Premier hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels showcased their prowess in the culinary sphere, winning five (05) Gold, four (04) Silver and four (04) Bronze at the recently concluded prestigious Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup. Its flagship Maldives resort, Heritance Aarah collectively took home 13 medals.
The five (05) member team from Heritance Aarah, competed against 60 teams from 55 nations, in an intense five-day competition in Luxembourg-Kirchberg, vying for the prestigious prizes. The winning team was led by Executive Chef Amila Silva and the team was mentored and trained by the Culinary Olympic Record Holder Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe (nine-time Culinary Olympic Gold medallist) and the Corporate Chef Maldives Sector Lalith Gunasekare.
Chef Kumarasinghe is the Aitken Spence Hotels Assistant Vice President, Ambassador Heritance Cuisine / Chefs & Culinary Art Development Officer. Excellence in skill, collective values and expertise of the team, together with sheer hard work, commitment and dedication; along with the spirit of Aitken Spence proved to be the prizewinning ingredient for Heritance Aarah.
Curating innovative and unique dishes that are a melange of flavour, colour and presentation. Heritance Aarah’s inimitable approach to gastronomy, the out-of-the-box creations not only caught the eyes of the judges but also received commendation by all present.
In line with the premium lifestyle experience presented to its discerning guests, Heritance Aarah extends the most generous all-inclusive offering. Standing apart from the orthodox all-inclusive offerings in the Maldives, a key distinction at Heritance Aarah is the 11 F&B outlets, of which seven are for dining. The culinary journey that its guests are privy to includes a holistic epicurean journey from street food to the traditional, to fusion to fine dining, unravelling an experience unlike any other. With culinary among its core values, the resort team, since 2019 has brought home many a medal in the field, including multiple wins at the Culinary Olympics and Culinary Food Expo.
These achievements further reiterate the company’s continued efforts and investment in strengthening its leadership position in culinary excellence as well as in soft skill development, as part of long term strategy. “Heritance Aarah is a unique resort that was designed to challenge the status quo. We turned this into a skill we are proud to have honed and nurtured over the years – our exceptional talent in the culinary world,” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism and Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena said congratulating the team. “We are ever so proud to see these achievements and world-class recognition which proves that we are very much in line with the company’s vision. My heartiest congratulations to you all; and thank you for keeping the Aitken Spence flag as well as Sri Lanka flag flying high.”
Adding to Ms. Jayawardena, Aitken Spence Hotels Managing Director Susith Jayawickrama also echoed her sentiments. “This global recognition is a reward for our continuous investment on culinary training and exposure and proves that Aitken Spence Hotels is among the world’s best in the culinary arena.”
The winning team was welcomed at the Bandaranaike airport by the Senior Management of Aitken Spence Hotels followed by a felicitation lunch and ceremony with the attendance of the Group Supervisory Board of Aitken Spence PLC – Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Dr. Rohan Fernando, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam, members of the Senior Management of Aitken Spence Hotels and well-wishers from across Aitken Spence subsidiaries.
Recognised as one of the largest and most important cooking competitions in the world, the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup is a prestigious gastronomic festival that meets the highest standards. The Culinary World Cup was held in line with EXPOGAST Trade Show 2022.
Aitken Spence Hotels is part of the Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC. Aitken Spence Hotels owns and operates 18 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for its exceptional service and undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences. The Company’s Sri Lankan portfolio includes 8 hotels and resorts spread across the island of which five are Heritance properties, whilst the Maldives resorts totals to five (with one Heritance resort), four in Oman and one in India.
Leading US-based international trade finance services provider to set up in Sri Lanka
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Leading US-based international trade finance services provider, iBEX Global, will officially set up in Sri Lanka soon.
Chairman and founder of iBEX Global, based in Atlanta, Georgia, Maverick Robinson who is currently in Sri Lanka, at a special event held recently at Galle Face Hotel, said that Sri Lanka is the third country after UAE to launch their operations.
“We have been following developments in Sri Lanka since August 2022 and have appointed Jayamal Hewage as our Managing Director, Robinson said.
Hewage is the Group Managing Director of Jayamal Holdings Group of Companies.
Robinson said that iBEX Global was set up four years ago by him in the US in the thick of the COVID pandemic at a time when companies were shutting down.
Robinson added: “We saw a huge vacuum for logistics and international trade finance services, mainly to import personal protective clothing (PPE), like masks from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. At that time the supply chains and support services were completely in disarray but we quickly gathered a professional team, created and opened a new supply chain, helping to save and protect the lives of many.
“By doing this we proved that there is opportunity in crises and we see similarities in Sri Lanka and this is why we decided to open here. Our primary focus centers on providing international trade finance services tailored to each customer’s unique needs.
“We see that with better marketing networks, attractive packaging and product financing (of which we are experts) Sri Lanka’s exports could be increased by almost 20% in less than a year.”
Meanwhile, Jayamal Hewage said: “In Sri Lanka we intend to cater to medium, small and macro sized companies and those who come on board with us will be provided technical advice on product development, superior packaging and other technical advice, all free of charge.
