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Old July 6th, 2007, 04:31 AM   #1
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BOI approvals & Ceylon Chamber of Commerce


Speech made by Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Dr. Sarath Amunugama on "Policy Constraints, Regulatory Barriers and Regional Economic Development" at the Galadari Hotel organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently.

RAPID GROWTH: We are meeting at a time when there is unprecedented growth in the world as well as within our region. The world economy is growing at a rate of 5% a year, which is a historic growth rate. This unprecedented growth is driven by the economies of China, India, Pakistan and what are called the Eastern tigers.

They are Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Borneo and the rest. All these countries are reaching double-digit figures in growth. A 10% growth every year has become a reality in our region. Just a few decades ago, economists had contempt for the pace of development in our region, calling it the 'Hindu rate of growth.'

We may also call it the "Buddhist rate of Growth". That the 1% to 2% growth of GDP which we achieved under so called "Socialism" and a controlled economy.

We were thinking of the next world and not of this world. We were thinking of Nirvana and not of how to give a good life to our people. That is a state that we have now rejected. It is a tragedy that while there is a rapid growth in our region -including


Dr. Sarath Amunugama

countries like India, Pakistan which were far behind us- that Sri Lanka is not today the leader of that growth trajectory.

Satisfactory growth

We have a satisfactory growth figure, something like 7% and a sustainable growth of over 5% over several years despite obstacles like the oil crisis, Tsunami, natural disasters and local politics.

In spite of all that we are having a growth rate of 7%. But we cannot be satisfied because we are being left behind by our neighbours -even Maldives- due to wrong policies. Now the question is how do we reach double-digit growth which has become standard for our region?

That is the challenge before us. One of the main obstacles to reaching those double-digit figures is the disparity in the growth between the Western Province and rest of the country.

If we take the GDP of Western Province we have reached about 12% growth. This is the equivalent of the growth figures for India and China. So nobody can say that Sri Lanka is incapable of rapid growth.

If you go round the city and its suburbs you can see the construction that is taking place. You will see a rapid growth in factories, in condominiums and planned city developments; all of which, is today confined to the Western Province.

We have Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan. We are now negotiating Trade Agreements for the whole SAARC region. Sri Lanka is the only country in Asia that has GSP+ status with the EU countries where almost 7000 items can be sent from our country to Europe, duty free. As a result, there is a large-scale growth in Western Province.

Discernible gap

Only two weeks ago I opened a BOI project which deals with the world's third biggest confectionary company.

This Milan-based company which is producing Menthols and other 17 confectionery products, is ahead of Cadburys and Nestle, and is now producing in Katunayake for the European Market.

If during the lunch interval, you take a drive down Galle Road or Duplication Road, and all the way to Battaramulla, you will see that there is visible growth.

Last week we signed an agreement for the biggest and tallest building in Colombo, a 60-storyed building which will come up in Battaramulla together with a Mass Rapid Transport system for the city.

Why is it not working in the other areas? For example, why is there such a big gap in the growth figures of Western Province and Central Province, Uva and Sabaragamuwa? Unfortunately, we have to leave the North and East out because of the war situation.

Those two districts which are very well known for people who believe in hard work and industry will definitely give us the balance growth figures if we have peace.

Peace is very important and for sustainable peace economic growth in the North and East is essential. There is an obviously disparity in growth in the Western Province and the rest of the country.

That is the question that you are seeking to find answers for today. And I think it is a very timely exercise. The first obvious reason why we cannot match the performance in Western Province is the lack of infrastructure.

We should be ashamed in this country that we have not been able to launch those infrastructure projects for which successive Finance Ministers and successive Investment Ministers have been able to get foreign assistance. After nearly 60 years of independence this is the only country in the world which cannot complete a highway of 18 kilometers from Katunayake to Colombo.

Many of our infrastructure projects are not proceeding satisfactorily. As public servants we should be ashamed. As politicians we should be ashamed that we are not getting the best out of our investments.

We have mega problems regarding the provision of basic infrastructure. That is to say transport, power, energy and ports. We have a power generation plan which calls for an annual increase of 10% of growth in electricity.

Only then can we match a 10% annual expansion in the economy. That is a very conservative estimate. We have 10% economic growth and it needs at least a 10% expansion in the power sector every year. And now, we have a backlog.

Power crisis

We have failed miserably to provide electricity as needed. The last time we had any type of addition to our power supply was the Kukule Ganga Project. That too did not give us the desired input of power. But we have so many projects in the pipeline.

We have Norochcholai, we have Trincomalee and we have Kerawalapitiya. Norochcholai is to be funded by China. Trincomalee is to be funded by India. We have to develop the Kotmale and Uma Oya Projects. We have several vital power projects which unfortunately are getting slowed down. One of the important things we must do for economic growth is to reform the power sector. Unless we have abundant power we cannot progress.

