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31st  July,  2005 Volume 12, Issue 3

SLT rates won't come down despite judgement

Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd (SLT) will not bring down their rentals nor connection charges despite the Appeal Court in a judgment delivered on Monday quashed the approval granted to them to increase these rates nearly two years ago.

SLT Legal Department sources who did not want to be named said on Thursday that they will file an appeal against this judgment.

"We have a six week period to file our appeal and in the interim period, and until final judgment is delivered on our appeal, we can continue charging the existing rates against which the Appeal Court judgment was delivered," they said.

The Appeal Court, in a case filed by the Consumer Association of Lanka (CAL), on Monday quashed the approval granted by the Telecommunications Minister and the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) for the tariff increase implemented by SLT in September 2003, where rentals on domestic phones net of VAT went up by nearly 150%, from Rs 200 to Rs 495, business phones by 175% from Rs 450 to Rs 1,250 and new connections by 35% to Rs 19,000. However, monthly rentals on phones used in places of religious worship remained static at Rs 50.

SLT, whose monthly revenue is in the region of Rs two billion, derives an additional sum of Rs 160 million (8% of revenue) due to these increases which were effected in September 2003.

 SLT which has almost a 900,000 strong customer base, derives 80% of its revenue from its 17%  corporate customer base and the balance, largely from domestic consumers. The contribution to revenue made from places of religious worship is under 1%, SLT sources said.

SLT sources attached to their revenue collection centre said that they are in the process of dispatching their June bills to their customers. "We have not been asked to recall these bills and revert to the old billing regime," they said.

Meanwhile, SLT, in a press release issued on Wednesday said that the company, considering the judgment delivered on Monday in relation to the case filed by the CAL in the Appeal Court, quashing the approval granted by the Telecommunications Minister and the TRCSL for the tariff revision implemented in September 2003, has, decided to entrust the matter to senior counsel with instructions to seek Special Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court against this judgment.

SLT legal sources said that they will be filing their appeal before the Supreme Court in the next few days and not later than that.


Bourse hits highs

Foreign interest in Dialog shares continued to take the market to newer heights, with foreign purchases of Rs  273.9 million on Dialog shares contributing to 47.5% of Friday's total turnover figure of Rs 576.6 million.

Dialog, which shares started trading in the secondary market for the first time on Thursday, contributed to 86% of Thursday's total turnover figure of Rs 2.3 billion, the second highest turnover figure recorded in the Colombo Bourse. Foreign purchases of Dialog shares at Thursday's trading was Rs 1.7 billion or 73.9% of the day's total turnover, with Sri Lankan born, but US based equities investor Raj Rajaratnam believed to have contributed upto 60% of Dialog's total foreign purchases. Rajaratnam is rumoured to have kept-up this momentum at Friday's trading is well.

"If foreign investment in Dialog shares is sustained in the new market week beginning tomorrow, such foreign inflows will relieve pressure on the rupee and probably on interest rates, thereby giving the bourse a continued boost," market sources said.

If interest rates are low and the current status quo in the political sphere is maintained, investors may turn to the bourse to get a better return on their savings, rather than placing their reliance on fixed deposits which give them a low interest, they said.  The week under review saw a net foreign inflow of Rs 1.7 billion, compared with a marginal net foreign outflow of Rs 3.4 million the previous week.  But relative to Thursday's boom, Friday's trading was slack, they added. Dialog is seemingly the sole driver of the Colombo Bourse these days.

 "For instance, while 133 million shares of Dialog were traded at Thursday's trading, with the shares gaining by Rs 3  (25%) to close at Rs 15, Friday's trading saw only 21.1 million Dialog shares traded (an 84% reduction over Thursday's figure), with this stock gaining by only 50 cents (3.3%) over Thursday's closing figure to  finish the day  at Rs 15.50," they said. Meanwhile, the benchmark ASPI for the week ended Friday closed at 2,047.21 points, a week on week (WoW) gain of 5.7% (111.07 points).  In contrast, the more sensitive MPI, that reflects the price movements of some thirty selected blue-chips (excluding Dialog), gained by only 8.46 points (0.3%) to close the week at 2,734.35 points. Market capitalization, buttressed by the listing of Dialog shares, WoW gained by Rs 122 billion (24.5%) to close the week at Rs 576.6 billion. Foreign purchases WoW gained by Rs 2.2 billion (over 2,200%) to close the week at Rs 2.3 billion. Foreign sales WoW increased by 82.7% to Rs 586 .5 million. Foreign sales WoW increased by 82.7% to Rs 586 .5 million.



