26 May 2010

Terranova of Brazil in Sri Lanka to Finance Mega Investment Projects

26th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk

Brazilian company, Terranova Participacoes Ltda. has identified Sri Lanka as the preferred location for the development of mainstream industry.

Terranova, Managing Director Prof. Gilberto Moreira is conducting a study tour to Sri Lanka to understand the country and identifying opportunities for development.

Prof. Moreira met Asset Holdings, Group Chairman and through a lengthy exchange of ideas, they decided to form a partnership to develop new mainstream industry in Sri Lanka.

Prof. Moreira says that Brazil built its position as the world's 10th largest economy in the last 50 years and believes that Sri Lanka can also achieve similar success.

Prof. Moreira added that the courageous action, leadership and determination of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to lead the way to a peaceful Sri Lanka built the foundations for a prosperous future of the country.

Bhs UK Visits Sri Lanka to Explore the Possibility of Expanding Their Sourcing of Garments without Guilt

26th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk

A three member team from Bhs UK visited Sri Lanka from May 22 to 25 to explore the possibility of expanding their sourcing from the country. The members of the team were Divisional Buying Director Cassie Moore, Senior Buyer Julian Miller and Senior Quality Advisor Nick Duke.

Bhs, is a British department store chain with 186 branches located in high street locations primarily selling clothing was first launched in the UK in the early 1900's. It was bought by Sir Phillip Green the owner of the Arcadia Group in the year 2000 for Sterling Pounds 200 million. The Arcadia Group had recorded a sales value of over Sterling Pounds 3,000 million during the last fiscal year.

The EDB organized a meeting between the Bhs team, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and the leading apparel associations at the commencement of the program. This was the first official meeting of Janaka Ratnayake the newly appointed Chairman of the EDB. Welcoming the BHS team Ratnayake thanked them for including Sri Lanka in their South Asian itinerary. He stressed that since this is a vital industry for the economy of Sri Lanka accounting for nearly 44 percent of the export revenue, the Government would extend its fullest support to Bhs to increase their sourcing from Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman and Favourite Group Managing Director Kumar Mirchandani, making a presentation on behalf of the industry to the Bhs team said that Sri Lanka has over the past three decades developed into a sophisticated industry from mere tailors to total solution specialists. The industry reality of no sweatshop conditions, no child labour, maintaining international health and safety standards, governed hours of work, community outreach programs were highlighted by Mirchandan.

Garments without Guilt - making the 'Made in Sri Lanka' label synonymous with ethical and sustainable apparel manufacturing was also explained.

It was mentioned that a Sri Lankan company was the first in the world to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum award - a benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

JAAF Secretary General Rohan Masakorale said that Sri Lanka has the fastest shipping connections to U.K, which is 15 days transit at the moment, where weekly services are offered with multiple carriers and the service is direct without any transshipment. No other country in Asia can match this service and it would be an added advantage to the buyers to place orders in Sri Lanka as the speed of the supply chain reliability is going to be critical and lead times and production cycles would play a key role in future decision making process for buyers.

Briefing the gathering, Cassie Moore said that Bhs was part of the Arcadia Group UK which owns and operates nearly 3000 Stores in the UK and worldwide. Their brands are Bhs, Top Shop, Dorthy Perkins, Wallis, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Top man and Burtons. She said Bhs buys women's and men's clothing, children's wear, school wear lingerie, nightwear, underwear, house wear and footwear. She further said that Bhs has been buying school wear from Sri Lanka for the last 18 years.

The purpose of this visit was to review the opportunities of developing other products through Sri Lanka. Moore made use of this occasion to extend their thanks to their existing suppliers and to the new vendors scheduled to meet in Sri Lanka.

She also thanked the EDB and the Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK for having assisted them greatly in recognizing the opportunities for manufacturing development in Sri Lanka.

The Bhs team visited around 10 factories during their three day tour in Sri Lanka including small, medium and large scale units meeting their basic criterion of being Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) certified.

Sri Lanka May Get $1.5bn from Iran to Expand Refinery

25th May 2010, www.bloomberg.com, By Anusha Ondaatjie

Sri Lanka, which imports all its oil, may get a $1.5 billion loan from Iran to fully fund a project to double capacity at the South Asian island’s only refinery, the petroleum minister said.

“The earlier understanding was for us to come up with 30 percent, but Iran may come in to completely finance the expansion,” Susil Premajayantha said in an interview in the capital Colombo.

Sri Lanka plans to start the two-year construction to increase state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp. refinery’s processing capacity to 100,000 barrels a day by early 2011, Premajayantha said May 21. China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corp. has submitted a proposal to set up a refinery in Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota district that would export products, he said.

The end of Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war last year is attracting overseas aid and investment, stoking an economic recovery. Cairn India Ltd., a unit of U.K. explorer Cairn Energy Plc, is investing $100 million to look for oil in a field off Sri Lanka’s northwestern coast that may hold 1 billion barrels of oil.

Preliminary seismic tests indicated “possible deposits of oil or gas” in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters within the Cauvery Basin in the Palk Straits and in the island’s southeastern waters, Premajayantha said.

Sri Lanka will offer four blocks in those areas after calling for tenders from overseas companies to explore six more blocks in the offshore Mannar basin, the minister said.

“If we strike oil, we could have the refineries already here,” Premajayantha said.

Sri Lanka currently imports as much as 60 percent of the island’s crude oil requirements from Iran and is holding discussions on purchases from Russian companies, Premajayantha said.

Local petroleum prices are likely to be “stable” in the coming weeks while following global market rates, he said.

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

Sri Lanka Tea, Apparel Exports to India Rise after Removal of FTP Controls

25th May 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's exports of tea and apparel to India rose sharply in 2009 as impediments in a free trade deal between the two neighbours were removed, an Indian diplomat said.

Overall trade between the two countries is also recovering from recession in the first part of this year, said Vikram Misri, Indian deputy high commissioner in Colombo.

Tea and apparel, the island's main agricultural and industrial exports, had faced quota restrictions under the Indo-Lanka free trade agreement signed a decade ago which raised doubts about the trade deal among the island's business community.

"With regard to the quotas, they have been liberalized consistently in a way that Sri Lanka is allowed to self-administer them and they seem to have begun to have a positive impact as can be seen in a 136 percent growth in the export of tea and about 35 percent increase in the export of garments in 2009, both items where quotas exist," said Misri.

"This is happening in a year when there has been an overall decline of 21.53 percent in Sri Lankan exports to India."

With regard to other restrictions, Misri told a seminar on the FTA that there are no Sri Lanka-specific port entry restrictions in India.

Also, a condition of import of fabrics to use the garment quota has been done away with.

"India has also expressed its readiness to implement the “garment model” for the administration of the pepper quota, which is expected to be signed shortly," Misri said.

"Most of the implementation issues that have created this so-called “perception” about the FTA have been resolved and others pertaining to NTBs can be resolved if there is will on the Sri Lankan side to move forward with already negotiated frameworks."

