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“I never really saw myself as a beauty queen and I still don’t”, Christina Peiris

Posted on 11 December 2017 by admin

 

Her biggest supporters: Celebrating with her family and friends

Christina Peiris was all smiles as she gracefully glided down the stage to join the top 16 semifinalists at the 66th Miss Universe pageant held in Las Vegas (USA) on November 26. Crowned Miss Universe Sri Lanka earlier in October, Christina spoke to  the Sunday Times on her way back from Las Vegas, elated by her success – one of the few Sri Lankan contestants to make it this far on the Miss Universe stage since Maureen Hingert was adjudged runner-up in 1955.

When pageant host Steve Harvey announced Sri Lanka as one of the top 16, Christina recalls her initial shock at hearing her name.

2017 was her first attempt at entering a beauty pageant! “I purely wanted to gain a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity and experience,” she says.

“I believe that the most important thing about representing my country was to be the best advocate and role model to the youth who were looking up to me,” she says. “I wanted to inspire and uplift women and everyone around the world. It’s important to want the best not only for yourself but everyone around you.”

The Miss Universe tagline “confidently beautiful” resonates deeply with Christina. “Being confident in your own skin, colour, race and shape is what exerts beauty. To be content with the person you’ve become and who you strive to be – that’s what confidently beautiful means to me,” she says.

Determined not to lose herself in the glitz and glam of pageantry Christina states, “I didn’t take on the pressure of being the perfect candidate – I simply wanted to be myself throughout the competition and I think that’s what made the experience a whole lot easier.” Even in her introductions, the announcers never failed to mention Christina as an animal lover and cat collector – with a growing family of eight cats to date.

Among the top 16 on the big stage: Christina at the pageant seen with the winner Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel- Peters. Pic courtesy AFP

Christina who is grateful for the support received from her family, social media followers and the Sri Lankan public stands firm in her belief in the importance of getting Sri Lankans more involved in the voting system for events of this nature. “I missed a spot in the top 10 by over 50 votes which is converted to points later,” she says. “It’s important to support your country and I’m forever thankful to everyone who did.”

It’s been an amazing journey for the girl who always dreamed big – even at the tender age of seven she had hopes of getting into the field of fashion designing. Fast forward to 16 years later and this 23-year-old philanthropist is now a fashion designer and travel blogger of Loveplate.blog – where she promotes tourism in Sri Lanka through reviews of hotels, restaurant/cafes and products.

A former student at the Academy of Design (AOD) Christina has her humanitarian clothing brand “X.TINA”, where a percentage of the profits earned is donated to cancer care services at the National Cancer Hospital in Maharagama.

Adding another notch onto her belt of achievement as Miss Universe Sri Lanka, Christina says candidly- “I never really saw myself as a beauty queen and I still don’t.”

With only a month prior to her crowning and three weeks after to prepare for the pageant Christina had to be ready to represent Sri Lanka as Miss Universe – not an easy feat.

She received much assistance from “Stretch n Tone’s” Krishani George who helped her get into shape for the international pageant and Lou Ching Wong, who successfully made this “flat shoe” enthusiast more confident “walking in high heels”.

Although the Kamil Group sponsored her dazzling evening gown, which she wore in the final pageant, Christina designed her own cocktail dresses and the red sleeveless number she wore for the preliminary competition. “I think one thing that kept me motivated was how much effort my family and I had put in to preparing for the pageant,” she states – her family, her biggest supporters were her pillars of strength throughout.

Post Miss Universe Christina will be taking time to focus on her “main goal”growing X.TINA. She also hopes to work and speak about the lack of support given to the disabled in the country in the near future.

By: Tharini Pilapitiya – The Sunday Times.

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Changing of the guard at John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH)

Posted on 09 December 2017 by admin

Changing of the guard at John Keells!

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera – Courtesy: The Sunday Times.

John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate, will see some significant changes at the top in the next 12 months including the expected ascension of Krishan Balendra as the new group chairman.

Krishan Balendra

Company sources said that while Mr. Balendra as chairman-designate has been announced internally, it was unclear whether he would take over the position of Deputy Chairman with the retirement of Ajit Gunewardene, current Deputy Chairman in end 2017.

The sources said that an announcement on the deputy chairman’s position on whether it would be continued or not is widely expected in coming weeks.

It would be a historic occasion where a father and son has and would (soon) assume this top position. Ken Balendra was the first Sri Lankan and iconic chairman of JKH for 10 years, recently releasing a book on his corporate life.

While Mr. Gunewardene steps down this month, JKH chairman Susantha Ratnayake, appointed in January 2006 and taking over from Vivendra Linthotawala, steps down in December 2018. The impending retirements of Mr. Ratnayake and Mr. Gunewardene were announced in November 2016 with the company also detailing its succession plan through the entry of Krishan Balendra and Gihan Cooray as executive directors in the same month.

