31 March 2013

Sri Lanka Combined Cycle Power Plants more Expensive than Diesel Engines - Information on Power Sector not Available in the Past Now Coming Out

30th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's combined cycle power plants which are supposed to be efficient and cheaper have turned out to be more expensive than internal combustion plants, published data show.

According to a consultation document released by the Public Utilities Commission, Sri Lanka's power regulator, private plants running IC engines including Heladanavi and ACE Embilipitiya cost a little over 20 rupees to generate a unit of electricity.

The data was released ahead of a public consultation to be held on April 04.

But combined cycle plants including the West Coast Plant in Kerawalapitiya, AES Kelanitissa and CEB's own plant in the Kelanitissa Complex cost, costs nearly 30 rupees or more per unit of electricity produced.

Combined cycle plant uses a gas turbine and the exhaust is used to produce steam, generating more power with the same fuel, which is expected to off-set the capital investment of additional equipment.

A private producer is paid by the grid operator, Ceylon Electricity Board, based on two criteria; a fixed monthly capacity charge, which covers the cost of building the plant and gives the firm its profit, and an energy charge.

The energy charge is a pass-though based on the amount of power delivered to CEB as the plant is operated on its instructions (dispatched). A plant is expected to be run efficiently enough to use the least amount of fuel which is called the heat rate.

Competitive Bidding

Under a competitive bidding process, bidders will compete to offer a plant on the capacity charge (minimizing their profits) and also the heat rate (maximizing efficiency).

If plants can be operated more efficiently than the promised heat rate, a power producer can make a profit on the energy charge as well. In a highly competitive bidding process, a producer may even lose money on energy towards the end of their contracts as plants age.

The real profits however are made on the capacity charge.

Diesel-type plants such 99 MegaWatt Helandanavi and Aitken Spence plants which seem among the least expensive (see graphic) have come on competitive bidding, industry analysts say, while the West Coast plant in Kerawalapitiya for example was 'negotiated'.

These generators however helped avoid power cuts before the coal plant came on stream.

The controversial Kerawalapitiya 270MW combined cycle plant was built by the Lanka Transformers group, which is affiliated to the CEB with equity from state entities as well as Treasury guarantees.

Consultation documents released by the regulator now show that capacity charges of 630 million rupees a month are being paid on the plant.

This compares to 271 million rupees for a 165MW capacity plant operated by AES, which was built earlier.

A 2011 document by the power regulator calculated capacity charges at 4.12 rupees per unit generated by Kerawalapitiya based on the dispatch at that time.

This compared to 2.36 rupees a unit for Aitken Spence Embilitiya and 1.72 rupees for Heladanavi, built by Lanka Transformers, both of which are internal combustion engines.

Heat Rates

Some analysts have also raised queries about the heat-rates or efficiency, details which are not easily available. The efficiency of some of the combined cycle plants, appear to be as low as 42 percent according to some estimates.

The best plants in temperate countries (where intake air is cooler) achieve efficiencies of 50 percent or more, but a plant in Sri Lanka could achieve rates a little less, industry analysts say.

2013 Generation cost per plant determined by PUCSL In the 2012 document energy charges per unit for Heladanavi (IC engine) which runs on furnace oil is 21.34 rupees in May after prices are raised in April 2013, to 90 rupees a litre.

The AES combined cycle which uses auto diesel - the most expensive fuel at 115 rupees a litre- costs 26.60 rupees a unit.

Kerawalapitiya, needing a special low sulfur fuel to run (blend of fuel oil and diesel), which costs 100 rupees a costs 26.06 rupees to generate a litre, despite using a fuel which is 10 percent or more cheaper than AES.

In the case of Kerawalapitiya, which was a somewhat obscure type of plant, the rate was to be renegotiated in the second year, but that appeared not to have been done, according to some sources.

Some critics believe there may be merit in re-negotiating contracts which were not taken on competitive bidding. Renegotiating plants however could hit investor confidence, which had already been dented through expropriation of some firms by the state.

To make the CEB system more efficient analysts say audit of heat rates and dispatch of plants may also be needed.

The CEB is trying re-negotiate the power purchase agreement with India's state-run NTPC on a coal plant yet to be built, after discovering unfavourable heat rates in initial agreements, according sources familiar with the matter.

 Industry analysts say negotiated plants based on secretive power purchase agreements must be avoided in the future to prevent abuse and costs being loaded to the consumer, as there is no competitive bidding for energy in Sri Lanka on a daily basis.

Ghost Plants

In another startling revelation, the consultative document showed that, three plants ACE power Horana, ACE power Matara and Lakdhanavi whose contracts had expired had been included for dispatch for 2013 in the tariff proposal apparently on the same terms as before.

"Total generation scheduled for already retired ACE power Horana, ACE power Matara and Lakdhanavi power plants were removed and added to hydro generation, since their licenses are expired," the consultative document said.

The regulator instead said a forecasted 800 GigaWatt hours of energy should be produced from hydro, which would save about 15 billion rupees.

Though the independence of Sri Lanka's power regulator has been questioned in the past, analysts say lot of information about the power sector that was not available in the past is now coming out.

Sri Lanka also has other problems, including steep night peak, which needs demand management and peak tariffs which the CEB has addressed to some extent in the 2013 proposal.

Sri Lanka now charges as much as 50 rupees per unit for higher end domestic customers.

In Singapore which has a system run almost entirely of natural gas based combined cycles, domestic users are charged 27.60 Singapore cents a unit which is about 28 Sri Lanka rupees.

Singapore however has a completely competitive market involving electronic bidding in a spot market.

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Ex-Tigers Become Successful Entrepreneurs. Rehabilitation Authority Helps 11,500 Ex-LTTE Cadres with Vocational Training and Capital to Start Ventures

31st March 2013, www.sundayobserver.lk, By Gamini Warushamana

The Rehabilitation Authority (RA) has made successful entrepreneurs out of around 11,500 ex-LTTE cadres supporting them in vocational training and providing capital to start self-employment ventures.

“We have released over Rs. 255 million at 4 percent interest to over 1,500 rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres to start livelihood ventures under phase one of the livelihood support project,” said Chairman of the Authority, E.A Samarasinghe. There were around 12,000 ex-LTTE cadres who were either arrested or surrendered to the security forces during the final phase of the war against terrorism.

