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Motor traders caution govt on sustainable electrification

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The Ceylon Motor Traders’ Association (CMTA), the most senior automotive association in South Asia welcomes the government’s view that Electric Vehicles (EVs) represent the future of mobility, not just in Sri Lanka, but around the world. While the benefits of EVs are very clear in terms of reduced emissions and fuel savings, the CMTA cautions that the transition from internal combustion engines (ICE) to EVs – commonly referred to as electrification – should be carried out with proper planning and informed decision making, to preserve the interests of the Government, consumers, and the industry.

Being the only Association, which has access to global EV manufacturers and represents them in Sri Lanka, the CMTA is concerned whether due diligence has been carried out prior to the re-introduction of EVs to Sri Lanka. In this regard, the Association on the advice of global manufacturers has decided to develop a detailed automotive industry roadmap with KPMG, covering among other topics the sustainable introduction of EVs. This roadmap will be presented to the government authorities for expert advisory on the automotive industry.

As per the recommendations of global EV manufacturers, the CMTA has put forward several considerations to policy makers. Firstly, High Voltage (HV) Battery and the power management systems of EVs should be suitable for local climatic conditions as they are highly sensitive and must be adapted by the manufacturer for the specific country/region of use. Further, a minimum manufacturer’s warranty on the HV batteries of at least 5 years for passenger vehicles and 3 years for 2/3 wheelers should be required to protect consumers from crippling expenses and to negate premature foreign exchange outflow for defective batteries and related parts replacements, considering the extremely high costs of these parts. In addition, EV repairers should comply with globally accepted safety standards on infrastructure, including safety equipment, training, and isolation areas for vehicles/HV batteries in a hazardous state (e.g. after an accident).

To promote a sustainable path to electrification, the CMTA urged the government to establish a legal framework regarding end-of-life handling of HV batteries and other components, as if not disposed properly, HV batteries can be extremely hazardous to the environment and groundwater systems, which can also have implications to public health. It also emphasized the need for minimum technical standards of HV battery imports to avoid low quality battery imports and encouraged joint ventures with foreign companies with the technical expertise to set up sophisticated HV battery recycling/rebuilding facilities in the country.

Public infrastructure is also key for a successful mass-scale electrification. Reputed global EV manufacturers all emphasize the necessity for developing a public fast-charging network to give EV users peace of mind and allow them to embark on longer journeys. In terms of training facilities and resources for EV repairs, it is mandatory to enhance the curriculum at technical training institutes to create a pool of certified EV technicians who can cater to future EV repair demands.

Commenting on the timely topic of EVs, the CMTA Chairman, Yasendra Amerasinghe said, “Vehicle electrification if implemented will bode well for a country like Sri Lanka with distances between major towns being within the range of most modern EVs. Electrification is – without a doubt – the future, and we would like to see the authorities taking the necessary steps to create a conducive environment for sustainable electrification, as an improper roll-out can cause harm to consumers and the industry.”

In making a balanced and informed decision on electrification, the CMTA points out that policy makers should be aware that transitioning passenger vehicles to EVs while continuing with fossil fuel commercial vehicles may not have the expected impact on fuel imports as a significant proportion of fuel is consumed by commercial vehicles. The issue of the existing older passenger vehicles in the country would also need to be addressed through a scrapping or re-export policy to have an appreciable impact on the country’s fuel consumption.

Authorities should also be mindful that the import cost of an EV model is 20-30% higher than its ICE equivalent, which is only offset by the reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs over a few years.

The year 2015 witnessed the introduction of EVs to the Sri Lankan market at extremely low import duties without much forethought and against the recommendations of the CMTA at the time. The result was an influx of grey (used) vehicles, which now are a great burden to around 5,000 EV owners due to battery failures. To date, there is no viable solution for these customers who are forced to sell their vehicles at far below market value, convert them to gasoline engines and use them with illegal registrations or continue to use them with failed batteries with a limited range of around 40-60km. Looking ahead, the CMTA suggests learning from the mistakes of 2015 and considering the recommendations provided by reputed global EV manufacturers for sustainable electrification.



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SLT-MOBITEL donates fourth PCR machine to Matara District Hospital

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Group Chairman of SLT-MOBITEL Rohan Fernando handing over the donation to Deputy Director of Matara District Hospital Upali Ratnayake accompanied by Dr.Thushara Vidanapathirana, Dr.Deepika Priyanthi and Group CEO of SLT-MOBITEL Lalith Seneviratne.

Recognising the importance to enhance Sri Lanka’s PCR testing capacity to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and to protect citizens, SLT-MOBITEL continues its support by donating yet another vital PCR machine to the District General Hospital in Matara recently.

The donation of the PCR machine valued at over Rs. 5.7 million is part of SLT-MOBITEL’s ‘Sabandiyawe Sathakaraya’ CSR initiative in further strengthening the nation’s healthcare systems and assisting communities in need.

