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MTI steps into 25th year: assignments done in 49 countries

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MTI Consulting has stepped into its 25thYear, since their start-up in 1997. During this period, MTI has carried out over 670 assignments in 49 countries via Regional Offices and Associate Relationships in over 40 countries, a company news release said.

A significant part of MTIs projects has been in Asia and the Middle East, with a more recent push into Africa. In South Asia, MTI has carried out projects in all the main SAARC markets, including Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In the ASEAN region, MTI has carried out assignments in all the main markets. In the Middle East, MTIs experience includes all the six Gulf Markets, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In Africa, with a recent regional office set-up in Rwanda, MTI has worked on assignments in Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria, it said.

In terms of North America and Europe, MTI has carried out projects in Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine, and the USA. In Latin America, MTI has carried out projects in Mexico, whilst in the Oceania region, MTIs experience covers Australia and New Zealand.

MTI Consultings practices cover Strategy, Operations, Corporate Finance, and Digital & Analytics.



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The SL state’s enduring role in the CHEC Port City Colombo project

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By Lynn Ockersz

The Sri Lankan state will exercise sovereign control over the CHEC Port City Colombo project and would remain accountable to the people of Sri Lanka by virtue of the fact that the project would remain open to scrutiny by the Sri Lankan parliament, Assistant Managing Director, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. Thulci Aluwihare told ‘The Island Financial Review’ in an interview.

Besides, all revenues received by the project would be remitted to Sri Lanka’s Consolidated Fund and would remain within the country, Aluwihare pointed out in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper, where he debunked the allegation that the CHEC Port City Colombo project will be a ‘sell out’ to the Chinese, rendering the investment area a ‘Çhinese colony’. Besides, the Colombo Port City would not turn Sri Lanka into a ‘money laundering haven.”

Elaborating Aluwihare said: ‘Principal among our aims is the attraction of foreign investment to the country. $ 1.4 billion has been spent by the project company over reclaiming the relevant land from the sea. For a consideration, the state has granted a ‘No Lease Hold Right’ over 116 hectares of the project land which is the ‘master lease’. Under this arrangement 48 marketable blocks of land would be on offer for investment. What is of importance is that in all these transactions the state will be a principal party.

“Even if an investor obtains a “No Lease Hold Right” from the state in respect of a project, the investor would need to obtain a licence from the CHEC Port City Commission to operate. The Commission would issue such licenses with conditions. And the Commission holds the right to revoke such licenses if the conditions are not met.

“In all these transactions, the government of Sri Lanka is the lessor. The investor would be signing a lease with the government of Sri Lanka, who will be the landlord.

‘The majority of members of the Commission would be Sri Lankans. But we need experienced, competent people for this apex body. Accordingly, the Commission needs to enjoy some autonomy and independence as well in employing personnel.

“The anti-money laundering laws that have been operative in this country would continue to be enforced strongly. It is only loose regulatory laws that lead to problems like money laundering. But there will be no let-up by Sri Lanka on this score. The monetary authorities would continue to stringently apply the regulations but these regulations should also need to be market-driven. We expect sophisticated transactions though.

‘It is important to point out that the local courts will have jurisdiction in the Port City. Here too there is no dilution of the state’s sovereignty.

“Our region has progressed into a services economy. We need to compete with countries such as Singapore, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, for example, to attract FDI. You need to offer fiscal and other incentives to attract FDI to Sri Lanka. A dip of 40 per cent of FDI in Sri Lanka last year, drives the point home. But given our location, we are in a position to talk about Sri Lanka as a business destination.

“Of principal importance is the supply chain impact the Port City project would have on Sri Lanka. Local enterprises dealing with the Port City will be paid in dollars and not local currency. Even Sri Lankan SMEs which are part of the supply chain will be paid in dollars. There is also potential for local employment generation where the income earners will be paid in dollars.

“At present there are some 4000 employment opportunities for locals in the Port City. Currently, 1500 to 1800 locals are employed in the project. So, there are growing opportunities for locals in this initiative. They would get the opportunity to work for some the world’s most prominent brands in their own backyard and for dollar remuneration.