AMW has announced a 20% final dividend, with excluding dividend date fixed for October 10 and payment date, October 21.

Vidullanka Ltd has issued a bonus issue in the proportion of one for four, subject to approval.

Sunshine Holdings has announced a 10% second and final dividend with excluding dividend date being August 18 and payment date August 31. Central Finance has announced a 12.5% final dividend with dates to be notified.

Hayleys MGT Knitting Mills has announced a bonus issue in the proportion of 'one for one,' subject to approval.

Kelsey Developers has announced a rights issue in the proportion of one for two at an issue price of Rs 25 a share. The proceeds accrued will be used to enhance the company's capital in line with the expected increase in the level of its operations.

Promoting trade

The Coconut Products Traders' Association, in affiliation with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is organizing a seminar on "International Trade, Marketing Strategies, FTAs and the Role of the State Sector to Promote Trade" at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Auditorium on Friday.

The speakers will include Mohan Mendis, Chairman, Exporters' Association of Sri Lanka who will speak on  'Exports and Roadblocks for   Development of Exports'.

Rohantha Athukorala, Executive Director, NCED on 'Export Marketing Strategies,' M. Ravindrakumar, Chief Export Officer, Sri Lanka Customs, 'Role of Sri Lanka Customs in  Promoting Import/Export Trade,' Senior Assistant Controller Central Bank K.M.D.B. Jayasinghe on issues relating to 'Exchange Control  Regulations and the liberalization of current account transactions,' Commerce Department Director General K.  J.   Weerasinghe on 'Sri Lanka's FTAs with India and Pakistan and its Impact on Import /  Export  Trade' and Chairman, Ceylon Association of Ship Agents Capt.

A.V.Rajendra on'Changing scene in International Shipping and its   Impact on Freight.'

Tea exports bring in Rs.37.3 bln.

Tea exports in the first half of this year fetched Rs. 37.3 billion, a year on year (YoY) increase of 9.4%, Forbes and Walker (F&W) in a report said. Export earnings from teas in packet form has been a major contributor towards this growth.

Exports of tea in packets reflected a 22.9% YoY growth. The approximate average unit FOB value per kilo is Rs. 267.42, reflecting a YoY growth of 13.9%.

 Meanwhile, an export volume of 139.6 million kilograms in the first half was a YoY decline of 4.1%.

A decline of 9.5 million kilograms in bulk form has been a significant factor in the negative variance YoY. CIS continues to be the number one market for Ceylon Tea. Despite the number one status however, exports to CIS during 2005 reflected a negative variance when compared with 2004.

Exports to UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have been the other markets to show a negative variance, while exports to Syria, Iran, Turkey, Japan, Chile and Finland have reflected a YoY growth.

Total tea production in the first half at 165.7 million kilograms shows a 6.6% growth YoY. Once again, the largest percentage growth has been from the high grown sector, which produced 46.2 million kilograms in the first half, a 16.7% YoY growth.

Medium Grown production at 30 million kilograms showed a 10.7% growth, while Low Growns showed a YoY growth of 0.9% to register a figure of 89.5 million kilograms.

Best Corporate Citizen Award 2005

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has organised the Best Corporate Citizen Award for the second year, where the awards ceremony will be held on October 13 at the Colombo Plaza, a press release said.

Private and public companies are eligible to apply for the Best Corporate Citizens Awards 2005. For evaluation purposes, companies should forward news articles, photographs, annual reports and other relevant information, the communiqu‚ said.

Application forms could be collected from the CCC, and the closing date for submission of applications is August 22.

The relevance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) both at organisational and national level was showcased last year at CCC's fifth annual convention.

This year, the main award to the top three corporates will have two categories. Viz., large scale and small and medium scale, thereby broadening the scope of participation. Apart from the three overall winners, there would also be a selection of category winners in the areas of environment, community relations and society, employee relations, customer and supplier relations and economic performance.

The evaluation will be undertaken by experts in the relevant sectors together with independent members who will comprise the panel of judges and responsible to select the final winners.  

The main objective of the awards will be to raise awareness on the importance of CSR to the business community and to promote and encourage CSR practices among the corporate sector, the communiqu‚ said.

The CSR Awards will be a measure of the rankings of the service of a corporate entity to its stakeholders who are its customers, employees, environment and the community. 

The release quoting unnamed CCC sources said that the Chamber recognises the increasing importance of the private sector in economic growth creation and believes that such development must take place within a framework of responsible corporate conduct, sustainable development and national socio economic progress.

