a trade facilitator for all agricultural products and service agricultural industries, looking to venture into new markets.

More Info:
National Agribusiness Council

Sri Lanka Selects IRCON International India to Reconstruct Northern Railway Line from Medawachchiya to Thalaimannar

17th August 2010, www.colombopage.com

Sri Lanka signed a commercial agreement with India today for Indian assistance to reconstruct the Northern Railway Line from Medawachchiya to Thalaimannar that was destroyed during the three decades of conflict.

S.L. Gupta, General Manager of IRCON International, an Indian company constructing the railway line signed the commercial agreement on behalf of India while Chairman of Sri Lanka Railways P.P. Wijesekara signed for Sri Lanka in the presence of Sri Lankan Minister of Transport Kumara Welgama and Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha.

The reconstruction will be carried out in two phases. In the first phase the 43 kilometer track from Medawachchiya to Madhu will be reconstructed at a cost of US $ 81.3 million. Madhu to Thalaimannar segment will be built at a cost of US $ 149.74 million.

Speaking at the occasion, High Commissioner Kantha has noted that the line of credit of USD 81.3 million is part of a larger package of assistance directed at the rehabilitation of railway infrastructure in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, for which Government of India has committed a total amount of US $800 million in lines of credit on highly concessional terms.

The Indian High Commissioner said the reconstruction of the Medawachchiya-Thalaimannar railway line is a symbol of the friendship between India and Sri Lanka.

The construction work will be carried out by the Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON). Work on the Northern Railway Line is expected to start from October 2010.

The Indian government last year extended a US $ 425 million credit line to Sri Lanka to develop its war-damaged rail tracks in the northern region. Under the credit IRCON will be laying tracks on the Omanthai-Pallai sector of the Northern railway line and Madhu- Thalaimannar sector.

According to the Chairman of the Railways the railway line from Omanthai to Pallai will be constructed after the area is cleared of landmines.

India is also assisting in the rehabilitation of the Colombo-Matara rail link through a US $167.4 million line of credit. Work on the Colombo-Kalutara sector of this line is already at an advanced stage and the work on the 42 kilometer Galle- Matara Section is likely to be completed by December 2010.

Sri Lanka has also signed a contract with China National Machinery Import and Export Corp to build the first phase of the 110-kilometer Matara-Kataragama line along the south coast.

In the first phase of the project a 30-kilometer segment of the rail line from Matara to Beliatta along with four stations will be built with Chinese financial assistance. The first phase is to be completed by the end of this year.

The second phase will extend the rail line to Hambantota and the final stage will complete the line to Kataragama.

China is also funding the reconstruction of a 56- kilometer segment of the rail line between Pallai and Kankasanthurai.

18 August 2010

Mahindra & Mahindra for Leisure & Finance Investments in Sri Lanka

18th August 2010, www.bloomberg.com

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s largest maker of sport-utility vehicles, may provide auto loans and set up resorts in Sri Lanka as the island’s economy recovers after the end of a civil war.

“There are huge opportunities,” Vice Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra said in the capital Colombo today. Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd. may provide auto loans and also lend for rural housing, the company said in a statement.

Officials of the group, which owns software-services providers, runs resorts, and provides loans for purchase of SUVs in India, will separately return to Sri Lanka for meetings to set up the businesses, Mahindra said. Last week, Mahindra was named as the preferred bidder for a South Korean automaker, as the Mumbai-based company aims to expand its overseas business.

The group also plans to expand tractor sales in Sri Lanka and is gauging investment opportunities in property development and economic zones, he said. Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. may set up projects as more Indians visit the island, according to the statement.

The end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year war in May 2009 has lured back tourists to the teardrop-shaped island and helped the South Asian nation’s benchmark index climb 60 percent this year, the best performance among the Asia-Pacific region’s 16 biggest markets. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is aiming to accelerate economic growth to 7 percent in 2010, the fastest pace since 2006.