Bilaterally, the FTA has led to the emergence of a "vibrant" economic relationship and a "quantum jump" in trade, investment and economic cooperation between India and Sri Lanka, Misri said.

"Within two years of its coming into force, we saw a doubling of our trade turnover. In another three years, that is, by 2005, we doubled the trade turnover again. Between 2000 and 2008, the turnover grew five times."

The trend would have continued in 2009 if not for the global economic crisis.

"It should be a cause for satisfaction that early figures for 2010 are already showing a strong revival of trade between the two countries, which only goes to validate the path we are embarked upon."

Misri also said that in the past India and Sri Lanka had been more interdependent than they are now even with a modern free trade arrangement.

"Even as recently as 1938, India accounted for 42.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s imports while in 2008, even with an FTA in place, Indian exports to Sri Lanka were only about 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s global imports."

Related Info :

Indo-Sri Lanka FTA (ISFTA) - Detailed Information - The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI)

25 May 2010

Sri Lanka Exports to India up 10 fold as Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement Marks 10 Yrs

25th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk, Sanjeevi Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka’s overall trade with India is growing closer to six fold and exports from Sri Lanka are growing ten fold. The increased diversity with greater value addition in exports from Sri Lanka is a positive development. March 2010 marks ten years since implementation of the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) and during this period trade between the two countries expanded rapidly.

Though, there have been teething problems and trade disputes it is important to assess the progress of ILFTA analyzing the positive and the negatives and take stock of how the Agreement should progress in the next decade.

Exports from Sri Lanka to India increased significantly recording US $ 58 million in 2000 to US $ 418.3 million in 2008.

Similarly the exports from India to Sri Lanka have also accelerated from US $ 600.1 million to US $ 3,443 million from 2000 to 2008.

The product base of Sri Lanka diversified largely during this time. In 1999 Sri Lanka exported products to India under 505 tariff lines whereas by 2005 the number of products augmented to 1,062 with several value added products.

By 2008, other than the traditional primary products such as pepper, waste and scrap steel, arecanuts, dried fruit and cloves, several value added products such as insulated wires and cables, pneumatic tyres, ceramics, vegetable fats and oils, refined copper products, apparel, pharmaceutical products and furniture were among the top exports from Sri Lanka to India.

Trade relations between Sri Lanka and India gained momentum since 1990 and grew rapidly as a result of the implementation of ILFTA.

India followed a reform agenda and has progressed much. The “new thinking” in India should be attractive to Sri Lanka. The country needs to take a cue from the statistical input and brilliant decision making process in India, Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama said.

“The ILFTA is a restricted agreement as it gives preferences only to Sri Lanka and India. There is a major debate in the US and West on these free trade agreements considering the fact that we live in relatively small world.

The world has changed and we need to change accordingly,” he said.

The country is presented with an ideal situation now. Sri Lanka is ready for a spectacular take off. India and China would be the leading world economies and it will make South Asia a global hot spot.

It is important to develop incredible synergies to exploit the situation, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr Anura Ekanayake said.

The ILFTA should look at from improving on good and reducing on bad. The agreement could be a platform for much wider relationship as Sri Lanka is high trade dependable.

The agreement should be outward looking and have a major role to play in increasing national investments up to the range of 40 percent which could not mobilize locally, he said.

A two-day conference on the India-Sri Lanka free trade agreement; achievements, challenges and the road ahead jointly organized by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Centre for WTO Studies, Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the India Sri Lanka Joint Business Council was held yesterday.

Image: Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr Anura Ekanayake

Related Info:

 • Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement is 10 Yrs Old

 • Indo-Sri Lanka FTA (ISFTA) - Detailed Information - The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI)

Doing Business Ranking of Sri Lanka to Improve with EDB Export Procedures

25th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi, Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

The Export Development Board will streamline export procedure in three stages to improve the Doing Business Ranking of Sri Lanka.

Export Development Board Finance Director M.D.K. Mendis speaking at the “Improving Doing Business Ranking of Sri Lanka” seminar at the Central Bank on Saturday said this will be done initially with tea and apparel sectors.

Phase two will develop the simplified documents sharing common data base to minimize processing time. Finally the Export Data Input (EDI) system will be developed.

The process will be simplified by providing common data sharing and, modern e-technology facilities, expanding services of agencies of One Stop Shop OSS and other service providing agencies and developing IT facilities with the support of ICTA.

Mendis said investors have to go to ten places wasting time to get things done at present as service providers are scattered causing inconvenience, undue delays, high volume of documents, low productivity and high transaction cost.

The objective of OSS is to speed up document processing, minimize inconvenience, improve productivity, avoid undue delays leading to enhance competitiveness of Sri Lankan exports.

The OSS facilitates exporters to submit documents to a single entry point and to fulfill all export related regulatory requirements under one roof.

Inadequate diversification is another reason for the low business ranking and the EDB will diversify its product range through value addition via branding in order to make Sri Lanka exports a US$ 20 bn industry by 2020.

Ease of Doing Business Ranking : Provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 183 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level.

SriLankan Engineering's C-Checks on India’s GoAir A320s Strengthens Its Reputation in Aircraft Maintenance in South Asia

25th May 2010, www.dailynews.lk

SriLankan Engineering has strengthened its reputation as the aircraft maintenance specialist of choice in the South Asian region by adding the Indian low-fare carrier GoAir to its list of customer airlines.

The major maintenance checks on two Airbus A320 aircraft are the first operations to be carried out for GoAir by SriLankan Engineering.

The projects, known as C-checks, are periodic mandatory programs of the aircrafts manufacturer, Airbus Industries, during which the entire aircraft is closely inspected for wear and tear, and necessary repairs carried out. The C-checks on both aircraft will be carried out in March at SriLankan Engineering’s main facility at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

In February, SriLankan Engineering commenced a series of C-checks on 13 aircraft of another Indian low-fare carrier, IndiGo, which contracted its C-check programme to SriLankan Engineering for a second successive year following the success of C-checks on 13 of its aircraft in 2009.

SriLankan Engineering enhanced its profile in the global aviation industry by being certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency to the prestigious EASA 145 standard.

Winner of Airbus Industries award for Operational Excellence in both A330 and A340 aircraft in the small airline category, SriLankan Engineering recently made a significant investment in upgrading its facilities at BIA.

24 May 2010

Malaysian Companies Keen to Invest in Sri Lanka with its Target FDI of $1bn in 2010

21st May 2010, biz.thestar.com.my

Sri Lanka, via its Board of Investment (BoI), is currently in discussions with several local companies concerning their interest to invest in diverse fields.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr Don Dandayanda Ranasinghe, said the companies, which included Sunway, YTL, Genting and Berjaya, showed interest in sectors like tourism, infrastructure, education and financial services.

“Discussions are still ongoing and progressing very smoothly,” he told reporters after a seminar on Business and Investment Opportunities in Sri Lanka, organised by Malaysian Investment Development Authority and Sri Lanka here yesterday.