Santhirasegaram Sivaraj of Kallappadu South Mullaithivu, a Successful Entrepreneur
They had undergone combat training and had been fighting for the LTTE after they had joined the LTTE willingly or unwillingly. Most of them did not have a proper education or any other skill to find a job or start an economic activity after reintegration with society.

Considering the social and economic issues these youth had to face, the office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation provided vocational training for them during the rehabilitation period. After rehabilitation, the RA had the responsibility of socially reintegrating these youth.

Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Chandrasiri Gajadeera proposed a soft loan scheme to provide initial capital. It financially supports them to launch livelihood projects and there are a large number of success stories under this scheme, Samarasinghe said.

RA has provided a maximum of Rs. 250,000 per person at 4 percent interest with a 10-year repayment period and a maximum grace period of one-year. The period depends on the nature of the project and if the project can generate revenue immediately, there is no grace period.

There are several stakeholders in this project. The three state banks, the Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank and the Sri Lanka Savings Bank provide funds and the Treasury provides 8 percent interest subsidy to the banks. Rs. 300 million has been allocated for phase one of the project and by the end of February 1,549 beneficiaries had received the loans.

Loan disbursement of phase one will be completed by the end of April and 2,000 beneficiaries will receive loans.

A Cabinet paper has already been submitted for phase 2 of the project and Rs. 550 million has been requested. RA hopes to support all rehabilitated youth who need financial support.

They have commenced projects in agriculture, fisheries, domestic industries and small businesses sectors. There are 262 beneficiaries in Jaffna, 312 in Kilinochchi, 357 in Mullaitivu, 41 in Trincomalee, 267 in Mannar, 294 in Vavunia, 10 in Batticaloa, 4 in Ampara.Deputy director of RA, Ananda Wijepala said that most of the projects were successful. “The RA provides enterprise development training programs for the beneficiaries and we closely monitor the livelihood projects.

These rehabilitated people too want to restart their lives with stable employment and integrate with society.” On the other hand there is a demand for some products and service they supply from these ventures in the domestic market.

For instance demand for masonry and carpentry work and services have high demand.The agriculture sub projects are vulnerable to market failures and we cannot meet these issues because these are small projects that are scattered in a large geographical area. However, we are attempting to form producer groups.RA successfully launched a similar credit scheme for displaced families who were resettled in 2010 and its loan repayment rate was over 97%, which was the highest among similar livelihood schemes, he said.

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New Locomotives from India to Speed up Northern Rail Project. Ircon International, a State Owned Construction Firm Operating under Indian Railways is Executing 252km Northern Railway Track Reconstruction Project

31st March 2013, www.sundayobserver.lk

Three new locomotives, built at India's Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi, have arrived at the Colombo Port to speed up the Northern Rail project. These Locomotives are for the Sri Lanka Railway as part of the ongoing Northern Railway reconstruction project.

IRCON, General Manager S L Gupta said that three more locomotives would also be supplied to the Sri Lanka Railway under the Northern Railway project shortly. "These rail projects spreading over 250 kilometres in length are being funded as part of $ 800 million line of credit extended by the Indian Government."

Ircon International Limited, a state owned construction firm of India, operating under the Indian Railways is executing the 252 km-long northern railway track reconstruction project.

It was set up in 1976 by the Government of India as a wholly owned entity of the Ministry of Indian Railways and was then known as the Indian Railway Construction Company Limited.

"As the name indicates, initially, its primary charter was the construction of railway projects in India and abroad. Subsequently, the company diversified into the other transport infrastructure segments with its expanded and diversified scope of operations across the world," said Gupta.

"IRCON's growth to become a global construction firm was steady and fast. It has been a consistent winner of the 'Highest Foreign Exchange Earner' award in the construction sector in India for many years competing with many private construction companies."

"Under the Indian lines of credit, these railway lines from Medawachchiya to Talaimannar Pier and Omanthai to Kankesanthurai are being reconstructed. An ultra modern signalling and telecommunication system is also being installed under these lines of credit," said Gupta.

Being a state-owned construction company under Indian Railways and being globally recognised railway infrastructure builders, IRCON was the natural choice for this reconstruction project funded by the Government of India. When reconstructed, the track will be a modern railway line.

The Kalutara-Matara coastal railway line segment is also being upgraded by IRCON. The track is designed for a speed of 120 kmph with a smooth and comfortable riding quality.

Modern technology, such as flash butt welding, long welded rails, cast manganese steel crossing with standard turnouts are being used in the reconstruction. "No wooden sleepers have been used in constructing the entire track thus aiding forest conservation," said Gupta.

The project which has created employment opportunities for 2,000 Sri Lankans directly and many more thousands indirectly, will help the people of the Northern Province have a continuous train service from Jaffna or Talaimannar to Colombo once these railway lines become operational.

"IRCON and the Government of India are pleased to be part of Sri Lanka's development, while further strengthening the ties of friendship and solidarity between our two countries," said Gupta.

Ircon is a one of the largest engineering construction organisations of India and are pioneers in railway construction.

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Colombo Dockyard Celebrates 20 Years of Partnership that Integrates Japanese Values & Western Capitalistic Ideals

30th March 2013, www.island.lk, By Steve A Morrell

Colombo Dockyard provides a unique platform to display Sri Lanka to the world stage, says Mangala Yapa, the company’s MD/CEO.

From small beginnings in 1974, Colombo Dockyard has grown in stature and prominence to make a significant contribution to the national economy, he said at the company’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

"Our contribution is such that we earn foreign exchange in ship building and sea craft. We accept ship building orders from overseas. All this means we earn foreign exchange for the Sri Lankan government", he said.

The chief guest was Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa.

Yapa said that since 1974, about 40 years ago, when the company was formed, their decision to forge a partnership with Onomichi Dockyard Company Limited of Japan on or about 1993 augured well. Onomichi’s decision was momentous because it came at a time the Colombo Dockyard was exploring stability and structure.

He said their inspired leadership brought about the stability that was needed to ensure positive progress and put in place abiding Japanese standards that have proved to an invaluable asset to the progress of the company.

"We did not seek publicity for the work we did. But, this year, it is 20 years since our joint collaboration with Onomichi, the occasion is right to project ourselves in a more public stance", the MD/CEO said.

"Our forte has always been ship building and ship repair services. We are proud to have nurtured this special trait from its infancy", Yapa stressed.

Akihiko Nakauchi, Chairman, Onomichi Dockyard Japan, recalled that it was a tactical move on the part of the Japanese in 1993 and it was a defining moment that Colombo Dockyard and Onomichi Dockyard collaborated to form the company. More so, that both countries had special friendly ties that further cemented this partnership.

