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CSE plunges by 2.5 per cent in the wake of budget proposals



By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The CSE fell 2.5 percent at the beginning of trading yesterday subsequent to Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s 2022 budget presentation due to the 25 percent retrospective tax surcharge on firms that earned over Rs. 2 billion in 2020/21 and the 3 percent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) for banks, insurance, and financing firms.

VAT was increased to 18 percent from the current 15 percent on banks and financial service providers under supply of financial services by specified institutions with effect from Jan.1, 2022, targeting Rs 14 billion from the proposal.

CSE fall was led by banks and financial sector institutions. This was expected and banks were worried about the tax because it would adversely impact the banking and financial sector institutions, market analysts said.

However, during the latter part of the day the CSE showed some recovery. It was the same in 2015 when the last government came up with a similar retrospective tax that was introduced, stock market analysts said.

The All- Share Price Index plunged to 10,372 immediately after it opened and dropped to over 2 percent but later recovered slightly due to the LOLC group witnessing some buying pressure from two main companies, LOLC Holdings and LOLC Finance, that drove the market, stock market analysts said.

Accordingly, both indices showed mixed reactions. The All -Share Price Index went up by 86.28 points and S and P SL20 went down by 17.57 points. Turnover stood at Rs 6.9 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Chevron Lubricants, where 340,000 shares crossed for Rs 35.7 million and its shares traded at Rs 105 and LOLC Holdings 29000 shares crossed for Rs 20.1 million, its shares traded at Rs 696.

In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, LOLC Finance Rs 2.1 billion (74.6 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 428 million (2.1 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 423 million (36.6 million shares traded), RIL Properties Rs 364 million (23.8 million shares traded) and LOLC Holdings Rs 339 million (480,000 shares traded). During the day two LOLC Group companies share prices appreciated. Those were LOLC Holdings, whose share price appreciated by Rs 29.25 or four percent. Its share price shot up to Rs 738 from Rs 692.75, contributing 31 points to the All- Share Price Index. LOLC Finance share price appreciated by Rs 12.90 or 15 percent. Its share price shot up to Rs 95.50 from Rs 82.60. Other than the LOLC Group of companies, significant price appreciation was witnessed in Watawala Plantations, whose share price appreciated by 15 percent or Rs 12.90. Its share price appreciated to Rs 95.250 from Rs 82.60.During the day 316 million share volumes changed hands in 52000 share transactions.

MSCI Inc., the leading provider of research-based indexes and analytics, has included Expolanka Holdings PLC in its Frontier Markets Equity Index.

Expolanka is one of the three largest additions to the MSCI Frontier Markets Index measured by full company market capitalization. The other two are Phat Dat Real Estate (Vietnam) and Islandsbanki (Iceland).

MSCI also announced four deletions from the Index, including Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC. The MSCI Sri Lanka Index has two constituents. JKH is the other, apart from Expolanka. The MSCI Sri Lanka had offered 7.55 per cent return as opposed to 8.57 percent by MSCI Frontier Markets index since 31 May 2002. MSCI Sri Lanka’s PE ratio is 10.78 times as against 16.59 times of MSCI Frontier Index.

Yesterday, the US dollar was quoted at Rs 202.05 as per the Central Bank controlled price. This was introduced to control price increases of essential items in the local market.

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Technical Certificates of Completion for 64 out of 74 plots of Port City Colombo SEZ



Technical Certificates of Completion for 64 out of 74 plots of the Port City Colombo SEZ have been received by the Commission, a Colombo Port City Economic Commission semi-annual progress report for FY 2022 notes.

A press release by the Commssion said: ‘The Colombo Port City Economic Commission (the Commission), the Single Window Investment Facilitator authorised to assist investors, businesses, and residents in conducting their activities seamlessly and efficiently in Port City Colombo, is pleased to release its semi-annual progress report for FY 2022 from July to December 2022.

‘The Port City Colombo Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is designed to be a prestigious, strategically located city in the heart of South Asia, with sustainable high-quality public spaces and infrastructure, providing top-quality commercial, entertainment, medical, education and lifestyle. International destinations such as DIFC, DMCC, Labuan, Singapore, and Mauritius were studied for their regulatory frameworks, fiscal incentives, and operational efficiency to identify the most competitive processes and policies for Port City Colombo. The benchmarking study was done by global consultants such as Boston Consulting Group, PwC, KPMG, EY, Pinsent Masons, Zico Law, JLL, etc., for the SEZ’s thrust sectors, supported by market feedback on both fiscal and non-fiscal parameters.

‘Port City Colombo SEZ Regulations for the registration, licensing, authorisation and other approvals of Authorised Persons, were published by extraordinary gazette in September 2022, bearing number 2299/46. The SEZ’s Regulations for the registration and licensing of Authorised Person Fees, were also gazetted in September 2022, bearing number 2299/47. The registration of offshore company regulations were gazetted in the month of November 2022, bearing number 2306/54.

‘Agreements have been signed between the Commission and the Registrar General of Companies and Controller General of Immigration and Emigration in order to streamline services offered to Authorised Persons.