Among the major Malaysian companies having operations in Sri Lanka are Axiata Group Bhd in cellular mobile phone network, Merbok Hilir Bhd in medium density fibreboard, Lagenda Sentissa Sdn Bhd in public payphone system, Felda Marketing Services Sdn Bhd in cultivating oil seeds and hydrogenated edible oil, and Pembinaan Wincon Sdn Bhd in housing development.

Malaysia is expected to remain as one of the main investors in Sri Lanka in next five to 10 years, according to Ranasinghe.

He said the Sri Lankan government was calling on the Malaysian business community to invest in various sectors promoted by BoI Sri Lanka as the country was now in a new phase of economic development.

Among the sectors are infrastructure, tourism, education, logistical services, agriculture, manufacturing, rubber industry, business process outsourcing and software industry as well as gems and jewellery. — Bernama

Ranasinghe said Sri Lanka aimed to attract US$1bil in foreign direct investments this year from last year’s US$889mil as foreign investments would play a major role in economic development.

“Sri Lanka, which has gone through a difficult and turbulent period of over three decades due to internal conflict, is now at a turning point in our history, both politically and economically,” he said. — Bernama

23 May 2010

Cargills Building in Fort to be Made into a Harrods of Sri Lanka

23rd May 2010, www.sundaytimes.lk

The 120 year-old Cargills building in Fort will soon be transformed into a London-based, Harrods-type of building with the company charting new plans for its future.

All the offices in the building will be moved to a new location and the building vacated for this massive development, its Deputy Chairman Ranjit Page said.

He said the there is a huge opportunity following the end of the war and shopping malls is one area the company plans to expand into.

“The Cargills building in Fort is a grand old building and the story goes that the first Governor of Ceylon resided here.

We have been considering re-building it to its old glory. I think the time has come for us to take this opportunity seriously,” he said adding that the company is looking at its entire land base.

New office space is being provided for the Cargills team located in the old Cargills building. “Can the Cargills building be the Harrods of Sri Lanka, a destination for tourists from passenger liners, maybe tourists walking through enjoying the culture of Sri Lanka, wining and dining while purchasing luxury brands?

My team and I are now looking at this new exciting project. We are serious about this project and I believe we can deliver this,” he said.

21 May 2010

Sri Lanka Keeps Policy Rates & Treasury Yields Stable, Inflation Subdued

21st May 2010, www.island.lk, By Devan Daniel

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank has decided to keep rates at which commercial banks lend or borrow from the Central Bank stable as inflation remains subdued while benchmark Treasury bill rates remained relatively stable this week with the bank financing the payment of maturing bills amounting to a little more than Rs. 1.5 billion.

The point-to-point change in inflation fell to 5.8 percent in April after reaching above 6 percent in March but the annual change in the rate of inflation moved up to 3.4 percent, raising since 3.1 percent last February.

"Price pressures in the economy have been dampened by improvements on the supply side, particularly the noteworthy performance in paddy production. Prices of key commodities in the international markets also remain subdued," the Central Bank said.

For these reasons, price pressures are expected to be subdued in the short term, the bank said in its monetary policy review for May.

Therefore, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank ahs decided to keep policy interest rates unchanged at 7.5 percent and 9.25. These rates apply to overnight placement of excess funds of commercial banks (repurchase rate) with the Central Bank and borrowings (reverse repurchase rate) form the Central Bank respectively.

The Central Bank said credit to the private sector had improved with positive growth for March 2010 after making negative gains since April last year, but no figures were given. The latest Weekly Economic Indicators published by the bank indicates a 2.8 percent drop in private sector credit last February from the previous year.

However, the Central Bank said credit to the private sector is picking up.

"The gradual expansion in credit obtained by the private sector indicates the solidifying recovery in the economy," it said.

However, the Central Bank earlier this month said that it was constantly asking commercial banks to revise their lending rates to more reasonable levels and that credit to the private sector was too slow to recover despite loosening monetary policy throughout the latter part of 2009.

Dealers said excess liquidity in the rupee market continued to be high. Dealers said the surplus reached Rs. 33 billion as at Wednesday. With commercial banks still cautious in their lending to the private sector, government securities were the preferred option.

Meanwhile, broad money growth fell to 17.1 percent year-on-year this March from 18.6 percent as at end 2009. "Broad money growth remains compatible with the levels targeted in the monetary programme at the beginning of the year," the Central Bank said.

Broad money is defined as the sum of currency held by the public and all deposits held by the public with commercial banks. This is a popular variable that is used to analyse the relationship between the money supply and the general price level, or inflation.
Treasury yields stable
Treasury bill rates remained relatively stable at this week’s primary market auction of maturing bills amounting to Rs. 13 billion. The Central Bank accepted re-issued Rs. 11,443 million of these financing the settlement of the balance Rs. 1,557 million with access funds held in its position.

The six-month and 12-month Treasury bill rates remained unchanged at 8.88 percent and 9.23 percent respectively from a week ago but the yield on the three-month bill increased marginally to 8.13 percent from 8.18 percent a week ago.

The Rs. 13 billion maturing bills attracted bids amounting to Rs. 24.62 billion from primary dealers but only Rs. 11.4 billion was accepted with the balance bought by the Central Bank. Analysts said this was done by printing new money but a top Central Banker said the bank has a stock of excess funds for this purpose.

IMF and budget deficits
The biggest risk to maintaining low inflation and low interest rates is from the budget deficit and Central Bank warned that the government would have to contain high deficits.

The IMF is expected to announce the fate of the US$ 2.6 billion standby facility programme today after it deferred the payment of the third US$ 326 million tranche earlier this year when the government overshot the 7 percent of GDP deficit target for 2009, reaching 9.8 percent.

The government announced that it would target a deficit of 7.5 percent this year which would be brought down to 5 percent by 2012, but the IMF said it would want to see the proof when the next budget is announced.

The next budget is to be announced in November for the 2011 fiscal year. An interim budget for this year is to be announced by the end of June.

Although Sri Lanka has built comfortable levels of foreign exchange reserves, more than US$ 5 billion, economists point out that the continuance of the IMF programme would give long term investors confidence in Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic prospects.

An IMF mission is in the island and is expected to complete its review of the standby facility programme today.

Sri Lanka Pakistan Trade Doubles due to FTA

21st May 2010, www.dailynews.lk

Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka within the South Asian region. Sri Lanka is the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has doubled within a short period of time from US$ 150 million to US$ 300 million during the last three years, which is a direct outcome FTA, which is operational since 2005. Recently a 27-member Pakistan-Sri Lanka Business Forum (PSLBF) delegation led by Abdul Rauf Tabani, visited Sri Lanka.

They participated in the INTRAD-EXPO 2010, organized by the National Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka.

They were accompanied by Consul General of Sri Lanka in Karachi V. Sidath Kumar. This was the third business delegation of the PSLBF in as many years. The business delegation also explored opportunities for investments and joint ventures in Sri Lanka.

The delegation consisted of Heads/CEOs of leading Pakistani companies in textiles, fertilizer, sugar industry, service industry, IT, fresh fruits and vegetables, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, leisure and tourism, construction, light engineering goods, rice, apparel, gems/jewellery, sports goods and commodities sectors. The delegation also participated in an investment conference arranged by the National Chamber of Commerce.

