By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Litro Gas is now in a position to refill and distribute Laugfs LPG gas cylinders provided proper legal clearance is made. Litro Gas is incurring heavy losses and is about to exhaust its reserves, because it has not revised its prices despite the high world market price, a senior gas industry source said.
“Litro Gas now has an over 80 percent market share in the domestic gas market and if requested could meet the total demand of LPG cylinders. There is no major technical/safety issue in refilling/ crossing filling Laugfs with Litro. However, there is a legal issue as the Laugfs cylinder is not our property, the source said.
“Litro has grown its strength and could easily move in to fulfill the total domestic LPG gas requirement, president, LP Gas Distributors Association Sathyendra Wijayapura told the Island Financial Review.
Wijayapura added: “Our association could take over Litro Gas Company by investing in it to supply gas in an uninterrupted manner in keeping with Litro’s former multinational company, Shell’s, business model. We have funds to invest in Litro Gas but also need to import another 150,000 cylinders to manage operations.
“Laugfs Gas commenced operations 20 years ago, initially as an auto gas alternative before moving in to
LPG. Today, the heavily debt- ridden company owns tankers and a large LPG storage facility at Hambantota, widely seen globally as a non-performing asset, but finds itself at the center of controversy, brought on by the fact that the common platform recommended for the LPG industry is allegedly favouring Laugfs.
“Laugfs was also given approval to increase the price of domestic gas with the Consumer Affairs Authority approving the price of a Laugfs 12.5kg cylinder to be increased. But Litro Gas has not revised its prices for the last two years and when the Litro Gas price was revised two years ago one metric ton of gas cost US $ 350 and now it has increased to US $ 800 in the international market.
“Therefore, Litro Gas Company is making operational losses due to the LPG price hike in the global market. However, as a responsible company it is not out to put additional pressure on the public and would not look for an immediate price hike.
“Subsequently, Laugfs Gas Chief Executive Chaminda Ediriwickreme was quoted as saying that they have placed an order for a shipment and expect to re-start operations in a small way on August 20. However, this is yet to be a reality.
“We also want to say that it’s not practical to merge with Laugfs forming a new company and we oppose this move taking into account long- term distributing implications.
“We thank former Treasury Secretary and current Presidential Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara for initiating the takeover of 51% shares of Shell Gas, who opted to move out of Sri Lanka in 2011. Dr. Jayasundara obtained these shares by taking US$ 61 million from Sri Lanka Insurance and Litro in turn paid back this amount in four years justifying this acquisition.
“To date Litro has paid a dividend of Rs. 13.5 billion and also Rs. 34 billion in tax to the government and is now about to go bankrupt and has no funds to even place the next purchasing order.
“It must be noted that 35 per cent of the customers in Sri Lanka use LPG as cooking fuel. Another 52 per cent of customers use dual fuel, one of which is LPG. For these customers and the industrial segment who rely heavily on LPG, the way forward is uncertain.”
Sri Lanka Tourism commands attention at World Routes 2021
Sri Lanka made a huge splash at the 26th World Route Development Forum (World Routes 2021), which took place in Milan, Italy, recently. By making its presence felt at the forum, Sri Lanka pitched its destination for global airlines to consider it as one of the top holiday destinations for the upcoming winter season and beyond. Sri Lanka Tourism officials were able to directly engage with decision-makers from the global route development community, including world’s air services, while taking advantage of dedicated in-person and virtual event days combining extensive meeting opportunities, exclusive industry insight and first-class networking opportunities.
The Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, expertly leveraged on the platform provided by World Routes 2021 to highlight Sri Lanka’s 5-year global campaign and growth potential. Her keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session with attendees in collaboration with Major General (Rtd.), G.A Chandrasiri , Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services. Through the duration of the Forum, Sri Lanka Tourism was present on all social media platforms for driving brand awareness, pushing Destination Sri Lanka to the front and centre of global travel and tourism operators present.
With the Sri Lankan Government declaring this a growth decade, Sri Lanka Tourism has been aligned to the government’s vision as enshrined in the 10 pillar strategy document. Over the last two years, Sri Lanka Tourism has advanced the industry across various factors to bring prosperity to all stakeholders and to ensure Sri Lanka tourism fulfills its potential. Concurrently, with a high vaccination rate, Sri Lanka has opened up to fully vaccinated tourists, offering them a safe and exciting stay.