Adoption of CSR practices will also enhance social acceptance of companies through ethically responsible behaviour. 'Excellence in business is more than profit for shareholders. It is about serving a variety of stakeholders.'

July inflation: 12.7%

Overall price levels increased this month  over June, deviating from the seasonal decrease usually observed in July, the Central Bank in a press release said.

  The impact of fuel price increases was one causal factor for this increase.   High point to point increases resulted in the annual average increases in inflation rising to 12.7% and 11.1% as per the CCPI and CDCPI, respectively for July 2005. The increasing trend of the annual average change in the CDCPI, which started from the second half of 2004 continued into the month of July 2005 as well.

The CCPI, the official measure of price changes within the Colombo Municipality for the lowest 40% of income groups published by the Census Department registered 4,073 in July 2005, indicating an increase of 1.3% over the previous month.

The increase in the index in July 2005 over July 2004 (the point to point change) was 10.8% compared to 9.4% in June 2005 and 8.9% in July 2004. Accordingly, the annual average increase of the index rose to 12.7% from 12.6% in June 2005.

The CDCPI, computed by the Central Bank for the lowest 40% of income earning households covering the Colombo District, increased by 0.2% in  July 2005 over June 2005. The point to point increase was 10.8% compared to 11.7% in June 2005 and 5.5% in July 2004.  Accordingly, the annual average increase of the index rose to 11.1% in July 2005, from 10.7% in June 2005.

The Fuel and light and Transport categories were the major contributors to the monthly increase of the CDCPI, following the upward revision of fuel prices and bus fares in June and LP gas price in July.  The Food category, which has the highest weight marginally declined during the month.  Rice, bread, wheat flour, coconut, some varieties of fish, chicken, eggs, a few varieties of vegetables and leafy vegetables and certain condiments including green chillies registered significant price decreases.  Meanwhile, sugar, dried chillies, big onion, coconut oil, a few varieties of fish and dried fish, some varieties of vegetables and fruits, potatoes and certain packeted items experienced price increases during the month.

The twelve month moving average of the Food sub index with a representation of around 60% of the overall index recorded an increase for this month.

Within the Food sub index, the increase recorded for the price of rice (kekulu), which bears a significant weight in the index was around 22%.

Inland boat service to be launched

Sri Lanka's first inland passenger boat service, a BOI-approved project, will start by the end of this year.

A press release issued in this connection said that the project is set to provide a much-needed transport facility for the public. The route runs between Battaramulla and Wellawatte, a total distance of 7.2 kilometres (km) along the main canal that runs through the Kotte Marsh, Narahenpita, Havelock Town and up to the Marine Drive at Wellawatte.

This landmark project has an initial foreign investment of Rs. 1 billion.

 The communiqu‚ said that the boat service would target the day-to-day office staff, schoolchildren, tourists and leisure travellers. The service would start from near the turn off to Parliament Road, Battaramulla and end at the Wellawatte canal near the Marine Drive.

Each journey would take around 30 minutes. There would be  'stops' near the Open University at Nawala, Kotte Marsh, Apollo Hospital, former Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mills and at St. Peter's College.

Each stop would be developed to include a leading pier with restaurants, Internet cafes and mini shopping malls, the communiqu‚ said. The release quoting Project Director Infoconsult Inc., Canada Neil Gonaduwa said that diesel powered passenger vessels would be brought down from Canada to run this project.

The vessels would be environment-friendly, air-conditioned 48-seaters built to  international standards. The fare for each journey would be around Rs. 35 and a boat would leave the jetty every five minutes.

"We are planning to introduce a special rate for daily office travellers and a discounted fare for schoolchildren," Gonaduwa had said.

 Currently, the area of the canal that the project is to operate on is in a state of neglect. The banks, waterways and water serve as a dumping ground for garbage and waste water systems that bring industrial waste and effluent materials, which in turn pollute the canal water beyond acceptable standards, the communiqu‚ said.

Clean up of the canal and landscaping and replanting of the canal banks are also on the cards, as part of the project.

The proposal is expected to ease the flow of traffic into the city to a great extent over the years and contribute to a cleaner environment by minimising the emissions of Carbon Monoxide, the release said.

 In addition to this, the new concept, whilst being a useful facility for commuters, will improve the scenic beauty of the canal bank route. The development of the project will also enhance opportunities for new entrepreneurships and thereby create much-needed employment in 'relevant' areas, it said.

