“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.
Seylan Bank takes the lead to promote LANKA QR beyond Western Province
Seylan Bank, the Bank with a Heart, organized the ‘Seylan Pay QR Carnival’ in Kurunegala to promote the LANKAQR programme introduced by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to strengthen digital transactions in Sri Lanka. The special programme, focusing on encouraging local merchants and SMEs to join the national QR transaction system, took place at the Vehera Sports Ground in Kurunegala recently. Officials from the Central bank of Sri Lanka, the Lanka QR Committee and partner banks were present at the event.
Organised as the 14th leg of the LankaQR national rollout campaign, the Seylan Pay QR Carnival set a firm footprint with the highest number of merchants at the event. Seylan Bank alone on boarded over 100 merchants for the SeylanPay payment solutions from the Kurunegala area. Over a thousand customers walked in during the event which benefitted many merchants accepting LankaQR, to process transactions on the day and generate great traction in the district since then.
As the key feature of the event, Seylan Bank educated their customers on the use of the Bank’s QR payment system, the SeylanPay Mobile App, and assisted customers in making payments to merchants. Over 50 stalls selling clothes and accessories, gift items, food, sweets, electronics and electrical equipment, plants, beauty care, cosmetic items and automobile parts were set up for the benefit of consumers, with attractive added discounts for customers using QR payment systems to purchase items, thereby encouraging and familiarizing the use of it among them. This marked a record high number of merchants participating among many LankaQR nationwide rollout campaigns that were organised to date. A Seylan Bank Mobile ATM was deployed at the premises, ensuring that customers had easy access to carry out cash withdrawals if required and check their account balances at any given time. In addition, a special fun zone was set up for children at the event premises, whilst a musical evening entertained the adults present at the Seylan Pay QR Carnival.
“Seylan Bank’s commitment to develop the banking and finance network together with the industry led to us hosting the 14th leg of the Lanka QR national rollout campaign. We also realize the potential this system brings to the SME sector in the country, in terms of transaction efficiency and savings. As a bank that has continued to support SMEs in the country in a wide spectrum, the alliance with Lanka QR helps in developing the entire transaction ecosystem of the country,” commented Chaminda Senewiratne, Head of Digital Banking Channels, Seylan Bank.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka introduced the LANKAQR service in October 2020 with the aim of moving towards a cash-less society while increasing financial inclusion in Sri Lanka, and was supported in this endeavour by Banks, licensed financial institutions and Lanka Clear (Pvt.) Ltd. It has already stood out as an attractive option with notable benefits for small and medium enterprises.
Stylish Garments unveils its latest export-oriented BOI factory in Ambalangoda
With the Board of Investment (BOI) widening its projects, Stylish Garments (Pvt) Ltd, unveiled its sixth BOI approved factory in Ambalangoda which manufactures children’s wear, jerseys including school uniforms exclusively targeting the international market. The Stylish Garments is a renowned a garment manufacturer and exporter of jersey knit and lighter woven apparel products.
The latest project, which is a USD 3.5 million investment, is to generate 500 employment opportunities for people living in the south and other parts of the country. Moreover, the products are slated to be exported to the UK and Europe. The agreement in this regard was signed recently at the BOI Head Office in the presence of BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone.
The Director General said “A project of this nature should be recognized owing to the fact that it depicts the vibrant and vivid expansion of BOI projects, which has now started to reach the rural areas, The new venture will uplift the livelihood of the people living in the Ambalangoda area plus become a crucial source of bringing dollars to the country in a situation where the country isin dire need of dollars,” she underscored.
Founder and incumbent Chairman of the Stylish Garments (Pvt) Ltd Leelaratne Hattanarachchi said,” we were determined to launch the project irrespective of current challenges because such new projects would bring dollars to the country. That’s the very reason why I ventured to start operations at this new factory by turning the advantage of this crisis to ourselves. At the same time, we do appreciate the support rendered by the BOI at this critical juncture and look forward their support in future too.”
Browns Investments solar power plant deal dominates CSE trading
By Hiran H. Senewiratne
CSE’s leading listed company, Browns Investments, disposed of 50.1 per cent of its stake in Sagasolar Power Power (Private) Limited to another leading company, Aitken Spence Pvt. Ltd. yesterday, market sources said.
The total value of the company was Rs 1.4 billion and under this deal Browns Investments sold the stake for Rs 700 million. The capacity of the solar power plant is 10 megawatts, stock market analysts said.
Sagasolar Power built the solar PV facility on 45 acres (18.2 ha) of land within a dedicated energy development area in Baruthankanda, Hambantota district, Southern province. The country’s previous largest solar plant is a 1.3-MW facility also located in Hambantota.
Amid those developments, the trading activities in the stock market turned negative due to macro and micro economic uncertainties. Accordingly, stocks slipped over 1 per cent at mid-day trade yesterday for the third consecutive day, market analysis said.
The All- Share Price Index fell by 121 points and S and P SL20 went down by 50.8 points. Turnover stood at Rs 982 million without any crossings. Top seven companies that that contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 274 million (3.5 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 185 million (1.2 million shares traded), JKH Rs 77 million (626,000 shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 59.8 million (9.9 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 58.9 million (8.9 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 32.6 million (89,000 shares traded) and Commercial Bank Rs 15.4 million (309,000 shares traded). During the day 51.5 million share volumes changed hands in 14000 share transactions.
Yesterday the Central Bank announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 356.04 and the selling price Rs 367.33.
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