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SLTDA streamlines tourism investment approval process with common application

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Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has made the tourism investment process easy by streamlining the project approval process and the facilitation services provided by the Investor Relations Unit (IRU) – the unit established within SLTDA as the centralized facilitation arm for tourism investments in the country.

The key objective of this effort is to provide a single point of contact for the investors in the tourism sector and to provide an efficient, effective and hassle-free investment facilitation process for tourism investments.

In general, an investor in the tourism sector has to fill individual applications for several line agencies for approval of a tourism project. The number of agencies applicable for a tourism project is comparatively higher if the projects are located closer to a sensitive attraction. The process, therefore, becomes tedious, complex and time-consuming and as a result, incurs a considerable cost for the investor. This situation sometimes also encourages third party involvements which lead to corruption.

Finding solutions for the above issues; a centralized facilitation unit was established by SLTDA in late 2010. The IRU has approved 503 projects with a total value of US $ 3789.04 Mns during the past 10 years. The inter-agency collaboration was further strengthened recently with the continuous dialogue which resulted in bringing together all project approving government agencies to prepare one common application for tourism investments.

In addition, the approval processes of key approving agencies were mapped to spot the duplications and delays due to unnecessary steps and multiple signatories. The process was thereby streamlined and as a result, the time taken to issue a preliminary clearance was able to be reduced from 45 days to 25 days. The total average number of reduction of days taken for project approvals is expected to be reduced further in the future.

Technical support for the above streamlining process was provided to SLTDA by USAID’s Supporting Accelerated Investment in Sri Lanka (SAIL) Project with a team of experts with international expertise & exposure. Talking about the contribution made by the SAIL project, Glenn F. J. Mackenzie-Frazer, Chief of Party, IDG Country Director stated:

“The hard work and dedication of the SLTDA Investor Relations Unit is now bearing fruit and making the investment process a streamlined and transparent process which is investor focused. This is one more step on the path of placing Sri Lanka at the forefront of tourism globally. It has been USAID-SAIL’s privilege to partner with SLTDA on this journey”. 

Having the tourism mandate as per the Tourism Act No 38 of 2005, SLTDA’s Investor Relations Unit (IRU) makes sure all upcoming developments in tourism by the private sector is complied with specified quality standards and developed in compliance to the existing regulations of the country. This helps reduce low-quality and illegal tourism establishments, which will impact in eradicating informal sector of tourism in the future.

Responding to the achievements recently made by the Investor Relations Unit (IRU, Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of SLTDA stated,

“The above achievements are not made solely by the SLTDA. It’s a joint effort made by all government agencies. The collaboration and support given by all the government agencies in making these improvements to the process are tremendous, SLTDA thanks all the Heads of those agencies and all the government officers who contributed to this effort.

“Very soon, the entire process will be automated and the facility will be available for the investor to submit the application on-line and to track the progress of approvals. This will be an integrated system where all the project approving agencies and utility agencies are connected”

SLTDA encourages all the investors to obtain the services of Investor Relations Unit (IRU) to obtain reliable information on the process, proper guidance and facilitation services to ensure successful tourism projects with proper quality standards. -(SLTDA)

 

 



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New Anthoney’s Group in 100pct acquisition of Gold Coin Feed Mills Lanka

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New Anthoney’s Farms (Private) Ltd, a leading producer in Sri Lanka’s poultry sector with a distinctive reputation for quality and innovation, recently bought 100pct stake in Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) Ltd from Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd, both of whom are subsidiaries of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc (“AEV”). With this acquisition Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) will now be Anthoney’s Feed Ltd, making New Anthoney’s Group an integrated poultry player with end-to-end supply chain capabilities in Sri Lanka.

With this acquisition New Anthoney’s is now able to control and manage the entire manufacturing process end to end, enabling it to further enhance the quality delivered to its customers and improve production efficiencies. New Anthoney’s is also among the top exporters of poultry products in Sri Lanka and this acquisition directly fits in with the company’s overall objective of accelerating the export growth further, earning valuable foreign exchange to the country.