 The project itself is expected to give direct employment to around 500 youth while ancillary development is expected to provide employment opportunities for another 2,000 youth.

The communiqu‚ quoting unnamed company sources said that there are many economic benefits of this project. Some of these include, an increase in economic revenue - revenue for Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corp (SLLR&DC), Urban Development Authority (UDA), Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), Kotte Municipal Council (KMC) and an increase of tourist visits to the City of Colombo by 250,000 per year.

The social benefits of the project are expected to contribute to reliable and timely alternate transport service while also reducing respiratory diseases. Forty percent of all jobs created by the project are reserved for unemployed youth and women. The project would result in a revitalised canal and landscaped canal banks while also providing recreation and leisure facilities to the public, it said.

The communiqu‚ said that Infoconsult had already expended $750,000, attending to the feasibility studies required and has now produced a 'bankable report.'

Gonaduwa is further quoted to have had said that they had received a  positive response from both the government and the BOI for this project.

"The government wants us to start similar project linking the Kelani River and we are seriously thinking about it," he had further said.

The release quoting BOI Chairman Saliya Wickramasuriya said that this was an 'exciting' project for the country. It has introduced a new mode of transport to Sri Lanka in a professional way and the BoI would extend its support for it, he had added.

AMW opens new Suzuki-Maruti showroom

By Pelham Juriansz

Associated Motorways (AMW), a giant in the motoring business, associated with success, opened their new Suzuki-Maruti showroom at Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo displaying some of their brand new, spectacular and sleek vehicles.

The opening, which took place last Sunday also coincided with the launch of the new Suzuki and Maruti vehicles such as Swift, Vitara and Liana.

There was also a another aspect to this occasion, as it also marked the handing over of the distributor agreement from Senior Managing Director Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) Shinzo Nakanishi to AMW Chairman Ajitha de Zoysa and Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Tilak de Zoysa. Managing Director Maruti Udyog Ltd India Jagdish Khattar was also present at this ceremony.

Other novel events that were inaugurated on that day were a state-of-the art touch screen kiosk station (the first of its kind in a motor showroom in Sri Lanka), and there was in addition the introduction of the Suzuki Maruti range of Esteem, Wagon R, Zen, Alto, Gypsy, M 800 and Omni.

This opening also reaffirmed the appointment of AMW as Distributor of SMC vehicles, Japan's number one seller of passenger vehicles in the financial year 2004.

With a corporate history of over 85 years, Suzuki also manufactures a full range of motorcycles, automobiles and motorised wheelchairs.

The trademark is recognised by people throughout the world. Currently, SMC has 133 automobile distributors in 119 overseas countries and 16 automobile plants in 15 countries overseas.

Worldwide, Suzuki sold over 1.89 million vehicles last year. The target for this year is 2.18 million vehicles. This year also sees the introduction of the New Swift and New Grand Vitara to the world market.

In particular, New Swift has started its production simultaneously in four major countries, Japan, India, Hungary and China.

Suzuki is a company that has made major strides and Maruti's mission is to remain as the number one seller of passenger cars in Sri Lanka. It has maintained this position in the past two years, with over a 40% stake in the brand new car market category. 

Meanwhile, some of the qualities in the all-new Swift is that it is an European styled car with Japanese engineering and dream like handling. 

Then there is the Maruti 800, which is the economical car ideally suited for women. However, small cars, earlier thought of as catering to women motorists, has rapidly gained popularity among all sectors, particularly in the face of rising fuel costs and increasing congestion on the narrow roads of Sri Lanka.

TMC, CMI-UK second AGM

The Management Club, a body of professional managers from diverse professions working in collaboration with The Chartered Management Institute-UK, Sri Lanka Branch had its second Annual General Meeting (of both TMC and  CMI-UK  Sri Lanka Branch) recently and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its key corporate financial sponsors namely Hatton National Bank, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Academy of Business Studies (Pvt) Ltd and Lion Brewery Ceylon Ltd. for a three year term from July 2005, a press release said.

TMC also has Ole Spring Bottlers (Pvt) Ltd. as one of their new sponsors this term.  TMC will continue with Softwave Printing and Packaging and Ninehearts Ltd. as co-sponsors and with The Sunday Leader, Upali Group of Newspapers and MBC Networds as their media sponsors.

TMC's 350 members are affiliated to either TMC Galle Face, housed at the Galle Face Hotel or TMC Mt.Lavinia at the Berjaya Mount Royal Beach Hotel.

