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Colombo Tea Auction prices remain stable despite conflict between Russia and Ukraine



‘A degree of uncertainty and volatility in the future would no doubt be a concern’

Amidst the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the sanctions imposed on Russian banks, the Colombo Tea Auction prices largely remain unchanged, according to Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers.

“Perhaps a degree of uncertainty and volatility in the future would no doubt be a concern for the Sri Lankan tea sector considering the ‘Ceylon Tea’ presence in both these markets. Undoubtedly trading conditions are likely to be strained and additional war risk surcharges would further escalate the high logistics rates, which have already adversely impacted on tea prices,” they said.

Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers further said, “Total Auction offerings declined sharply and totalled 4.98 M/Kgs from the 6.0 M/Kgs on offer the previous week. Ex-Estate offerings comprised of 0.81 M/Kgs, down from a 0.98 M/Kgs the previous week.

Overall quality of teas from the Western planting districts showed a decline with fewer seasonal teas on offer. Consequently, prices for the better Westerns’ declined by Rs. 20-30 per kg and more with the exception of the few available seasonal teas which continued to sell in keeping with quality. In the Below Best category, BOP/BOPF’s declined Rs. 20-40 per kg and Rs. 20 per kg respectively. Plainer BOP’s declined Rs. 10-20 per kg, whilst the corresponding BOPF’s sold around last week’s levels. Nuwara Eliyas’ – the limited availability of BOP/BOPF invoices sold around last week’s levels, whilst the Uva/Uda Pussellawa prices mostly remain unchanged.

High and Medium Grown CTC teas continued to witness a bearish sentiment, whilst the Low Growns which have been selling at premium levels for a period of time declined fairly sharply by Rs. 30-60 per kg.

Low Growns comprised of 1.9 M/Kgs in the Leafy/Semi Leafy and Tippy catalogues. There was fair demand.

In the Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues, Select Best BOP1/OP1’s together with clean Below Best varieties maintained, whilst the others were barely steady. Well-made OP/OPA’s were firm to marginally easier following quality, whilst the others in the Below Best category and poorer sorts were barely steady. A range of well-made PEK/ PEK1’s were fully firm to selectively dearer, while the others and poorer sorts maintained.

In the Tippy catalogues, select Best FBOP/ FF1’s were firm to marginally easier, whilst the Best together with cleaner Below Best sold around last levels. Balance declined following quality.

In the Premium catalogues, Very Tippy teas continued to attract good demand. Best together with cleaner Below Best were firm, whilst the balance were irregular following quality.

National tea sales average for the month of February 2022 recorded Rs. 725.63 (USD 3.61), thus establishing the highest ever recorded average for a calendar month surpassing the previous best of Rs. 704.67 (USD 3.56) recorded in the month of January 2022. In comparison to the February 2021 average of Rs. 645.95 (USD 3.35), shows a significant increase of Rs. 79.68 YOY.

When analysing the respective elevational averages for the month of February 2022 – Highest ever High Grown average for the month of February of Rs. 696.48 (USD 3.47) recorded an increase of Rs. 15.92 month on month vis-à-vis Rs. 680.56 (USD 3.39) of January 2022. When compared to the February 2021 average of Rs. 611.83 (USD 3.17), a significant increase of Rs. 84.65 is recorded YOY.

Highest ever Medium Grown average for a calendar month totalling Rs. 645.08 (USD 3.21) for February 2022 recorded an increase of Rs. 18.35 month on month vis-à-vis the previous highest of Rs. 626.73 (USD 3.12) of January 2022. When compared to February 2021 average of Rs. 579.78 (USD3.01), shows a significant increase of Rs. 65.30 YOY.

Low Growns too recorded the Highest ever average of Rs. 759.45 (USD 3.78) in February 2022 surpassing the previous best of Rs. 744.52 (USD 4.01) recorded in May 2020. It records an increase of Rs. 25.76 month on month and Rs. 85.34 YOY respectively.

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Seylan Bank takes the lead to promote LANKA QR beyond Western Province



Seylan Bank, the Bank with a Heart, organized the ‘Seylan Pay QR Carnival’ in Kurunegala to promote the LANKAQR programme introduced by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to strengthen digital transactions in Sri Lanka. The special programme, focusing on encouraging local merchants and SMEs to join the national QR transaction system, took place at the Vehera Sports Ground in Kurunegala recently. Officials from the Central bank of Sri Lanka, the Lanka QR Committee and partner banks were present at the event.

Organised as the 14th leg of the LankaQR national rollout campaign, the Seylan Pay QR Carnival set a firm footprint with the highest number of merchants at the event. Seylan Bank alone on boarded over 100 merchants for the SeylanPay payment solutions from the Kurunegala area. Over a thousand customers walked in during the event which benefitted many merchants accepting LankaQR, to process transactions on the day and generate great traction in the district since then.