Meetings were also held with BOI the Chairman and Sri Lanka Export Development Board Chairman. The meetings focused on increasing the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries.

Image: Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa with the Pakistan business delegation.

Related Info :

Pakistan - Sri Lanka FTA (PSFTA)- Detailed Information - The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI)

Sri Lanka Tourism Brings Rooms in Homes Project to Suppliment Facilities for Tourism

21st May 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Harshini Perera

Fifteen guest houses have been set up without any help in Jaffna soon after the end of terrorism up to now. This is a healthy sign for the development of tourism in Jaffna, a senior tourism official said.

Small and medium hoteliers have far more greater potential to increase tourist arrivals as the country is opened for tourism. Households are encouraged to provide accommodation to tourists in Jaffna and other tourist destinations.

Rooms in Homes project will provide opportunities for households to accommodate tourists and earn an income.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority having understood the need is now conducting the Rooms in Homes Project to assist interested people to bring more business opportunities to the country.

“Sri Lanka at present has only 14,600 hotel room facilities and this will give an attractive supplementary accommodation by encouraging households to provide accommodation for tourists.

The Government understood this as a timely need to support them in what they need,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Director General S. Kalaiselvam told Daily News Business. An advertisement about the project was displayed in November last year to which 300 houseowners have responded by now.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has already registered 82 house room providers.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority will market the product of Rooms in Homes by linking them with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s corporate website.

An accommodation guide will be given to tourists providing them information on accommodation in these houses.

“It is expected to conduct this project all over the island covering even North and East areas. However, a minimal participation was shown in Jaffna compared with the other districts for the project,”he said.

Sri Lanka's Bank of Ceylon Foreign Remittance Receipts up by 23pct in April 2010

21st May 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Inward remittances handled by Sri Lanka's Bank of Ceylon (BOC) rose 22.7 percent in April 2010 despite other private commercial banks eating into its market share, a senior official said. "We see that our inward remittances are growing because people are sending hard currencies for savings and investments," Gamini Wickramasinghe, chairman of BOC told LBO.

"The blue collar workers are remitting more to increase their savings and investments."

Inward remittances through the bank have been rising every month since the beginning of this year.

In March they were up 24.4 percent to 16.3 billion rupees and in April rose 22.7 percent to 16.2 billion rupees from the previous year, Wickramasinghe said.

State-owned BOC is Sri Lanka's largest commercial bank.

In 2009 the bank received nearly 1.6 billion dollars in foreign remittances.

However, despite the good run BOC's inward remittances market share has steadily eroded because of fierce competition from private banks, Wickramasinghe said.

In 2008 BOC's market share was over 50 percent, but a year later had dipped under 50 percent, Wickramasinghe said.

"Everyone is fighting to increase market share," Wickramasinghe said. "The competition is stiff and we (BOC) are formulating new strategies to maintain market share."

He said BOC has introduced a pension scheme linked to remittances to attract more migrant workers to use the bank to remit their money home and encourage existing customers to stay with the bank.

Part of the remittances will be deducted monthly and put in a separate account from which money can be withdraw after workers retire at 55 years.

Most expatriate workers, despite working for years abroad, hardly save anything when they return to Sri Lanka, Wickramasinghe said.

"We are targeting our pensions scheme for the blue color workers as most of them when they retire they don't get pension," Wickramasinghe said.

Nearly 7.5 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population work mostly in blue collar jobs in Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Dubai, Lebanon and Syria.

19 May 2010

Sri Lanka to Keep Rates on Hold, No Plans to Sell any Bonds Immediately

18th May 2010, www.bloomberg.com, By Shamim Adam

Sri Lanka’s benchmark interest rates will likely remain unchanged this week as inflation remains “benign,” central bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said in an interview in Singapore today.

“We will see a similar situation being maintained because inflation figures have been moderate, it’s been quite benign,” he said after speaking at an investment seminar. “We still have a little slack, so most probably monetary policy will remain at the level that it is.”

Sri Lanka’s policy makers are seeking to stoke growth after the end of a civil war in 2009. The central bank, which will release a policy statement on May 20, left the reverse repurchase rate unchanged at 9.75 percent last month, its lowest level since August 2005, and maintained the repurchase rate at 7.5 percent.

Consumer prices in the capital, Colombo, rose 5.8 percent in April from a year earlier, according to the statistics department. Inflation averaged 12.6 percent in the five years through 2009.

Peace in the South Asian nation is attracting tourists and investment, helping companies such as John Keells Holdings Plc, which has port, supermarket, hotel, property development and brokerage arms. Sri Lanka’s stock index is one of the world’s best performers in the past year.

The economy may expand more than 6 percent this year, Cabraal told investors today, supporting the central bank’s forecast for growth of 6.5 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in three years.

The island doesn’t plan to sell any bonds immediately and will review its funding options after the budget is unveiled, he added. The governor said last month Sri Lanka may sell more dollar-denominated bonds this year to fund its budget deficit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at sadam2@bloomberg.net

17 May 2010

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals Grow - Statistics from 1999 Show an Upward Trend

03rd May 2010, www.dailynews.lk, By Ruchika Kher

Sri Lanka is witnessing an upswing in tourism. The island with abundant natural beauty is luring visitors, particularly from India, not just with sun, sand and sea but also with new attractions like Ayurveda and adventure.

“The tourism figures in the first quarter have doubled in comparison to last year, with nearly 16 percent of it being tourist arrivals from India,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director Dileep Mudadeniya.

“After the historic defeat of terrorism, the tourism industry has been on the rise with increased interest from foreign tourists as well. Tourism is finally seeing an upward trend. I’ve been working non-stop since December. Usually I used to work for just 18 days a month, but after the war ended there has been an upswing in tourists and thus more work for me,” said National Tourist Guides organization Secretary General Wije Manawadu.

“We are looking at 2011, which we call the year of Sri Lanka. We are focusing on bringing close to 1.5 million tourists to the country by that time.”

“At the moment we have close to 14,500 hotel rooms in the country. The government is trying to bring it up to close to 50,000 by then,” he added. Developmental programs and marketing strategies are being worked out to lure as many foreign visitors as possible.

“Vigorous promotions in terms of trade and consumer fairs will take place in our key markets; this includes Britain, the Middle East, India, France, Germany and China.

The communications campaign will also be launched in these markets,” said Mudadeniya. “Traditionally the product offering has been restricted to sun, sand and sea. However, now, new product offerings are being developed to improve the experiential component of tourism. They include Ayurveda, wildlife, eco-tourism and adventure tourism, to name a few,” said Mudadeniya.

Even tourists are happy to be in the country that boasts of beautiful, clean beaches, tempting water sports, breathtaking mountains, bounteous rivers and waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.

“I’m here for the first time and I have to say that it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited.

It’s hot here no doubt, but the scenic beauty is breathtaking. I’m enjoying my time here,” said Linda Christopher who is from London and staying at the Mount Lavinia hotel.

