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‘Invest Sri Lanka’ restarts in Dubai

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The ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ Investor Forum organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), in association with the Embassy of Sri Lanka in UAE and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and Northern Emirates was recently held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai. The forum made a strong case for investment flows into Sri Lanka. The event drew a strong turnout and a full house of leading Dubai–based Sri Lankans across multiple industries and was graced by Ajith Nivard Cabraal as the keynote speaker.

A Sri Lankan delegation including senior representatives of the SEC, CSE, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, and representatives of Stock Broker Firms collectively pitched for further investment flows into Sri Lanka, a call that was also boosted by strong endorsements for Sri Lanka by the representatives of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in UAE and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and Northern Emirates.

Delivering the welcome address, Malraj de Silva, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Embassy of UAE stated that he was very happy with the enthusiasm shown by the Sri Lankan community in the UAE in participating in the forum and invited the participants to reap the benefits of investing in the CSE.

Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka making the keynote address at the event invited the diaspora community to be a part of the growth story of Sri Lanka and said “The first step that we took after I assumed office and as a central bank team was to ensure that we give clarity. So we set out a roadmap for the next six months, so that investors would know where is the economy going to move? What would the rupee do? Where would the interest rates be? What would be the situation with regard to the debt repayments? What would be the way in which the country would handle its balance of payments?”

He further added “So those questions needed to be answered. Those are the tough questions. Unless those questions are answered, the rest of the questions would not be relevant. That is why we have taken painstaking steps to individually answer those questions and give confidence. Now that the overall stability of the economy is being maintained, we also need to ensure that there is stability within the community.” The Governor went on to emphasize on commitments  made  by  the  Sri  Lankan  government in terms of interest rates “What we mentioned was that companies were doing well, how did that happen? If there was turmoil, would that have happened? Interest rates were at very low levels. So the advantage that all those companies received as a result of the interest rate differential was enormous. The ability to do business was, again, a very important factor that allowed them to make profits. And to have a decent bottom line, the reduction of taxes was the stimuli that the government provided. If you remember, since 2015, we had sluggish growth, so much so that by 2019, growth had come down in the country to around 2.3%. So what should the government have done? The government had to give a stimulus. And that stimulus, whatever anyone may say, has worked. That is why the economy was safeguarded.

‘’Even during the COVID, if we had another additional 20% 30%, more to be paid as taxes, many of these companies would have been struggling. If there were higher interest rates to have been paid, many of these companies would have been struggling, you wouldn’t have been having that same momentum. And if that momentum was not there, that wouldn’t have got translated into a good feeling. And if you don’t have a good feeling, you won’t have people coming and investing.”

“If Sri Lanka acts in line with its potential, we have an extraordinary growth story to tell for the future. And that growth story will come from you, from the investors, from the companies which are being listed and from the companies that are in operation in Sri Lanka”

“The time is now, for you to take up positions, we still have a lot of potential for the stock exchange to grow. I remember in 2014, if you look at the market capitalization, in dollars, it was about 25 billion after seven years, even notwithstanding the growth in numbers that was mentioned by the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as by the Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange, the market capitalization is still lower in dollar terms, as far as all the companies are concerned. If you work it out today, it will be less than $25 billion. So what does it say? It says that there is latent potential, and latent strength within the Sri Lankan market, the Sri Lankan equities that we haven’t still been able to realize”

Viraj Dayaratne PC, Chairman of theSEC speaking at the event explained how it is customary for the Colombo Stock Exchange, and the regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission to have events of this nature to invite investors to Sri Lanka’s stock market, from different parts of the world. But due to the pandemic, this exercise was prevented for over two years.

He further stated the role of the SEC “As the regulator of the stock market, the Securities and Exchange Commission has a dual role to play, we have to regulate the market and at the same time, ensure that we take steps to develop it. So, in managing these two, these twin interests or duties, if I may call it we have to strike a balance because whilst regulation is important to ensure the protection of investors and the integrity of the market, it is also necessary to ensure that we do not over regulate so that all market participants have the freedom and the space to engage in their activities.”

“The number of trades that take place has increased tremendously. And as a result, it is necessary for us to ensure the integrity of the market and ensure that no wrong doing is taking place. So in order to do that we have enhanced our surveillance functions and the supervisory function. We have real time surveillance on a daily basis with regard to the trades that are taking place. Our Corporate Affairs division supervises and looks into the affairs of listed companies, then market intermediaries are supervised by our Supervision division. So, that will ensure that market integrity is maintained at all times and that all investor interests will be looked after.”

He added, “One other significant achievement, was the enactment of the new Securities and Exchange Commission Act that was on the cards for several years. The new law was brought in and I must tell you, that not only does it help better regulation, but it provides a lot of opportunities for the development of the market, it will be possible for us to introduce new products, then it will be possible to facilitate the setting up of new funds. And that means creating more opportunities for you to invest.”



