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SLID webinar on New SEC Act

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The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) in partnership with the Asian Pathfinder Legal Consultancy & Drafting Services held a public webinar on Directors’ Rights, Duties & Liabilities under the New SEC Act recently. The purpose of the session was to educate company directors on the relevant provisions of the Act and bring them up to date on the significant implications arising from it with regard to their role and responsibilities.

The two expert panelists, Dr. D. C. Jayasuriya P.C. and former Director General and Chairman of the SEC and Malik Cader, Attorney at Law and former Director General of the SEC in conversation with Faizal Salieh, Chairman of The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors provided several insights on the new Act and on how directors, auditors and company secretaries can adapt themselves to the new and tough regulatory regime.

Dr. Jayasuriya at the outset said that the new Act was comprehensive and has around 189 sections compared with the previous Act which had 40. While the objectives of the two look very much similar it is noteworthy that there are two significant changes in the new Act, one of which is that it highlights the efficient and transparent securities markets and the second being the protection of foreign investors. Stating that there were 4 approaches to the regulation of securities markets around the world such as merit, disclosure, and self-regulation, the new Act falls into an overkill situation with very strict regulation and penalties.

He also stated that it is very difficult to find any provision relating to the duties of the Directors under the Act and added that in comparison with the previous legislation, the new legislation has a broad regulatory reach and covers many products and market players. The new Act also goes beyond an individual director particularly in the context where a determination has to be made as to whether a person is acting in concert with regards to a takeover or merger situation. Dr Jayasuriya outlined 25 Do’s and Don’t’s for directors so that they will not be caught up under the Act.

Malik Cader stated that there is a perception among directors that the Act was “a draconian piece of legislation”, particularly in the context of the penalties that could be imposed. He highlighted the key areas of concern arising from the new Act and said that directors of listed companies have to take serious note of some of its provisions and described them as a paradigm shift from what it used to be. He mentioned specific areas such as good corporate governance practices including Fit & Proper criteria, duties of the auditor, issuance of securities, civil and criminal powers, and provisions relating to implementation.

Quoting that ‘no amount of rules and regulations will make a crooked man straight’, he stated that the fit & proper criteria included in the new Act was very commendable and that it is an effort to move toward a better governance structure for the capital markets. He further emphasized that some of the provisions that relate to enhancing corporate governance is in the appointment of a director, CEO or CRO (Chief Regulatory Officer) of a market institution where one must obtain prior approval from the SEC notwithstanding the provisions of the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007.

Moderator Faizal Salieh observed that the SEC is of the view that the new Act will enhance investor confidence in our capital markets by strengthening its hands and teeth in dealing with market manipulators and offenders on a wider canvass. He added that Sri Lanka is in a global setting where market manipulations and offences are beginning to see pronounced levels of increase; that Sri Lanka has had its share of market manipulations and therefore appropriate regulatory intervention was necessary to build trust and credibility in the capital market. He said that companies should consider aligning their internal policies to the SEC Act provisions on insider trading and handling of “inside” information, such as professional secrecy policies; codes of conduct; access to information policies, etc.

The discussion noted that given the globalization of capital markets, sharing of information among regulators is crucially important. Sec 171 (2) provides for this. Education of investors and market participants on ethical behavior standards; increasing the level of expertise of prosecutors and judges in dealing with capital market crimes and strict disclosure requirements that limit the scope of inside information and the time for keeping such information unpublished would help limit the potential for insider dealing.



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OKLO adds new feature to Ceylon Tea SmartAuction platform

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OKLO Private Limited, a leading Sri Lankan solutions provider for the Ceylon Tea e-Auction platform, recently added an all-new segment for factories in its SmartAuction platform. This new feature provides over 650 factories with the chance to value and grade teas within the system, printing final catalogues, real-time and post-sales reports, and viewing their tea variants being auctioned live. For the first time, a live auction participation option has been instigated for all stakeholders and factories in the country’s 150 years of auctioning history. The availability of this platform would now allow the tea-producing community to benefit from newly added or enhanced functionalities similar to other stakeholders.

With tea being the most significant commodity to be auctioned in Sri Lanka, it is also one of the most significant contributors to the local economy. As Ceylon Tea has already garnered a worldwide name, the branding has enabled Sri Lanka to be placed on the map as an influential tea-producing entity. At the same time, this functionality can also be utilised by other organisations that market commodities such as rubber, spices and coconut. Being present via an e-Auction paves the way for more competition among buyers and sellers.

Regarding the inclusion of their new feature, OKLO Private Limited, Managing Director – Thilanka Withanage stated, “Since the Colombo Tea e-Auction went live on the OKLO SmartAuction platform, the team has been releasing advanced features and functionalities to all stakeholders. With the release of the latest version, all Sri Lankan tea factories can now have complete access to the platform, similar to all other stakeholders. Our objective is to maintain consistency in the face of tech innovation and uplift our nation’s ascent in the digital realm. We will continue utilising our nation’s talents and build cutting-edge, practical, impactful products that will set innovative strides.”

Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association, Vice Chairman – Pasindu Pieris shared his views on the newly enhanced platform. He said, “This state-of-the-art solution from OKLO provided to the tea sector amalgamates all aspects related to dispatching tea from the factory to the point where it is sold at the auction through competitive bidding. Now, we can see our tea variants being sold at the auction right from our factory premises. The platform offers transparency and traceability while improving efficiency throughout the supply chain.”

OKLO is a Sri Lankan Technology Solutions Provider with current solution offerings in the Travel and Trading sectors. It was founded in 2011 and has been expanded to become one of the key players in the Travel IT sector, catering to some of the largest blue-chip companies such as Walkers Tours, Cinnamon Hotels, Jetwing Travels etc.For more information, email info@okloworld.com, call +94777320383, or visit www.okloworld.com.

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CSE trading marked by ‘a degree of sluggishness’; main indices decline

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities reflected a degree of sluggishness yesterday as most stock market investors are adopting a wait- and- see approach due to ongoing IMF discussions on bailing out the Sri Lankan economy, coupled with issues that surfaced in the coal purchase agreement between the Browns Group and a Chinese company relating to coal power generation, stock analysts said.

Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 31.8 points and the S and P SL20 declined by 19.1 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in JKH, which crossed 150,000 shares to the tune of Rs 21.5 million with its shares trading at Rs 143 and CIC Holdings 241,000 shares crossed for Rs 20.5 million; its shares traded at Rs 85.

In the retail market top six companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Lanka IOC Rs 394 million (1.4 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 237 million (one million shares traded), Richard Pieris Rs 146 million (4.4 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 138 million (1.3 million shares traded), JKH Rs 129 million (910,000 shares traded) and First Capital Holdings Rs 112 million (7.2 million shares traded). During the day 150 million share volumes changed hands in 30000 transactions.It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Expolanka Holdings, Sunshine Holdings and Lankem Developments.

Mixed interest was observed in Lanka IOC, ACL Cables and Royal Ceramics, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments. The Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to ACL Cables and Royal Ceramics), while the sector index gained 1.23 per cent. The share price of ACL Cables moved up by Rs. 6 (5.69 per cent) to close at Rs. 111.50. The share price of Royal Ceramics recorded a gain of Rs. 1.70 (4.10 per cent) to close at Rs. 43.20.

The Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to market turnover (due to Lankem Developments), while the sector index increased by 1.07 per cent. The share price of Lankem Developments appreciated by Rs. 1.50 (4.12 per cent) to close at Rs. 37.90.

Expolanka Holdings and Lanka IOC were also included among the top turnover contributors. The share price of Expolanka Holdings decreased by Rs. 2.25 (0.99 per cent) to close at Rs. 224.25. The share price of Lanka IOC closed flat at Rs. 290.50.Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 359.18 and selling rate Rs 369.93.

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Airtel Lanka records 1.7mn customers switch to Freedom Packs

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One year after the launch of Airtel Lanka’s industry-disrupting prepaid packs ‘Freedom’, the company announced a staggering 1.7 million users have switched to Airtel Freedom, as at the end of August 2022.

“We serve around three million customers in Sri Lanka, aided mainly by this unprecedented adoption of our Freedom packs. The overwhelming customer endorsement reaffirms our strategy of bringing simplicity and value through our products.” notes Airtel Lanka Managing Director/CEO Ashish Chandra.

Powered by Airtel’s world-class 5G-ready mobile broadband network, the telco has reimagined the overall offering and experience for customers, with a strong focus on ensuring value for money, and an advanced network experience. These factors undoubtedly resonate with most users, who are either data-heavy or call-heavy users.

Airtel Lanka’s initial innovation in facilitating unlimited, affordable access to the internet through Freedom Packs continued to evolve, with the telco introducing new world-class features to both its prepaid Freedom Packs and postpaid Freedom Plans

Airtel also disrupted the local telco market with the entrance of the Freedom Unlimited Rs.749 package, which is aimed at prepaid users. For a very affordable cost, users can now make unlimited calls to any network, with unlimited access to favourite social media platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and stream superior quality videos on YouTube for 30 days in addition to receiving additional 30GB anytime date.

Airtel was also the first telco to introduce unlimited calls for any network for a postpaid customer through Unlimited 1098. Priced at Rs. 1,098, an Airtel user has access to unlimited calls to any network, 40GB anytime data and SMS facilities. Additionally, Airtel is also the only telco to offer data rollover service for postpaid customers, allowing up to 200GB to be carried onto the next month’s billing cycle, saving data and expenses for the end-consumer.

Airtel Lanka has been part of implementing many industry-firsts in Sri Lanka’s telco space, and was also the first to introduce unlimited calls in Sri Lanka, on calls made to the same network. With the launch of Airtel Freedom, the company offers its users the ultimate convenience for all their voice, SMS and data needs, offering even greater savings compared to the competition. With the introduction of Unlimited, Airtel Lanka undoubtedly serves as a clear trendsetter for the country’s telecommunications industry.

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