The current board comprises Susantha Ratnayake (Chairman/CEO), Ajit Gunewardene (Deputy Chairman), Ronnie Peiris (Group Finance Director), Krishan Balendra and Gihan Cooray (both Executive Directors) and Messrs. Nihal Fonseka, Premila Perera, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Ashroff Omar and Amal Cabraal (all Non-Executive Directors).

The changes also see Ronnie Peiris, who launched his book “Tough journey; Great destination” at the Cinnamon Grand on Thursday before a high-profile audience including JKH directors, retiring from the company and his position being filled by Mr. Cooray.

With the retirement of two directors as at December 2017, these board positions are expected to be filled by two senior management staff.

A top official told the Business Times that the group has, over the years, developed a large pool of young, talented individuals and that the depth of leadership augurs well for the group’s future.

At present Mr. Balendra is the President of the Leisure Industry Group at the company and is also the Chairman of Nations Trust Bank PLC.

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Tourism Fest To Dazzle Sri Lankan Capital During Christmas Holidays

Posted on 09 December 2017 by admin

With the festive season just around the corner elaborate plans are being made to transform the city of Colombo in to a Tourism Wonderland from the 20th to the 22nd of December this year.

Sri Lanka Tourism under the guidance of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs is planning the third edition of Christmas Fest which took the city by storm last December.

The idea behind this unique event is to portray Sri Lankan food, culture, gems, handicrafts, tea, shopping and entertainment at one venue during the height of the tourist season. According to sources at Sri Lanka Tourism, this year's Fest will be a bigger and better version of last year.

Christmas Fest is a concept of Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga who having realized the absence of any organized tourism related event during the festive season when city hotels are filled with foreign tourists, decided to organize a multi-day event bringing together all tourism stake holders.

The event is complemented with nonstop entertainment by leading pop groups and artistes, tri-forces bands, choral groups and cultural shows providing both local and foreign tourists a memorable experience.

To add spice to the proceedings, Christmas Fest will feature food and beverage stalls by leading hotels and restaurants in Colombo with live demonstrations of different cuisines, giving visitors an opportunity to learn and experience the culinary aspects of Sri Lanka. The international cuisine on offer will include Mongolian, Arabic, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Indonesian and specialty desserts at a nominal rate. In addition, the Sri Lanka Tea Board will feature a tea tasting center with a display of the many varieties of tea available in the island.

A new addition this year is a special Christmas Zone in the environs of the Independence Arcade which will be organized by the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. The zone will feature several novel attractions that have not been offered in Sri Lanka before.

A special double decker shuttle bus service organized by 'Colombo City Tour' will be available from selected Colombo hotels daily to and from the venue with live carols onboard.

Christmas Fest 2017 will create a Sri Lankan sense of celebration and spread the spirit of the season among locals, tourists, the diplomatic and expat communities while providing a unique platform for event based tourism promotion.

 

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Celebrating 20 Years Of The Business Today TOP Corporate Ranking – BT Options

Posted on 09 December 2017 by admin

 

 

Courtesy: Business Today.

Garuthara Sangarathnayen Awasarai, Venerable Theros, Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe, Ministers, Members of Parliament and distinguished ladies and gentlemen we warmly welcome you to the Business Today TOP 30 2016-2017 and Business Today Passionate.

Venerable Galboda Gnanissara, Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple, we are blessed by your presence here today.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Business Today top corporate ranking in the country, and also signifies the introduction of the new segment, Business Today Passionate that recognises individuals who are pioneers and trailblazers. They have transformed their respective industries and have taken the risk to venture out to the international market, bringing great pride to the motherland.

We are honoured to have Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, as our Chief Guest today and Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe for her valued presence. We appreciate that Hon Prime Minister and Professor Wickramasinghe are here with us today amidst a busy and pressing schedule. Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe have been our honoured guests since 2011 and it is with great interest that the audience awaits the Prime Minister's speech.

Throughout The 30 Years Explore Sri Lanka Has With Great Determination And Passion Promoted The Country To The World.

At a time when Sri Lanka is in a period of economic, political and social transformation, it is paramount that the country is led by a leader with the intellect, experience and dynamism as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It is with pride that we welcome you here today.

We take pleasure in informing you that the event ceremony is being shown live on PEO TV, channel 20 and PEO TV Facebook. You can also watch on TSTV and Rewind TV during the next two days.

Our pioneering magazine Explore Sri Lanka completed 30 years. Having started in 1987, it is the only complimentary monthly magazine in the world to survive this long.

Mathi K Parthipan started as a Sales Officer of the publication. And, after the closure of the casinos, Explore Sri Lanka was taken over by Mathi K Parthipan and the staff in 1991, thus the magazine became completely self-funded and independent without any outside investment, due to our hardwork and passion. BT Options is owned and shares are held by BT Options staff.