They are involved in programmes designed to develop and fine tune their potential and existing management, leadership and business skills. The Club's affairs are overseen by a president, 12 vice presidents nominated and elected by the Club and CMI proportionately and six directors nominated by the president. 

They cover a wide spectrum involving Social Accountability, Management Programmes and Special Events, Membership Benefits, Development and Public Relations, Media, Website and Membership Directory, Club Extension and Reciprocal Arrangements, Club Operations and Sponsor Participation, Constitutional Affairs, Administration and Treasury. Its functional roles are conducted by the executive committees of Galle Face and Mt. Lavinia each comprising a chairman and nine committee members. TMC's stand alone CSR project is also conducted by a committee of a chairman and nine others.

TMC is the first body of its kind in the South Asian region and its corporate sponsors will play a vital role by their presence and support at all events conducted in the next term while TMC aims to reach global levels of professionalism, the release added.

Celltel lowers IDD rates

Celltel has scored another first and created local telecom history with the launch of IDD calls at their normal outgoing local tariff rates on Cellcard, a press release said.

This facility which was effective from Monday relates to the Rs. 11 peak rate and Rs. 8 off peak rate. The release quoting Celltel CEO Dumindra Ratnayake said this was a ground breakingÿphenomenon in local telecom history as hitherto no fixed or mobile network had offeredÿthis facility to their users.

"Celltel's new IDD tariff will be the same as our local tariff and we expect this announcement to generate a furtherÿsurge in sales," Ratnayake had further said.

"IDD calls at local rates are a phenomenal achievement on the part of Celltel and are further proof of our commitment to our customers and the local telecom industry," Ratnayake is quoted to have had said.

Initially this will be applicable to calls made to USA, Canada, China, Singapore, Hongkong, Russia, Argentina, Macau, San Marino, Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Ratnayake said this groundbreaking IDD tariff would benefit both the individual customer as well as businessman from large companies in the export or import trade, services (including shipping and airline) as well as locals having a family member abroad.

"This initiative will allow for affordable connectivity in line with falling international call pricing. "Celltel believes in passing on its benefits of lower cost to customers whereever practical in order to spread the benefit of affordable telecom services as far and wide as possible and assist in the economic development of the country in the ways that it can. I would encourage all existing international calling customers to benefit from this offer by buying a  Cellcard connection and making calls to these countries conveniently and hassle free whilst saving on cost," he said.

He had further said that their Cellcard sales have been increasing 'dramatically,' with the company planning its sixth phase of expansion, giving Celltel a further 50% increase in coverage. Plans have been made to further expand the company's network in coverage and providing its customers with more value added features.

Celltel is a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular S. A., a global telecommunications giant with a total of 16 cellular operations worldwide and licenses in 15 countries. The Group's cellular operations have a combined population under license of 387 million subscribers.

Alles -  GM Asian Alliance

Ever since its inception in 1999, Asian Alliance Insurance (AAI) has steadily made its mark in the insurance industry. Having the support of corporate bulwarks such as Asia Capital Ltd (ACL), the Richard Peiris Group and Sampath Bank ensures that AAI has the right expertise and faculty to propel itself to greater horizons within a highly competitive insurance industry, a press release said.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the AAI management decided to recruit Ainsley Alles as General Manager Non-Life. Alles, an old boy of De Mazenod College, Kandana, counts more than 23 years in the field of insurance. Prior to joining AAI, he was the General Manager (General) of Union Assurance.

A fellow of The Chartered Insurance Institute (FCII) London and fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF), Alles completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management from Colombo University with distinction. He later went on to read for his Masters Degree in Business Management (MBA) at the University of Western Sydney.

 Alles has travelled extensively and has followed several courses in management and insurance. Among those were: 'Managing Insurance Companies' in the 1990s organised by Generali Group School of Assicurazioni Generali SpA in Veneto, Italy in 1995, and 'Fit for Executive Decisions' by Swiss Reinsurance Company, Zurich. At present he is a visiting lecturer at the Ceylinco College of Insurance.

Alles has served the industry in various capacities such as chairman of the Fire Technical Sub Committee of the Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL) in 1995/6, alternate member of the IASL Executive Committee, member of the Motor Rate Revision Sub-committee, secretary of the general insurance forum, member of the Fire Tariff Revision Committee of the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL) and member of IBSL's Fire Advisory Committee.

