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CL Synergy announces new board ahead of IPO



From Left to Right; Mr. Anuradha Sooriyaarachchi (Executive Director), Mr. Udara Widanagamage (Executive Director), Mr. Roshan Silva (Managing Director), Mr. Janaka Udamulla (Director – Finance), Mr. Sanjaya Bandara (Non-Executive Director), Mr. Dharma Dheerasinghe (Chairman), Mrs. Shehani Kulatunga (Executive Director), Mr. Thilan Wijesinghe (Non- Executive Director), Mr. Nirosh De Silva (Non-Executive Director)

Leading digitally-enabled freight forwarding solutions provider with a global footprint, CL Synergy, has announced the appointment of six members to its Board of Directors.

The announcement comes as the Company completes its transition from a Private Limited Liability company into a Public Limited Liability company, in preparation for an expansion plan, which will include an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and listing of its shares, once the necessary approvals are obtained. The new Directors will add value by bringing in a wealth of experience and expertise to guide the Company, as it embarks on the next phase of its growth journey, a CLS news release said.

The new additions to the Board of Directors of CL Synergy Limited include Mr. Dharma Dheerasinghe, who will serve as Chairman, Messrs. Nirosh De Silva, Thilan Wijesinghe and Sanjaya Bandara, who will serve as Independent/Non-Executive Directors and Udara Widanagamage and Anuradha Sooriyaarachchi, who will serve as Executive Directors.

“All of these individuals are veterans and leaders in their respective fields,” the release said.

The new appointments complete CL Synergy’s Board of Directors, which also includes its Managing Director/Co-Founder Roshan Silva, Director – Finance/Co-Founder Janaka Udamulla and Director Shehani Kulatunga, all of whom have been with the Company since its inception 17 years ago.

Mr. Dharma Dheerasinghe, having built a banking career in both in the public and private sectors was Chairman of Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, while also having previously served as the Deputy Governor and Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka having also functioned as an Alternate Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He holds both a Master’s Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Leeds and the University of Colombo, respectively.

Mr. Nirosh De Silva is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a BA in Economics and Business Management from Franklin and Marshall College, and is presently the Managing Partner at Horizon Partners Limited. Previously, he has served as a Senior Manager at Ayojana Fund Management, and at Hatton National Bank PLC. Mr. De Silva has a wealth of experience in private equity and corporate finance.

Mr. Thilan Wijesinghe is a prominent investment banker, a specialist in public-private partnerships (PPP) and an entrepreneur. A well-known figure in the world of business, Mr. Wijesinghe holds three bachelor’s degrees, in Industrial Engineering, Economics and Business Administration. He is a specialist in investment banking and real estate. He is presently the Chairman and CEO of TWCorp (Private) Limited, the Chairman of Sapphirus Lanka (Private) Limited, and a Director at both Ceylon Tea Trails (Private) Limited and MJF Leisure (Private) Limited.

Mr. Sanjaya Bandara holds a BSc in Accountancy & Financial Management from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Colombo. He is presently the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, a Director at Prime Land Residencies PLC, a Partner at B R De Silva and Co. and serves as a Board Member of both the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants and the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board.

Mr. Udara Widanagamage is a marketer and Logistics & supply chain expert. He has also served as a Director of CL Synergy (Private) Limited, a role which he is now continuing in his new capacity at CL Synergy Limited. Mr. Widanagamage holds an MBA from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and is Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Institute of Certified Management Accountants, Australia (CMA), qualified.

Mr. Anuradha Sooriyaarachchi has served as Director – Procurement & Business Development at CL Synergy (Private) Limited, a role which he is now extending in his new capacity at CL Synergy Limited. Mr. Sooriyaarachchi has also served as General Manager and Deputy General Manager at CL Synergy (Private) Limited. He has also functioned in roles such as Manager Sales (Sri Lanka/Maldives) at APL Lanka (Private) Limited and Senior Executive at Maersk Logistics Lanka (Private) Limited. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Ship Brokers. Anuradha’s contributions towards the development of the industry saw him being appointed as a member of the Logistics Advisory Committee to the Export Development Board (EDB) by the Minister of Trade, with effect from July 2021.