One of the key pillars has been connectivity and the efforts made have been fruitful – with several European and regional airlines resuming direct flights, new routes being established and increased frequency of flights to Sri Lanka which will boost tourism for the upcoming peak season.
Apart from elaborating on the strategy, Kimarli Fernando engaged in an absorbing Q&A session with global airline industry stakeholders. During her keynote speech she elaborated on Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, UNESCO sites and other cultural and nature offerings. One of the highlights of her speech was tourist investment. Tourism has been attracting substantial investment despite the challenges emanating from the pandemic. Between March 2020 – June 2021, the Government of Sri Lanka has attracted over US$950 million in investments, received 64 project proposals and approved 38 projects to the value of $102.38 Million. These ventures will be executed under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). In order to attract strategic investors, the Investor Relations Unit was launched as a single point of contact for all tourism investments. In addition, the Government of Sri Lanka is extending a host of financial incentives and fast-track processes to get projects off the ground within the shortest possible time.
Given the recent tie-ups with France tourism operators and a similar push in more key western markets, the brand awareness of Sri Lanka is growing in strategic markets.
ComBank wins Daraz award for ‘Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was presented the award for ‘The Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’ at the recent ‘Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’ of Daraz, South Asia’s premier online shopping marketplace.
The Bank was awarded this title for empowering the Daraz platform by generating the highest number of transactions by both credit and debit card bases and the highest number of unique buyers’ engagement during the financial year 2020-21. This is the second consecutive year that the Bank was honoured with this award.
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has been an Internet Payment (IPG) service provider to Daraz from 2018, and has since partnered with the online retailer to power ‘Daraz 11.11,’ the world’s biggest online sale.
The two organisations are working together to offer diversified and unique offers to customers with a view of offering them attractive value additions, the Bank said. Commercial Bank cardholders can enjoy periodic discounts at Daraz with the offers structured by the Bank, and the convenience of Easy Payment Plans of up to 60 months.
Launched in 2012, the Daraz eCommerce site has an active presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal. The marketplace has over 2.5 million products in diverse categories such as consumer electronics, household goods, beauty, fashion, sports equipment, and groceries. It was acquired by the Alibaba Group in 2018.
Commercial Bank Credit and Debit Cards offer year-round promotions covering a wide variety of services. Commercial Bank was the first bank to offer loyalty rewards for both Credit and Debit Card holders under its Max Loyalty Rewards Points scheme. The Bank was also a pioneer in extending promotional discount offers which were traditionally only offered for Credit Cards to its Debit Cards.
Commercial Bank cards are the fastest growing cards in Sri Lanka and enjoy market leadership in Credit and Debit Card cumulative point-of-sale usage. The Bank offers a variety of Credit Cards in the Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers of Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay Cards, as well as Visa Signature, World Mastercard, Visa Infinite, UnionPay Asia Prestige Platinum and UnionPay Asia Prestige Diamond Cards in the premium segment. The cards are equipped with ‘Tap ’n Go’ NFC technology and are backed by a strong NFC Point-of-Sale (POS) network.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 931 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
Banks’ Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum appoints new committee for 2021/22
The Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum of Banks appointed its 5th committee recently. The inaugural committee meeting was held on 17th November 2021 subsequent to the AGM held on 3rd November 2021. Charitha Jawawickrama of Sampath Bank was appointed as the President, Numair Cassim (Amana Bank) as Vice President and Nirosha Perera (Union Bank) as Secretary. Others in the committee include Varuna Koggalage (Seylan Bank), Dulan Abeyratne (HSBC), Dhanjaya Dayananda (SDB), Jayan Fernando (DFCC), Kushlaini Allis (NTB) and Gamini Jayaweera (NSB). The outgoing committee included Maduwantha Liyanage of BOC (Immediate Past President), John Premanath (Commercial Bank) and Chandima Samarasinghe (Cargills Bank).
The Forum was established to build strong relationships amongst the Licensed Commercial Banks and Licensed Specialized Banks in dealing with new developments and challenges pertinent to the industry. It also supports Internal Audit professionals to enhance comradeship and encourages participation of Banks to share knowledge and industry best practices. Since re-establishing in 2015, the forum has become an integral body that supports and assists Banks with regard to common audit related concerns in the industry.
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