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Hambantota International Port broke new ground in 2021

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2021 was a watershed year for HIP with the port’s activities spreading in several new directions, which has created a unique ecosystem for economic prosperity for Sri Lanka.  The port worked to provide opportunities for maritime trade and investment on the East-West routes of the Indian ocean. HIP which is slated to become a topnotch multipurpose port is uniquely positioned to be a catalyst for the industrial development of the south of Sri Lanka through its industrial park situated within the port and adjacent development activities earmarked by the government of Sri Lanka.

The port is rapidly building capacity in the areas of port services and operations, investment, industrial zone, and bonded facilities, marking several notable milestones throughout the past year.

HIP Speed

A lot of the port’s recent successes can be attributed to its agility formula ‘HIP Speed’ introduced by the Hambantota International Port Group CEO Johnson Liu.  It is the blueprint to spur development in every direction of the port’s activities, and specially designed to clear bottlenecks and build processes that do not stand in the way of implementing projects on time. With HIP Speed, the port has much tighter deadlines to complete projects, which has helped considerably in bringing desirable investment to the port.

CEO Johnson Liu says, “HIP Speed has brought a new dimension to investment in port operations and allied industries. We put this formula in place taking into consideration the opportunities that will emerge in the coming years, when supply and demand structures will change and trade routes will be reinvented. HIP speed is an essential ingredient and catalyst to drive the dynamic needs of the supply chain industry under the new normal.”

On the heels of the HIP Speed initiative, came support from the state sector, with agencies like the Board of Investment (BOI) and Industrial Development Board (IDB), setting up offices in the port’s main administration building.

Cargo Handling

 

Although challenges posed by the pandemic continued, HIP achieved an overall throughput of 2.3 million metric tonnes of cargo, with a remarkable 38% increase in RORO operations.  The introduction of effective new strategies and partnerships with new RORO lines for transshipment cargo, helped HIP achieve the landmark 535,000 units of small and large vehicles handled in 2021. The transshipped vehicles, mainly manufactured in India, Thailand, Japan and Korea are destined for Africa, the Middle East, Far East and South America.

The port also saw a significant 59 percent increase in bulk cargo handled, exceeding the 1 million MT mark of dry bulk handled in a single year.

Bunkering Operation

The wholesale supply of Marine Bunker fuels kicked off by HIP and strategic partner Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Limited, during the previous year, saw a sharp increase in bunkering by end 2021.  With the port’s 14 tank oil storage network, oil jetties and ancillary infrastructure fully operational, HIP is now geared to provide VLSFO and MGO fuel bunkering services for vessels plying the principal sea routes in the Indian Ocean.  With the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) pushing the maritime industry to reduce emissions, the port is geared to offer the best quality low sulphur fuels to the market, underlining its goal of positioning as a bunkering hub in South Asia. Towards this end, the port also established a marine oil testing laboratory at the oil tank facility, in collaboration with a renowned international partner. Thus, enabling the provision of international standards of quality at the supply source.

Port Investment

HIP has engaged in developing its industrial zone, which is well set to become a catalyst for industrial development in the island’s south.  The past year saw a number of new investment agreements signed with local and global partners to bring valuable industries to the country.

Amongst the top players setting up operations within the port are the Xinji Shenzhen Group, Ceylon Tire Manufacturing Company, SeaHorse Yachts, and Lanwa Cement.   The Xinji Group’s plug and play, park in park facility, which kicked off within 20 days of signing the agreement is nearing completion and work is well underway for the 300 million US $ tire manufacturing project. Amongst projects in the pipeline are a bonded warehousing network and a container terminal which will add to the port’s multi purpose services.

COVID 19 Response

The port provided funding to establish a fully-fledged PCR testing laboratory at the Hambantota District General Hospital last year.  Part of the funding for the PCR testing facility comes from China Merchants Foundation (CMF), the philanthropic arm of Hambantota International Port Group’s (HIPG) main shareholder, CMPort. Many donations of personal protection equipment were also made to government institutions in Hambantota.