We have a crisis in Sri Lanka because unions are fighting. Engineers are fighting and politicians are fighting. Nobody takes decisions. And as a result Sri Lanka is slipping in power production when it is a vital ingredient of economic growth. As a solution to that we have been advocating the growth of mini hydros.

We can even go to middle level hydros. If we have 50 hydro schemes funded by the private sector, each giving us in the range of 10 mega watts within 2 years, we can have more than Norochcholai which is giving us 300 mega watts.

That is the sad state of our Electricity Board. None of the projects is giving us the exact number of wattage that they have promised. The shortfall is quite large. So how can the country survive? And when we try to find an alternative by way of private sector investment in mini hydros all sorts of obstacles are placed in the way of that development by some elements in the Electricity Board. Now they are trying to make it more difficult for mini hydros by talking about transmission links.

Outdated policies

There are diesel lobbies in this country. They obstruct the private sector in power supply, which to my mind, is the one way in which we can have fast growth in power. The CEB must learn to share power in the power sector. The Government must certainly do its job but equally important it must help the private sector. If we rely entirely on the public sector for power supply, Sri Lanka is dead.

The next problem is a conceptual one. Very many of our policies are outdated. If you have outdated policies then the result is obviously going to be failure. Now I am not saying something very controversial. Look at what happened to Communist countries.

Look at what is happening in China today. All these countries had controlled economies. The controlled economy is outdated like a dinosaur. But in Sri Lanka some people are still talking about a controlled economy, when the whole world has given it up as a terrible failure.

We can never survive with that type of outdated attitude. We must have policies which take note of reality. The first reality is the globalisation process. The Western Province is the only province in Sri Lanka which has not pulled the plug. It is linked to globalisation. As a small country we must plug in to the global economy, and only Western Province has done so up to now.

(To be continued)
Very correct...............
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:10 PM   #2
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Don't you think all of this is very related to the economy thread and the BOI and CCC could just continue to be included in the Economy thread... Making this thread irrelevant... Anyway very interesting article...
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Old July 6th, 2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phil.froelich View Post
Don't you think all of this is very related to the economy thread and the BOI and CCC could just continue to be included in the Economy thread... Making this thread irrelevant... Anyway very interesting article...
any other views on this anyone ?
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Old July 10th, 2007, 10:43 AM   #4
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Recent (BOI) invesstment agreements

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) signed agreements for 9 new projects worth over Rs. 1030 million. The details of the projects are given below.

Hitechmica Lanka (Private) Limited

The agreement between the BOI and Hitechmica Lanka (Pvt) Ltd was for a project to undertake exploration, mining and processing of mica powder for the export market. An investment of Rs. 45 million, the project will be located at Kiula, Matale. The plant will have a labour force of 100 employees.

Krishna Auto Engineering (Private) Limited

With an investment of Rs. 70.63 million, Krishna Auto Engineering (Pvt) Ltd will set up a project to manufacture automobile parts. The project will be located at the Dankotuwa Industrial Park in Pannala, Kurunagala and will be launched under the 300 EP. The project will generate 130 employment opportunities.

Focus Care Lanka (Private) Limited

The agreement between the BOI and Focus Care Lanka (Pvt) Ltd was to set up a training centre to provide a training centre for healthcare professionals with a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of US$ 255,660. Sponsored by ASB Enterprises Limited BVI, the centre will be located at Colombo 06 and will initially have 19 employees.

Ceylon Tuna Exports (Private) Limited

With an investment of Rs. 183.15 million, Ceylon Tuna Exports (Private) Limited entered into an agreement to undertake deep sea fishing for export. The project will have a labour force of 92 employees and will be operated from the Mutwal Fisheries Harbour. The total investment of the project amounts to Rs. 183.15 million.

Athena Aquaculture (Private) Limited

Athena Aquaculture (Pvt) Ltd signed an agreement with the BOI to set up a milk fish farm. An investment of Rs. 24.08 million, this project will provide employment opportunities for 126 locals and the farm will be located in Manathivu, Puttalam.

Sigiri Dyeing & Finishing (Private) Limited

Agreements were signed between the BOI and Sigiri Dyeing & Finishing (Pvt) Ltd to set up a textile dyeing and finishing plant at Millaniya. The factory will be located at Maguruwalakanda, Pandagoda and will have a labour force of 75 employees. The estimated investment for the project stands at Rs. 165 million.