The acquisition was completed following an official signing between the two companies during mid- December. Nithya Partners acted as legal advisor to New Anthoney’s whilst Mr. Saminda Weerasinghe, CFA acted as financial advisor to the buyer. TWCorp (Pvt) Ltd was exclusive financial advisor to the seller whilst Julius & Creasy acted as legal advisors to the seller.

Emil Stanley, the Chairman of New Anthoney’s Group, commenting on this, said ‘‘This is a historic moment for New Anthoney’s. I am confident that the acquisition of the animal feed business from Aboitiz Group will help us to grow our business exponentially and will help us to achieve our vision of becoming a reputed brand in the global poultry market. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Aboitiz Group for the trust placed on us and to TWCorp for facilitating this transaction.’’.

‘This was a timely decision considering the many factors at hand and the acquisition will strengthen our position in the feed sector enabling us to provide an uninterrupted supply of poultry and also cater to the increasing demand both locally and internationally,’ said Neil Suraweera, CEO and Executive Director.

The foundation of New Anthoney’s is the farmer who ensures the nation receives the right proteins. As a result, the country’s more significant population depends on animal producers regardless of its size inside the country. It is because of them producers like New Anthoney’s can conduct environmentally friendly business practices nationally.

New Anthoney’s supports the transformation of animal production systems, both small-scale and large-scale, in ways that are sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental perspective to increase livestock’s contribution to the supply-demand chain.

The sellers, Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd are both subsidiaries of AEV), and form part of the Aboitiz group’s integrated agribusiness and food and nutrition businesses (“Aboitiz Food Group”). The exit comes as part of the Aboitiz Food Group taking a strategic decision to focus on its core markets and exit non-core markets such as Sri Lanka.

Established in 1986, New Anthoney’s today is growing from strength to strength with a steady expansion of its product portfolio and success in the international markets. Its animal welfare complies with that of the National Chicken Council (NCC) in the US, with certifications including GMP, HACCP, ISO 22000, local and international halal accreditation.

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General availability of Azure OpenAI Service expands access to large, advanced AI models

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Large language models are quickly becoming an essential platform for people to innovate, apply AI to solve big problems, and imagine what is possible. As part of a continued commitment to democratizing AI, and the ongoing partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure OpenAI Service.

With Azure OpenAI Service now generally available, more businesses can apply for access to the most advanced AI models in the world—including GPT-3.5, Codex, and DALL•E 2—backed by the trusted enterprise-grade capabilities and AI-optimized infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, to create cutting-edge applications. Customers will also be able to access ChatGPT—a fine-tuned version of GPT-3.5 that has been trained and runs inference on Azure AI infrastructure—through Azure OpenAI Service soon.

Empowering customers to achieve more

Microsoft debuted Azure OpenAI Service in November 2021 to enable customers to tap into the power of large-scale generative AI models with the enterprise promises that customers have come to expect from Azure cloud and computing infrastructure—security, reliability, compliance, data privacy, and built-in Responsible AI capabilities.

Since then, the company has seen the breadth of how Azure OpenAI Service has enabled customers—from generating content that helps better match shoppers with the right purchases to summarizing customer service tickets, thereby freeing up time for employees to focus on more critical tasks.

Customers of all sizes across industries are using Azure OpenAI Service to improve experiences for end-users, and streamline operational efficiencies internally. From startups to multinational corporations, organizations small and large are applying the capabilities of Azure OpenAI Service to advanced use cases such as customer support, customization, and gaining insights from data using search, data extraction, and classification.

Azure—the best place to build AI workloads

The general availability of Azure OpenAI Service is not only an important milestone for Microsoft customers but also for Azure.

Azure OpenAI Service provides businesses and developers with high-performance AI models at production scale with industry-leading uptime. This is the same production service that Microsoft uses to power its own products, including GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that helps developers write better code, Power BI, which leverages GPT-3-powered natural language to automatically generate formulae and expressions, and the recently-announced Microsoft Designer, which helps creators build stunning content with natural language prompts.

