By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The government’s lethargy towards the gem and jewelry sector prevented more than US$ 1 billion in foreign exchange from coming into the country per year, a well-known gemologist said.
“Currently Sri Lanka’s gem and jewelry export income is less than US$ 300 per year, which could be developed to a US $ one billion industry if the government adopted proper promotional methods. However, certain countries, such as Hong Kong, where gems are not even available, earn more than US $ 35 billion per year, while in Thailand it is US$ 15 billion dollars, gemologist (FGG – (Germany) FEEG-Europe) Umesh Wariyapperuma said.
Wariyapperuma said that to double this target they proposed to the National Gem and Jewelry Authority (SLGJA) to launch a special online marketing system to sell gems and jewelry worth less than US$ 3,000 to international buyers.
Wariyapperuma added: “To ensure the smooth flow of this scheme we wanted this scheme to be launched in collaboration with the Department of Posts and Sri Lanka Customs.
“With the launch of the online portal, more opportunities will be available for local gem exporters to get access to the international market and it will help to double Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange earnings from the gem industry in the first year of its operation.
“Currently Sri Lanka exports rough stones to Thailand and other countries who in turn add value to them and re-export them to world famous jewelers and watch manufacturers. This deprived us of a valuable opportunity to sell our precious stones at a high value.
“We partnered with SLGJA for the Dubai Expo last year and launched the ‘Sapphire Sri Lanka’ campaign which was a major success. Similarly, the government with the assistance of the Sri Lankan embassies based overseas should conduct similar promotional events as the industry needs direct government assistance for sapphire marketing and promotion campaigns.
“Sri Lanka Tourism too should play an active role in this venture and also promote ‘Sri Lanka Gems’ during their global destination marketing campaigns.
“If the government could launch some of these proposals Sri Lanka can easily reach the gem and jewelry export income target of USD1 billion in less than 18 months.
“Sri Lankan gem traders too should be more responsible and reasonable when marketing gems at exorbitant prices. They should only sell genuine products without cheating the customer to earn a ‘quick buck’.
“Some buyers pay high prices and purchase gems from some Kandy traders and when they come to us they see the huge undue price difference. Hence, traders too should be honest and maintain ethics in marketing as due to the sale of fake gems and high prices our international reputation is tarnished.
“Gem buyers are advised to offer the maximum price for gems found by gem miners as they go through tremendous hardships to extract them.
“My ambition is also to start a gem academy so that young people can get a practical education on proper international standards and also marketing processes in the gem and the mining industry.
“Through my ‘Janamehewara Foundation’ I am personally involved in a CSR program, providing books and school equipment to children of gem industry miners.
“It is said Sri Lanka even supplied gems to Queen Elizabeth’s crown and Princess Diana’s wedding ring and world famous museums also display Sri Lankan gems. However, sadly, we can’t even muster US$ 300 million export revenue from this trade.”
Wariyapperuma who is also the Managing Director / CEO at Ceylon Gem Traders (Pvt) Ltd, set up since 1977, said that several global watch manufacturers use gemstones for their products.
He said Sri Lanka should tap this market as well and try to export directly to watch-making companies in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Britain, and France with local value addition.
OKLO adds new feature to Ceylon Tea SmartAuction platform
OKLO Private Limited, a leading Sri Lankan solutions provider for the Ceylon Tea e-Auction platform, recently added an all-new segment for factories in its SmartAuction platform. This new feature provides over 650 factories with the chance to value and grade teas within the system, printing final catalogues, real-time and post-sales reports, and viewing their tea variants being auctioned live. For the first time, a live auction participation option has been instigated for all stakeholders and factories in the country’s 150 years of auctioning history. The availability of this platform would now allow the tea-producing community to benefit from newly added or enhanced functionalities similar to other stakeholders.
With tea being the most significant commodity to be auctioned in Sri Lanka, it is also one of the most significant contributors to the local economy. As Ceylon Tea has already garnered a worldwide name, the branding has enabled Sri Lanka to be placed on the map as an influential tea-producing entity. At the same time, this functionality can also be utilised by other organisations that market commodities such as rubber, spices and coconut. Being present via an e-Auction paves the way for more competition among buyers and sellers.
Regarding the inclusion of their new feature, OKLO Private Limited, Managing Director – Thilanka Withanage stated, “Since the Colombo Tea e-Auction went live on the OKLO SmartAuction platform, the team has been releasing advanced features and functionalities to all stakeholders. With the release of the latest version, all Sri Lankan tea factories can now have complete access to the platform, similar to all other stakeholders. Our objective is to maintain consistency in the face of tech innovation and uplift our nation’s ascent in the digital realm. We will continue utilising our nation’s talents and build cutting-edge, practical, impactful products that will set innovative strides.”
Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association, Vice Chairman – Pasindu Pieris shared his views on the newly enhanced platform. He said, “This state-of-the-art solution from OKLO provided to the tea sector amalgamates all aspects related to dispatching tea from the factory to the point where it is sold at the auction through competitive bidding. Now, we can see our tea variants being sold at the auction right from our factory premises. The platform offers transparency and traceability while improving efficiency throughout the supply chain.”
OKLO is a Sri Lankan Technology Solutions Provider with current solution offerings in the Travel and Trading sectors. It was founded in 2011 and has been expanded to become one of the key players in the Travel IT sector, catering to some of the largest blue-chip companies such as Walkers Tours, Cinnamon Hotels, Jetwing Travels etc.For more information, email email@example.com, call +94777320383, or visit www.okloworld.com.
CSE trading marked by ‘a degree of sluggishness’; main indices decline
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE trading activities reflected a degree of sluggishness yesterday as most stock market investors are adopting a wait- and- see approach due to ongoing IMF discussions on bailing out the Sri Lankan economy, coupled with issues that surfaced in the coal purchase agreement between the Browns Group and a Chinese company relating to coal power generation, stock analysts said.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 31.8 points and the S and P SL20 declined by 19.1 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in JKH, which crossed 150,000 shares to the tune of Rs 21.5 million with its shares trading at Rs 143 and CIC Holdings 241,000 shares crossed for Rs 20.5 million; its shares traded at Rs 85.
In the retail market top six companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Lanka IOC Rs 394 million (1.4 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 237 million (one million shares traded), Richard Pieris Rs 146 million (4.4 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 138 million (1.3 million shares traded), JKH Rs 129 million (910,000 shares traded) and First Capital Holdings Rs 112 million (7.2 million shares traded). During the day 150 million share volumes changed hands in 30000 transactions.It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Expolanka Holdings, Sunshine Holdings and Lankem Developments.
Mixed interest was observed in Lanka IOC, ACL Cables and Royal Ceramics, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments. The Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to ACL Cables and Royal Ceramics), while the sector index gained 1.23 per cent. The share price of ACL Cables moved up by Rs. 6 (5.69 per cent) to close at Rs. 111.50. The share price of Royal Ceramics recorded a gain of Rs. 1.70 (4.10 per cent) to close at Rs. 43.20.
The Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to market turnover (due to Lankem Developments), while the sector index increased by 1.07 per cent. The share price of Lankem Developments appreciated by Rs. 1.50 (4.12 per cent) to close at Rs. 37.90.
Expolanka Holdings and Lanka IOC were also included among the top turnover contributors. The share price of Expolanka Holdings decreased by Rs. 2.25 (0.99 per cent) to close at Rs. 224.25. The share price of Lanka IOC closed flat at Rs. 290.50.Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 359.18 and selling rate Rs 369.93.
Airtel Lanka records 1.7mn customers switch to Freedom Packs
One year after the launch of Airtel Lanka’s industry-disrupting prepaid packs ‘Freedom’, the company announced a staggering 1.7 million users have switched to Airtel Freedom, as at the end of August 2022.
“We serve around three million customers in Sri Lanka, aided mainly by this unprecedented adoption of our Freedom packs. The overwhelming customer endorsement reaffirms our strategy of bringing simplicity and value through our products.” notes Airtel Lanka Managing Director/CEO Ashish Chandra.
Powered by Airtel’s world-class 5G-ready mobile broadband network, the telco has reimagined the overall offering and experience for customers, with a strong focus on ensuring value for money, and an advanced network experience. These factors undoubtedly resonate with most users, who are either data-heavy or call-heavy users.
Airtel Lanka’s initial innovation in facilitating unlimited, affordable access to the internet through Freedom Packs continued to evolve, with the telco introducing new world-class features to both its prepaid Freedom Packs and postpaid Freedom Plans
Airtel also disrupted the local telco market with the entrance of the Freedom Unlimited Rs.749 package, which is aimed at prepaid users. For a very affordable cost, users can now make unlimited calls to any network, with unlimited access to favourite social media platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and stream superior quality videos on YouTube for 30 days in addition to receiving additional 30GB anytime date.
Airtel was also the first telco to introduce unlimited calls for any network for a postpaid customer through Unlimited 1098. Priced at Rs. 1,098, an Airtel user has access to unlimited calls to any network, 40GB anytime data and SMS facilities. Additionally, Airtel is also the only telco to offer data rollover service for postpaid customers, allowing up to 200GB to be carried onto the next month’s billing cycle, saving data and expenses for the end-consumer.
Airtel Lanka has been part of implementing many industry-firsts in Sri Lanka’s telco space, and was also the first to introduce unlimited calls in Sri Lanka, on calls made to the same network. With the launch of Airtel Freedom, the company offers its users the ultimate convenience for all their voice, SMS and data needs, offering even greater savings compared to the competition. With the introduction of Unlimited, Airtel Lanka undoubtedly serves as a clear trendsetter for the country’s telecommunications industry.
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