The equipment was handed over to the Deputy Director of the Matara Hospital Doctor Upali Rathnayaka in the presence of Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT-MOBITEL; Lalith Seneviratne, Group Chief Executive Officer, SLT-MOBITEL; Kiththi Perera, CEO, SLT; Shashika Senarath, CMO, Mobitel along with Regional GM, SLT; Regional Head – Mobitel and Hospital Staff.

Previously, PCR machines were donated to the Base Hospital, Karawanella, District General Hospital, Matale and the University Hospital of the Kotelawala Defense University. SLT-MOBITEL appreciates the support received from all Sri Lankans towards ‘Daana Paaramitha’ which was conceptualized as a platform to further increase community involvement in carrying out relief efforts to support families affected by the pandemic.

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Extension of lockdown negatively impacts CSE

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading activities commenced yesterday in a lacklustre manner with little share-buying interest and later on became negative following the government’s announcement on the lockdown extension until October 1, stock market analysts said.

The Colombo International Financial Centre (CIFC) at the Port City was set to commence this month and has been delayed until December owing to the current Covid 19 situation. This also affected CSE trading activities yesterday, analysts said.

Consequently, the stock market lost steam yesterday, closing on a negative note as investor sentiment remained erratic due to internal and external environmental factors. Both indices moved downwards or to negative territory despite healthy turnover in the market. The All Share Price Index went down by 46.09 points and S and P SL20 declined by 17.93 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.8 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Expolanka, where 600,000 shares crossed for Rs. 101.1 million, its shares trading at Rs. 158.50 and Sampath Bank one million shares crossed for Rs. 49.5 million, its shares traded at Rs. 49.50.

In the retail market, some companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Holdings Rs. 1.2 billion (7.4 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 604 million (4.6 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 540 million (58.3 million shares traded) and Hayleys Rs. 204 million (2 million shares traded).

It is said that following two sessions of gains, the indices closed in the red due to price declines in large-cap stocks as investors opted to book modest returns after the recent sharp rally. Stocks such as Expo, LOLC, and JKH, which saw sharp gains in the past two sessions witnessed profit-taking at higher levels and weighed on the momentum throughout the session.

Further, high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Sampath Bank. Mixed interest was observed in Expolanka Holdings, Tokyo Cement Company and LOLC Holdings, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, Lanka Orix Finance and Industrial Asphalts. During the day 153 million share volumes changed hands in 24000 transactions.

As of yesterday, the current exchange rate of 1 US dollar was equal to 199.607 Sri Lankan rupees. This is an increase of 7.856656 percent (or +14.5401 LKR) compared with the same time last year (17 September 2020), when 1 US dollar equaled 185.067 Sri Lankan rupees.

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Lockdown takes toll on Sri Lanka’s manufacturing sector activities

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The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2021 has slowed down the manufacturing activities in the country. Accordingly, the manufacturing PMI recorded an index value of 45.1 in August 2021 with a fall of 12.7 index points from the previous month, mainly driven by the decrease in New Orders, Production, Employment, and Stock of Purchases sub-indices. The decline in New Orders and Production, especially in the manufacture of food & beverages, furniture, and textiles & wearing apparel sectors, have mainly contributed to the overall decrease of the manufacturing PMI. Many respondents in those sectors highlighted that their local orders and distribution channels were affected due to the lockdown imposed as a measure of containing the pandemic. Further, many of them also emphasised that factory operations were disrupted due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus among employees. Employment sub-index also declined in line with these developments.

The decrease of Stock of Purchases was in line with the decline in New Orders and Production. Further, the difficulties encountered in placing purchase orders and in settling foreign payments also adversely affected the supply chain of raw materials and production schedules. Many respondents stressed that the continuous increase in the cost of imported raw materials adversely affected their profit margins. Meanwhile, Suppliers’ Delivery Time lengthened at a slower rate in August 2021. The manufacturers cautioned that the uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic would continuously hinder the prospects of the manufacturing sector, yet, overall expectations for manufacturing activities for the next three months remained above the neutral threshold.

Services PMI dropped to an index value of 46.2 in August 2021 with the restrictions imposed to contain the further spread of the COVID-19. New Businesses, Business Activity, Employment and Expectations for Activity sub-indices recorded declines. New Businesses decreased in August compared to the previous month mainly with the declines observed in wholesale and retail trade, insurance, real estate, and education sub-sectors. Business Activities across most of the sub-sectors such as, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, insurance and other personal activities reported considerable declines indicating the adverse effects of travel restrictions on their business operations. Nevertheless, transportation sub-sector recorded some improvements solely due to the growth in freight volumes. Moreover, financial services sub-sector also indicated improvements despite the disturbances from travel restrictions. Employment continued to fall at a higher pace as retirements and voluntary resignations exceeded the number of recruitments carried out during the month. Backlogs of Work increased at a higher pace in August along with the reduction in staff availability amid travel restrictions and growing COVID-19 infections of staff. (CBSL)

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