“iBEX Global can even offer financing up to USD 10 million for companies to develop their product range.
“They would also be linked with new global markets that were not accessible to them.
“Our services also include Standby Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantees, RWA Documents, Documentary Letters Credit and many other similar services.”
Sri Lanka slips in Economic Freedom
Sri Lanka ranks 116 out of 165 jurisdictions included in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2023 Annual Report, released by Advocata Institute in conjunction with Canada’s Fraser Institute. The current ranking represents a decline in the economic freedom of the country which ranked 104th during 2020.
The report measures the economic freedom of individuals—their ability to make their own economic decisions—by analyzing the policies and institutions of 165 jurisdictions. The policies examined include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, legal system and property rights, and sound monetary policy. The 2023 report is based on data from 2021, the last year with available comparable statistics across jurisdictions.
Sri Lanka’s decline in score was driven by 4 out of the 5 sub indicators of economic freedom registering declines in their respective individual scores. These indicators are the size of government, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and the regulation of credit, labour, and business. The only indicators that registered an improvement in its score is the indicator of legal system and property rights.
“The report captured a stark warning: Sri Lanka’s economic freedom declined prior to the economic crisis of 2022, a testament to the vulnerability of nations with limited economic freedom in the face of economic turmoil. If the country is to recover, Sri Lanka must prioritize economic growth within the framework of maximising economic freedom for its citizens to trade, work, and transact freely in a stable monetary and fiscal environment” said Dhananath Fernando, Chief Executive Officer at the Advocata Institute.
The number one spot is now occupied by Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Other notable countries include Japan (20th), Germany (23th), France (47th) and Russia (104th).
Venezuela once again ranks last. Some countries such as North Korea and Cuba can’t be ranked due to lack of data.
The Fraser Institute produces the annual Economic Freedom of the World report in cooperation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly 100 countries and territories. It’s the world’s premier measure of economic freedom.
The report was prepared by Professor James Gwartney of Florida State University and Professors Robert A. Lawson and Ryan Murphy of Southern Methodist University.
According to research in top peer-reviewed academic journals, people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer lives.
For example, countries in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of US$48,569, compared to US$6,324 for bottom quartile countries. Poverty rates are lower. In the top quartile, less than one per cent of the population experienced extreme poverty (US$1.90 a day) compared to 32 per cent in the lowest quartile. Finally, life expectancy is 81.1 years in the top quartile of countries compared to 65 years in the bottom quartile.
“Where people are free to pursue their own opportunities and make their own choices, they lead more prosperous, happier and healthier lives,” Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute said.
See the full report at www.fraserinstitute.org/economic-freedom.
EFC calls for political will to realise competitive and relevant labour law reforms
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was recently invited for a series of meetings with political representatives including the Prime Minister and the Executive Council of the Parties in the Opposition to discuss labour law reforms to be introduced through the proposed Employment Act. The meeting with the Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena, which was held at the Temple Trees was attended by the Commissioner General of Labour, a representative of the Bar Association, officials of state enterprises and trade unions. The meeting with the Executive Council Members of the Opposition Parties was held in the parliamentary complex and was chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, Sajith Premadasa. MPs Lakshman Kiriella, Prof. G. L. Peiris, Eran Wickramaratne, Nalaka Godahewa and Chandima Weerakkody represented the Committee at this meeting.
The EFC led the private sector which was represented by several business chambers at these meetings. On behalf of the private sector, the Director General of the EFC, Vajira Ellepola highlighted the importance of proceeding with labour law reforms which are critical for investment promotion. During the discussions, EFC’s DG reiterated that the private sector had made submissions to successive governments calling for labour law reforms. Despite the fact that such regimes have also declared their intention to reform the existing law, they lacked the political will and conviction to realise those reforms to benefit all stakeholders, he averred.
“Our current labour law is essentially the same as what existed a few decades ago, regardless of substantial socioeconomic changes that have taken place in a highly competitive global environment,” EFC’s DG remarked. He further noted that if Sri Lanka is to remain relevant in a highly competitive global market, labour law reforms are imperative for business growth which in turn will create resilient and sustainable organisations.
The objectives of labour law reforms were broadly summed by the EFC during these discussions to include promotion of investment, creation of new and better job opportunities, strengthening social security and creating an enabling environment for employees and employers to realise the full potential of information and technology driven modern world of work. To achieve these objectives, several key changes were mooted by the EFC. While transforming the labour law to embrace the changes in the modern socio-economic fabric, the EFC also called to recognise the influence of the digital transformation of the world of work, and urged for a dynamic private sector-driven economic growth for the national economy to remain competitive and sustainable. Taking stock of the globalised market economy and flexibility to grow and adjust is also imperative, EFC pointed out.
“In the above backdrop it is important to address labour law reforms on a priority basis to permit greater flexibility of enterprises to attract investment which in turn will generate employment” observed Ellepola who tabled the proposals under three main pillars of laws relating to the termination of employment, conditions of employment and laws relating to industrial/labour relations. He also drove home the message that in the Sri Lankan context if economic reforms are to yield optimum results, they should be complemented by administrative, legal and educational reforms.
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