Many clients who have been with since our inception, and who are in the audience today, will remember the manner in which we worked, and formed and maintained our relationships.

Throughout the 30 years Explore Sri Lanka has with great determination and passion promoted the country to the world. It is upon the success of our pioneering magazine that we were able to introduce new publications and also venture into other businesses. We always work with everyone. If you look at this event too, we invite everyone regardless of their position, in politics, the public sector or private sector. Whether they have been in high and influential positions, and no longer are or vice versa, does not matter to us. We will continue to show the same respect.

Business Today was the first magazine in the world to introduce syndication with Harvard Business Review. We also have exclusive syndication with Financial Times. Due to our longstanding and transparent relationship, HBR and FT have given us the free-hand and there are no restrictions.

In 2001, Business Today was listed in the book "Competitive Intelligence" as a source of competitive intelligence information in the global environment, along with the CIA, FBI, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal as well as the European Business Review to name but a few. We are honoured to have been mentioned in this book and be accepted among the global leaders in this sphere.

After a brief meeting with Lord Haseltine in Dubai, he flew his team to Sri Lanka in 2008 to visit BT Options and they were interested in entering a joint venture with BT Options. However, due to the global economic downturn it did not materialise, but such international recognition for the magazine has driven us forward to achieve more. 

Business Today top corporate ranking was started 20 years ago and was conceptualized by Dinesh Weerakkody. It is the first recognition of its kind for public listed companies in Sri Lanka. At first we took this as a fun exercise without realising its significance and importance. Later, Keith Bernard and Shiron Gooneratne also became part of the process. We continued every year amidst negative vibes that came our way.

Although they are no longer a part of the process due to their commitments in public listed companies, we acknowledge their contribution from the inception of the awards. And, we continue to seek their advice and assistance.

We must also thank Suren Rajakarier of KPMG Sri Lanka, for his continuous participation in the process.

At the time that we held our first Business Today award ceremony we could not afford to have a backdrop or even offer a glass of water to our guests. But we did not accept any sponsorships. Year on year we held the awards and the Business Today top corporate selection and the ceremony grew. In 1997, it was the Business Today TOP 10, today we have grown to select the TOP 30 corporates.

Many Companies That Are In The Business Today TOP 30 Are Not Advertisers. Companies Cannot Apply Or Pay To Be Selected…While Our Financial Commitment To The Award Ceremony Is Very High We Have Never Taken Sponsorships In Any Form. All Payments Are Made By Us.

The Chief Guest of the Business Today Awards has been the head of state or government.

Many companies that are in the Business Today TOP 30 are not advertisers. Companies cannot apply or pay to be selected. The ranking is purely based on their published financial information. Having said that, we welcome all to advertise with us, because we operate on advertising revenue only and it would serve well during trying situations.

While our financial commitment to the award ceremony is very high we have never taken sponsorships in any form. All payments are made by us.

Style, (Lowa Venas Kala Haki Kanthawa Obai) the revolutionary Sinhala magazine for women, which was started in the 1990s was way ahead of its time, Ms Otara Gunewardene and Ms Neelamani Jayawardana who are recognised in the Business Today Passionate will remember how we did our interviews and stories. Ms Otara Guawardene and Ms Neelamani Jayawardana were featured on the cover as well. Ms Otara Gunawardene had her own fashion page and though some advised her against being featured in a Sinhala magazine but she was bold enough to go forward. Style magazine had to be stopped due to poor advertising response. Yet, if we are to start the magazine again it would be high risk to have the same thought provoking editorial content.

We have been publishing Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines since March 2010 as a monthly publication. This was a result of our struggle to bring the production and printing to Sri Lanka since the 1980s. We have been making a monthly payment to the Airline since we started the production and printing of the magazine, we do not receive any payment or airline tickets from SriLankan.

We wish to thank Mr Ajith Dias, Chairman and Mr Suren Ratwatte, CEO for their continuous support and ensuring the success of the magazine. Response for Serendib can be seen globally as well as within Sri Lanka.

Our two renowned international titles are Domus Sri Lanka and Time Out Sri Lanka.

We have been using Apple since 1988, started reselling in the 1990s and opened BT Store in the early 2000s. Being in the Apple business is not a prestige for us as our publications are our main segment, as evident from our event today as well.

We are happy that many others have entered the Apple business in Sri Lanka. In the future we might be forced to become unauthorized Apple Resellers. But we will be able to provide stronger and better support and services together with better pricing.

At BT Store we recently introduced audio books of international best-sellers. There is much to learn from global figures, and their stories are inspiring. ‘Finding my Virginity', the new autobiography by Sir Richard Branson also speaks about Virgin Money and is a must-listen for all Sri Lankan bankers. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook is inspirational and is another audiobook that should be listened to.