The Mumbai-based automaker was named preferred bidder for a controlling stake in Ssangyong Motor Co.

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

Sri Lanka's LOLC Leisure Buys Jetwings Tropical Villas in Beruwala Golden Mile Beach

17th August 2010, www.island.lk

LOLC Leisure, controlled by Lanka Orix Leasing Company PLC has acquired a 60 percent stake, or 6.2 million shares, in Jetwings Tropical Villas beach resort for Rs. 310 million, the company said in a filing with the Colombo Stock Exchange last morning.

"In May this year the LOLC Group made its maiden entry in to the leisure sector by acquiring three hotels namely Palm Garden, Riverina and Eden hotels. With the acquisition of a fourth hotel adjacent to these three, LOLC Leisure limited has now increased its footprint to over 25 acres of prime beach-front land, located on one of the best stretches in the South of the country referred to as the ‘Golden Mile’," the company said.

Quoting Central Bank data, it said the hotels and resorts sector contributed a negative 16.7 percent to the economy during the first quarter of 2009. After the war, the sector made a spectacular recovery to post a 61 percent growth during the first quarter of this year.

"The group is in the process of examining the acquisition of suitable land and conducting studies to launch similar ventures in the East coast of the country," the company said.

17 August 2010

Sri Lanka Greater Colombo Mono Rail System to be Set up by a Korean Company

17th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi

A leading Korean bluechip company is to invest in Sri Lanka on developing several railway lines in Greater Colombo. This railway system is known as Mono Rail Transport (MRT). The US $ 500 million project will commence work in two stages.The first stage includes construction of a railway line from Colombo Fort to Mount Lavinia.

The second phase will include construction of a railway line connecting Colpetty and Battaramulla via Rajagiriya.

The project initiated by the BOI is a result of the visit of Transport Minister Kumara Welgama to Korea recently, BOI Japan and Korea Country Manager Keerthi Jayawardena said.

He said this is a landmark in Sri Lanka, South Korea co-operation.

The principal investor, Garam Space Ltd President Kin Jong-ik arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday with a delegation of 15 members to commence discussions with the Sri Lankan Government.

“Improving the transport system in the country was a long felt need. Therefore the Government has decided to introduce an Urban Monorail Development Project on the Korea Urban Mono Rail system Technology,” he said.

“Operating a mono rail transport system (MRT) is safe, economical, comfortable and environment friendly,” Jayawardena said.

Garam Space Ltd is a consortium representing Garam Space Research Institute, Korean Rail Research Institute, Busan Transport Corporation and SKCC.

The delegation will submit a feasibility study report to the Sri Lankan Government and have further negotiations with the transport and railway authorities and BOI officials on the implementation of this mono rail service in greater Colombo.

The total investment will be borne by South Korea.

15 August 2010

Top Indian Hospital Chains Eye Sri Lanka

15th August 2010, www.thebottomline.lk, By Indika Sakalasooriya

With two of the top hospital chains in India eying overseas expansion, local analysts are excited about the possibility of either one or both of them investing in the healthcare business in Sri Lanka.

According to Indian media, Apollo Hospitals, India’s industry leader is looking for contracts to manage hospitals abroad, while Fortis Healthcare is aggressively looking for acquisitions as an expansion strategy. Further, Fortis is evidently preparing for other opportunities beyond India to become Asia’s healthcare leader after their battle to acquire Singapore-based hospital chain Parkway Holdings.

Fortis Chairman, Malvinder Singh was recently quoted in the Indian media reports as saying “there are a heap of opportunities we have already identified which we will evaluate and engage with”.

He added that the company has $800-900 million in cash and an established line of credit, which would be used for the acquisition of one or more assets outside India.
Apollo, India’s largest hospital operator which exited Sri Lanka following a hostile takeover of its hospital by a local business tycoon has a stake in a Mauritius hospital, its only investment overseas, but manages a few hospitals overseas on contract.