W S Auto Tech (Private) Limited

The agreement with W S Auto Tech (Private) Limited was to set up an automobile training institute. The cost of the project is estimated at US$ 3.6 million and will be funded as a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from South Korea. The institute will be located at the National Vocational Training Institute at Orugodawatte, Wellampitiya and will initially train 300 students.


Uni Marine Management (Private) Limited

The BOI entered into an agreement with Uni Marine Management (Private) Limited for a project to provide international sea cargo operation services. An investment of US 1.25 million, the project will generate 148 employment opportunities and will be located at Colombo 01.

S I M Lanka International (Private) Limited

The agreement between S I M Lanka International (Private) Limited and the BOI was for a project to manufacture aluminium lids and laminated shrink sleeves. With an investment of Rs. 39.5 million, the project will initially provide 56 employment opportunities. The factory will be located at Moragahahena, Ginigathhena and will be launched under the Nipayum Sri Lanka 300 Enterprises Programme.

http://www.boi.lk/boi2005/index.asp
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Old July 25th, 2007, 12:52 PM   #5
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Chinese Business delegation in SL to look at possible investments


A high powered business delegation headed by Mr. Cen Furong, Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of Investment (CCPIT) Shanghai called on Minister of Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion Dr. Sarath Amunugama today (24).

The discussions were focused on convincing the visiting team about potential of Sri Lanka as a destination for investment. Minister Amunugama speaking at the occasion stated that at present China has become a major development partner in Sri Lanka.

He said that many projects funded by the Chinese Government are functioning well in the country. "Next immediate mega project funded by the Chinese Government, Norochcholai Coal Power Plant will inaugurate construction work in the first week of August."

"The total estimated cost for this project is US$ 480 million." minister said. Equipments have been moved and already 50 engineers are at the site.

Speaking about the long lasting friendship between the two nations Minister said that as a nation Sri Lanka is proud to be the best friends of the emerging two industrial nations of the world, China and India.

Today’s discussions were specially focused on certain areas of investment including roadways, highways and ports in Sri Lanka.

ImageMinister said that there is a great demand for Chinese speaking Sri Lankans in the country now and mentioned that Chinese language is internationally recognized and a translation or an interpreter in Chinese language could be requested at any level of international summit or conference. Thus Chinese has simil;ar standards as English or French, he said.

As the CCPIT delegation is mainly interested in the construction and infrastructure sector, a visit has been scheduled for them to visit the Havelock City project, which is currently under construction. The Havelock City is a massive construction project for both housing and commercial purposes undertaken by the Shing Kwan Group. The Shing Kwan Group is best known for their landmark project, the World Trade Center (WTC), the tallest building in Colombo.

The Chinese delegation included the leader, Mr. Cen Furong, Chairman of the CCPIT Shanghai, Mr Shen Maoxing- President of the Jin Jiang International (Group) co Ltd, Mr. Zao Jiandong- Secretary General CCOIC Shanghai, Mr. Wen Wanli- Deputy Director, Leagal affairs CCPIT Shanghai, Ms Wang Weijiun- Section Chief CIETAC Shanghai, Ms. Di Rong- Section Chief International Dept CCPIT, Mr. Tu Haiming- Shanghai Hodoor Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.

The BOI delegation was headed by Chairman/ Director General Dammika Perera and included a number of senior officials from the Board.
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 03:30 PM   #6
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Sri Lankan business chamber to choose top 10 'corporate citizens'

August 3, 2007 (LBO) – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has called for applications from Sri Lankan companies for its annual 'Ten Best Corporate Citizen Awards' contest.

The awards, part of the chamber's efforts to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within the business community, will be held on November 29, 2007.

The main objectives of the awards, in its fourth year now, are to raise awareness on the importance of CSR to the business community and to promote and encourage CSR practices amongst the corporate sector, a chamber statement said.

The CSR awards will be a measure of the rankings of the services of a corporate entity to its stakeholders; customers, shareholders, employees, environment and community.

"Adoption of CSR practices will also enhance social acceptance of companies through ethically responsible behaviour," the chamber said.

Applications for the awards close on September 28, 2007.

To encourage more participation, this year the main awards to the top three corporates will be given to two categories.

These will be group 'companies, multinational companies and corporates in the financial sector' and 'single entity companies' (which do not fall under the first category.

The chamber has also introduced awards for special projects on CSR in infrastructure, education and training, projects to assist the differently-abled, health and nutrition programmes, disaster relief, sports and recreation facilities, and empowering women.
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 05:34 PM   #7
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Interesting when and where is the ceremony and who are likely winners...
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Old August 10th, 2007, 04:57 AM   #8
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BOI Signs Agreements with the AKDA Group for Projects Worth over US$ 4 Mn


The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) signed agreements with two companies of the AKDA Group – AKDA Real Estate (Pvt) Ltd and AKDA Plantation (Pvt) Ltd for 2 projects in the real estate and agriculture sectors.