CL Synergy Limited was incorporated as CL Synergy (Private) Limited in 2004 as a fully-fledged freight forwarding company. The Company’s objective is to provide professional, reliable and high-quality services. The Company prides itself on providing customers with a personalized atmosphere, flexibility, highly competitive pricing and efficient servicing. CL Synergy has diversified its activities under a set of Associate companies which include fleet management, software solutions and Investments, along with other innovative ventures in the pipeline.

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Private Tutoring Amidst Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis: Issues Faced by Students



By Usha Perera

Sri Lanka’s education sector, still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, now faces acute challenges due to the current political and economic crises. The sudden imposition of curfews and the lack of transportation have resulted in school closures and students being deprived of structured and systematic in-school education. In Sri Lanka, closing schools for just one day causes a loss of 25 million learning hours and 1.4 million teaching hours. Alongside this, private tutoring has gained greater importance. This blog discusses the issues faced mainly by Ordinary Level (O/L) and Advanced Level (A/L) students in attending tuition classes based on an IPS study. The study findings are derived from a sample of about 340 students, and 16 teachers and tutors across Sri Lanka.

Affordability of Private Tuition Classes

The surge in the cost of living with wages failing to keep pace with inflation and loss of income generation channels have been unbearable for parents of school-going children. The IPS study found that students who belonged to family income levels below LKR 30,000 spend approximately LKR 3,000-Rs. 7,000 per month while students whose family income was above LKR 200,000 spend approximately LKR 18,000- LKR 20,000 per month on private tuition depending on the grade of the student. This scenario is illustrated in Figure 1.

Further, most O/L and A/L level students spend more than LKR 2,000 per month on data packages for both school and tuition online classes, while most students who spend more than LKR 2,000 per month are concentrated among the higher family income categories. If LKR 2,000 is spent on monthly data packages, it would approximately account for 1% of whose family income is above LKR 200,000, and more than 7% of whose family income is below LKR 30,000. All this highlights the perceived importance of private education, especially among O/L and A/L grades, and the financial burden it imposes on a family’s household income.

These affordability concerns were partly offset by the introduction of free online classes during the pandemic, which has provided considerable relief for financially vulnerable students according to students interviewed for the IPS study. Affordability concerns were further allayed by reduced class fees by some tutors. The fees reductions were made accounting for the structural changes of administrative and operating costs of an online setting applicable based on the scale and intensity of operations of tutors. Financial issues faced by the families experiencing household income losses during the pandemic were also considered in fees reduction.

Accessibility to Online Classes

Online platforms were the sole medium for conducting classes during the pandemic while it becomes an option in the current context considering the social unrest, curfews and travel constraints due to fuel shortages. However, many students faced accessibility issues in joining online classes. The issues faced were poor signal coverage, high data costs, lack of necessary devices, and affordability concerns in the context of lost household income during the pandemic. Most of the students who belonged to a family income level above LKR 200,000 used a laptop/tablet while most of the students who belonged to a family income level of below LKR 30,000 relied on a smartphone. Smartphones were found to be less user friendly for academic use. In addition to the above issues, the ongoing power outages also present impediments to online education.The accessibility issues are mainly experienced by students from families with comparatively lower income levels, and those who had to rely on a smartphone for academic purposes. This implies a close positive relationship between household income and the quality of the education received; financial strength being the primary determinant of accessibility.

Figure 1: Monthly Tuition Expenditure by Monthly Household Income
Source: Institute of PolicyStudies of Sri Lanka, 2021.

However, these accessibility issues were partly offset by the divergent opportunities experienced by students, especially in the context of online platforms. These prospects included the ability to join online classes conducted in distant locations that would otherwise have been restricted due to travel constraints and increased time available due to school closures. As a result, they increased the duration of tuition classes using the saved travel time.

Way Forward

While private tutoring became a way of bridging the gaps in the education system during the crisis, learning losses for the most vulnerable groups have further widened with accessibility and affordability issues. Since these issues were mainly observed among O/L and A/L student groups, there is a higher risk that vulnerable student groups would be highly challenged during their most decisive years leading to higher education and career development. Thus, it is necessary to address the affordability issues, focusing more on the vulnerable student groups. Financial assistance could be provided in terms of a certain number of free hours of teaching for selected financially vulnerable students and allocating a selected proportion of students to be taught at a concessionary rate.