"In the recent past, we have been successful in carving out certain niche markets. Our expertise is sought after across the globe particularly in the manufacture of sophisticated Off Shore Vessels.’, Nakauchi said.

Special mention was made of the first Managing Director, Ragunathan, who took office in 1974 and also A. K. Diyabalanage, Lal Dassanayake and Valentine Silva, who had contributed significantly to the progress of the Colombo Dockyard.

According to the 20th anniversary publication, initial plans were drawn up when Sir John Kotelawala was Minister of Communication and Works during the 1936 – 1947 era. Sir. Andrew Caldecott was Governor at the time. It was reported the Minister took a personal interest in this project.

Yapa further said "My vision for the future would be a corporate value culture of this nature and to propel Colombo Dockyard to the pinnacle of global marine services".

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HSBC Sri Lanka Branch Nearly Doubles Profit to Rs 8.2Bn in 2012

30th March 2013, www.sundaytimes.lk

Net profit at the HSBC’s Sri Lanka branch nearly doubled to Rs 8.2 billion in 2012 against Rs. 4.7 billion in the previous year, latest data shows.

According to a bank announcement in newspapers on Saturday, its employee count fell to 1,457 last year from 1,763 earlier though the number of branches – 16 – was unchanged.

The local branch last year announced a VRS for staff under which some employees took early retirement with compensation.

Its net interest income was up at Rs.15 billion against Rs.10.8 billion while gross loans totalled Rs.125.5 billion vs. Rs.118.5 billion in 2011.

Deposits were reported at Rs149.6 billion against Rs.141 billion in 2011.

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Katunayake Expressway 26km Katunayake - Kelaniya Part to be opened in August 2013

19th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

Arrangements are being made to open the 26 kilometre-long Katunayake - Kelaniya Expressway, built at a cost of US$ 291 million, this August.

The Ports and Highways Ministry commenced the construction of the expressway in 2009 under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who inspected the expressway recently, instructed the relevant officials to plant trees native to Sri Lanka on either side of the road, after conserving the marshy lands on either side of the expressway and cleaning the Dutch Canal.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that the true benefits of the Southern and Colombo-Katunayake Expressways can be reaped only after the completion of the Northern Expressway, the initial work on which has already begun.

Plans have been drawn up to constructing the Northern Expressway in three stages - the first from Enderamulla to Ambepussa, the second from Meerigama to Pellandeniya and the third from Ambepussa to Kandy.

Participating in a discussion at the Parliamentary complex on the construction of this expressway, Minister Basil Rajapaksa said the planning has to be done causing the least harm to human settlements and the natural environment.

The technical report on the expressway construction, the environmental report, surveying the area, geological aspects and the resettlement of people, who will be displaced as a result of land acquisition for the purpose, are now being studied since the project is expected to meet the needs that would arise by 2030.

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Krrish Square Construction to Commence June this Year

14th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

Construction on Krrish Square is set to commence from June of this year, according to Krrish Group Chief Executive Officer R.P. Gupta.

“We expect to start construction by June of this year and the plans and designs are to be completed in the next four weeks. Everything is currently moving ahead of schedule and the required payments have been made to the Urban Development Authority.

“We have been working 24/7 with international consultants in order to complete plans for the design and construction of Krrish Square, which we believe will become a benchmark in real estate for Sri Lanka. This project will be the 10th largest in the world,” Gupta said.

Commenting recent adverse publicity received by the project with regards to the sources of funding for development of Krrish Square, Gupta denied reports that Krrish was utilizing revenue generated from the sale of units to fund the project’s development.

“We have been extremely busy working on this project that we were not aware of local media reports until recently. I can assure you that we have not sold any units in Krrish Square in order to fund the construction of the project.”

Gupta went on to state that Krrish would soon be releasing further information as to the designs and specifications of Krrish Square, adding that the group was already in negotiations with 32 high-end international brands interested in entering the location.

The mixed development project, which is reported to consist of four towers, three of which will be largely residential in nature, is expected to be completed in the next four years at an investment of US$ 650 million, above an initially quoted figure of US$ 460 million in September last year.

The development is to take place on four acres of l and in Fort, acquired through a 99-year lease from the Urban Development Authority for a consideration of approximately Rs.5 billion, following an unsolicited proposal.

A large portion of the land for the development had previously been vested with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, which had utilized the property for car parking facilities.

The project was also granted multiple tax concessions commencing with a 10-year income tax holiday and subsequently, a concessionary 6 percent tax for the next 15 years.

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Hemas Plans to Build 4th Hopital in Ratmalana Taking into Account Area’s Growing Middle Class

20th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

Hemas Hospitals Private Limited, the fully owned subsidiary of Hemas Holding PLC sending a strong signal to sector rivals yesterday revealed plans to construct its next hospital in Ratmalana, taking into account the area’s growing middle class. This will take the total number of Hemas hospitals to four.

Responding to a question by Mirror Business on future plans, Chairman Murtaza Esufally said they had recently purchased one acre of land to the value of Rs.250 million in an area between Ratmalana and Moratuwa for this purpose.

“In fact we see a vast potential in this particular area and a survey carried out prior to the decision too showed the growing middle income earning population which warrants quality healthcare facilities in Ratmalana,” he said.

Speaking on the investment of the project he noted that it will be around US $ 10 million (Rs. 1.3 billion) for a typical 60-bed hospital similar to the one being constructed at Thalawatugoda.

In another interesting revelation, it was indicated that it takes at least 7-8 years to recover the initial investment which is usually referred to as the payback period in Finance. Esufally who was tight lipped on the financial performance (as it is unlisted) however said that Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation & Amortization (EBITDA), a financial performance yardstick in the hospital sector had been positive throughout.

Hemas Hospitals spent US $ 1.6 million for the 100-bed facility located at Wattala four years ago, followed by another US $ 500 million for the 50-bed Galle hospital and another US $ 1.4 billion for Thalawatugoda facility. Mirror Business exclusive reported on Hemas’ plans to put up hospitals in Thalawatugoda and Ratmalana back in January 2011 even before the start of the two projects.