Dialog's cricket 'score' update

Dialog Telekom and Amana Takaful Insurance (ATI), the innovators in their respective industry have come together in promoting a new medium of marketing and awareness building through Dialog's cricket 'Score' update facility, a press release said.ÿ

A Dialog subscriber can SMS 'Score' to 7777 and would be immediately updated on the scores of international cricket matches, as well as the recent developments and value additions that Amana Takaful provides for its clients in keeping with their business strategy 'Unconventional Difference In Conventional Insurance.'ÿ

ATI which revolutionised the insurance industry in Sri Lanka through its 'Surplus Refund' and 'TakEasy - 24 hour Insurance Kiosk' firmly believe that value for money and convenience is the way forward. This has been the engine of growth in their success over the years, which has resulted in them growing year on year by more than 100% since their inception  seven years ago.

"In giving the best to our customers we intend working with the best, and with business partners who firmly believe as we do that value creation for customers and convenience is the only way of staying ahead," the release quoting Sales and Marketing Manager Amana Takaful shfaque Mohamed Ali said.

CPP issue re-surfaces

By Easwaran Rutnam

The fate of the Caller Party Pays (CPP) system which has been on the cards without implementation for several years, will finally be decided by the end of next month or September.

CPP, proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) was to institute CPP when dialling a mobile phone, instead of the mobile user also having to pay for the incoming call.

However the system was put on hold after a consumer filed a writ petition against it citing the exorbitant rates when dialling a mobile phone from a land phone.

A committee of inquiry appointed by the TRC will hold public hearings starting tomorrow , in accordance with section 12 of the Telecom Act before deciding on the fate of CPP.

Director, Legal, TRC P.R.. Amarasiri told The Sunday Leader  that in order to gather public views and recommendations on the CPP six public hearings will be conducted next month before a final decision is taken.

"The public including consumer associations, chambers of commerce and telecom operators will attend the hearings at the TRC office from August 1,3 and 5 with two hearings scheduled for each day," She said.

Amarasiri also said that as the tariff issue is very sensitive the TRC has to consider proposals from the public before deciding on the structure of the system or its implementation.

If a decision is taken on a new tariff structure it will be forwarded to the consumer before it is gazetted and implemented.

Acting Deputy Director

Committee of Inquiry, TRC, H. W. K Indrajith told The Sunday Leader that they have received 4000 submissions on the CPP

from the public since a writ order was issued against it out of

which a selected few will

also be presented at the public hearings.

"We have selected a few good recommendations which we will present at the public hearings and get views and opinions on them from those who placed these recommendations as well as others present," He said.

Indrajith added that at the conclusion of the public hearings the recommendations and proposals will be studied carefully after which a new tariff structure will be proposed for approval.

Visa Platinum card, Sampath's success

The globally thinking, but essentially Sri Lankan Sampath Bank is back  with yet another exclusive offer - its Visa Platinum Card. Very elite, very handy around the globe, it's just the thing for the man or woman with class.

"Sampath Bank was the first to introduce visa cards to the local market" said Ranjith Narangoda, Deputy General Manager, Systems Development, Electronic Banking and Card Centre.

Within two years we were eligible to offer the visa platinum card, another first." Narangoda added that the Visa Platinum was given by invitation only and exclusively reserved for the privileged.

"Unlike other cards you can't apply for this. We study customers carefully in terms of their financial and social status before inviting them." Narangoda said.

"Visa Platinum" represents one of the most prestigious card payment products in the world and unveils a range of exclusive privileges, services and benefits around the world unmatched by any other card product.

Among these is eligibility to join the Visa Platinum Club and enjoy exclusive benefits and privileges from international institutions known for their superior quality and service standards.

These include hotels and spas such as Palazzo Versace, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Raffles Hotels and Resorts, Conrad, Monte Carlo Grand Hotel, Hilton, The Leela, Goa and The Club at the Leela, Goa, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, The Imperial, The Six Senses Spa, St. Gregory's Spa and California Fitness to name a few.

Visa Platinum Card local partners include Hotel Galadari, Lavinia Breeze and Tangerine.

The Visa Platinum Bon Apertit Club allows a holder to enjoy dining in over 200 fine restaurants in the Asia Pacific Region. Visa Platinum Cardholders are considered VIP guests and will be offered a  complimentary bottle of wine or sake at these restaurants.

Cardholders and their guests also enjoy priority reservation, free parking and much more. It also includes special offers at establishments such as Gerard Charles, Hertz, Larry Jewellery, NakamichWaterford Wedgewood and a range of other globally acclaimed designer stores and products.

