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Hambantota International Port broke new ground in 2021



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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StrEdge calls for SMART restructuring of businesses



In a climate of unprecedented economic challenges, restructuring of businesses, from public enterprises to SMEs is critical, says the leadership of the StrEdge Group of Companies. In a press statement, StrEdge Group, which is a cluster of home-grown enterprises covering consultancy in Processes, People, Finance and Technology, notes that Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Human Resource Restructuring, Financial Restructuring and Automation are crucial not merely to support rebuilding the country but also from a long-term sustainability perspective.

“Multi-dimensional restructuring is a prudent and a tested method to come out of the difficult circumstances the entire country is facing right now.  This will create results in national interest if all can adopt SMART methodologies, from entrepreneurs to government hierarchy,” Group Director /CEO StrEdge Advisory, Sumedha Wijesekera notes in the press statement.

StrEdge which brings hands-on experience restructuring multiple businesses from corporates to SMEs, believes that a proper analysis of the existing banking finance structures of a business cannot be undermined. “The rising finance costs and all the macroeconomic constraints coupled with prevailing uncertainties have warranted restructures from both the business perspective as well as that of the bankers’,” observes Wijesekera.  From a business perspective, such restructuring would enable solutions for cash flow constraints, save bank interest cost, promote sustainable growth and more importantly, businesses to be future-ready to capture the market potential in the next upward curve of the economy, he says.

 From the bank’s perspective, restructuring helps to offer better structures with effective monitoring to match the business requirements, prevent NPLs and build up strong and more profitable relationships by being able to act as an advisor in this setting.

Furthermore, it is very important to revisit the costing of goods and services in any organisation in view of increased raw materials prices, exchange rates, finance cost, loss of sales, diminishing margins and loss of capacity. Introductions of dynamic price mechanisms for each product and service channel of today’s businesses, will give a lot of clarity for the leadership to manage them successfully.

 The StrEdge Group which has in depth experience in BPR covering multiple industries including both banks and non-banking financial institutions, believes that SMART restructuring will help organisations re-align their processes with present and future demands, says StrEdge Group Director, Janaka Epasinghe. The current demand to achieve more with less resources, has triggered this as a need, he adds.  “Eliminating waste, increasing the service levels, reduction in costs, increased visibility, internal and external customer satisfaction and future-readiness are few of the results that can be derived with this activity.  Furthermore, this will strengthen the sustainability of any organisation,” Epasinghe remarks.

 Current economic constraints have taken a huge toll on the human resource which is the heart of any organisation, compelling to revisit the HR pillar for sustainability and growth, observes Epasinghe who notes that if organisations are not in a position to compensate with economic benefits, it’s always important to bring other interventions to maintain productivity.

“The biggest bonus here is that even the workforce is ready to embrace changes despite the current challenging environment with a resilient mindset, which the leadership needs to capitalise on,” says the StrEdge Director.

 The foreign currency constraints and the lack of resources due to the brain drain in the IT industry have pushed certain organisations to successfully opt for less expensive technology solutions with the help from external and internal experts. “These interventions will give results within a shorter period of time with a very low budget.  Empowering the staff, cost reductions, visualisation, better service standards and increased profitability are some of the major benefits of these SMART technology interventions within a company,” observes StrEdge Tech Solutions Director/CEO, Udaya Samaradivakara. It will also help them to address multiple urgent needs from a people-process-finance and technology perspective, without waiting until times get better and this certainly will be a SMART option, notes Samaradivakara.

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Oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they seem



Oil has become an attractive alternative fuel because gas prices have soared. But Europe is rapidly replenishing its natural gas stockpiles.Recent revisions to oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they might appear. Don’t get too excited about prices going up just yet.

The International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries all updated their short-term outlooks in the past week. Two of them cut their demand estimates for both this year and next, with only the IEA breaking ranks to increase its forecasts. And it wasn’t just a minor tweak from the Paris-based agency. It revised oil demand higher for this year by a whopping 520,000 barrels a day, with most of that rolled forward into 2023 as well. On the face of it, that’s very bullish for oil.

But there are plenty of reasons to be cautious. First, let’s compare the actual outlooks from the three sets of analysts and put them in their historical context. The IEA’s revision sets its new demand number for 2022 roughly halfway between those of the other two agencies. It also brings its outlook pretty much back to where it saw things in March. So, although the IEA’s revision was big, it’s not out of line with others.

The other noticeable feature in the forecasts is that oil demand growth is disappearing fast, as the chart below illustrates. Global oil demand grew year on year by about 5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year — all three sources agree on that — but that increase is now evaporating.

That’s not entirely unexpected when you consider year on year comparisons. Oil demand at the start of 2021 was still adversely affected by the Covid pandemic, so a rebound at the beginning of this year was entirely reasonable. Then economic activity and travel eventually picked up later in 2021, so we would expect demand growth in the corresponding quarters of 2022 to ease.


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Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka hosts its 1st AGM



The Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), Sri Lanka’s national body of digital marketers hosted its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 4th of August 2022. Umair Wolid was ceremoniously inducted as the new President of DMASL for the year 2022/2023 at the event. Additionally, a new Executive Committee was also appointed during the course of the event.

The DMASL was formed in 2021 in an effort to drive the growth of the digital marketing industry. The association plays a pivotal role in recognizing, representing, and supporting Sri Lanka’s digital marketing professionals. Since its inception, the DMASL has implemented professional standards, ethical guidelines and ensured best practices for Sri Lanka’s digital marketing industry.

The newly elected President of the DMASL commented on the event: “I am truly honoured and grateful to have been selected as President of the DMASL. I look forward to working with the entire digital marketing fraternity to help uplift the digital marketing industry in Sri Lanka. The DMASL was created as a platform for individuals to expand their knowledge and provide guidance on running digital businesses in an ethical manner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring”.

The newly elected EXCO committee for the year 2022/23 includes; Kabeer Rafaideen, Muhammed Gazzaly, Niranka Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake, Jaque Perera, Prasad Perera, Udara Dharmasena, Lalinda Ariyaratna, Infas Iqbal, Amitha Amarasinghe, Sanjini Munaweera, Umair Wolid, Gayathri Seneviratne, Arjun Jeger, Shalendra Mendis and Shehan Selvanayagam.

Over the next year, the DMASL is looking to improve upon its previous efforts and continue implementing training sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking activities which will bring together different sectors in the industry.. The association will also be looking into integration of digital marketing into businesses, as it is an important element in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. Another key area of focus for the DMASL is working in tandem with selected Government Organisations to help strategize Digital firsts and Digital marketing driven projects.

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