“An Indian hospital chain can operate successfully in Sri Lanka due to two major reasons. The first being it can help to offer cheaper drugs and services to patients and the other is Sri Lanka doesn’t have the bed capacity needed in light of the projected increase in grey heads in future” a stock market analyst who doesn’t want to be identified said.

According to recent labour ministry data, the percentage of people above the age group of 60 years increased from 6.3% in 1971 to 9.2% in 2001 and was estimated by the United Nations at 11% in 2008. By 2031, 21.9% of the people will be over 60 years, or one out of four will be an aged citizen.

“Now the no-brainer is the tourism industry. Almost everyone is looking to put-up a hotel somewhere to be a part of the expected tourism boom. Healthcare poses almost the same opportunities being a defensive sector with strong growth prospects” another analyst said.

He also pointed out that health insurance facilities and medical benefit schemes provided by corporate employers also play a major role when analyzing the growth prospects of healthcare sector in the country. “This has supported and in demand for paid private sector healthcare services which will continue” he said.

He remarked that the number of beds in government run hospitals is almost stagnant due to budgetary constraints. “This allows private sector both local and foreign investors to make money by setting up new and expanding the existing ones”.
At present about 25% of the total hospitals in the country are private owned (numbering 174) with a total bed capacity of 8,650, i.e.15% of the total bed capacity of Sri Lanka, which is concentrated mostly in urban areas and especially in Colombo. According to Health Ministry data, the capacity of beds in the government hospitals amounts to 68905 in its1,016 hospitals.

Shangri-La Hotels to Come to Sri Lanka. Chairman Kuok Khoon-Ean Visits

15th August 2010, www.sundaytimes.lk

Asia’s famous Shangri-La Hotels wants to set up a hotel in post-war Sri Lanka with its Chairman/CEO Kuok Khoon-Ean flying here on August 19 in his private jet, officials said.

Shangri-La was founded by Khoon-Ean’s father in the early 1970s, and the Kuok family is now the largest shareholder of the hotel chain which has over 67 hotels and resorts all over the globe including North America with a combined room capacity of over 30,600. In South Asia it has properties in India and the Maldives.

Director/General Manager of Pyramid Lanka Pvt, S.A.P.Suriyapperuma, who is coordinating the visit with Khoon-Ean owning Pyramid in Singapore, said Sri Lanka is attracting high networth investors like the Hong Kong-based hotel tycoon. The latter controls many companies in Asia including the one that owns the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong.

During the visit, he is expected to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapakse and Minister of Foreign Affairs G.L.Peiris and other senior government officials. He is also expected to visit several places in the island including Hambantota and Kandy to identify suitable sites for the hotel project, Mr. Suriyapperuma said.

14 August 2010

Sri Lanka Hotels Expand to Accommodate Increase in Tourist Arrivals

14th August 2010, www.dailymirror.lk

Several hotel giants are undertaking expansion, refurbishment and development plans. This come in the wake of increased demand for hotel rooms post conflict resolution. All this will help accommodate the exponential increase in tourist arrival expected. The projected inbound tourism figures are at 2.5 million by 2016

John Keells Holdings (JKH) invested 400 million LKR to upgrade and rebrand Club Oceanic to Chaaya Blu in Trincomalee. The group has currently undertaken a 2 billion LKR investment on a new 4 star 190-room hotel in the Beruwela area. Coral Gardens in Hikkaduwa, Bentota Beach and Habarana Lodge are all being given a facelift with the total renovation costing upto 1.6 billion LKR. The chain also has lands in in Ahungalla, Wirawila and Nilaweli, upon which new properties are planned.