 Access to luxury golf holidays at some of the world's most exclusive golf courses including Australia, Britain, Scotland, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the US is among visa platinum's benefits.

Visa Platinum Card Holders enjoy the lowest interest rates in the market at 1.95% per annum. They are also given a comprehensive travel accident insurance cover of $250 000 for death and dismemberment, $30,000 for sickness and medical expenses and $1,500 in case of personal liability. The card also entitles holders to a free gold master card and a web card for online purchases. The web card with a credit limit of Rs.25 000 is tailor made for internet purchases.

The minimum  credit limit is Rs.750 000 while the maximum depends on individual income. "I am proud to say we have a zero default rate with our platinum card holders" Narangoda said.

"They are very good paymasters" He added, saying they made a thorough study before inviting a potential customer to take a visa platinum card.

Currently there are over 500 holders, all from the top echelons of society, Narangoda said. The Platinum Card also entitles customers to an annual gift. Last year however the money allocated was used to fund housing and other projects for tsunami victims.

"We informed our customers and they were for it," Narangoda said.

Okanda,fillip to milch farmer

Okanda Finance(Pvt) Ltd., the parent company of Wayamba Development Farming Corporation Ltd. (WDFCL) that is into the manufacture of dairy products has formulated a practical programme for the uplift of the milk farmer, a press release said.

They are to fix a higher guaranteed price for milk and buy all the milk produced by the local milk farmer by WDFCL's factory.

To formulate a welfare scheme for the milk farmers and their families. Supply of drugs to the cows and also heifers at a subsidized price and educate the milk farmer through regular orientation as to how milk production could be increased through modern scientific methods.

The release further said that in the past, local milk production was at a considerably higher level where the local farmer was able to meet the entire demand for milk.

However, the present trend is that the masses are accustomed to the habit of consuming powdered milk imported from abroad. The resultant impact is that the milk farmer being brought down to a pathetic state, causing the deterioration of the local milk industry.

"If we are to draw the milk farmer out of this dire situation, a mammoth propaganda programme to popularize the consumption of fresh milk among the masses has to be implemented, it said.

The release also said that dairy products produced by 'Okanda Dairies' are now available in the market, in this project undertaken by WDFCL, a BoI approved company.

Initially, packets of fresh milk, yoghurt, ghee and 100% pure buffalo curd have been introduced to the market. Cheese, butter, ice cream and fat free milk will be manufactured under the final stage. This massive project costing Rs 767 million is phased out into several stages.

The factory is now commissioned under stage one. Current production is limited to only a few varieties of dairy products. With the development of the dairy industry, the company expects to achieve several objectives. The main objective is for WDFCL to contribute to save the colossal amount of money now being drained out of the country on powdered milk, it said.

The release said that Rs 12 billion is being annually spent on the import of powdered milk. "If we are able to save this vast sum of money, then the living standards of the milk farmer who is now in dire straits can be raised," it said.

Although many have voiced their concern, a practical programme towards the uplift of the local milk farmer is yet to be seen, the communiqu‚ said.

CIMA brand director visits Kandy

Ray Perry, CIMA Brand Director who was in Sri Lanka on a short visit,  visited the CIMA Information Centre, Kandy recently, a press release said.

This centre was launched in1996. Since then, Mahasena Senanayake has been responsible for organising tuition facilities provided by the Financial Training Centre with classes conducted at Hillwood College Kandy.

He has also set up a CBA Centre to enable students to follow classes and to take up Computer Based Assessments which is mandatory at the Certificate in Business Accounting level.

A CIMA Mastercourse was conducted in Kandy at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel on July 16, with Perry and Senanayake making presentations on.

Data, most important non-human asset

By Pelham Juriansz

One of today's challenges is the collection and storing of information to prevent data loss. Data is many times the most important non-human asset that a company has and therefore it has to be protected.

Companies spend a colossal amount of money when information is lost. Some companies manually copy files to external disks, floppies or CDs, which is time consuming and disruptive to day-to-day operations and error prone.

Supposing a company overnight was to lose many computers and its file server - Sure, insurance would replace the computers. It would even cover the expense on software, but what about the information that was on the computers? Lose data and you may lose everything.

The key point is that when you lose your data you have a good chance of seeing your business going out of business within 12 months.

That is the whole reason for data protection. What your company needs to be doing is to find solutions to provide solutions to your problem of data loss.

This is where Quantum steps in and provides customers data solutions. And providing such a reliable data system, Quantum delivers highly reliable backup and recovery archive solutions that meet demanding requirements for data integrity and availability with superior price performance and comprehensive service and support.