Jasmine Shankar from India said: “I had planned to come to Sri Lanka with my husband four years ago, but everyone discouraged us because of the terrorist problem here. I’m glad that finally now, when it’s over, we have got a chance to come here and see the place. It’s beautiful.”

The country is also pinning its hope on the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Award that will take place in Colombo from June 3-5. The number of visitors is expected to increase manifold during the event.

“This event will help us change our image internationally and will confirm that we can host an event of a big magnitude,” said Tourism Ministry Secretary George Michael.

RELATED INFORMATION - TOURIST ARRIVALS AND STATISTICS:

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals up 47pct in April 2010
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose 47.0 percent to 38,300 in April 2010 from a year earlier with strong growth in Western European and South Asian generating markets, data from the island's tourism office showed.

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals up 68% in February 2010
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka surged to 67.7%, approximately 57,300 arrivals, in February 2010, as compared to 447,890 in 2009 and 44,551 in 2008. Moreover, there has been a steep increase of visitors, namely from India, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals (2009 to 2010)
A comparisan chart and other statistics from SLTDA.

Sri Lanka Tourism Statistics at a Glance (1999 to 2008)
This page from SLTDA gives you an insight in to key statistical indicators of Sri Lanka Tourism Industry. Please click the relevant link to access the graphical representation of data.

Survey on Departing Foreign Tourists from Sri Lanka (Sep 2008 to Feb 2009)
The Research Division of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority conducted a survey of departing foreign tourists at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) during the period from September 2008 to February 2009. The main objective of this survey was to obtain information on visitor profile, travel behaviour and expenditure patterns and opinions and impressions of tourists on the levels of satisfaction they had while on their holiday in Sri Lanka.

Highlights of Performance of Sri Lanka Tourism - 2008
Year 2008 marked a turning point for Sri Lanka Tourism as it recorded a dip, and then the start of an upswing, as a result of the end of war.

Annual Statistical Reports - SLTDA
Yearly, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority produces a report that assesses the year’s performance. The key performance indicators are as follows:
* Trends and Structural Characteristics of Tourist Traffic
* Scheduled Airline Operations and Passenger Movements
* Accommodation Industry - Capacity and its Utilization
* Income and Employment
* Tourist Pricing
* Foreign Travel by Sri Lankans
* Growth of Travel and Tourism
* Revenue from Tourism

Monthly Statistical Bulletin - SLTDA
Monthly statistical bulletin which consists of information on tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy.

16 May 2010

Sri Lanka to Reclaim 2km of Sea to Create a Modern City of 500acres in Colombo

16th May 2010, www.sundaytimes.lk, By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka's world famous Galle Face Green will lose its allure when the over 150 year-old promenade - the largest green space in Colombo - is shibted to reclaimed land under a massive redevelopment plan by the government. The famous Galle Face Hotel will also become another dot in a massive city, without a seafront, when the development is completed.

Preliminary plans are underway to build a modern commercial town of about 500 acres by reclaiming 2 km of the sea from the Galle Face Green, a 5-hectare green patch created in 1859.

This new town will stretch and envelop the entire seafront from the southern border of the Colombo harbour upto Bambalapitiya, also about 2 km by road from the Green.

Economic Development Ministry sources said the 2km x 2km sea stretch will be reclaimed by filling to construct a modern city with skyscrapers, apartment blocks, shopping malls and other public needs, in a 3-year project ending in 2012.

The plan was first announced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the recent May Day rally. A senior ministry official said a feasibility and environment impact assessment study will be conducted before embarking on the project while the need to offer tax holidays and a 30-year lease on land to attract foreign investors is being considered.

Construction will be under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority while the relevant agreements for the construction of the commercial town will be signed in the next few months.

A similar plan was included in the 'Regaining Sri Lanka' proposals in 2002, town planners said.

2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010 - Sri Lanka’s Premier International Expo on Power Generation and Energy

2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010, 3 - 5 June 2010 at Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka

'2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010’ International Expo, organized by CEMS-Gobal - CEMS USA in association with CEMS INDIA - having a reputation as a Multinational Exhibition organizer and bringing the best Trade Shows on the most important Industry topics for over 17 years now, will be Sri Lanka’s premier International exhibition on Power Generation and Energy, which will bring together specialists engaging in the Power Engineering Industry, leading Manufacturers and Distributors / Representatives from all over the world in Sri Lanka.

With the ever-growing power & energy needs of Sri Lanka thus making a need to explore newer opportunities in the Power, Energy, PV (Photo Voltaic) and Renewable Energy sectors of Sri Lanka, 2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010 will be the perfect B2B platform for the entire Power & Energy Industry of Sri Lanka including Sri Lankan Industry stakeholders who will attend and get the opportunity to see the latest technologies and innovations in the Power Generation and Energy sector thus delivering a great networking opportunity.

Highlights - Event Profile of RE POWER Sri Lanka 2010
Renewable Energy is the need of the moment. RE Power Sri Lanka 2010 will offer Renewable Energy solutions and showcase the latest green energy products, technologies, services, and information related to Energy and the Environment, including everything associated in the new and renewable energy fields.

Highlights - Event Profile of PV POWER Sri Lanka 2010
2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010 will also have a defined segment on `Solar Photo Voltaic Power Generation’ in `PV Power Sri Lanka 2010’ to be held concurrently with the main event from June 3 ~ 5, 2010 at Sri Lanka International Exhibition & Convention Centre (SLECC), Colombo – Sri Lanka.

Highlights - Event Profile of E - POWER Sri Lanka 2010 Yet another addition to `2nd POWER Sri Lanka 2010 International Expo’ is the `E-Power Sri Lanka 2010’ focusing on Electric Power Equipment and Technology, being held concurrently with the main exhibition from June 3 ~ 5, 2010 at Sri Lanka International Exhibition & Convention Centre (SLECC), Colombo – Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Keells Invests Rs 450mn in Star Class Chaaya Blu Hotel in Trinco

16th May 2010, www.island.lk

Chaaya Blu, a John Keells Hotel that opened in Trincomalee earlier this month, has pioneered star class tourism on Sri Lanka’s awakening East Coast with an 80-room luxury resort entailing a Rs. 450 million investment.

The previous Club Oceanic’s 56 rooms have been expanded into 80 and given a new look and theme with an extensive refurbishment, with the property offering guests four-star comfort and breathtaking views on a prime location with whale and dolphin watching added to other seaside holiday attractions.

"We’re sold out for the Vesak weekend,’’ a company spokesperson said. ``The May deadline for re-opening the hotel has been met.’’

Asked whether the hotel is also being patronized by foreign tourists, the spokesperson said; "Our sales people tell us that about 40% of the guests are tourists. It will quietly build up.’’

Chaaya Blu Trincomalee joins a group five other four-star resorts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the owners said.

This hotel is the first sizeable investment seen on the East Coast following the dawn of peace and will meet the demand for quality accommodation with the increasing inflow of tourists into that area.

