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Investment costs in Sri Lanka seen as having doubled over the past months

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Ramith Sarathchandra, Director, Auto Miraj

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The current US dollar crisis and high US dollar rate discourage investing in Sri Lanka because the investment cost has doubled during the last few months, a leading end-to-end auto care specialist said.

“We were planning to invest in Sri Lanka in a big way but abandoned our plans due to the high US dollar rate and shortage of labour for the auto care industry. Skilled labour problems arose during the Covid 19 lockdown period; most of them left the country for higher salaries, Director, Auto Miraj, Ramith Sarathchandra told The Island Financial Review.

Sarathchandra said that most overseas business plans with Bangladesh and Qatar have been put on hold due to the current situation.

Auto Miraj, end-to-end auto care specialists will be investing Rs 200 million for branch expansion and opening Sri Lanka’s first-ever water steam car wash centre at the Colombo City Center, he said.

Sarathchandra added: ‘We will invest Rs. 100 million to open the first car- cleaning centre using steam wash. This new technology will minimize the use of water using less than two litres of water to wash a vehicle, minimizing the environmental impact as well.

“Initially we will have space to wash six vehicles and will expand it towards the end of 2022.

“In addition, we will be opening our next branch in Kurunegala next month and this will be followed by the opening of three other branches in Vavuniya, Badulla and Gampaha and we hope to invest around Rs, 100 million for this expansion drive.

“Finding skilled painters is a major issue as after learning the basics in Sri Lanka they migrate to the Middle East. Unfortunately, we can’t retain them since we cannot match the salaries the Gulf offers to skilled painters.

“Today Auto Miraj owns the largest automobile maintenance network in Sri Lanka and also filling stations and tyre shops and has also ventured into setting up professional automobile workshops and body shops. Auto Miraj provides genuine spare parts for all Japanese, European, Indian and other vehicles.

“Auto Miraj was also the first to introduce ‘Glass coated paint’, which not only protects the body against minor scratches but also safeguards from bird- droppings, dust and other substances.

“Auto Miraj was set up in 1994 at Ratmalana and as chairman and founder of Auto Miraj, Iroshan Sarathchandra saw a vacuum for professional auto care in Sri Lanka. He introduced many firsts, which included auto hoist clean undercarriage, turbo pressure pumps, engine spray- cleaning, customer lounge with refreshments and free Wifi, prior appointments for customers, dedicated and car cleaning chemicals and many more.

“Auto Miraj has also launched two ‘senior citizen care’ projects in London through 365 Care Homes Ltd.”



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Berendina bags Silver at the CA Sri Lanka 56th Annual Report Awards

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From left: Sarath Chandra Fernando - Director-BMIC, Charith Fernando - Deputy Managing Director-BMIC, Saman Manatunga - Acting Head of Finance-BMIC, Dilhara Jayasinghe - Assistant Manager Compliance & Corporate Relationship-BMIC, Ranel T Wijesinha - Past President CA Sri Lanka, Jagath Godakanda – Chairman-BMIC, Chaaminda Kumarasiri – Chairman-Annual Report Awards Committee 2021 and Chamila Cooray - Alternate Chairperson-Annual Report Awards Committee 2021

Berendina Micro Investments Company Limited, better known as BMIC among its microfinance clientele and partners, won the Silver award at the 56th Annual Report Awards organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), under the category of Finance Companies and Leasing Companies (total assets up to Rs. 20 Billion). Over 70 companies, ranging from conglomerates, multinationals to non-profit organisations, and SMEs, were honoured at this year’s competition for their excellence in financial reporting. The gala event of this year held on 09th December 2021 at BMICH. Being the first Microfinance Company licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, BMIC is no stranger to this annual competition having won a prestigious Gold Award in 2017 and Merit Award in 2018.

The award from CA Sri Lanka is the fourth award to be won by BMIC during the financial year 2021, having won 3 international awards, namely, ‘The Best Microfinance Company in Sri Lanka’ and ‘The Best Agricultural Lending Company in Sri Lanka’ awards from the UK based Global Banking and Finance Review magazine as well as ‘Donor’s Choice Award’ at the international competition conducted by SCALE Green Creative Adaptation Awards in USA in 2021. Focused on poverty alleviation, BMIC as a Microfinance Institution (MFI) extends micro-credit facilities and enterprise development services that ensure long term sustainability and growth of business ventures of its clients, providing loans at the lowest interest rate compared to other MFIs in Sri Lanka. At present, BMIC manages a loan portfolio of over Rs. 3.1 billion and an annual turnover exceeding Rs. 900 million. It supports well over 70,000 microfinance clients through its 30 Branches in 11 districts. The CA award bestowed on BMIC is another testament to its commitment in continuously supporting its clients to overcome the obstacles during difficult times, while preserving its transparency in reporting, corporate governance, sustainability and social responsibility.

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SLIC repositions Business Club insurance with more focus on SMEs

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Sri Lanka Insurance last week announced repositioning of its Business Club insurance, a trade insurance policy which provides a comprehensive business insurance solution to fit for the diverse insurance need of small and Medium enterprises (SME).

“According to the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka SMEs are considered to be the backbone of the economy with a contribution up to 52% of the GDP. SMEs play a crucial role to battle the poverty in the country providing employment opportunities for the youth as the SMEs does not require capital than large firms. Further SMEs increase tax bases much quickly when compared to large firms,” an SLIC news release explained.

“Recognizing the importance and vital contribution made to the economy by SMEs, Sri Lanka Insurance went back to the drawing board to refine the “Business Club” comprehensive insurance solution to cater to the unique requirements of the businesses,” it said.”

“Therefor the insurance solution was developed to reinforce the success and safety of the businesses.”

The insurance plan will provide protection for any businesses be it retail, grocery store, supermarket, pharmacy or any other covering many perils inclusive of environmental dangers such as floods, cyclone, fire, lightning as well as other factors such as breaking and burglary, SLIC explained.

The release further said an array of main covers are available for businesses inclusive of fire and/or lightening, explosion, malicious damage, aircraft damage, earthquakes along with the free covers such as cost of removal of debris, loss of rental, architect, surveyors, consulting engineering fees, cost of alternative accommodation etc..

A range of additional covers are also available at an additional premium for businesses to choose. Money insurance during transit and while at premises, accidental breakage of glass cover, sign board cover, electronic equipment all risk cover are among the many additional covers offered.

Interested parties who’d like SLIC to assist in developing an insurance solution that covers the business risks can contact SLIC call center on 011 2 357 357.

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German fruit and tea importers stresses importance of packaging

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Jan Paul Bethke, a leading German importer of Sri Lankan fruits and tea, at a recent

EDB-organized event, urged Sri Lankan agri-product exporters to practice effective and superior packaging if they are to be successful in terms of capturing markets in Europe.

“If you package your product well, include a QR code (incorporating extensive details such as the farmer who grew products), and convey a personalized story, customers in advanced markets such as Germany and Europe would develop an affinity with your products”, Bethke noted.

He made these remarks at a Jan. 12 forum forum organized by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) on packaging and value addition strategies to enhance Sri Lanka’s agri-product exports to Germany, an EDB news release said.

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