Amaya Resorts and Spas development process is to be carried out in 4 stages. This includes to firstly develop the existing properties which is estimated at USD 10 million. Next step would be to develop the available land bank. The identifies areas are - Wadduwa at a cost of USD 15 million, Kalpitiya at a cost of USD 15 million, Mirissa at a cost of USD 30 million, Negombo at USD 30 million. The total investment that is projected for this 2nd stage of development is approximately USD 90 million

Jetwing is all set to spend 700 million on rebranding and refurbishing Blue Oceanic as Jetwing Blue. Besides this the chain will spend approximately Rs. 500 million at Sea Shell which will be converted to Jetwing Sea and Rs. 400 million will be spent at Blue Lagoon. Jetwing Blue and Jetwing Sea are slated to open their doors for business in December this year.

"Given the rapid growth of tourism in Sri Lanka, Jetwing seeks to refurbish its current properties and expand its room stock through new ventures. In respect of refurbishment, Jetwing has made a conscious effort to upgrade all its properties gradually to a 4 -5 star (small luxury) properties. Already the Jetwing Blue & Jetwing Sea are underway! As regards new hotel ventures, Jetwing has planned to occupy 'white spots', by locating and developing new similar standard hotels in the East Coast, Yala, Kandy, Jaffna and Colombo, while offering to manage several other properties in the island," states, Hiran Cooray, Chairman Jetwing Group.

Tourist arrivals have increased to nearly a staggering 48 percent for the month alone when compared with June 2009. The first half of 2010 has registered a 48.4 percent increase in inbound tourism when compared to the same period in 2010.

Related Info:
Sri Lanka Doubles July Tourist Arrivals. Driven by Arrivals from Western Europe

Sorowwa Resort, Habarana, Latest Attraction to the Cultural Hub of Sri Lanka

29th April 2010, www.dailymirror.lk, By Sanath Weerasuriya

Surrounded by a number of nature sanctuaries, home to thousands of colourful (migrating) birds and wild elephants, ‘Sorowwa Resort’ in Habarana ideallly location for cultural and natural excursions as well as indulgence in the beauty of nature and serenity.

‘Sorowwa Resort and Spa’ is the latest attraction to the cultural hub.

'This is actually the best location for all wildlife lovers and the top wildlife sanctuaries are situated just half an hour away. Minneriya, Kaudulla, Huruluwewa and Ritigala is at very close proximity' said Dr. M. Nawaz Jiffrey, the proprietor of the 'Sorowwa Resort and Spa'.

Dr. Nawaz, a professional medical practitioner, attached to the Gampola Hospital, has a dream from his childhood days. That is to become a top hotelier one day.

‘Sorowwa Resort & Spa' is built on the exact spot where Royalty of yore had their preferred pleasure garden and weva in Habarana.

The original ‘sorowwa’ of Habarana Weva is still in tact and the hotel is built on the same land by the Weva close to the sorowwa.

‘This is the main reason I have called this place ‘Sorowwa’. As a born nature lover and cultured man, I always respect our Sri Lankan traditional values. This same thing I have introduced in to the system of the hotel too' Dr Nawaz explained.

‘Sorowwa’ has 23 rooms including 14 deluxe, 6 super deluxe, one VIP room and two rooms at the ground level for the disabled . This is the only place I have come across with such facilities for differently abled people . Apart from the usual hospitality service, Sorowwa offers a step further in serving their guests.

‘In this place of sheer tranquility, an exalted level of personalized hospitality is all yours. From the moment you arrive to be greeted by our staff with a warm smile coming straight from their heart, you will begin to feel that you have finally arrived at that place you have always dreamed of, so abandon your self unto blissful comfort, total relaxation and peace' he added.

In keeping with the old traditions of the area, ‘Sorowwa’ offers traditional Sri Lankan cuisine along with all the other global dishes at the main restaurant 'Keketiya'. Rooftop is 'Balungala' and 'Ganganatha' is the pool bar.

'This is a family resort and we serve according to family choice. An exotic spread of succulent eastern and western dishes by Chef Bandara are the speciality of 'Keketiya' said Chaminda Amerasinghe, the Manager of the place.