The John Keells Group owns 40 acres of beachfront land at Nilaveli with development of this property part of its future plans. While the construction of new hotels in the East is very much in the pipeline, actual building has not yet started.

"We take pride in launching a resort of the calibre of Chaaya Blu, a first of its kind on the East Coast, within a mere year of gaining peace in Sri Lanka. It was a much rewarding challenge, given that we can now offer our guests the opportunity to discover and savour all that is truly unique to the East Coast while staying amidst star class comforts," Jayantissa Kehelpannala, Executive Vice-President of Keells Hotels said.

The project, one of the first investment decisions taken by John Keells upon the dawn of peace in May last year, and acted upon almost soon after, as the industry itself had previously been restrained in investing in East Coast tourism.

"With Chaaya Blu Trincomalee we continue to be tourism trendsetters," says Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings Ajit Gunewardene. "It is not merely with pride but also with a sense of responsibility that we believe the success of this launch will create confidence towards attracting more tourism development on the East Coast."

With over three decades experience in the tourism industry, JKH, an undisputed industry leader in the hospitality industry, has added fillip to a part of the country which has for long not had much development given the constraints it faced.

"And with the dawn of peace and the realization that there was a dearth of a resort conforming to international standards in Trincomalee, we made a decision to quickly cement our presence on the east coast," Gunawardene said.

He pointed that a 1970s property has been completely modernized with unique contemporary architecture, features and facilities, adding a new dynamic to Sri Lankan resorts as a whole.

"We’ve got a stylish retro-chic product at Chaaya Blu that will set trends in modern resort interiors being outside the typical Sri Lankan resort design," he said.

The owners brought in the skills of master architect Channa Daswatte to imbue the unique blues of the Trincomalee sea and the whites of the sand into the double arched design of the property.

The hotel has 80 rooms including 20 chalets and two suites complementing the Trincomalee landscape. The combination of a series of bleached wooden decks encircles the periphery of the property and a timber boardwalk protrudes across the reception area onto the beach and into the sea.

The beach chalets sell for Rs. 20,000 nett with full board per night and the superior rooms on full board double at Rs. 16,000.

Mosaic walls with strategically placed disco balls in the foyer and denim upholstered mid-century Scandinavian limed furniture accessorized by white dipped terra cotta tiles and clay lamps gives a touch of the Caribbean to the property.

``However much of the promise of the resort seems to involve showcasing the wondrous offerings of Trincomalee itself which have remained long inaccessible for most, Sri Lankans included,’’ the owners noted.

``Another raison d’etre that makes Chaaya Blu special is the abundant sightings of blue whales which now complete a triad of whale sighting locations in Sri Lanka, collectively spanning eight months of the year.’’

Kehelpannala explains "This seaside retreat, with its superior rooms, beach chalets, restaurants and bars is an open invite to enjoy ‘the Blu’ to its fullest. The hotel has a dedicated excursion centre as well as a PADI certified diving centre to enable our guests to make the most of some of the best dive spots in Asia, go snorkeling around Pigeon Island, join a whale and dolphin watching expedition or embark on exciting and insightful tours in to the yet unexplored locality."

The picture of a blue whale - A blue whale with its tail fin sticking out in an incredibly blue ocean, was taken a few days ago near Swami Rock in Trincomalee by Chitral Jayatilake, head of the Nature Odyssey Team of John Keells Hotels at a site 20 minutes away from the group’s luxury Chaaya Blu Hotel.

Sri lanka's Small & Medium Hotels Could Go Green under SWITCH ASIA Programme

15th May 2010, www.news.lk

Sri Lanka’s Small and Medium Sector hotels too will now have the opportunity to ‘Go Green’ and implement energy and water conservation and waste management programs through the Switch Asia Programme.

A European Union funded Ceylon Chamber of Commerce collaborated effort managed by CCC Solutions (Pvt) Ltd, SWITCH-ASIA will see a further 350 hotels going ‘Green’, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau revealed.

According to the Tourism Promotion Bureau sources, the Travel Foundation (UK), Responsible Tourism Partnership, Institute of Environment Professionals Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority have committed their support as partners.

The strong ties between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the EU have facilitated in expediting SWITCH –ASIA which will enhance the globally recognized ‘Green’ image that Sri Lanka already enjoys with many award winning hotel properties adding luster to the verdant natural forest cover being the winning gem.

Association of Surfing Professionals Selects Sri Lanka's Arugam Bay for World Qualifying Surfing Series

14th May 2010, www.news.lk

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) have chosen Arugam Bay, one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful locations to conduct this year's World Qualifying Series competition under the banner ‘Sri Lankan Airlines Pro 2010’, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau revealed.

According to the Tourism Promotion Bureau sources, the participation of 128 world class competitors representing Australia, USA, Germany, Portugal, Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Indonesia, Hawaii, South Africa, Great Britain, Japan, Puerto Rico, France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, New Zealand and Tahiti has increased the attractiveness of the event
which will run from June 18-24.

Sri Lanka Hemas and Dockyard with Singapore's Toll Bid for Oilfield Services of Cairn India

14th May 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Hemas group and Colombo Dockyard have teamed up with Singapore's Toll Offshore Petroleum Services to bid for Cairn India's contract for offshore oil field support services, officials said.

"Hemas Holdings, Colombo Dockyard and Toll Offshore Petroleum Services have jointly placed a bid for the offshore supply base for Cairn," Irshad Mushin, director - maritime transportation of Hemas group told LBO.

"We have proposed viable sites in Sri Lanka."

Cairn Lanka, a unit of Cairn India, which is part of Britain's Cairn Energy, has called for expressions of interest and pre-qualification for provision of services to support its exploration effort.

Cairn has called for support for drilling, testing and completion of exploratory wells in a deep-water block in the Mannar Basin off north-west Sri Lanka.

Cairn plans to start drilling test wells by January 2011 to May 2011.

Colombo Dockyard managing director Mangala Yapa said offshore oil explorations in Sri Lankan waters gives good opportunities for both engineering and shipping companies.

"Colombo Dockyard is confident we can be involved in some of the engineering and other logistics requirements, especially because we have a fully-fledged engineering facility within Colombo port," he told LBO.

"Even at present we are repairing many offshore vessels from India's offshore industry."

The yard also builds offshore support vessels and is therefore aware of the requirements, Yapa said.

"Our role would be to provide all possible engineering and other logistical assistance for Cairn along with other partners."

Toll Offshore Petroleum Services is a subsidiary of Toll Asia, which is part of Toll Holdings, a big transport and logistics group headquartered in Australia.

It owns and operates offshore supply bases in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China and Thailand.

Sri Lankan companies are keen to get Cairn's offshore support contract as it means new business in the new field of oil exploration.

It will also position them to offer similar services when exploration and drilling gets under way in other blocks in the Gulf of Mannar as well as in waters off the northern and southern coasts.

Sri Lankan firms would have to compete with firms in India which has an established offshore oil industry.

Oil explorations firms are expected to source some of their requirements from local industry in order to ensure the benefits of oil are shared in the domestic economy and also provide employment for locals.