Mr. Dhammika Perera – Chairman/Director General of the BOI signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI. The investor of the projects - Mr. A.K. Diyabalanage and Directors of the companies - Mrs. D.R.G. Diyabalanage and Ms. Hashika Diyabalanage and Mr. J.M. Bisara Chanakya – Project Consultant were present at the event. Details of the projects are as follows:

AKDA Real Estate (Private) Limited –

The agreement between AKDA Real Estate (Pvt) Ltd and the BOI covers the construction of two super luxury apartment complexes in Colombo. The approximate investment for the project stands at US$ 3.6 million and the construction work will commence shortly.

AKDA Plantation (Private) Limited –

With an investment of US$ 600,000, AKDA Plantation (Pvt) Ltd signed an agreement for a project to cultivate flowers for the international market. Spokesperson for the company stated that the cut-flowers will be exported mainly to the EU. The project will be located at Uda Hingulwala – Kandy, and will initially generate 62 new employment opportunities.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #9
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another apartment complex???
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Old August 16th, 2007, 06:51 PM   #10
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Amunugama emphasizes improving Indo- Lanka economic ties

Minister of Enterprises Development and Investment Promotion Dr. Sarath Amunugama has emphasized the need to further improve current, excellent Indo-Sri Lanka relations underpinned through close high-level political exchanges and strong economic cooperation in diverse areas.

He noted that India’s contributions towards resurgence and revitalisation of Sri Lankan economy are noteworthy. These contributions have manifested in the form of a large aid and assistance programme, a healthy trade turnover that has crossed the US$ 1 billion mark and liberalised trade regime that includes the Indian US$ 100 million line of credit. The minister was speaking at a glittering ceremony at Water’s Edge Battaramulla organized in connection with the launch of ‘Centrium’ - the latest apartment complex in Colombo.

Dr Amunugama disclosed that the proposed Metro railway system is to be implemented shortly to provide easy transport connectivity for commuters including residents in high rising luxury apartment complexes and buildings that are coming up in the city of Colombo and suburbs.

This would minimize land acquisition which is a major problem in many infrastructure development projects, he said. The Metro Colombo would initially consist of 22-kilometres and would be built on the centre median on the main road. He noted that ‘Centrium’ will be the pinnacle of future high rise buildings in Sri Lanka as it has the touch of the giant neighbour India which is 20 miles away from the Island nation. Chairman of Eco Homes Lanka (Pvt) Ltd T.L.Prasad said that the truly international quality apartments built at a cost of US$90 million offer a sanctuary of serenity and sophistication for the city’s elite. Designed by well known architects from Sri Lanka, India and Japan, Centrium comprises of four towers and has 160 ultra modern spacious apartments.

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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:18 PM   #11
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Interesting, nice to get some assurance for the implementation of the metro...
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Old August 19th, 2007, 04:12 AM   #12
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Top Indian companies vie for developing the East

Mahindra & Mahindra key official to visit Trinco on Thursday

Several top Indian conglomerates have shown interest in taking part in the infrastructure development of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka which the government has given top priority. The first among them is the US$ 4.5 billion Mahindra & Mahindra group whose key officials are visiting Trincomalee this week.

Mahindra & Mahindra is likely to invest Rs. 6 billion in the proposed Trincomalee Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Minister of Investment Promotion, Navin Dissanayake who had met these companies a few weeks ago in India said.
Dissanayake revealed to The Nation Economist that Mahindra World City Developers Ltd. a fully owned subsidiary of Mahindra Group is keen on investing in infrastructure developments in the Trincomalee area and the proposed SEZ.
The government plans to establish 12 new SEZ’s with township development in the surrounding areas. Trincomalee SEZ will be the biggest among them and is likely to be a Public Private Partnership (PPP), The Nation Economist learns.

“Ms. Anita Arjundas, COO of Mahindra World City Developers will be visiting Sri Lanka on a fact finding journey on Tuesday and will be visiting the proposed Trincomalee SEZ on Thursday the Minister said.
According him another two Indian companies have also shown their interest over these investments. “India’s largest private sector enterprise, the Reliance Group is one the two other interested parties” he remarked.

As more and more Indian companies are eying the Sri Lankan market, most of the infrastructure development projects in the East are likely to be undertaken by several giant Indian Companies, a highly placed government official said.
Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (M&M) is one of the major automakers in India. It is the flagship company of the Mahindra Group. M&M began by assembling complete knock down (CKD) Jeeps in 1949 and expanded to indigenous manufacture of Jeep vehicles and agricultural vehicles.