As the key feature of the event, Seylan Bank educated their customers on the use of the Bank’s QR payment system, the SeylanPay Mobile App, and assisted customers in making payments to merchants. Over 50 stalls selling clothes and accessories, gift items, food, sweets, electronics and electrical equipment, plants, beauty care, cosmetic items and automobile parts were set up for the benefit of consumers, with attractive added discounts for customers using QR payment systems to purchase items, thereby encouraging and familiarizing the use of it among them. This marked a record high number of merchants participating among many LankaQR nationwide rollout campaigns that were organised to date. A Seylan Bank Mobile ATM was deployed at the premises, ensuring that customers had easy access to carry out cash withdrawals if required and check their account balances at any given time. In addition, a special fun zone was set up for children at the event premises, whilst a musical evening entertained the adults present at the Seylan Pay QR Carnival.

“Seylan Bank’s commitment to develop the banking and finance network together with the industry led to us hosting the 14th leg of the Lanka QR national rollout campaign. We also realize the potential this system brings to the SME sector in the country, in terms of transaction efficiency and savings. As a bank that has continued to support SMEs in the country in a wide spectrum, the alliance with Lanka QR helps in developing the entire transaction ecosystem of the country,” commented Chaminda Senewiratne, Head of Digital Banking Channels, Seylan Bank.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka introduced the LANKAQR service in October 2020 with the aim of moving towards a cash-less society while increasing financial inclusion in Sri Lanka, and was supported in this endeavour by Banks, licensed financial institutions and Lanka Clear (Pvt.) Ltd. It has already stood out as an attractive option with notable benefits for small and medium enterprises.

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Stylish Garments unveils its latest export-oriented BOI factory in Ambalangoda 



With the Board of Investment (BOI) widening its projects, Stylish Garments (Pvt) Ltd, unveiled its sixth BOI approved factory in Ambalangoda which manufactures children’s wear, jerseys including school uniforms exclusively targeting the international market. The Stylish Garments is a renowned a garment manufacturer and exporter of jersey knit and lighter woven apparel products.

The latest project, which is a USD 3.5 million investment, is to generate 500 employment opportunities for people living in the south and other parts of the country. Moreover, the products are slated to be exported to the UK and Europe. The agreement in this regard was signed recently at the BOI Head Office in the presence of BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone.

The Director General said “A project of this nature should be recognized owing to the fact that it depicts the vibrant and vivid expansion of BOI projects, which has now started to reach the rural areas, The new venture will uplift the livelihood of the people living in the Ambalangoda area plus become a crucial source of bringing dollars to the country in a situation where the country isin dire need of dollars,” she underscored.

Founder and incumbent Chairman of the Stylish Garments (Pvt) Ltd Leelaratne Hattanarachchi said,” we were determined to launch the project irrespective of current challenges because such new projects would bring dollars to the country. That’s the very reason why I ventured to start operations at this new factory by turning the advantage of this crisis to ourselves. At the same time, we do appreciate the support rendered by the BOI at this critical juncture and look forward their support in future too.”

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Browns Investments solar power plant deal dominates CSE trading



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE’s leading listed company, Browns Investments, disposed of 50.1 per cent of its stake in Sagasolar Power Power (Private) Limited to another leading company, Aitken Spence Pvt. Ltd. yesterday, market sources said.

The total value of the company was Rs 1.4 billion and under this deal Browns Investments sold the stake for Rs 700 million. The capacity of the solar power plant is 10 megawatts, stock market analysts said.

Sagasolar Power built the solar PV facility on 45 acres (18.2 ha) of land within a dedicated energy development area in Baruthankanda, Hambantota district, Southern province. The country’s previous largest solar plant is a 1.3-MW facility also located in Hambantota.

Amid those developments, the trading activities in the stock market turned negative due to macro and micro economic uncertainties. Accordingly, stocks slipped over 1 per cent at mid-day trade yesterday for the third consecutive day, market analysis said.

The All- Share Price Index fell by 121 points and S and P SL20 went down by 50.8 points. Turnover stood at Rs 982 million without any crossings. Top seven companies that that contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 274 million (3.5 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 185 million (1.2 million shares traded), JKH Rs 77 million (626,000 shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 59.8 million (9.9 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 58.9 million (8.9 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 32.6 million (89,000 shares traded) and Commercial Bank Rs 15.4 million (309,000 shares traded). During the day 51.5 million share volumes changed hands in 14000 share transactions.

Yesterday the Central Bank announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 356.04 and the selling price Rs 367.33.

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