Among the services requested by Cairn are anchor handling tugs, supply vessels and offshore supply barges.

Cairn Lanka has also called for rig positioning and site survey services, supply of fuel and water, provision of local logistic support such as cranes, port clearances, boat calls, and offshore supply base services.

Another service requested is air logistics which will provide opportunities for helicopter services offered by local aviation firms, officials said.

Cairn's exploration licence to explore for oil and natural gas in the Mannar Basin covers about 3,000 square kilometres in water depths of 200-1,800 metres.

13 May 2010

How to Invest in SFIDA Sri Lankan Bank Accounts for Higher, Tax Free Returns

Special Foreign Investment Deposit Accounts - SFIDA

Now foreign citizens/institutions and Sri Lankans resident overseas can invest in Sri Lanka and earn best returns on your foreign currency with a Special Foreign Investment Deposit Account, SFIDA.

You have the option of maintaining your SFIDA account in a designated foreign currency and earn a higher interest than what you could earn in most other Financial Centres, or maintaining your SFIDA account in Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) and get a much higher return of app. 8 to 10pct.

All SFIDA accounts are exempted from Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Debit Tax and other levies. At maturity, your capital and interest can be converted to any of the designated currencies of your choice at the prevailing exchange rate and repatriated without any exchange control restrictions.

SFIDA accounts range from one month to 12 months, and the interest rate applicable will vary depending on the prevailing market rate.

Eligible Investors to Open an SFIDA Account
• Citizens of foreign states
• Sri Lanka citizens resident outside Sri Lanka
• Corporate bodies incorporated outside Sri Lanka
• Foreign institutional investors (eg. Country funds, mutual funds, regional funds)
• Note: Joint accounts held by two or more eligible investors are also allowed

Type of SFIDA Accounts
• Savings Deposits in designated Foreign Currencies or in Sri Lankan Rupees
• Time Deposits in designated Foreign Currencies or in Sri Lankan Rupees

Permitted Currencies
Investment can be maintained in a Sri Lanka Rupee account or a foreign currency account (US Dollar, Sterling Pound, Euro, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Japanese Yen, Swedish Kronar, Swiss Francs or any other type of designated foreign currency).

Minimum Investment and Minimum Account Balance
US$ 10,000/= or its equivalent in any of the designated foreign currencies or equivalent amount of Sri Lanka Rupees.

Tax Exemption
All SFIDA accounts are exempted from Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Debit Tax and other levies.

Rate of Interest - General Guidelines
• For Sri Lanka Rupee accounts prevalent interest rates stipulated in the Treasury Notice.
• For foreign currency deposits prevalent interest rates applicable to NRFC accounts of the relevant bank.
• Note: For larger deposits, interest rates could generally be negotiated.

Permitted Credits
• Proceeds of inward remittances received from abroad through banking system.
• Foreign currency in the form of travellers' cheques, bank drafts or bank notes brought in to the country by the account holder on the declaration to Sri Lanka customs as applicable during his temporary visits to Sri Lanka and tendered in person to the Authorised Dealer, provided that the travellers' cheques have been issued outside Sri Lanka and the bank drafts endorsed in the name of the account holder.
• Interest accruing on the funds held in the account.

Permitted Debits
• Outward remittances
• Transfers to other SFIDA accounts
• Disbursements of the account holder in Sri Lanka
• Relevant statutory payments such as debit tax

Additional Information
• Sri Lankan Banks offering SFIDA Accounts
• Commercial Bank, Sri Lanka offers SFIDA Accounts for Foreign and Sri Lankan Investors

Related Info :
Securities Investment Accounts (SIA) Replace SIERA & TIERA Accounts - For Investment in Sri Lankan Equity, Debt and Unit Trusts
Sri Lanka Offers Special Visas to Investors, Professionals & Senior Citizens

Six Sri Lankan Villages Selected for Eco Tourism under Community Tourism Development Program

13th May 2010, www.news.lk

President's Media Unit reported that six rural villages that have tourist attractions will be developed based on the eco-tourism concept by the Economic Development Ministry’s Tourism Division. The project called the Community Tourism Development Program is expected to promote tourism with less damage to the environment.

“We have had discussions with community leaders of the villages and what they expect from this development,” said a senior official.

“These villages have traditional values and they are historically famous for woodcarving, weaving and brassware,” Economic Development Ministry Tourism Division Director, Anura Ranasinghe said.

Under this project, six villages - Uthuwana and Ihalakotte in the Kegalle District famous for Uthuwankanda, Puwakpitiya in the Matale District famous for Sera Ella will be developed. Nattarampotha in the Kandy District famous for brassware and Magalthota in the Galle District and Kapparathota in the Matale District will also be
developed.

We have already done some awareness programmes for tour guides. We expect the number of tourists to grow as this project progresses with local tourists visiting these villages. The Ministry will complete several infrastructure facilities for the project, the Division Director said.

Technical and training facilities will be provided to craftsman in these villages. We expect to promote market driven products and not products that are manufactured without having a good knowledge about the market.

The project will present a new experience to tourists who can witness the manufacturing process of a product while enjoying the beauty of the area, Mr. Ranasinghe further said according to President's Media.

Launch of the Sri Lanka–Vietnam Business Council Sets Target of $100mn for Trade Volumes by 2012

13th May 2010, www.news.lk

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will be establishing the Sri Lanka – Vietnam Business Council in June 2010 as the 21st Business Council under its aegis.

This initiative was proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a recommendation of the Second Session of the Sri Lanka – Vietnam Joint Commission held in August 2009 to further expand trade relationships between Sri Lanka and Vietnam. In addition, His Excellency the President, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa during a state visit to Vietnam in
October, 2009 also emphasized the importance of strengthening the relationship between Sri Lanka and Vietnam and set the target of US$ 100 million for two way trade volumes by 2012.

The launch of the Council is coinciding with the visit of the Hon. Deputy Minister of Trade & Industry, His Excellency Le Duong Quang who will be present on this occasion as the Chief Guest together with a 16 member trade delegation from Vietnam. The tentative date of the launch would be on June 07 at the “Sri Lanka – Vietnam Business Forum” organsied by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Vietnam has seen exponential growth during the last four years. At the end of 2005, the trade between the two countries stood at US $ 30.5 million. However, this had increased to US $ 60.9 million by the end of 2008. This trend has continued in the year 2009. Although the trade balance has been in
favour of Vietnam, the value of Sri Lankan goods being exported to Vietnam has also increased. The total value of Sri Lankan exports to Vietnam which stood at US $ 10.4 million at the end of 2005 had increased to US $ 21.6 million by end of 2008.

Vietnam has now firmly established itself as one of the most rapidly developing countries in the region with many nations eager to get a foothold in to its emerging markets. Since the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka and the successful completion of the Second Joint Commission Session, the Vietnamese side has also expressed interest to further investment and trade opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Main Road Work Begins at Mattala Airport, Sri Lanka's Second International Airport

13th May 2010, www.news.lk

Construction work on the main access route to the Mattala Airport has commenced.
The construction was launched under the patronage of the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.

