Business News

Chandrika, Ranil don't fight - pleads industry chamber
The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries says it is concerned about reports in the media of a crisis in cohabitation between the president and the government and reiterates that it was the people who chose this form of administration via cohabitation.

Chamber Chairman Asoka de Z. Gunasekera, says in a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga copied to Prime Minister Ranil Wickre-mesinghe, that the current crisis if true would lead to instability and impose further strains on a crisis-hit economy.

"The drop in the stock market in recent days is a reflection of possible instability. Another election will cost an enormous amount of money and the period of uncertainty that will prevail will have dire consequences for the economy and the peace process," he said, reflecting the unanimous view by the business community as seen by the Sunday Times Business poll last week.

"The people at the last election voted for a UNF government so that the UNF and the PA could cohabit and co-operate for the common good."

Gunasekera acknowledged that the peace process was first initiated by the president and taken forward by the premier with "great sincerity and enthusiasm and the world appears to be watching and backing the process of peace which will lead to ethnic harmony".

"The people believe that it is time our leaders get their priorities right and focus on the key issues of law and order, peace and prosperity which is the only way forward for our nation," he said.

Four weekly flights from Oman Air
Oman Air has announced two new direct flights a week between Colombo and Muscat, raising their frequency to four weekly flights.

"The new routes will enable us to offer our passengers the convenience of flying direct to Colombo with two flights per week," said Abdulrahman Al-Busaidy, the airline's chief executive officer.

Oman Air also offers twice-weekly flights with its code share partner SriLankan Airlines.

AEA services to industry
The Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) has been able to significantly increase its earnings and achieve greater economic self-reliance by starting scientific programmes to provide services to industrial and commercial sectors.

The new programmes were made possible by the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, it said.

MBSL completes 15,000 lease agreements
MBSL, the pioneer merchant bank in Sri Lanka, has notched another landmark in the competitive leasing industry in Sri Lanka by completing its 15,000th lease agreement.

H.M.R. Sanjaya was MBSL's 15,000th customer after obtaining a facility from the company and was felicitated for this purpose, a company statement said. The flexibility of MBSL to structure lease facilities to match the needs of its clients and in accordance with the cash flow patterns of the customer gave MBSL the winning edge in this competitive industry.

"The bank's policy on customer relationship is to offer mutually beneficial solutions to its customers. Prior to taking any stringent action when clients default, MBSL always negotiates with the objective of rehabilitating its customers. MBSL's customers are appreciative of MBSL's caring attitude in times of their difficulties," the statement added.

SL- Bangladesh Business Council launched
The Sri Lanka Bangladesh Business Council (SLBBC), operating under the aegis of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), was recently formed to improve trade and investment between the two countries and to focus members towards business prospects with Bangladesh.

The SLBBC will help its members to establish business contacts in Bangladesh, be a member of business delegations to Bangladesh, participate at trade fairs, exhibitions, seminars and workshops, build and strengthen trade/investment partnerships with business counterparts in Bangladesh, and be recommended for visa facilities to travel to Bangladesh.

Prima launches direct flour distribution scheme
Prima Ceylon Ltd (PCL) has launched its direct flour distribution scheme as an additional service to its customers, after the government recently liberalised the distribution of wheat flour.

"PCL's direct flour distribution scheme will be deployed mainly for long distance destinations, where it would be most cost-effective, " said Primus Cheng, PCL chairman and CEO.

He said such low costs would be passed on to the consumers, with the result that retail prices of flour in various parts of the country would be more uniform.

PCL will deploy 25 brand new prime movers fitted with container trailers, with an investment of Rs. 220 million for this purpose. The prime movers are the latest state of the art models from Mercedes Benz in Germany, while the trailers have been manufactured by Dutch Lanka Trailers Ltd and the containers were sourced locally.

The company said that careful selection was made to ensure that drivers to be recruited would take care of the prime movers whilst there is an incentive of future ownership as well. In addition to being technologically advanced for a smoother and safer drive, these vehicles also have a bed in an air-conditioned cabin, so that the drivers and co-drivers can rest comfortably in turn, to ensure safe journeys especially on long trips, a statement said.

This self-employment cum owner-operator scheme will encourage individual entrepreneurship, which will in turn raise transportation productivity. PCL operates this scheme on a non-profit basis, it added.

The direct flour transportation scheme is yet another contribution to the industry by Prima, which in 1977 became one of the largest private foreign investments ($ 51 million) to be made in Sri Lanka.

Last year PCL invested a further $ 65 million (paid to the government) to convert its operations from a Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) to Build, Own and Operate (BOO), the statement said.

New packing material could lower food prices
Poly Films Ceylon Ltd, a packaging material manufacturing company, has come up with a novel concept to use low cost packaging material, known as a 'metalised' foil to pack essential goods.

Poly Films Director Lakshman de Fonseka said that seven rupees could be saved per pack if metalised foil is used as an alternative to aluminium foil.

He explained that if metalised foil were used for packing milk food a cardboard pack would not be necessary. This would save five rupees, being the cost of the cardboard pack. The metalised foil itself costs two rupees less than the aluminium foil.

"This way we are able to sell a pack at two rupees thus saving seven rupees," he said.

Fonseka said that the prices of essential goods such as milk powder could be reduced with this packaging material. The company plans to arrange a presentation for the Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake shortly.

The company was established in 1987 with an investment of three million rupees. It spent Rs. 100 million on an expansion programme in 1994.

With 175 employees, using imported raw materials and advanced technology, the company has built a clientele whose products range from food items such as tea, coffee, spices and flavoured products, rice, confectionery, frozen food, and milk, to chemicals, fertilisers and pharmaceuticals.

Browns, MF mark golden jubilee
Brown and Company and Massey Ferguson mark 50 years of service to agriculture in the island this year.

Brown and Company helped introduce mechanisation into agriculture with the launch of the Ferguson TE-20 tractor. Since then more than 22,000 Ferguson tractors have been sold here.

The tractor is used in paddy cultivation, tea, rubber and coconut plantations and in forestry, fisheries and the construction industry.

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