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Real coconut arrack may soon become history warns Harry J

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“100% coconut products out of reach of the customer due to prevailing taxes”

Distilleries Company boss Harry Jayawardena has warned that “real coconut arrack will soon be out of the market” if the concerned authorities do not look into the “step-motherly treatment” now being accorded to the coconut arrack industry.

Jayawardena, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka PLC (DCSL) has sounded this warning in the recently published annual report of the company where he has complained about prevailing exorbitant pricing structure of coconut arrack with sales volumes shrinking daily.

“One hundred percent coconut products are out of the reach of the consumer due to prevailing taxes,” he has said. “The government must seriously look into this matter to reduce prices in order to divert some of the ENA customers to coconut products.”

The DCSL report says that arrack is one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated offerings to the world. It claims that Sri Lanka coconut arrack is undeniably one of the purest naturally derived alcoholic beverages in the world, distilled through a natural fermentation process.

“Sri Lanka has perfected the technique of making coconut arrack through the years,” the report said. “Today it has acquired the perfect balance for the discerning palate and coconut arrack reigns as the alcoholic beverage of choice in the country.”

Jayawardena has once again repeated his long-held complaint about increasing volumes of illicit products, adulterated and artificial toddy manufactured daily in large quantities.

“Today it is an industry by itself, formed into a cottage industry dominated by a section of Mudalalis,” he stated. “The proof is that the situation has multiplied byy 20 times over what it has been for years and spread over the whole island. Recent raids made by the Department of Excise and other enforcement authorities is proof that this situation exists.”

He accused some regulatory officials of conniving with with the illicit trade to avoid detection. As soon as one plant is detected it will start running under another name, he said adding that moonshine is being distilled in some luxurious houses without the knowledge of the enforcement authorities.

Jayawardena demanded action to control this situation as it has reduced legal alcohol volumes. With the STF and armed forces authorized to monitor illicit liquor, there have been more detections in the recent past compared to previous years and “there has been somewhat of a dip in the illegal activity.”

DCSL, previously a State near-monopoly, was privatized in 1991 with Harry J connected companies assuming control, helping to make Jayawardena one of the country’s best known tycoons. The company today has nearly Rs. 20.9 billion in assets and is one of the wealthiest businesses in Sri Lanka.

In the year under review, DCSL paid Rs. 53.8 billion in excise duty to the government, marginally below Rs. 54 billion the previous year and earned an after tax profit of Rs. 5.8 billion against the previous year’s Rs. 5.4 billion.

The dominant shareholder of DCSL is Melstacorp PLC, a Harry J company (92.46%). Other companies connect5ed to him in the Top 20 shareholders list are Milford Exports (3.21%), Lanka Milk Foods (0.98%), Stassen Exports (0.05%) and his son, Hasitha Jayawardena (0.05%).

The directors of the company are Messrs: Harry Jayawardena (Chairman/MD), CR Jansz, R. Seevaratnam, Niranjan Deva Adittya, Capt. (Rtd.) KJ Kahanda, Dr. Naomal Balasuriya, Hasitha Jayawardena, Ms. VJ Senaratne and Amitha Gooneratne.

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Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments

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Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.

Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.

The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.

“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”

“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.

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Taking cashless transactions across the country

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.

Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.

The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.

Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.

The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.

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SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers

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SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.

Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.

Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”

Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.

 

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