‘Sectoral Progress Highlights:

Banking – The Minister of Finance issued licences under the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act to four (4) banks during the first half of 2022. The Commission has since received requests from three (3) more banks during 2022. Additionally, 10 Financial and Banking Regulations were also drafted under Sections 44 and Sections 45 of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act No. 11 of 2021 and are awaiting review with the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka.

Security – The Sri Lanka Police opened a Post on-site for visitor protection, with water access control and lifeguard services being handed to the Sri Lanka Navy. CCTV networks were also installed in public areas.

Social Infrastructure – In addition to an internationally-reputed hospital and school, the Commission has identified the need for a world-class university within Port City Colombo and modified the Master Plan accordingly.

Commercial Infrastructure – With the retail mall infrastructure complete, the commencement of the interior work has begun. The mall will showcase premium merchandise, with an array of cuisine options and entertainment, and is set to commence operations by Q2 of 2023.

Immigration and Visa Arrangements – In collaboration with the Department of Immigration and Emigration, the Commission has introduced three (3) new visa categories for Port City Colombo. These 3 visa categories are – the Investor visa for ten (10) years, the Employment visa for up to five (5) years, and the Resident visa for five (5) years. Port City Colombo visas allow supplementary benefits, such as visas for the spouse, kids, and other support staff members, which can be obtained under the primary visa applicant. The visa fee is USD 200 per year for each applicant. Visas are renewable as required and applicable only to Foreign Investors.

Master Plan Implementation – A planning committee consisting of key stakeholders was created to expedite the approval of building plans submitted under the Development Control Regulations (DCRs) for each plot of the Port City Colombo SEZ. The DCRs provide a clear framework for the development of buildings, land use, green spaces, utility networks, and sustainability measures, among other factors.

Preliminary designs for the Marina Development and Villa Project have been submitted by two investors, with several more plots in the final stages of discussion for lease.

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New wealth tax proposals exert negative impact on shares



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading activities yesterday were somewhat negative because investors were worried about the impact of the IMF-inspired new wealth tax proposals on citizens, market analysts said.

Apart from profit- takings, the effects of the new direct tax system on citizens created some confusion for stock market investors, analysts said. This was also highlighted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday.

Amid those developments both indices moved downward. The All Share Price Index went down by 77.4 points and S and P SL-20 declined by 24.6 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.5 billion with one crossing. The crossing was reported in First Capital Holdings, which crossed one million shares to the tune of Rs 33 million; its shares traded at Rs 33.

In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; SLT Rs 428 million (4 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 115 million (651,000 shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 98.7 million (716000 shares traded), Lanka Hospitals Rs 57.2 million (440,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 51million (7.5 million shares traded), Capital Alliance Rs 50.40 million (1.5 million shares traded) and First Capital Treasuries Rs 46.2 million (two million shares traded). During the day 69.9 million shares volumes changed hands in 21000 transactions.

Yesterday the rupee appreciated against the US dollar. The buying rate was Rs 312.61 and the selling rate Rs 330.16. Further, the price of gold also reduced due to the rupee appreciation.

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Dialog, Sri Lanka Air Force & EWIS provides digital education to Ravaneswaran Tamil School, Trincomalee



Dialog Axiata PLC recently joined hands with the Sri Lanka Air Force and E-W Information Systems Ltd to re-furbish the computer laboratory of the Ravaneswaran Tamil School in Kanniya, Trincomalee and upgraded the facility with digital educational tools and equipment. This worthy cause was initiated and directed by the Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) and the Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC.

Dialog provided Magicbit Pro units with full pluggable and sensor modules to explore creativity with technology. Magicbit is an innovation platform and a STEM tool made for Internet of Things (loT), Robotics, Electronics and Programming. Dialog, furthermore, provided Nenasa TV facility and a pledged support for fully paid student broadband facility. Nenasa TV is a Public-Private-Partnership with the Ministry of Education; an initiative to support grade 1 to 13 students through eight dedicated TV channels in Sinhalese and Tamil. The content aired on each channel is provided and strictly monitored by the Ministry of Education.

The Sri Lanka Air Force in China Bay swiftly provided the labour for all civil work and assisted in repairing computers which needed attention, in a span of a few days. E-W Information Systems Ltd provided brand new desktop computers and sourced some of the hardware required to restore the remaining machines, together with Dialog.

Thamotharampillai Sivanantham, Principal of Ravaneswaran Tamil School, expressed his views on this occasion “Our children had an IT laboratory, but with hardly any usable equipment. Still one of our students won the Regional ICT award in 2022. I am very positive our students will fully benefit from the new ICT equipment and internet services. Additionally, our facility was beautifully restored in just a few days. On behalf of the school administration, parents & students I would like to thank Dialog, Sri Lanka Airforce and EWIS for coming together and providing us this service”.

The students and the school administration were overwhelmed by this generosity, a need for many years. Dialog also offered teacher-student training in the use of the technology and will continue to provide service and support on connectivity and together with the SLAF and EWIS would continue to monitor the progress achieved by the school through the provided technology and pledged further assistance in time. This worthy cause was executed parallel to the 10th edition of the Commanders’ Cup golf tournament in Trincomalee, which was sponsored by Dialog Enterprise.

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