However, the company later expanded its operations to secure a significant presence in other important sectors. The company has now transformed itself into a group that caters to the Indian and overseas markets with a presence in vehicles, farm equipment, information technology, trade and finance related services. With the introduction of Mahindra World City concept in India the company ventured into infrastructure development.

During his recent visit to India the Minister was reported to have held discussions with some of India’s leading companies including Aditya Birla Group, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Mahindra & Mahinda Group in Mumbai and Omaxe Ltd, Emmar MGF Land (Pvt) Ltd in New Delhi, with regard to new investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

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Old August 21st, 2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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Lets most of these companies really invest in the Trincomalee SEZ and the others, hope some Western companies also invest...
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 01:30 PM   #14
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A master diver’s vision

Shipping magnate and owner of one of the best ship repairing companies in the world, Ariyaseela Wickramanayake talks to ‘Daily News Business’ at the Colombo Hilton.

The best solution to end the ethnic conflict is to keep the North and East population occupied and provide them a steady method of income, Shipping magnate Ariyaseela Wickramanayake said.

Sri Lanka imports potatoes, onions and dried fish of Rs. 30 billion and if action is taken to permanently stop these imports and purchase those from the North-East, the conflict would end.

“They are not fighting with a community but are fighting to find a better living,” he said. The population in these areas is very nominal and one can just imagine how prosperous they would be when they share an annual income of Rs. 30 billion.

“Then they will not have time to fight,” he said.

Known as ‘Wicky’ he said that the quality of the North and East vegetable and food are of high quality and the public would not be deprived in any way, by using them. “It’s still not too late to go ahead with this,” he said.

Wicky says that he is against foreign imported goods and so much so he never eats bread. “Bread is just carbohydrate and educated people know the consequences of using them,” he said.

The Government spends US $ 3.5 billion annually to import food commodities and this money can easily be used to finance other mega development projects and minimise foreign debt. “You must think Sri Lankan,” he emphasised.

It was the love for diving that made him decide to forego what would have been a successful medical profession. He took to diving soon after leaving St. Aloysius College Galle at the age of 19.


Pictures by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa

During the time he excelled in swimming and was the fastest long distance swimmer in Sri Lanka. “This later prompted me to join the Sri Lanka Ports Commission as a diver.”

His dedication and the speed to pick up technical aspects of the industry made him a much sought after person.

He was then called up to ‘do’ the Queen Elizabeth Quay, today known as the Jaya Container Terminal. (JCT)

He recalled that he was initially paid a daily wage of Rs. 9.60. “I had no complaints about this as a doctor was paid a monthly salary of Rs. 365,” he said.

The success of the building of the JCT was highlighted in the media during the time with several newspapers highlighting his contributions and a German tourist involved in ship building industry made contact with him.

“I met him at the Galle Face Hotel where he offered me to build the Dammam container terminal which was one of the largest in the world during the time. The contract was for two years and was very lucrative.

However being a public servant which was much respected during the time he was not keen to part with the Port ‘job’. However I made him an offer knowing that he would refuse.

“My offer was to pay me my monthly salary, until the age of retirement if I am to take his job. I calculated and gave him the figure and left.’

However to my surprise he agreed to my condition the following day and then we signed a contract. When we started building the Port, I managed to finish the job in just nine months which was 15 months before schedule.

Soon after this, he flew to Singapore to purchase diving equipment with the intention of starting a small ship repairing business. This was the beginning of the ‘Wicky’ saga and Master Divers was launched from his home, in Battaramulla on the day of his birthday, September 25.

Starting from basic ship repairing he focused to underwater repairs, purchased tug boats, salvage, barges, tankers and ships and used modern technology.

Soon after he set up his headquarters in Colombo 3 and by that time had created many firsts to the local shipping industry which included the purchase of a US ship repairing company and the largest general cargo vessel, and also feeding ships on mid sea.

Wicky was also the one time President of the National Aquatic Sports Union and had pioneered in introducing a swimming pool to the Ambalangoda area. He also sponsors Tennis events and the Mount Lavinia two mile sea swim and had been the Chairman in various Government bodies.

“However I never took a salary or used the company car and it was purely to offer my services to the country.”

A father of two boys Wicky likes to spend his pastime in Nuwara Eliya as he likes the climate and he also gets the opportunity to oversee his dairy which he wants to improve.

What made you propose the Hambantota Harbour project?

In the late 1990’s I saw that both the Colombo and Galle Ports would reach capacity and was looking out for a new venue to look for a harbour.

“This is how I discovered Hambantota and I brought experts from overseas at my own expense to perform soil test feasibility studies and prepare other project reports. I did all this because I love my country and want it to prosper,” he said.