HIP’s own response to managing the spread internally has been exemplary.  The management adapted a two pronged strategy i.e. a people first approach and an initiative to manage workplace protocols. This was very strategically done, and the port was able to keep infection rates far below the nationwide average, creating a safe work environment for staff.

People Planet

HIP continued its CSR programmes, throughout 2021 keeping to its long-term vision of caring for People and Planet while achieving business objectives.  Completing over 14 CSR projects during the year, they closed 2021 with a pledge to set up a fund that will manage the human elephant conflict that has long troubled the Hambantota district.  The project is a partnership with the Hambantota District Secretariat, who will collaborate with the Department of Wildlife to take mitigatory action for which HIPG will provide the funding.

As CEO Johnson Liu said, the port fully supports the endeavour which is a sustainable approach to end the conflict and declare peace between humans and elephants.

Another important sustainability project launched by the Port was its first integrated solid waste management initiative under the theme ‘Healing the Environment.’  The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.  ‘Healing the Environment’ also included growing and nurturing endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

Apart from the above key projects, the port has worked on building better relationships with adjacent communities, hospitals, All religious establishments and fostering Buddhism with the exchange of relics from China etc.  HIP’s ongoing Hope Village project has also played a vital role in uplifting community lives.

Building win win relationships

2021 saw a number of local and international dignitaries visiting the port.  The CEO and the management team hosted the Prime Minister and his delegation in the latter part of the year, while several  high officials from Ministries, Embassies, State and International Institutions also toured the port during different intervals.

HIP also signed TSA’s with several international shipping lines enhancing stakeholder cooperation and working towards increasing volumes shipped via HIP.

While HIP Speed helped to re-energize all aspects of port activities, achieving set goals brought HIP staff together in more ways than one.  It was a year of bonding for management and staff who were rewarded for their work ethic.  A number of incentives and awards schemes were introduced, with ‘CEO Awards’ and ‘CMPort Awards’ to recognise excellence, key amongst them.

HIP is the only port in Sri Lanka, to receive the ISO Integrated Management System standards certificate for its quality, environmental consciousness and adherence to health and safety protocols, which follow international benchmarks set by the port operator’s parent company CMPort.



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Manudam Mehewara Initiative by Dialog, MAS, Hemas & CBL reach 10,000 families, invites all corporates to Join its countrywide emergency relief mission

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Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts

In a mission to provide emergency relief to the most vulnerable communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative reached its first milestone of aiding over 10,000 families in-need.

 Joining hands with like-minded partners including its execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, Manudam Mehewara was initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, and CBL Group with the end goal of providing emergency support to over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country that do not have access to essential supplies and basic necessities. ITN, Siyatha, Swarnawahini, TV Derana and Vasantham are also supporting the initiative as media partners.

Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts, and the Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established through an effective recovery plan. Manudam Mehewara invites all corporates to join our shared mission to support over 200,000 vulnerable families across Sri Lanka.

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Ninewells Hospital raises awareness on thyroid disease in newborns to commemorate World Thyroid Day 2022

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Ninewells Hospital, Sri Lanka’s leading woman and childcare hospital in the private sector, commemorates World Thyroid Day on 25th May by emphasising the significance of early detection and treatment of Congenital Hypothyroidism among newborns in Sri Lanka.

Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) is a condition affecting infants from birth, and refers to an absent thyroid gland or a thyroid gland that is present but is unable to produce adequate thyroid hormones. On average, 1 in 4,000 babies are born with a severe form of CHT in Sri Lanka, while milder forms can be seen more commonly. If left untreated, the condition can affect brain development as well as normal growth in children and adolescents. Conversely, if detected and treated early, the damaging effects of CHT can be reversed and prevented completely.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading private sector childcare health service provider, we want to draw attention to the serious implications of Congenital Hypothyroidism on World Thyroid Day this year. Congenital Hypothyroidism is a condition which has a detrimental impact on postnatal development. For this reason, early detection and treatment is vital and should ideally begin within the first two weeks after birth,” said Dr. Vibash Wijeratne, Chief Operations Officer and Director, Ninewells Hospital.