The main road will have six lanes. The first stage will be 13 kilometers from Mattala to Kataragama via Lunugamvehera. A programme is also planned for the planting of “Na” plants on either side of the road.

Paradise Farm, Kitulgala, Sri Lanka. An Inspiring Eco-Tourism Project from a Social Responsible Company that Transformed an 80 Acre Farm

http://www.paradisesrilanka.com

Paradise Farm is inspiring, fascinating and a real breath of fresh air. Hidden deep within rolling hills of rainforest, waterfalls, tea and rubber plantations of fertile Kithulgala, the only sounds you’ll hear are bird song, animal calls and the rustle of leaves, with the occasional ding on an old hub cap to signal a break for the workers on the encircling organic farm. Set up in 1998 by two development institutions (NGO’s) as a Social Enterprise.

The farm is designed to promote sustainable agriculture by training villagers in effective organic practices and improve their standard of living, while inspiring a deeper respect and love for nature’s abundant resources. To help finance the project, it has opened its doors to paying guests.

To experience something of Sri Lankan plantation bungalow life, you are warmly welcome to stay in one of 2 double bedrooms in the farmhouse, or for absolute privacy opt for the stunning open-fronted large size luxury bungalow or the medium size luxury bungalow, both with absolute privacy and separate swimming pools, 450 yards up the track form the farm house, with a stunning view across a wide infinity to the lush plantations and blue mountains beyond, with the legendary Adams Peak in the distance. According to legends this sacred mountain was the fountain of paradise.

A Pioneering Effort
The farm is a social responsible company established in 1998. It has transformed 80 acre conventional monoculture coconut and rubber plantation into a multi-purpose operation with bio diversity and value added products.

Value addition of farm products has made it possible to expand the number of jobs from 8 to 50 in a district with high unemployment. The farm is also supporting community development with a comprehensive welfare program. It was initiated by Worldview International Foundation with support from Letten Fund, as a demonstration project in organic agriculture.

The farm has preserved patches of rainforest within its borders and replanted additional areas with MAHOGANI and other rainforest plants contributing to mitigation of green house gases.

A new project to preserve wild ORCHIDS and to develop a natural orchid forest garden was launched in 2009.

We believe in a participatory concept. Workers are part of the decision making process by electing 5 members to the Management Committee. The majority of the workers are women.

Paradise Farm is located in a pristine rainforest area, with lush green vegetation in a beautiful landscape overlooking mountains, forests, rivers and waterfalls. The pristine nature has inspired us to create an exceptional concept in eco-tourism with ayurveda and other health products, including adventure experiences for rejuvenation of body and spirit.

Accommodation
* Large size luxury bungalow
* Medium size luxury bungalow
* Farm house

Activities
* Hiking / walking
* Rafting
* Swimming
* Bird watching
* Organic farming
* Plant life / flora
* Cultural insight
* Local home stay
* Peaceful hideaway
* Ayurveda treatments
* Meeting villagers and cultural show

Tips Who Goes : Nature lovers, organic-food lovers and anyone looking for peace and quiet in beautiful natural surroundings. They’re not set up for weddings but would be perfect for honeymoons.
When to go : Sri Lanka is full of microclimates and EI Nino has made things even more unpredictable, but Paradise Farm’s normally largely dry months are August November, December, January and February. April to May is the season for most flowers and fruits and lots of brightly–colored birds are seen then too. The rainy season from June to October has a more temperate climate. Due to the altitude of 400 meters above sea level, the climate is generally pleasant.
How long for : Previous visitors have stayed for 3 days to 1 week, though they’d prefer you to stay for a month, pointing out that it’s a good, peaceful place to relax and recuperate, or to work and write. We can make special programs for visitors with special interest and for longer stay.
What to take : Trekking / hiking shoes, dressing gowns, swimming costumes, light clothes (as it’s only slightly chilly in December), laptop & adapters, little western luxuries, binoculars and any wines or spirits you might want to drink as you can only buy beer and kitul toddy locally. Mosquito nets are provided. A variety of freshly squeezed healthy fruit drinks and lots of green tea freely available as part of the all inclusive price.
Getting there : Paradise Farm is around 2 –2.5 hours east from Colombo Airport (about half way between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya) and pickup can be arranged.
More Info : Paradise Farm - Eco Tourism

Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals up 47pct in April 2010

10th May 2010, www.lbo.lk

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose 47.0 percent to 38,300 in April 2010 from a year earlier with strong growth in Western European and South Asian generating markets, data from the island's tourism office showed.

In the four months to April arrivals were up 49.7 percent to 198,709 from a year earlier. Sri Lanka has seen a revival in tourism after a 30-year war ended in May 2009.

In April arrivals from Western Europe rose 32.7 percent to 13,915 in the tail-end of the peak 'winter' season. UK sent 6,769 visitors in April, up 29.8 percent and Germany sent 2,116 tourists, up 13.2 percent.

Eastern Europe generated 2,146 tourists, up 53.6 percent with Russian arrivals up 11 percent to 875.

Arrivals from the Middle East were up 114.0 percent to 2,480, and East Asia up 44.3 percent to 4,065. China was down 1.2 percent to 660.

Visitors from South Asia were up 53 percent to 10,798. India generated 7,732 tourists, up 71.4 percent, Maldives 2,337, up 18.9 percent and Pakistan 560, up 73.9 percent.

Australia generated 2,197 visitors, up 40.3 percent.

Related Information:
An interim report of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (10th May 2010)
Sri Lanka has come first by recording the highest growth in tourist arrivals during the first two months of 2010. An interim report of the United Nations World Tourism Organization has listed Sri Lanka with a 50 percent growth in tourist arrivals among 77 countries that have reported international arrivals data so far. The report states that Sri Lanka outperformed 23 other countries with double-digit growth rates. Saudi Arabia was ranked second with Israel ranking 3rd, while Vietnam at the 4th place and Nepal fifth.

Colombo, Reuters (13th August 2009)
Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 28 percent in July from a year ago, its second straight rise since May last year due to the end of of a decades-long war, the Indian Ocean island nation's tourism board said on Thursday.

"This is mainly due to the peace situation in the country," S. Kalaiselvam, director general at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, told Reuters.

Overall arrivals in January-July fell 10.6 percent to 129,952 compared to 257,345 a year ago, mainly due to a drop in visitors from western Europe and south Asia.

But more visitors were coming, since January-June arrivals fell by 16.3 percent, data showed.

"We are confident of achieving at least similar to last year's figure and revenue. Our target is to get 2.5 million tourists and $2.5 billion revenue in 2016," Kalaiselvam said.

Sri Lanka's military declared victory over Tamil Tiger separatists in a 25-year war on May 18.

Sri Lanka received 438,475 visitors in 2008, a drop of 11.2 percent from a year earlier. Tourist revenue declined by 11.2 percent to $342 million as visitors stayed away because of intense fighting.

Sri Lanka is targeting half a million arrivals and $400 million in earnings in 2010. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Bryson Hull)
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