“I presented this project report to successive Governments and I am happy to note that finally the right decision had been taken by the present President to go ahead with this project and contracts have also been signed. This is a dream of me for my country.”


Will India’s Sethusamudram project have a negative impact on Sri Lanka?

This project will never materialise. If this was feasible the British would have done it a century ago rather than sailing their ships around Sri Lanka.

What went wrong with your Mundo Gas project?

This was the time the multi-national has a monopoly for LPG and I decided to take up the challenge and introduce Mundo as the then Government too wanted me to get involved. When I introduced it, the multi national got so alarmed that they reduced the gas cylinder from Rs. 450 to Rs. 375 and the cylinder deposit from Rs. 3500 to 2500. This is the only time they ever did such a thing.

However with the change of Government I was surprised to note that I was not allowed to unload my cargo at the Galle Port and then I had no alternative but to close down my operations after three months of business. I will never touch the business again, as by doing these ‘risky’ businesses my company’s credibility is at stake.

What is the role the Chambers pay in Sri Lanka?

Well...... I do not like the Chambers since I have a very bad experience with them. When I was involved in the Mundo Gas controversy one Chamber had written to the President that my gas imports should stop. I even have a copy of this letter. Later I found out that the multi-national gas importer was one of this Chamber’s close associates and was sponsoring some of their events.

What made you diversify into the Sugar industry?

It was my love for the country drove me into this business. I saw the large amount of foreign exchange that was being drained to import sugar and the resources that were being made to ‘waste’ in Sri Lanka. “I invested over Rs. One billion to turn around the Pelawatte Sugar factory and today I am proud to say that I am supplying over 25 per cent of the local sugar requirements.”

How do you review the tax structure in Sri Lanka?

Terrible. You see multi-nationals import gas, flour and lubricants paying less tax and when I start the sugar factory and start producing spirits the Government charges more tax from me. Is this the way the Government encourages and looks after a local entrepreneur? This is not right as I pay more VAT than the multinationals.

What do you think of present politics?

Well I don’t follow them. I really think they should be debating about more serious issues to develop the country. However if some politician wants my advice I am there for it.

One thing that caught my eye was the humbleness in the man who owns several ships, a sugar factory which supplies 25 per cent of the local consumption, owns a dairy and maintains one of the worlds best ship repair companies in that he still uses the cheapest and one of the oldest mobile phone models. If I had asked him ‘why’ he would have replied that it serves the purpose.

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Old August 23rd, 2007, 01:43 PM   #15
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A master diver’s vision

Shipping magnate and owner of one of the best ship repairing companies in the world, Ariyaseela Wickramanayake talks to ‘Daily News Business’ at the Colombo Hilton.

The best solution to end the ethnic conflict is to keep the North and East population occupied and provide them a steady method of income, Shipping magnate Ariyaseela Wickramanayake said.

Sri Lanka imports potatoes, onions and dried fish of Rs. 30 billion and if action is taken to permanently stop these imports and purchase those from the North-East, the conflict would end.

“They are not fighting with a community but are fighting to find a better living,” he said. The population in these areas is very nominal and one can just imagine how prosperous they would be when they share an annual income of Rs. 30 billion.

“Then they will not have time to fight,” he said.

Known as ‘Wicky’ he said that the quality of the North and East vegetable and food are of high quality and the public would not be deprived in any way, by using them. “It’s still not too late to go ahead with this,” he said.

Wicky says that he is against foreign imported goods and so much so he never eats bread. “Bread is just carbohydrate and educated people know the consequences of using them,” he said.

The Government spends US $ 3.5 billion annually to import food commodities and this money can easily be used to finance other mega development projects and minimise foreign debt. “You must think Sri Lankan,” he emphasised.

It was the love for diving that made him decide to forego what would have been a successful medical profession. He took to diving soon after leaving St. Aloysius College Galle at the age of 19.


Pictures by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa

During the time he excelled in swimming and was the fastest long distance swimmer in Sri Lanka. “This later prompted me to join the Sri Lanka Ports Commission as a diver.”

His dedication and the speed to pick up technical aspects of the industry made him a much sought after person.

He was then called up to ‘do’ the Queen Elizabeth Quay, today known as the Jaya Container Terminal. (JCT)

He recalled that he was initially paid a daily wage of Rs. 9.60. “I had no complaints about this as a doctor was paid a monthly salary of Rs. 365,” he said.

The success of the building of the JCT was highlighted in the media during the time with several newspapers highlighting his contributions and a German tourist involved in ship building industry made contact with him.

“I met him at the Galle Face Hotel where he offered me to build the Dammam container terminal which was one of the largest in the world during the time. The contract was for two years and was very lucrative.