Ambitious Esufally confided that the company’s plans were afoot to add another 600 beds (about 10 hospitals) touching at least one quarter of the populations’ lives within the next eight years. Esufally who did not rule out the possible expansion in the heart of Colombo said the company’s main strategy was to target the middle income earning category particularly in the suburbs. “Leveraging the four year experience in hospital business, 65 years heritage & the market leadership in the pharmaceutical industry (with a market share of 17-18 percent), we are quite confident that we could in the long run become the market leader in the healthcare sector,” he remarked. Nine months results to December 31 showed the healthcare sector contributing to the group with the highest revenue of Rs. 6.7 billion demonstrating a Year-on-Year growth of 22 percent. The sector bottom line too grew by 33 percent over the same period last year to Rs. 360 million.

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Listed Firms in CSE Issue Debentures to Raise Big Sums Following Budget 2013 Concessions on Corporate Debt

27th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

Many listed entities in the Colombo Stock Exchange were seen taking advantage of the concessions offered in the Budget 2013 with regard to corporate debt, as few companies have already raised big sums this year through debenture issues with a several more to follow.

On Monday, Fitch Ratings said Lion Brewery, a unit of Carson group and Softlogic Holdings were planning to Rs.3 billion and Rs.750 million respectively through debenture issues. The two issues have been assigned AA- and A-, respectively, by Fitch.

The Budget 2013 proposed to exempt withholding tax on interest income earned by investing in bonds and debentures listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) with effect from this year in an attempt to create a more vibrant corporate debt market.

Being the first to take advantage of the new development, Seylan Bank PLC finished raising Rs.2 billion via a debenture issue in February that was oversubscribed in the opening day itself.

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka, a unit of state owned banking giant, Bank of Ceylon also raised Rs.2 billion through a listed debenture.

According to analysts, companies seem to be using this window of opportunity to raise long-term capital, as the tax concessions offered in the Budget 2013 are applicable for the entire duration of the debt.

“So they can lock the moneys raised and keep it for future needs,” an analyst pointed out.

“It is encouraging to note that better managed companies are using the capital markets to raise debt on the strength of their own balance sheet.

This will reduce exposure to bank borrowings and raise medium to long-term capital, reducing interest rate risk. We hope more companies will take advantage of the tax break to issue rated longterm paper,” Fitch Rating Lanka said, responding to a Mirror Business inquiry.

According to market sources, a number of companies, including couple of big banks and several finance companies are also bracing to raise money via debenture issues in the near future.

Meanwhile Mirror Business learns that Colombo Stock Exchange is currently in the process of amending certain Listing Rules pertaining to the listing of debentures both in the main and the secondary boards.

Commercial Bank Ranked the Most Desired Employer in Sri Lanka

27th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

The Commercial Bank has been ranked number one in a survey of ‘Employers of Choice’ in Sri Lanka, published in the March 2013 issue of LMD magazine. The Bank achieved an Employer Choice Index of 105 in the survey conducted by TNS Lanka.

The objective of the survey was to benchmark corporate entities and organisations as preferred employers in Sri Lanka.

In its report on the survey, LMD magazine states that “Commercial Bank wins a seal of approval as the most desired employer in Sri Lanka.”

The magazine listed 42 companies in the ranking, which includes two global banks, multinationals, leading Sri Lankan conglomerates and top apparel manufacturers.

“Our people are without a doubt the key to our position as Sri Lanka’s leading private bank, and we are pleased to be acknowledged as a leader across sectors, in the sphere of HR,” said Dinesh Weerakkody, Commercial Bank’s Chairman. He said the Bank provides many opportunities to its employees to build a career within the organization.

“This ranking is a valuable endorsement of the commitment of the Bank to adhere to best practices in the field of human resources management, and the consistent efforts made by the Bank to ensure that all employees reach their highest potential,” said Ravi Dias, Commercial Bank’s Managing Director/CEO.

The largest private bank in Sri Lanka, Commercial Bank employs 4,400 people and is the only Sri Lankan Bank to be listed two years consecutively in the world’s Top 1000 Banks. The Bank operates a network of 229 service points in Sri Lanka and a network of 560 ATMs.

It has been adjudged ‘Best Bank in Sri Lanka’ for 14 consecutive years by ‘ Global Finance’ Magazine, and has won multiple awards as the country’s best bank from ‘The Banker,’ ‘FinanceAsia,’ ‘Euromoney’ and ‘Trade Finance’ magazines.


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30 March 2013

Feasibility of Solar Electricity in Sri Lanka. Overview of Solar PV Installation in Hotel Industry by SWITCH-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Programme

29th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk, By Srilal Miththapala & Suranga Karavita

An overview of the state of Solar PV installation in the Sri Lankan hotel industry was carried out recently by the SWITCH-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels programme project team. While doing this study, the project team also analysed the impact of the proposed electricity increases on domestic Solar PV installations as well. A ready reckoner feasibility chart for evaluating financial feasibility of Solar PV installations for residences was also prepared. The following paper discusses these aspects.

Introduction

Of late, there has been much discussion about the generation of electricity from solar energy. This is usually called solar photovoltaic generation (Solar PV), where an array of solar cells, typically mounted on the roof of a building, will capture the solar energy and transform it to electrical energy.

In a conventional or standalone system, the solar electricity has to be stored, since usage (demand) does not always coincide with supply (generation).  Hence, in a typical installation, electricity is generated in the form of direct current (DC) and usually stored in batteries. The size of such battery banks required will depend on the size of the installation and the days for which the system can operate on battery power alone, with no input from other generation sources.

In addition, the system requires an inverter to convert the electricity stored in the battery in the form of direct current (DC), to alternate current (AC) at a higher voltage, to be compatible with the downstream installation. The cost of a battery bank can be as much as a Solar PV panel for a well-designed system, which can provide power for several days when the Solar PV is not generating electricity. Batteries are still in the development stage and they are prone to premature failure. So, it is common that in Solar PV installations with a battery bank, some of the batteries have to be replaced before the specified lifetime.

Cost of installation

The high cost of Solar PV panels and the large amount of batteries required for storage resulted in the cost of such installations being prohibitively high and not feasible for installation as alternate energy sources.

With rapidly increasing electricity rates, reduction in price of Solar PV panels and  acceptance by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)  to trade electricity units with the grid, Solar PV installations are at present becoming more financially attractive.

‘Trading’ of electricity


This ‘trading’ of electricity units, recently allowed by the CEB, is referred to as net metering or grid tie. This is where an electricity consumer is able to generate electricity at the consumer’s own premises, using any form of alternate energy source and can then synchronize the electricity thus produced with the CEB system and ‘export’ it to the CEB.