To address the accessibility issues, recording the lessons and distributing the notes on different platforms will help to a certain extent. Providing digital equipment and networks for selected tuition centres and schools could also be considered since the lack of facilities and resources was identified as major accessibility issue for distance education. These would require collaborative efforts among the government, tutors, parents, non-government organisations and any other well-wishers.

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Allianz Divitharana: A new take on Life and Health Insurance



The world’s number one insurance brand Allianz has announced the launch of its new Divitharana Insurance product, which provides comprehensive life and health insurance for policyholders and their loved ones, at an easily accessible and affordable price. The product, which has been designed for the mass market, a segment that is highly price sensitive, comes with a host of benefits and features, making it a truly comprehensive insurance product, that covers all of life’s important bases, protecting life’s most precious things.Tailored for the mass market, which includes farmers, fisherfolk, technicians, teachers, executives and other members of the general public, Divitharana Insurance provides life insurance at a flexible and economic price point, with the option for policyholders to settle the premium in monthly, quarterly, biannual or annual instalments, while also providing the convenience of increasing the cover provided during the policy period, without having to go for a new policy. These are particularly important features amidst the present economic challenges the nation is facing, as it allows everyone to have access to good and reliable insurance, regardless of their income level and style.

A key differentiator of Divitharana insurance is that each policyholder will be entitled to an individual investment account, on which an annual dividend will be declared and the proceeds credited to the policyholder’s account. On top of this, policyholders will also be entitled to an additional loyalty bonus of 20%, which will be added to the maturity value for continued on-time premium settlements. other than the life cover provided by Divitharana, policyholders can also opt to include additional covers such as Disability Benefit, Critical Illness and Hospitalisation cover, while also enjoying the flexibility of extending the insurance cover to include their spouse & children.

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SLT-MOBITEL doubling the cloud with country’s first-ever VMware Cloud Foundation deployment



Understanding the importance of breaking new ground to reap the benefits of Enterprise premium cloud services, SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, has become the country’s first-ever service provider to enable VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) deployment in the island and importantly the first telco provider to have two clouds. Amidst the changing dynamics, the deployment milestones are supporting SLT-MOBITEL’s Cloud programme in accelerating digital transformation.SLT-MOBITEL Enterprise premium cloud was launched in 2018. Having a successful journey for over three years, the new mobilization now elevates and transforms the premium cloud through VMWare Cloud Foundation. Importantly, SLT-MOBITEL is the first local organisation to partner VMWare as a Business Continuity Certified Planner (BCCP) and initiate VMWare Cloud Foundation in Sri Lanka.

VMware Cloud Foundation is a suite of VMware products that provide building blocks necessary to implement an integrated software-defined data center platform. Its components combine to automate deployment and lifecycle management, helping to simplify IT operations and reduce administrative overheads for enterprises.With its Cloud Verified Status and as a VCF Enabled Partner, SLT-MOBITEL is now in the forefront as the only service provider in the country offering a range of new differentiated services such as automate infrastructure and application delivery with self service capabilities to help organizations plan, manage and scale their data center operations especially dramatically reduce provisioning times and cut operational costs.

The SLT-MOBITEL VMware VCF deployment ensures customers transition to the industry’s most advanced cloud platform with a complete set of software-defined services for compute, storage, networking, security and cloud management to run enterprise apps in private or public environments.By doubling the cloud SLT-MOBITEL establishes customers have both production and disaster recovery sites with different scales, located at two different Data centres with required ROP and RTO. The Disaster recovery site can be deployed at any scale with respect to production sites according to the enterprise customer’s requirement. SLT-MOBITEL also provides migration as a service with the features from NSX –T.

Through VCF, SLT-MOBITEL is offering customers the benefit of real disaster recovering services, a Software-defined Data Center (SDDC) and monitoring services, latest networking enablers with NSX – T up-to-date versions of VMware software vSphere, vSAN and intelligent, advanced VMware capabilities including ESXI and VSAN and efficient and effective migration services. SLT-MOBITEL also provides IaaS services, Virtual Machines, and Virtual Data Centers along with a range of other support facilities such as Disaster avoidance with Stretch Cluster (RPO 5 minutes), Disaster Recovery as a Service, and Backup as a service.Above VCF deployment is directly done by Vmware Professional Service team to ensure the highest quality deployment .

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