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ESOFT Metro Campus holds Graduation Ceremony 2021

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Dr. Dayan Rajapakse – Chairman and Managing Director of the ESOFT Group (Right) presenting a certificate to a graduate

The Annual Graduation Ceremony of ESOFT Metro Campus was held at the Bandaranaike International Memorial Hall (BMICH) on the 23rd and 24th of November 2021. A total of 1,800 students graduated at this year’s event. Successful students received their Pearson BTEC Higher National Diplomas, Pearson Level 7 Qualifications, London Metropolitan University (UK) Degrees and MBA’s, Kingston University (UK) Degrees and MSc’s.

It was held across two days and split into 9 sessions, to be in full compliance with health guidelines. In addition to the conferring of degrees, batch tops were awarded gold medals and special awards were made to the top achievers of the programmes.

Keynote addresses were by an eminent group of academics and industry leaders including Mr. Conard Dias CEO, LOLC Finance PLC, Mr. Thushera Kawdawatta – CEO, Axiata Digital Labs, Dr. Dayan Rajapakse – Chairman and Managing Director of the ESOFT Group, Dr. Sampath Wahala – Chairman, Sri Lanka Accreditation Board, Mr. Tishan Subasinghe – Managing Director and joint Managing Partner Moore Stephens Consulting (Pvt) Ltd and Moore Stephens Aiyar, Prof. A.A.C Abeysinghe – M.Phil. PhD Programme Coordinator, Senior Lecturer Faculty of Management & Finance, University of Colombo.

Foreign delegates from the University Partners were present virtually and delivered their speeches and wishes for the graduates via video. The Virtusa careers team were also present on both days in order to provide career opportunities to the young and successful graduates. ESOFT prides itself in producing graduates who are work-ready and able to take on the challenges and opportunities presented by the new economy.

ESOFT has a rich history of 21 years and is the largest private sector higher education network in Sri Lanka, and offers a variety of programmes through an extensive island-wide network of over 40 branches and serves over 40,000 learners each year in a range of programmes from school leaver courses to postgraduate programmes.

ESOFT partnered with Kingston University London in 2012 to offer undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in engineering and soon established a dedicated College of Engineering in Katubedda. In 2013, they partnered with London Metropolitan University to offer a range of programmes leading to undergraduate and postgraduate awards in Computing, Business, Hospitality, and Travel & Tourism. A range of MSc programmes in IT and an International Doctoral programme for IT, Science and Engineering research areas, has also been introduced via Kingston University.

The ESOFT Group has won local and international awards from Pearson (UK), BCS (UK), NBQSA, National Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka in recognition of their academic excellence and business performance. Their pinnacle accomplishment was to be recognized by the Sri Lankan Government as a Non-state Degree Awarding Institution in 2019.

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Coconut industry products raking in forex to the tune of $ 7000 yearly – State Minister

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By Steve A. Morrell

Earnings from exporting coconut products amounted to $ 7000 annually. Such exports include jaggery and treacle, which are key products relating to the coconut industry, State Minister of Coconut, Kithul and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion Arundika Fernando said.

Although coconut, as part of the plantation industry, was not given due recognition, it was now a distinct contributor to forex earnings and was of significant importance to the economy of the country, Fernando said.

The State Minister added: “Development of the coconut plantations includes value addition promotion to its various products, which are now key to sustaining the coconut plantations.

“Such development included propagation of 600,000 nursery plants for distribution among smallholders and large-scale plantations to add further progress to the industry. As a result, the coconut industry is part of the mainstream economy.

“The coconut industry made a substantial financial contribution to the economy of the country. Value addition in all products was key to development. Coconut products, used extensively in allied local industries, were contributors to value addition. This is efficiently handled by the private sector.

“Collaboration with the Jaffna University was on-going to develop kitul and palmyrah.

“Soil testing and further inputs were envisaged for development.

“Export markets would include Europe, Canada and the US. This is particularly true of kitul treacle and jaggery. Value of these exports would reach approximately $ 2 million.”

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INSEE Cement’s 360-Degree Approach Eases Cement Shortage in Sri Lanka

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Operating at maximum production capacity with optimized distribution channels for a number of weeks, INSEE Cement has successfully helped to mitigate the cement shortage that was prevailing in the local market. INSEE Cement’s concentrated and immediate contingency measures across its entire operation at the onset of the shortage ensured an uninterrupted market supply of cement, while also logging a record-high 700,000 MT production output during the third quarter of 2021 for the company.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading cement manufacturer, INSEE Cement took on the responsibility to ensure the local construction industry’s post-COVID-19 revival remained on its trajectory,” stated Gustavo Navarro, Chief Executive Officer at INSEE Cement Sri Lanka. “We continued to fully support government regulations and industrial policies to first stabilize the market, and were able to deploy our island-wide distribution and dealership network to ensure an uninterrupted supply across the island. The loyalty and patience of our customers gave us that extra encouragement we needed to overcome the challenge.”

INSEE Cement operates at a 3.6MT maximum capacity, with a 1.5MT production at the Galle plant, a 1.3MT output from the Puttalam facility and a 0.8MT import capacity at the Colombo Cement Terminal. To mitigate the shortage the company introduced two more additional import vessels to its logistics operation to accelerate production and distribution cycles.

 

 

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