The consumer is not paid for this ‘exported’ electricity but is given credit (in kWh), which is set off against his normal electricity consumption off the grid. There will be metering for consumption as well for export of energy to the CEB network.

Each month, consumption and export of energy will be compared. If the export is more than the consumption, credit is given (in kWh). If consumption is higher than export, the consumer is charged for net amount of consumption (consumption - export).

 This is effectively a ‘win-win’ situation for both the consumer and the electricity service provider (the CEB or LECO). The consumer benefits by being able to export the electricity he generates without having to store it, thereby reducing the need and the cost for a storage battery bank.

From the CEB’s/LECO’s point of view, there is some form of electricity demand reduction from the grid, since the consumer is now producing some quantum of electrical energy.

At present, the cost of investing in a grid tie Solar PV is around Rs.350,000 per kW and the cost of investing in a conventional Solar PV system is around Rs.700,000.

Solar PV installation in hotel industry

In spite of grid tie options being available, the reduction in cost of Solar PV panels and increased cost of electricity, Solar PV for larger industrial applications is still not financially attractive, due to the long pay back periods of around 15 years for a grid tied system and around 30 years for standalone systems.

Hence, from the surveys and studies carried out by the SWITCH-Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels programme, it has been found that Solar PV installation in hotels is still few and far between. In fact, from the 350 odd hotels working with the Greening Hotels programme, there are only three hotels, which have some form of Solar PV installations.

Ulagalla Resort

This 80 roomed resort hotel in Anuradhapura has been the trailblazer in taking a bold step in installing the largest Solar PV system in a hotel so far. It has a bank of Solar PV panels covering 900 sqms, generating 120 KW of electrical energy, which amounts to about 40 percent of the hotel’s total electrical demand.

The system operates on a net metering platform and cost about Rs.125 million for the entire installation, which was done with the commissioning of the hotel in 2010. While certainly the hotel has taken a bold and pioneering step in having such a large Solar PV installation, payback periods are still quite high.

However, the hotel has been able to market this unique installation to give it a strong identity as a hotel which embraces good sustainable consumption practices.

Jetwing Sea and Jetwing Blue


When the former Jetwing Seashell Hotel was refurbished and relaunched as Jetwing Sea, a self-contained (inclusive of battery bank) Solar PV was installed for one wing of the guest rooms in the hotel. The installation cost was about Rs.12 million in 2010 and generates approximately 15 kW.

Former Jetwing Blue Oceanic was also refurbished and relaunched in the same year as Jetwing Blue and a Solar PV system, similar to Jetwing Sea was installed of capacity 20 kW, at a cost of Rs.16 million.

More than being a financial consideration, here again, it has become a unique selling proposition (USP) and a powerful marketing tool. The hotel proudly advertises itself that most of its rooms’ electrical energy is powered by the sun and each room has an indicator to show when the room is powered by solar (green light) and when it is powered by the mains, during low sunlight periods (red light).

Hence, other than for selective marketing and differentiating propositions, currently, larger Solar PV installations, either grid tied or standalone systems do not seem to be that viable in large scale hotel applications.

Solar PV for residences


However, with the rapid increase in electricity rates for residential buildings which consume higher loads, grid tie Solar PV installations are becoming a very much more feasible option. 

Provided adequate roof area or space on the ground is available, any residence utilizing more than 300 units of electricity (kWh) per month, with the grid tie Solar PV installation at current cost and new electricity rates (which are being proposed),  will pay back in just about less than six years. 

The project has developed a ready reckoner, which gives a quick approximate indication of the financial feasibility of a Solar PV installation for residences.

It is evident from the table below, which shows the co-relation of payback periods for Solar PV installations and units consumed, it is evident that the moment a domestic consumer exceeds the lower thresholds of consumption of around 250 units, the effective electricity charges increase exponentially, bringing the payback period rapidly down to  seven years and less.

(Srilal Miththapala, an Electrical Engineer by profession and a senior tourism professional and Suranga Karavita, a Mechanical Engineer, are Project Director and Industry Technical Services Manager of EU SWITCH-ASIA Programme Greening Sri Lanka Hotels project implemented by Ceylon Chamber of Commerce respectively).

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Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Opens 6th Branch Office in Anuradhapura, North Central Sri Lanka

29th March 2013, www.island.lk

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) opened its 6th Branch Office in Anuradhapura on the 28th of March 2013. The Branch is situated on the 2nd Floor, 488/8/2 Town Hall Place, Maithripala Senanayake Mawatha, Anuradhapura.

The Branch will provide investors from the North Central Province, education and investment opportunities in shares and corporate debt listed on the CSE. The Branch will conduct educational programmes and exhibitions for students from schools and higher educational institutions in the Province.

The CSE Branch Network commenced in 1999, with the opening of the Branch in Matara. This was followed by Branch Offices in Kandy (2003), Kurunegala (2005), Negombo (2007), Jaffna (2010) to Anuradhapura (2013).

The CSE Branches will continue to offer greater accessibility, education and awareness on investing in listed shares and corporate debt for the benefit of retail investors in the Provinces.

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CIC Leverages Research to Anticipate Wants and Needs to Offer Products and Services to Enhance Lives of Its Customers

29th March 2013, www.island.lk

As one of Sri Lanka’s leading blue-chip conglomerates, CIC Holdings PLC is committed to remaining relevant, and has the ability to adapt with the customer and the changing operating environment. To this end, CIC leverages its significant prowess in research to successfully anticipate wants and needs which are constantly evolving, and to offer products and services which enhance the lives of its customers, the company said in a statement.

CIC Holdings is the only company to own and operate seed and soil laboratories, and the company’s seed paddy enterprise has made a significant impact in the local agriculture landscape with the extensive research and trials carried out on the farms, including the introduction of a new variety of rice. The Red Basmati rice has a low glycaemic index, meaning that it releases sugar slowly, making it a healthier option, and is the first to be introduced in the country by any private sector entity.

Strengthening its already existing inventory, a new strain of hybrid corn seed of enhanced quality and yield was registered by CIC during 2011, while over 150 acres of farmland are under cultivation with a premium strain of bananas, which is predominantly marketed locally under the brand "CIC Quality Banana".

CIC Holdings has capitalised on the opportunities presented as a result of research and development and productivity improvement in agriculture. Having achieved self-sufficiency in rice production, the company is now moving on to exporting the surplus available. The development of new quality rice varieties has enabled CIC to target ethnic markets in USA, Australia, and Europe, and afforded the company the ideal positioning to export rice to discerning and accessible markets.