‘Sri Lanka produces 25,000 graduates annually. One third of these belong to the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and allied fields. But 20 to 25 percent of these graduates migrate. Our graduates could now work for a multinational company if the opportunities offered by the Port City project are availed of.”

 

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SLRA requests landlords to reduce leases and rentals

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‘Retail accounts for over one-third of the GDP and over 15% of the employment in Sri Lanka’

The Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA), the apex body for organised retail in Sri Lanka, issued a communique requesting landlords, lessors, and business partners reduce leases and rentals for the Association’s membership.

SLRA President Murali Prakash appealed to landlords and lessors to provide a 50% concession on rentals/ leases for the next six months on properties leased and rented by SLRA members. Many retailers are suffering losses due to the prevailing situation in the country caused by the COVID-19. The current impact supersedes the previous lockdowns in terms of the effect on retail businesses.

The pandemic and the resultant lockdown have substantially reduced retailers’ operability, given the higher costs, drastically reduced revenues, and cash flows. This has resulted in large losses causing a significant dent in their ability to operate efficiently, with some even struggling to stay afloat. We believe the landlords, lessors, and other business partners would share part of the costs through reduced rentals and other cost-sharing options; thus, together, we navigate to create a better tomorrow.

We understand the impact this would have on the lessors and landlords. However, the industry needs to stay afloat for all parties to benefit in the future, and therefore we believe collective action is the way forward.

Further, the Association appealed to authorities to consider special relief on loan repayments and other concessions on utility and trade levies, especially for smaller retailers, given the unprecedented externalities inhibiting regular business. Retailers have stood the test of time supporting the local economy during good and bad times, and this is an exception where they need support from authorities.

Retail accounts for over one-third of the GDP and over 15% of the employment in Sri Lanka. Vibrant retail is an essential part of a healthy and robust economy. Hence, it’s imperative that we support the retailers at this juncture for the nation’s greater good.

The SLRA currently represents nine sectors in the retail industry, namely FMCG; Clothing, Fashion & Jewelry; Shelter & Housing; Household & Consumer Durables; Footwear & Accessories; E-Commerce; Mobility; Entertainment, Restaurant, and QSR; Healthcare & Wellness.

 

 

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JAT plans new plants in Bangladesh, Africa post IPO

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As it prepares to announce an initial public offering (IPO) and listing on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) in a bid to raise capital, JAT Holdings noted that these funds would be used to commission manufacturing plants in Bangladesh and Africa.

“Funds will be used to drive development activities such as the establishment of a new state-of-the-art R&D facility and the commissioning of a new manufacturing plant in Bangladesh, for which negotiations have been completed and initial implementation is underway. Discussions are also ongoing to commission a plant in Africa. Together, these new facilities will further consolidate the company’s position in these regional markets, while also contributing towards revenue and margin growth,” the company noted in a press release announcing its financial performance for the financial year ended on 31 March 2021.

JAT Holdings, ended FY 2020/21 posting a healthy Rs. 621 million profit after tax, completely reconciling losses incurred earlier in the year, driving gross profit margins from 27.6% to 30.7% YoY, while maintaining the net profit margin at 11.2%.

Discussing the company’s remarkable performance across the most challenging of financial years, JAT Holdings CEO Nishal Ferdinando said: “Being the leader in wood coatings, possessing a strong product portfolio in paints, brushes, ergonomic office furniture, decking, ceilings, bespoke kitchens, etc. in addition to having significant revenue streams from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries through multiple sales channels, enabled JAT to successfully mitigate the effects of the pandemic and remain resilient through 2020/21. 

FY 2020/21 saw the company enjoying its highest-ever recorded YoY revenue growth, 29%, in the Sri Lankan market for wood coatings, paints, and brushes. This is significant as it was achieved despite operating through more than two months of lockdowns. The company also enjoyed positive cash flows for over seven months of the year at a stretch, despite challenges, ending the year net positive with Rs. 490 million as at 31 March 2021. The strength of the company’s cash position is further attested to by a net debt (cash)/equity ratio of negative 0.03. Current and liquidity ratios increased to 3.26 and 2.29, respectively, against 2.61 and 1.76 from the year prior, while gearing saw an easing to 9.07% over the period. 

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