‘Sorowwa’ is within easy reach of so many magnificent spots of exciting wild life, historically and culturally rich sites for which Sri Lanka is famous for. Sigiriya (1/2 hour drive), Minneriya (15 minute drive), Ritigala (1/2 hour drive), Dambulla ( 1/2 hour drive), Polonnaruwa 45 minute drive), Anuradhapura (45 minute drive), Trincomalee (1 1/2 hour drive), Pasi Kuda (1 1/2 hour drive) and Knuckles is about 2 1/2 hour drive are some of the top attractions and sites close to the Resort.

Honeymooners too are assured of a most memorable stay which they would enjoy their new life together - Adding more buzz to it are majestic elephant rides and exciting wild-life excursions.

For more details call 066 2270332 / 3 or log on to www.sorowwa.com

13 August 2010

Sri Lanka Doubles July Tourist Arrivals. Driven by Arrivals from Western Europe

13th August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka surged by 50 percent in July 2010 to 63,339 from a year ago as post-war optimism and removal of travel advisories encouraged visitors even during the off-season, latest data shows.

The increase in the number of visitors was driven largely by more arrivals from Western Europe, the traditional main market for Sri Lanka, from where arrivals shot up 72 percent to 28,738 The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority's latest monthly bulletin showed that visitors from Britain, for long a key market, helped drive the increase in arrivals from Western Europe.

Arrivals from the UK went up by 50 percent to 11,734 in July 2010 compared with the same month a year ago.

The number of visitors from Germany, another traditional market, went up 33 percent to 3,540 and visitors from France more than doubled to 3,738 while those from the Netherlands almost doubled to 2,697.

July is considered part of the off-season for the island's tourism industry with the peak season coinciding with the northern hemisphere winter.

Sri Lanka's 30-year ethnic war ended in 2009, resulting in an immediate increase in the number of tourists to the island.

The subsequent removal of travel warnings against visiting the island, absence of violence and improved economic and political stability is helping drive the increase in tourist arrivals.

The tourism office data showed that the number of visitors from the Middle East, a new market the tourism industry is trying to exploit, rose by 68 percent to 6,975.

The number arrivals from South Asia, which has also emerged as a big market for Sri Lanka, rose 15 percent to 12,736 in July 2010 from a year ago led by visitors from India, up 35 percent to 9,058.

The total number of tourist arrivals in the January-July 2010 period was up 48.7 percent to 341,991 from the same period a year ago.

More Info:
Sri Lanka Tourist Arrival Statistics

Switch-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project for better Management of Water, Waste & Energy

13th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk

The third seminar of the Switch-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project, funded by the European Commission was held at Hotel Sigiriya recently.

Tourism Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) Regional President Marias Perera, made the welcome speech. At the seminar, CCC Project Director Srilal Miththapala, and his team of experts outlined the details of the project and the benefits which could be derived through energy, water and waste management practices.

The half-day seminar had an active participation of a wide range of hospitality establishments representing Small, Medium and key players in the industry.

The three introductory seminars conducted so far, in Negombo and Southern region and the most recent one at the Cultural Triangle had the presence of enthusiastic participants who were keen to enhance their environmental performance through improvement of energy, water and waste management systems and thereby reducing the cost of operations.

The Switch-Asia Team of experts of the project on Water Energy and Waste are now in the process of collecting baseline data from the hotels who have already registered with the project.

Individual guidance will also be provided to the smaller hotels to fill-up the questionnaire.

The team will then start working with the registered hotels in conducting audits and planning interventions to reduce their water, waste and energy usage.

As at present, a total of 94 hotels have participated at these awareness seminars and many of them have already signed-up with the project.

The next awareness seminar is scheduled to be held at the Light House Hotel, Galle on September 3, for the hoteliers in and around Deep South area.

The project is also working closely with reputed local banks and other agencies to work out some form of preferential financial assistance for those who have registered with the Switch-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project, and develop a worthwhile energy conservative project for implementation.