In 2021 Ninewells Hospital unveiled a Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) testing facility to support Sri Lanka’s national program for screening newborns for CHT and the country’s vision for a healthier population. Since then, the hospital has carried out over 8,000 tests in 2021 and over 2,000 tests between January and May of 2022.

With the unveiling, Ninewells Hospital became the first in the private sector to introduce a TSH screening machine and became one of the only two hospitals in the country to offer this screening service.

“The screening for CHT is a simple process that is performed using a heel prick test. At Ninewells, the test report following the screening is issued within a short span of three days which is unprecedented in the country. This allows healthcare providers to begin immediate treatment to avoid development impediments in newborns and infants,” Dr. Wijeratne also said.

Ninewells Hospital is Sri Lanka’s premier women’s and children’s hospital in the private sector, providing a variety of specialty services such as Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and Fertility. The hospital, which is backed by the Access Group of Companies’ visionary leadership, continues to push boundaries and raise the bar for women’s and children’s healthcare in Sri Lanka.

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SL plunges into worst economic contraction in the wake of dramatic currency collapse – CBSL Governor

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka will witness the worst economic contraction in its history, as it reels from a currency collapse of the rupee from 200 to 370 to the US dollar and interest rates contracted above 20 per cent, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“Sri Lanka is going through severe fuel shortages and power cuts after the credibility of a soft-peg was broken by mis-targeted interest rates in the course of targeting an output gap (printing money to boost growth) under the Keynesian ideology, Weerasinghe said while addressing the Press Club of the Sri Lanka Press Institute. The event was held at the Colombo Hilton on Monday.

Weerasinghe added: “At this juncture we cannot make normal imports for the next three to six months. Industries are saying there is no raw material. Only essential imports can be made on a priority basis in order to maintain day- to- day activities.

‘Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.6 per cent in 2020 amid the Coronavirus crisis and it also contracted 1.5 per cent in 2001, after a soft-peg crisis amid a civil war.

‘The latest failure of the unstable peg with the US dollar came after the Central Bank printed over two trillion rupees over two years to mis-target interest rates, leading to a steep collapse of the currency and a correction of the interest rates back to around 20 to 25 per cent.

‘The economic crisis has also spilled over into a political crisis and social unrest.

‘The rupee’s 2022 fall to 380 to the US dollar from 200 to the dollar is the worst currency crisis created by the soft-pegged Central Bank in its 72- year- old history.

‘The money printing Central Bank created its first economic crisis and output shock in 1953, bringing down growth to 0.7 per cent after triggering a now famous “hartal”.

‘An Exchange Control Act was also enacted in 1952 as the printed money from the newly set up Central Bank scrambled to go out, in a phenomenon that was repeated multiple times over the next 70 years and dragged the country into 16 IMF programs.

‘The unstable Central Bank was set up by a US money doctor in 1950 in the style of Argentina’s BCRA, abolishing a Currency Board that had kept the country stable through two World Wars and the Great Depression, where money printing above the external anchor was outlawed.

‘The worst recorded crises in the country include the 1948 uprising against the then colonial administration which took place after the British railway bubble burst, commodity prices fell and the then colonial government upped taxes. However, there is no information on the economic contraction that year.

‘Sri Lanka’s citizens burnt the houses and property of the elected ruling class on May 9, after the unstable peg collapsed in a botched float where interest rates were not allowed to go up before the float and a surrender rule pushed the rupee down.

‘Interest rates were allowed to go up after my appointment as CBSL Governor and the economy is now slowing and the headlong crash of the rupee peg has slowed.’

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