CIC Holdings operates one of the most advanced and most up-to-date tissue culture laboratories in the country. As a direct result of the research conducted at this laboratory, CIC exports over 180 varieties of native Australian plants which are imported and multiplied, and sent back to Australia, as well as tissue cultured ornamental plants which are sent to Denmark.

The company is currently extending their reach to the region, with the tissue culture lab setting up a satellite facility in Bangladesh to augment the processing of certain plant species, specifically targeting the expansion in to Australia in particular.

With Link Natural Products, CIC’s research focuses on methods of bringing customers all the benefits of herbal medicine combined with the convenience of modern Western medicine. Clinical trials conducted on Samahan, Link’s hallmark product, produced highly favourable results which were widely reported in the Ceylon Medical Journal. The trials were conducted amongst a sample consisting of 800 participants who reported on the alleviation of 15 cold and cold-related symptoms after the consumption of Samahan.

The herbal industry relies on plants, most often rare indigenous varieties, which are not always the products of organized cultivation. Therefore, CIC draws on the synergies of its tissue culture laboratory to find solutions for growing certain forest species under controlled farm conditions. With sustainability at the core of its production model, CIC farms utilise the research resources to grow their own requirements without the arbitrary harvesting of natural reserves.

The ability of CIC Holdings to look ahead with a clear plan and focus on the future has been one of the company’s greatest strengths. In this regard, the company has formulated "Plan 2020", which is the Group’s blueprint for its future progress till the year 2020. Whilst simultaneously developing all major areas of business, much of the strategy of this plan will focus on going through a process of research and development.

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Sri Lanka Made a Joint Sponsor in First Ever China South Asia Exposition (CSAEXPO) to be held in Yunnan in June 2013

29th March 2013, www.ft.lk

“We thank you for making Sri Lanka a Joint Sponsor in the first China South Asia Exposition (CSAE) to be held in Yunnan in June. We are currently working on a 150-strong Sri Lankan delegation for this forthcoming international event,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday.

Bathiudeen was addressing the seven-member high profile trade delegation led by Vice Governor of Yunnan Province Ding Shaoxiang.

The first-high level Chinese team to arrive here since the appointment of China’s new Premier Li Keqiang and in less than two weeks since Keqiang’s ascension on 15 March, the delegation is also scheduled to hold meetings with several key figures of Lankan Government before it returns home.
Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and China stood at $ 2.676 b in 2012, increasing by 19.5% from 2011. Exports to China in 2012 stood at $ 108.12 m. China has now become the largest development partner and an important investor in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Yunnan Province and Sri Lanka is now reported at $ 37 m (2012).

“We also thank China for its support towards our infrastructure development and more importantly, for giving us the second international sea port and international airport,” stressed Minister Bathiudeen. “China ranks as the third largest supplier to Sri Lanka. In 2012, China exported $ 2.56 b in goods, which is the highest in trade history, however Sri Lanka’s exports to China were only $ 108 m, about 1% of Sri Lanka’s total exports.

This shows that there is yet unrealised export potential at our end, which we can explore jointly.”
Shaoxiang said: “We also believe that there is huge trade potential between the time-honoured friends.

The Chinese Central Council has now upgraded the annual China-South Asia Trade Fair and Business Forum to China South Asia Exposition, which is no more a provincial level event but a national level event, and the first, new edition of CSAE will be held in Kunming starting 6 June. As a step in developing our trade, we invite Sri Lanka to co-sponsor the significant first CSAE in Yunnan’s capital Kunming and also invite strong Sri Lanka business participation at the concurrently held Kunming Fair. We invite Sri Lankan businesses to set up a Sri Lankan Trade Representative Office in Kunming, Yunnan’s capital, for which we have already allocated space in the Yunnan Foreign Trade Tower in Kunming Municipality. Yunnan is the closest Chinese Province to Sri Lanka and is the gateway to the rest of China.”

Shaoxiang added: “We also want to expand our entry in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure. Many Yunnan contractors are active throughout South Asia and all their projects have been commended by South Asian governments. Energy sector, especially hydropower, is a speciality of Yunnan builders. Sinohydro China’s speed in construction of Moragahakanda reservoir has already been commended by the Government of Sri Lanka. In fact, today I have brought with me both the Vice President and Director of Sinohydro Bureau in this delegation to explore more cooperation in the energy sector here.”

Sinohydro, the State-owned project contractor firm with $ 18.26 b global revenues (2011: Chinese Yuan 113.47 b), is the sixth largest construction firm in China and is ranked 23rd among top 225 global contractors, with 12 subsidiaries operating under it.

In 2011, Sinohydro had 2,541 construction contracts in 62 countries across many regions. Apart from its Chinese projects, the group’s global infrastructure project portfolio (which includes BT, BOT and PPP projects) spans across Ethiopia, Sudan, Malaysia, Laos, Qatar, Congo DR and Algeria. Sinohydro is also in real estate, investments, E&M equipment, and engineering consultancy.

During the meeting, both parties also commended the contribution of direct Sino-Lanka air-links towards the development business to business contacts between both economies.

Also present during the meeting were Ministry of Industry and Commerce Secretary Anura Siriwardene, top officials of the Ministry, the EDB, and the Department of Commerce.

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World Bank Funds US$ 200mn in Health Sector Services in Sri Lanka

29th March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

The World Bank has provided US $ 200 million to further enhance health sector services in Sri Lanka, a communiqué by the Colombo office of the global lender said.

The funding is expected to help the country to upgrade the standards of performance of the public health system and enable it to better respond to the challenges of a middle income country.

Accordingly World Bank will provide approximately US $ 190 million to support the implementation of the recently prepared National Health Development Plan 2013 to 2017 of the Ministry of Health and US $ 10 million will be made available for implementing innovations to improve the quality of care and efficiency of the health sector.

The IDA terms for this concessionary loan are at 1.25 percent interest rate with a grace period of 5 years and a 20 year payment period.

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Sri Lanka's Bank of Ceylon to Sell US$ 500mn Bonds in International Market. UBS to Manage the Sale

28th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's state-run Bank of Ceylon would sell plans to sell between 300 to 500 million US dollars of bonds in the international market, a media report said.


Bloomberg newswires said UBS has been hired to manage the sale.

Fitch Rating has given a BB- expected rating to the securities which will have a tenor of five years.