Related Info:
Greening Sri Lankan Hotels

Sri Lanka's Kalpitiya gets 2 Hotels at Rs 3.2bn in Vellai and Ippanthivu Islands

13th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Chaminda Perera

In a move to cater to the booming tourist industry following the end to terrorism in the country, two investors have come forward to invest Rs 3,200 million in two star class hotels in the Kalpitiya Tourist Zone.

These hotels will be established in Vellai and Ippanthivu islands in the Kalpitiya Tourist Zone. These projects are expected to generate more than 1,200 employment opportunities.

The Government leased out the Vellai island where one of the hotels is to be constructed. Tourist Board Chairman Nalaka Godahewa and Sun Lanka Resort Chairman Mohammed Sham signed the lease agreement in the presence of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.

The construction of this hotel consisting of 150 rooms would be completed within three years. The hotel to be constructed in the Ippanthivu island in Kalpitiya will consist of 300 rooms and it is an investment of Rs 1,700m.

Related Info:
Kalpitiya Interactive Map with Survey Maps of Dutch Bay and Portugal Bay Islands

Kalpitiya Tourism Development Project (SLTDA)

Kalpitiya Photo Gallery (SLTDA)

Sri Lanka's Madhu Feast to Draw 400,000 Devotees on 15th August

13th August 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Shirley Wijesinghe

All facilities will be provided to Madhu devotees until August 16, Madhu Shrine Administrator Rev. Fr. Desmond Kulas told the Daily News yesterday.

“I expect over 400.000 devotees for the Church feast on 15,” he added.

The festival Mass will be held at 6.30 a.m. in Sinhala and Tamil.

Compared with last August 15 feast, no security checkpoints were visible. A peaceful atmosphere dawns after defeating terrorism. The entire shrine area is open for devotees to observe religious activities freely without any restrictions.

Security arrangements have been provided with Police and Army assistance, Rev. Fr. Desmond Kulas said.

Mannar SSP Cecil Kodituwakku said about 1,500 Police Officers are on duty to provide security for devotees additional to Army and Navy attachments.

An official of Lanka Sathosa outlet at the shrine premises said it has enough food to fulfill the devotees’ requirement. Fish and meat stalls will be opened tomorrow through the Lanka Satosa outlets.

It has been also observed that all byroads leading to the Church are being finished with paved stones and other main roads are being carpeted .

Arrangements to supply clean drinking water for devotees and other service providers have been made with the assistance of INGOs and NGOs.

Related Info:
Special Trains for Madhu Festival - Schedule (Timetable)

Sri Lanka's UDA to Issue Rs 5bn Debentures to Develop Colombo Land

12th August 2010, www.island.lk, By Zacki Jabbar

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwalle addressing yesterday’s cabinet press briefing in Colombo said that the cabinet of ministers on a proposal by the Defence Ministry had approved the issue of the debentures by the UDA.

Acccording to a survey conducted, 66,000 low income families were occupying valuable land in Colombo and its environs in a very "haphazard" manner, he said.

Rambukwalle said that the Urban Development Authority has formulated a project proposal to develop valuable lands in Colombo in stages and it has become necessary to relocate unauthorized settlements.

The project, once fully implemented, would especially benefit low income families, he claimed.

Rambukwalle said that the Cabinet also approved another Memorandum by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Highways Minister, to construct a Highway Secretariat at Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla, with Asian Development Bank assistance.

The entire cost of the project will be Rs. 132 million, he said.

India Invests $ 18.2mn in Sri Lanka Wind Power Project

12th August 2010, www.island.lk

The Board of Investment granted investment approval to Powergen Lanka Limited to set up a 10 MW wind power plant in Puttalam with an investment amounting to US$ 18.55 million from India, the BOI announced yesterday.

"The agreement signed with Powergen Lanka Limited for a project to generate wind power will establish the plant in Uppudaluwa, Puttalam. The project representing an investment of US $ 18.55 million is an Indian investment.