However being a public servant which was much respected during the time he was not keen to part with the Port ‘job’. However I made him an offer knowing that he would refuse.

“My offer was to pay me my monthly salary, until the age of retirement if I am to take his job. I calculated and gave him the figure and left.’

However to my surprise he agreed to my condition the following day and then we signed a contract. When we started building the Port, I managed to finish the job in just nine months which was 15 months before schedule.

Soon after this, he flew to Singapore to purchase diving equipment with the intention of starting a small ship repairing business. This was the beginning of the ‘Wicky’ saga and Master Divers was launched from his home, in Battaramulla on the day of his birthday, September 25.

Starting from basic ship repairing he focused to underwater repairs, purchased tug boats, salvage, barges, tankers and ships and used modern technology.

Soon after he set up his headquarters in Colombo 3 and by that time had created many firsts to the local shipping industry which included the purchase of a US ship repairing company and the largest general cargo vessel, and also feeding ships on mid sea.

Wicky was also the one time President of the National Aquatic Sports Union and had pioneered in introducing a swimming pool to the Ambalangoda area. He also sponsors Tennis events and the Mount Lavinia two mile sea swim and had been the Chairman in various Government bodies.

“However I never took a salary or used the company car and it was purely to offer my services to the country.”

A father of two boys Wicky likes to spend his pastime in Nuwara Eliya as he likes the climate and he also gets the opportunity to oversee his dairy which he wants to improve.

What made you propose the Hambantota Harbour project?

In the late 1990’s I saw that both the Colombo and Galle Ports would reach capacity and was looking out for a new venue to look for a harbour.

“This is how I discovered Hambantota and I brought experts from overseas at my own expense to perform soil test feasibility studies and prepare other project reports. I did all this because I love my country and want it to prosper,” he said.

“I presented this project report to successive Governments and I am happy to note that finally the right decision had been taken by the present President to go ahead with this project and contracts have also been signed. This is a dream of me for my country.”


Will India’s Sethusamudram project have a negative impact on Sri Lanka?

This project will never materialise. If this was feasible the British would have done it a century ago rather than sailing their ships around Sri Lanka.

What went wrong with your Mundo Gas project?

This was the time the multi-national has a monopoly for LPG and I decided to take up the challenge and introduce Mundo as the then Government too wanted me to get involved. When I introduced it, the multi national got so alarmed that they reduced the gas cylinder from Rs. 450 to Rs. 375 and the cylinder deposit from Rs. 3500 to 2500. This is the only time they ever did such a thing.

However with the change of Government I was surprised to note that I was not allowed to unload my cargo at the Galle Port and then I had no alternative but to close down my operations after three months of business. I will never touch the business again, as by doing these ‘risky’ businesses my company’s credibility is at stake.

What is the role the Chambers pay in Sri Lanka?

Well...... I do not like the Chambers since I have a very bad experience with them. When I was involved in the Mundo Gas controversy one Chamber had written to the President that my gas imports should stop. I even have a copy of this letter. Later I found out that the multi-national gas importer was one of this Chamber’s close associates and was sponsoring some of their events.

What made you diversify into the Sugar industry?

It was my love for the country drove me into this business. I saw the large amount of foreign exchange that was being drained to import sugar and the resources that were being made to ‘waste’ in Sri Lanka. “I invested over Rs. One billion to turn around the Pelawatte Sugar factory and today I am proud to say that I am supplying over 25 per cent of the local sugar requirements.”

How do you review the tax structure in Sri Lanka?

Terrible. You see multi-nationals import gas, flour and lubricants paying less tax and when I start the sugar factory and start producing spirits the Government charges more tax from me. Is this the way the Government encourages and looks after a local entrepreneur? This is not right as I pay more VAT than the multinationals.

What do you think of present politics?

Well I don’t follow them. I really think they should be debating about more serious issues to develop the country. However if some politician wants my advice I am there for it.

One thing that caught my eye was the humbleness in the man who owns several ships, a sugar factory which supplies 25 per cent of the local consumption, owns a dairy and maintains one of the worlds best ship repair companies in that he still uses the cheapest and one of the oldest mobile phone models. If I had asked him ‘why’ he would have replied that it serves the purpose.

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Old August 24th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #16
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Hehe, fascinating story...
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Old September 8th, 2007, 11:49 AM   #17
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BOI signs agreements for two new projects

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka signed agreements with Metropolitan Advanced Technologies (Private) Limited and Screenline Embellishers (Private) Limited for two new projects. Chairman/Director General Mr. Dhammika Perera signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI.