All of this innovation shares a common thread: Azure’s purpose-built, AI-optimized infrastructure. Azure is also the core computing power behind OpenAI API’s family of models for research advancement and developer production.

Azure is currently the only global public cloud that offers AI supercomputers with massive scale-up and scale-out capabilities. With a unique architecture design that combines leading GPU and networking solutions, Azure delivers best-in-class performance and scale for the most compute-intensive AI training and inference workloads. It’s the reason the world’s leading AI companies including OpenAI, Meta, Hugging Face, and others—continue to choose Azure to advance their AI innovation. Azure currently ranks in the top 15 of the TOP500 supercomputers worldwide and is the highest-ranked global cloud services provider today. Azure continues to be the cloud and compute power that propels large-scale AI advancements across the globe.

A responsible approach to AI

As an industry leader, Microsoft recognizes that any innovation in AI must be done responsibly. This becomes even more important with powerful, new technologies like generative models. Microsoft has taken an iterative approach to large models, working closely with partner OpenAI and customers to carefully assess use cases, learn, and address potential risks.

Additionally, the company has implemented its own guardrails for Azure OpenAI Service that align with Responsible AI principles. As part of Microsoft’s Limited Access Framework, developers are required to apply for access, describing their intended use case or application before they are given access to the service. Content filters uniquely designed to catch abusive, hateful, and offensive content constantly monitor the input provided to the service as well as the generated content. In the event of a confirmed policy violation, Microsoft may ask the developer to take immediate action to prevent further abuse.

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Jaffna International Trade Fair in March 2023

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The 13th Edition of this mega trade fair will be held in the heart of Jaffna on the 3rd, 4th & 5th of March 2023 at the Muttraweli Grounds, adjoining the Jaffna Fort. The event is organized by Lanka Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt) Ltd (LECS), in association with the Chamber of Commerce & Industries of Yarlpanam (CCIY).Since the first edition in 2002 JITF has evolved into an annual trade platform. The exhibition makes it possible for stall holders to reach a large portion of the market in Jaffna. Both consumers and businesses based in Jaffna and in the North, visit the exhibition over the three days and typically thousands of visitors from diverse demographics visit the exhibition. The location of the event next to the Jaffna fort, makes for maximum visibility for those participating as stall holders.

The Jaffna International Trade Fair, which is known as the “gateway to the North” is the most anticipated platform for Small and Medium Entrepreneurs to introduce their products to the population of the North. The organizers of the event noted that Entrepreneurs who have participated in the past, experienced first-hand the potential the North has to offer.

The exhibition will also feature major corporates in the country representing various industries. The Main Sponsor for this year’s event will be Tokyo Cement Company (Lanka) PLC. Ruhunu Foods is the Official Spice Partner for the event. The official Snack Partner at the event is Ceylon Biscuits Limited (Munchee). Official Hygeine & Illumination Partner is Sun Match Company (Pvt) Ltd. Official Education Partner is the Northern Institute of Technology (Pvt) Ltd. Official T-shirt Partner is EXPRESS Factory Outlet and the Official Tire Partner is Adams Tyre Industries (Pvt) Ltd.

The event is a multi-trade affair featuring industries, products and services in the Agriculture, Hospitality, Education, Food, Machinery, Construction, Consumer, Electronics, Power, Textile, IT and Real estate sectors.

The events long-standing education pavilion “Kalvi” will also feature many higher education institutions at the event in 2023. This pavilion gives students and the youth of Jaffna an opportunity to engage with education institutes from around the country.

JITF is a major event in the MIECE events calendar of Sri Lanka. The three-day exhibition provides a major boost to the Hospitality Industry and economy in Jaffna, due to the large number of exhibitors and visitors who will travel to the region during the event. With many of the Hotels seeing high levels of occupancy. Restaurants and local traders also see a boost in sales over the three-day period.

The organizers invite all those interested to join the exhibition to experience and engage with the vast market in Jaffna and the North of Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.jitf.lk or contact Ms. Imalka on 077-1093792.

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