The venture is expected to commence operations by June 2011. The project will utilise seven 1.7 MW wind turbines for the power generation process. Narasimhan Ramkhumar, Director of Powergen Lanka stated that around 75% of the power generation from the wind turbines during the year will be in April to October," the BOI said in a statement.

Directors of the company Mr. Rohan Iriyagolla and Mr. Narasimhan Ramkhumar signed the agreement on behalf of the company.

Jayamapathi Bandaranayake, Chairman / Director General signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to the investors.

Sri Lanka's $1bn Bond to be Managed by HSBC, Bank of America & Royal Bank of Scotland

12th August 2010, www.bloomberg.com, By Anusha Ondaatjie

Sri Lanka hired HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Bank of America Corp. to manage a proposed $1 billion overseas bond sale later this year, the South Asian island’s central bank said.

The selection was made from among seven foreign lenders and investment banks that expressed their interest to manage the sale, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said on its Web site today.

The bond sale would be subject to market conditions, the central bank said. It appointed Bank of Ceylon as co-manager to work with the lead arrangers for the issue.

Sri Lanka in July announced plans to sell the bonds, with maturities of as much as 10 years, by the end of 2010 to help refinance expensive loans. The end of the island’s three decades of civil war in May has restored investor confidence and attracted foreign flows.

HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Royal Bank of Scotland helped arrange Sri Lanka’s last global bond sale in October that attracted bids for more than 13 times the $500 million offered.

This year’s overseas debt sale will be the third by the nation since its debut offering in October 2007.

Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings raised their outlook on Sri Lanka’s debt in October last year. S&P revised it to positive from stable, and assigned the nation’s long-term foreign-currency debt rating at B, five levels below investment grade. Fitch changed the outlook to stable from negative. It affirmed Sri Lanka’s rating at B+, four levels below investment grade.

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

12 August 2010

Sri Lanka to Seek Ratings from Moody's, Standard & Poor’s & Fitch Before $1bn Sovereign Bond Issue

10th August 2010, www.bloomberg.com

Sri Lanka is seeking a rating of its sovereign debt from Moody’s Investors Service ahead of a planned $1 billion overseas bond sale, central bank Assistant Governor C.J.P. Siriwardena said.

The South Asian nation last month announced plans to sell the bonds, with maturities of as much as 10 years, by the end of 2010 to help refinance expensive loans. Moody’s doesn’t have a credit rating for Sri Lanka, while Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings place the country’s long-term foreign-currency debt at non-investment grade.

“This is the ideal time to get a rating from all the three agencies,” Siriwardena said in a telephone interview today from Colombo. He said the economy is poised to grow more than 7 percent this year after the end of the country’s civil war.

Sri Lankan troops defeated the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009 and ended their 26-year struggle for a separate homeland, boosting growth prospects.

S&P and Fitch raised their outlook on Sri Lanka’s debt in October last year. S&P revised it to positive from stable, and assigned the nation’s long-term foreign-currency debt rating at B, five levels below investment grade. Fitch changed the outlook to stable from negative. It affirmed Sri Lanka’s rating at B+, four levels below investment grade.

Moody’s Visit

Representatives from Moody’s are in the island nation this week to meet with senior government and central bank officials, Siriwardena said. He said Fitch and S&P officials will also visit Sri Lanka this month to assess the economy.

“Sri Lanka should get a rating upgrade of at least one notch since the economy is now very robust,” said Sarath Rajapakse, director of research at Capital Trust Securities Ltd. in Colombo. “The bond offering will attract strong demand.”

The benchmark Colombo All-Share Index rose 4.1 percent to 5063.98 at 1:53 p.m. local time. The yield on the benchmark four-year bond was little changed at 9.3 percent, according to Standard Chartered Plc.

This year’s overseas debt sale will be the third by the nation since its debut offering in October 2007.

The nation’s last global bond sale in October attracted bids for more than 13 times the $500 million offered.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is aiming to accelerate growth to at least 7 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in four years.

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