Last year the Bank of Ceylon raised 500 million US dollars from international markets.

State-run National Savings Bank is also expected to go the international markets this year.


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TRC of Sri Lanka to Allow Spectrum sharing & Domestic Roaming for Lower Broadband Tariffs

28th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka is allowing spectrum sharing and domestic roaming to promote shared resources and cut costs so that broadband tariffs can be kept low, the telecom regulator said.

"We are allowing spectrum sharing," director general of the telecommunications regulatory commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Anusha Pelpita said.

"We will not regulate their tariffs but they will have to apply to us. This will help keep costs down and subscribers will get lower tariffs."

Domestic roaming has already been recently permitted and Airtel and Etisalat have started to allow customers to roam on each others' network, he said.

Dialog on Thursday paid 3.2 billion rupees for a 10MegaHertz paired frequencies block in the 1800MHz band paying 2.0 billion rupees higher than the next bidder, in an auction which had a floor price of 3.2 billion rupees.

Pelpita said the frequencies are expected to be used in the rollout of fourth generation LTE (long term evolution) high speed mobile broadband services.

The 1800 spectrum was allocated for GSM (2G) services by the International Telecommunications Unions, but can be used for 4G.

The 75MHz of paired bandwidth in the frequency band (or 150MHz in the band which runs from 1700 through 1800 MHz has now been allocated to operators.

Dialog Already had a 15MHz block, Mobitel had 20, Etisalat, Hutch and Airtel each had 7.5MHz each and another 7.5MHz allocated to a firm which did not have a network was in court.

Except for the 7.5MHz which was in dispute the entire band has now been allocated to operators, he said.

"Spectrum sharing will allow more efficient use of the resource," Pelpita said.

Operators can set their own prices, but those planning to share spectrum must first apply to the Telecom Regulatory Commission, he said.

In Sri Lanka the 900MHz band, which is used for mobile broadband elsewhere is occupied by television broadcasters, but the band may become free after digital broadcasting starts Pelpita said.

Unlike other countries which raised billions of dollars Sri Lanka has a policy of keeping frequency fees relatively low.

Pelpita said he wanted to promote broadband use and in Sri Lanka fixed broadband penetration was low, though mobile was picking up.

"We have allowed frequency sharing because that will also keep costs down, so that retail tariffs will be more affordable," he said.

"Domestic roaming will also reduce costs as operators can save on network expenditure."

Sri Lanka Telecom, which had been licensed to build the national telecom backbone, has to allow other operators to use the pipes on regulated tariffs.

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Sri Lanka Transport Sectors Contributes 10 pct of GDP. Losses Total 3 pct of GDP

28th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's transport sectors is estimated to contribute to 10 percent of the gross domestic product, but its shortcoming including accidents, traffic jams and delays cost 200 billion rupees, an expert has said.
"However about 30 percent is lost due to accidents, congestion, lost time in public transport and damaged goods amounts to 200 billion rupees a year."

Kumarage, a top transport sector researcher said the cost of accidents was estimated at 32 billion rupees a year, cost of congestion 40 billion rupees, the cost of lost time in public transport was estimated a 30 billion rupees.

Cost of losses in supply chains was estimated at 100 billion rupees.

Last year public sector investments in transport sector was 190 billion rupees (about 3-pct of GDP) while the private sector has spent about 100 billion rupees (about 1.5 percent of GDP).

These included 15 billion rupees in trucks, 2.0 billion rupees in buses, about 18 billion rupees in taxis and three wheelers and 5.0 billion rupees.

Kumarage said people are expected to reduce standard bus travel in the future and quality urban transport using bus rapid transit (BRT), rail based mass transit (MRT/LRT) was essential to prevent gridlock in Colombo.

"The value contributed by transport to GDP is a very healthy 10 percent," Amal Kumarage, a professor at Sri Lanka's Moratuwa University told senior executives at the LBR-LBO CEO's forum in Colombo.

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US $ 2 Bn Investment Expected from Commonwealth Business Forum 2013 to be held in November in Colombo, Sri Lanka

09th March 2013, www.dailynews.lk, By Vishmi Wijeratn

The Commonwealth Business Forum 2013 to be held here in November will benefit Sri Lanka and provide a networking opportunity. Sri Lanka will receive about US $ 2 billion in investment by hosting this event, said Commonwealth Business Forum Chairman Mohan Kaul.

The Commonwealth Business Forum will be held in Sri Lanka from November 12 to 14 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

Kaul told the gathering that this is the first time that a Commonwealth Business Forum is to be held in Sri Lanka.

Kaul said many Commonwealth countries will participate in the event, while non Commonwealth countries like China will also be invited to participate in the forum, providing a platform for interactive networking.

“The aim of the forum is to bring in investment opportunities to Sri Lanka, but it is not just Sri Lanka participating in the forum. Therefore it will provide Sri Lanka an opportunity to invest in other Commonwealth countries. We will be also seeking for an ‘Africa Sri Lanka partnership through this forum.” he said.

The theme for this years Commonwealth Business Forum will be” the Indian Ocean as the countries surrounded by its waves are continuing in a growing trend in terms of business”. Around 1,000 participants will be present at the forum to broaden their horizons of opportunity, while 200 foreign delegates and 200 Sri Lankan companies will be active participants.

“The forum will focus on areas, such as, ports and shipping, agriculture, housing, tourism, education, IT and development in Sri Lanka. This forum will also provide opportunities for the private sector to expand its horizons, ” Kaul said. “There will be several meetings after the forum in Hambantota, Jaffna and Kilinochchi showcasing investment opportunities in these regions,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Consumer Electronics & Appliances Imports Showed Robust Growth during 2010 - 2011, but Slowed down in 2012

27th February 2013, www.news360.lk

Sri Lanka’s consumer electronics and domestic appliances imports have seen robust growth during the year 2010 and 2011, but has slowed down in the year 2012, with number of products recording a decline in imports both in value and quantity.

A study conducted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce says, the 2010 and 2011 growth was propelled by the overvalued exchange rate coupled with low interest rates and reduction in taxes applied for the importation of those goods.

The study says, the 2012 moderate growth was due to the sharp fall in the rupee, ceiling on credit and increased cost of borrowing.

The value of imports coming under the HS Chapter 84, which covers a large variety of machinery and parts, classified as investment goods in addition to consumer electronics and domestic appliances have recorded a 66% growth in 2011 and 19% in 2012.