The Agreement with Metropolitan Advanced Technologies (Private) Limited is for a project to develop a smart card based driving license as an IT enabled activity on BOT basis in part of the Department of Motor Traffic at Werahera. Speaking on the duration of the project Mr. Ivor Maharoof (Director/CEO) said the project would be launched in February 2008 and is expected to be for duration of 7 years. Responding to a question about the interaction with the BOI Mr. Maharoof said the BOI has been very responsive and responsible. Mr. J.J. Ambani (Chairman) and Mr. Ivor Maharoof (Director/CEO) signed on behalf of the company for the project worth US $ 7.4 million. The project is expected to provide employment opportunities for 38 employees.

A Rs. 70 million project agreement was signed between the Screenline Embellishers (Private) Limited and the BOI. The project is to undertake Screen Printing and Transfers for indirect export. Mr. Carlo Thumbawila (Chairman) and Mr. Nishantha Kumara (Managing Director) signed the agreement on behalf of Screenline Embellishers (Private) Limited. The project will be located in Pannala Divisional Secretarial Division and Kurunegala District. Construction is due to start in October 2008 while it is scheduled to complete construction in December 2007. Mr. Thubawila said that the company is expected to commence services in January 2008. This venture will be providing job opportunities for 70 initially, and is expected to increase upto 250. Speaking about the interactions with BOI Mr. Thumbawila said he was very happy with the improved and prompt service of the BOI.

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Old September 9th, 2007, 07:47 AM   #18
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Good, good but would like to see some huge investments- foreign investments...
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Old September 16th, 2007, 01:10 AM   #19
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BOI Signs Agreements for 7 new Projects, aprx $30 million

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka signed agreements for seven new projects. Chairman/Director General Mr. Dhammika Perera signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI.

Pan Marine Logistics (Private) Limited

An agreement to construct and operate a warehouse was signed with Pan Marine Logistic (Private) Limited. The project worth US $ 1.3 million will be located at No. 97/1, Galudapita Road, Wattala and is expected to provide employment for 50. Construction of the warehouse is expected to begin shortly.

Sri Lanka Telecom Limited

Sri Lanka Telecom signed an agreement which would bring the operations of Sri Lanka Telecom under Section 17 of BOI Law. The project is estimated to worth US $ 22 million. The agreement signed with the BOI will allow Sri Lanka Telecom Duty Free concessions.

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) was the country’s first telecommunications company and is the successor to the former government owned Telecommunications Department. It leads the telecommunication industry with 87 per cent of the fixed line network.

SLT provides a range of services to domestic and corporate subscribers including domestic and international voice, internet services, data services, domestic and international leased circuits, frame relay services, ISDN, ADSL, satellite up-link service and maritime transmission. With its acquisition of Mobitel, the third largest mobile operator, SLT becomes the only integrated operator in this country to offer fixed line, data and mobile services.

Mr. Ashoka Weerasinghe de Silva (Chairman), and Mr. Shoji Takahashi (CEO) signed the agreement of behalf of the Sri Lanka Telecom.

Marangoni Industrial Tyres Lanka (Private) Limited

Marangoni Industrial Tyres Lanka (Private) Limited signed an agreement for a project to manufacture solid tyres and rubber compound for the export market. The project worth US $ 6.5 million will be sponsored by the Wheelworks (Private) Limited and Marangoni Pneumatic SPA (Italy). The project is expected to take over an existing factory and commence production by January 2008.

Mr. Sarath Gamage signed the agreement of behalf of the Marangoni Industrial Tyres Lanka (Private) Limited. The project located at Phase II, Export Processing Zone, Biyagama is expected to create about 130 new employment opportunities.

Industrial Clothings Export Trading House (Private) Limited

An agreement to set up an Export Trading House was signed with Industrial Clothings Export Trading House (Private) Limited. The venture is expected to be of value addition to gloves imported from China and other countries. The project will do value addition services, such as printing and packing. The finished products will then be exported to USA and Europe. The project is in the process of laying the infrastructural requirements and is expected to commence business in 2 - 3 months.

The US $ 227,000 project located at Phase 1, Katunayake Export Processing Zone is expected to provide employment opportunities for 64.

Mr. Sohail Ebrahim (Deputy General Manager – Finance & Accounts) and Mr. K.N.E.S Fernando signed the agreement of behalf of Industrial Clothings Export Trading House (Private Limited)

Three more agreements for the Hotel and Health Care Industry were signed with Airport Garden Leisure (Private) Limited, Alhambra Hotels Limited and Hemas Southern Hospitals (Private) Limited in addition to the above agreements.

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Old September 16th, 2007, 02:22 PM   #20
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Good, but except for the SLT project all of these are minor investments, I would like to see more large scale FDI projects...
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