Quantum recently had a tie up with Pan Audio to provide Sri Lankans with the much-needed back up for storing information. Quantum had a presentation for CEOs of major companies organised by the American Chamber of Commerce and explained the fact that as senior level managers they should be capable of facing the challenges of the future as IT is becoming the tool for use in offices.

Quantum has over 25 years experience in providing strategic back up, recovery and archives, having 2,500 employees worldwide with offices in Asia and Australia. It is also the world's number one vendor in tape drives.

Quantum leverages new storage architectures, transport protocols and operating systems that efficiently and cost effectively manage, store and protect valuable digital assets.

Double points from Nexus

By Easwaran Rutnam

Nexus loyalty card users are in for a treat over the next two months as points awarded for purchases at selected merchants will be doubled, adding extra value to the customer who earns while spending.

To put it in the words of the Manager Nexus Networks Lewie Diasz, the special offer will "induce loyalty and add power packed rewards to the customer." The special offer which starts tomorrow and ends on September 30 will be available at 28 Nexus merchants, which includes big names like Keells Super, Abans Office Automation, Pizza hut, LMD and The Colombo Plaza.

Explaining the promotion, Diasz said that when customers buy items at selected outlets and produce their Nexus loyalty card with their payment to the cashier, they will receive double the points already on offer from the merchant.

The points are credited to the Nexus loyalty card and the user can then redeem the points in place of cash while shopping the next time at any Nexus partner outlet.  

"You can earn points whenever you pay. Be it by cash or credit. You can also earn and redeem points instantly with absolutely zero hassle. It takes only 10 seconds over the counter," Diasz says.

Nexus Networks (Pvt) Ltd, launched in December 2000 by John Keells Holdings has within a short period of time succeeded in reinventing the meaning of loyalty. Backed by a strong network of partnership establishments, Nexus keeps evolving and redefining loyalty to meet demanding customer needs and has managed to become a friendly, household name.

According to Diasz, Nexus always wants to offer value to the cardholder and go beyond the basic operation of just offering and redeeming points. The market leader in loyalty cards, Nexus has over 45 partner merchants, which includes some of the leading brand names, and more than 60,000 card holders.

Nexus also offers the highest number of points in the market ranging from  0.5% to 10% of the purchase value in points.

Each point equals Rs. 1. A minimum of 50 points is required to initially use a card and when redeeming the points the customer can decide how much he/she wishes to deduct  against the bill. On settlement of the bill the customer will receive a statement detailing the total amount spent at the outlet, the number of points deducted, the amount  actually paid and the number of points earned from the purchase.

Diasz says 2005 has been a good year for the company which generates more than Rs. 212 million a month with an increase in the number of partner outlets and card holders.

The mission of the Nexus team is "to be the most preferred loyalty card in Sri Lanka" and it has certainly achieved that by making shopping a pleasant and thrilling experience. The participating merchants in the new offer are Keells Super and Super K, Mackinnons, Wickramarachchi Opticians, Beyond Basix, A & A opticians, AMW, Health Guard, LMD, Union Assurance, Lanka Ceramics, Expo Air, Abans Office Automation, Keells Hotels, Colombo Plaza, Medi-Calls, Singhagiri, Janet, Mlesna, Pizza Hut, Colombo Jewellery Stores, Vijitha Yapa Bookshop, Hameedias, Hayleys, Raymond, Addidas, Leather Collection, Odel and The Listening Room.

Celltel offers Per Second Billing

Celltel, the pioneer mobile telecommunications provider set a new standard for billing of calls on its prepaid platform with the launch of their Per Second Billing (PSB) option, a press release said. PSB is a first among GSM operators that extends greater cost control for its prepaid Cellcard users by charging them for the exact duration of their calls instead of on a per minute basis, it added.

 PSB is the latest innovation to hit the growing GSM mobile telephony market and sets a new paradigm in call billing among the prepaid segment. With the PSB package, all calls by subscribers will be charged by the 'second' as opposed to a one-minute block, as done today in the industry.

Customers can now save while making more calls. In fact this could translate to over 100% saving on current per minute call charges, or making twice the number of calls at the same cost. What's more, this facility comes with no daily fee, so customers are in complete control of their call expenses.

Also, on the PSB option, Cellcard package users will pay for the number of seconds of their call duration, allowing them to pay a nominal amount for short duration calls, which was not possible till today.

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