“The growth in imports in this category reflects increasing demand for investment goods as well as demand for durable consumer electronics”, added the Chamber in a statement issued.

The Chamber says the expenditure on importation of electronic machinery and equipment coming under HS Chapter 85 has increased by 57% in 2011 and by 18% in 2012.

As a percentage of total imports, Chapter 84 has accounted for 8.2% and Chapter 85 has accounted for 6% in 2012.

The study finds that the decline in consumer electronic items imported in 2012 has been modest compared to the high rate of growth experienced during 2010 and 2011.

However, the Chamber says, the volume imported of most items in 2012 remains well above the annual average volume of imports during 2005-2009.

“For example the number of household type refrigerators imported increased by 267% in 2011 to reach 167,844 units. In 2012 although quantity imported declined by 26%, the volume of imports of 119,923 units is well above the average of less than 50,000 units per year imported during 2005-2009”, added the Chamber in its findings.

While most products analyzed in the report have recorded a decline in imports in 2012, few products have recorded an increase.

These are air conditioning machines, televisions and mobile phones.

During the year 2011, and 2012, items such as fans, rice cookers and mobile phones have exceeded 1 million units imported per year.

The items where imports exceeded 500,000 units per year in 2011 and 2012 are televisions, electric kettles, electric irons and fruit or vegetable juice extractors.

Items that have recorded imports in excess of 100,000 units a year during 2011 and 2012 are fans, household type refrigerators, portable computers, other types of computers, toasters and radio broadcast receivers.

Personal care electronic items such as shavers, hair clippers, hair removing appliances, hair dryers have recorded a modest growth over the years and the number of units imported of each item still remains below 50,000 units a year.

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98 Acre Resort at Ella, off Bandalawela, for Pure Relaxation & Eco Tourism. Located in a Picturesque Plot of Uva Greenland Tea Estate

21st March 2013, www.dailymirror.lk

‘Sun and sand' is not a ‘must' for hot tourist destinations any more in Sri Lanka. Though Hikkaduwa, Arugam Bay, Unwatuna or Negombo is traditionally identified as hot spots of beach tourism, the latest addition is Ella in the midst of the misty hills.

Ella, off Bandarawela has fast developed into the tourism hub of Uva, with Hikka style small buzzing guest houses and number of diverse restaurants have come up in the area. But what stands tall in Ella is ‘98 Acre Resort and Spa', the latest addition to the Uva Tourism.

Ella is a small village nestled in a valley gazing straight through Ella Gap to the plain nearly 1000m below and across to the glimpse of the Great Basses lighthouse off Hambantota.

This modern ‘98 Acre Resort' is located in a picturesque ninety eight acre Uva Greenland Tea Estate creating a small haven that has an almost perfect climate. It is an ideal holiday destination for trekkers in quest for adventure or the weary travellers simply seeking a peaceful hideout or even a family outing. 'The Resort' is a safe haven for the ones seeking a stand on a scenic 98 acre estate and is surrounded by a stunning landscape. The resort site is liberally endowed with beautiful views and is also in full sight of the ‘Little Adam's Peak' (Punchi Siripade), the pride of Ella.

The tea estate which was once owned and managed by a British national during the Colonial era of Ceylon was then more famously known as the ‘Southerland tea' now named the ‘Uva Greenlands' was eventually passed onto the Uva Halpwatte Estate (UHE) makers of medium elevation pure Ceylon Tea.

The resort is built on an exclusive concept that interweaves pure relaxation with eco friendly tourism. The chic yet modest architectural design by Maithree Dissanayake bears witness to a great passion and concern for eco friendly substance used in its construction.

‘We have used mostly locally available materials for construction and interior. The wood, the ‘Illuk'-straw gracing the thatched roofs and the interior of the villas not only maintain the cool temperature but also adds a truly Sri Lankan look and feel to the resort' said Chamara Abeyrathne, the Director General of the UHE Group and whose brain child is ‘98 Acre Resort'.

Staying true to his pledge towards eco tourism basics, he has arranged golf buggies for the guests to wander about within the 98 acres of its compound.

Opened just twelve months ago, the Resort has luxury and comfort guaranteed beautifully crafted six chalets with 12 rooms (six deluxe and six standards). There is ample space left in between the chalets making it ideal for quiet honeymooners or even for families.

Each Chalet opens up to scenic views of the misty mountains and is equipped with all modern amenities. Each of the deluxe rooms has its own private living area and grants mystique views of the Ella Gap and the Small Adam's Peak hill.

The Standard rooms are bright and able ambiance for the guests and are completed with laminated wooden balconies to the total experience. Amidst other facilities is the elegantly designed pool overlook- deck made of cut stones; where the guests could take a peaceful dip while their kids could enjoy the safety of the baby pool. The resort owned helipad offers the convenience of landing just 5 minutes away from the resort and transport would be arranged via golf buggies to transfer the guests from the helipad. ‘Dining at 98Acres Resort is yet another experience' Chamara said.

The Resort has an open air restaurant that can accommodate up to 50 pax. The highly skilled chef Pradeep puts up an amazing play with the main dishes while the desserts follow dining on comfortable bean bags for a change.

‘We serve any kind of cuisine according to guest's choice. From authentic Sri Lankan dishes to Western, Continental and Oriental cuisine are available at the resort' Chef said.

‘Bird lovers and nature enthusiasts can see 63 species of the birds six precious species endemic to the country' said Indika, the Resort's PR and naturalist. The resort facilitates a detailed bird watching programme or the bird lovers to explore the surroundings guided by Indika.

Apart from that we have archery, biking and all indoor games. We provide bikes for its guests to trail along the woods within the area and explore the tranquil hillside with ease.

‘The guests of the 98 Acres Resort are more than welcome to stroll around the plantation and a visit to the resort owned tea factory would also be gladly arranged for the tea lovers who wish to learn more about the legendary tea story' Chamara explained. The centrally location of the 98 Acres resort makes it an ideal spot for travellers to plan their excursions to the many attractions around the area. ‘We arrange excursions with a guide for the guests to explore the waterfalls (Dunhinda, Diyaluma and Ravana) within the area and are even equipped to arrange helicopter tours, tours to Badulla, Udawalawa, Yala. Adisham in Haputale or even to East coast on request' he added.

The room rates for the coming season range from Rs.16,500/- on FBD basis for standard rooms and Rs 18, 500/- FBD for deluxe rooms
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