In 2004, the late Sir Arthur C Clarke was awarded the Robert A Heinlein Award for outstanding published work in science fact or fiction inspiring the human exploration of space. However, since he was unable to attend, the Heinlein Society contacted Apple USA to find a reliable company in Sri Lanka to set up a direct conference link. BT Options was the only company able to establish the link using Apple technology and the 90 minute live presentation was a great success. Appreciating our efforts, the President and the Chairman of the Heinlein Society, David Silver wrote a letter of commendation to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the Board of Directors, which said, "Our particular compliments and commendations to one and only, very excellent and resourceful partner in Sri Lanka – BT Options." 

We Have Diversified Into Leisure And Have Ventured Into An Area That Many Have Never Visited Before. Arugambay In The East Coast Is One Of The Most Beautiful Places In The Country, And Is A Tourist Hub Unknown To Many.

BT Active is our fully-equipped private gym that is for the staff. However, many have come especially to the gym seeking membership and thus we have given access to members. We are looking at expanding but we only invest in the correct location with the correct pricing.

We have diversified into leisure and have ventured into an area that many have never visited before. Arugambay in the East Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and is a tourist hub unknown to many. We have been visiting Arugambay since the early 1990s. The people are multicultural and able to speak Sinhala and Tamil, with many being conversant in English as well. They are genuine and welcoming. Pottuvil is the last junction in Sri Lanka that branches off to Arugambay, Panama and Whisky Point. We simply love this area.

While we attempted to start a project many times before, our dream came true on May 24, 2015 with the opening of Paper Moon Kudils in Whisky Point, in partnership with P Partheepan. The hotel was completed in 93 days, hats off to the people and construction workers from the area that ensured that the property was completed on time. The project was completed without any contractors.

Arugambay Roccos was opened on May 18, 2017 in partnership with A M Naleem. We thank Minister Sagala Ratnayaka and our other guests for being present on that special occasion.

A M Naleem has been in the tourism industry in Arugambay for more than three decades. The buildings that were on the property were completely demolished and Arugambay Roccos was built according to a cube inspired design to provide a unique experience to guests.

The first location that we stayed in the 1990s is Tsunami, a name that was given to a property even before the term Tsunami was even known in the country. A M Naleem is the owner and we will be working with him on this property as well for the next season.

We Would Now Like To Thank Those Who Have Supported Us Since 1987. Our Appreciation To All Our Clients Who Have Advertised In Our Publications And Continue To Have Confidence In Us. Our Revenue Is Only Through Advertising Sales In Our Publications.

Both, at Paper Moon Kudils and Arugambay Roccos, the staff who are from the area have worked tirelessly ensuring that guests are given unforgettable experiences.

Arugambay is a unique location in the south-east of Sri Lanka. It is a place that provides wonderful experiences to guests because today's traveller is looking for that. Arugambay is not seasonal, because there is so much to see and do.

Our partners, A M Naleem at Arugambay Roccos and P Partheepan at Paper Moon Kudils are based there. Together with the staff who are all from the area, they ensure the smooth operation of the properties.

Paper Moon Kudils in Whisky Point is in Urani, which is a Tamil area, Arugambay Roccos in Ulla is a Muslim area and Peanut Farm in Panama, which is also known as the Anthima Gama, is a Sinhala area.

Gune has been operating Peanut Farm since the 1970s as a tourist property. His son Wijeweera together with his brothers Samaraweera and Jayaweera are currently operating there. It was our plan to start a convertainer luxury property including a swimming pool, solar power, eco-friendly environment and provide a livelihood for the people in the area. The aim was to open in June this year. However, progress was hampered, and we hope to open the property next season.

The natural sand dunes of Panama, are ideal for sand safari similar to that in the Middle East. What is also unique about this location is that you can see the ocean together with the endless sandy terrain.

We wish to thank Hon Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister John Amaratunga, Minister, Sagala Ratnayaka and Minister Vajira Abeywardena, Mr Paddy Vithana and Mr Kavan Ratnayaka for their support to start the project in Peanut Farm.

We are looking forward to opening the property at Peanut Farm next season, as long as there is no disturbance from an unseen hand.

P Partheepan, A M Naleem and the teams from Arugambay Roccos and Paper Moon Kudils together with Gune and his sons are here in the audience today. Corporates and investors should look at venturing into this area. There are many state and private owned land to start projects. Large groups have started to open hotels in the area, and we request others to visit Arugambay, because everyone will benefit with increased business and opportunities.

Visitors generally travel from one surfing point to the next by tuk tuks and since elephants freely roam in the area they charge an elephant tax from the guests, for the added risk they take. The names of the surfing points generally indicate the character of the area, thus Elephant Rock and Crocodile Point reflect that these animals are frequent near those points, furthermore Whisky Point is derived from the Tamil word for the swirl of the waves and wind.

We have been able to gradually change the mindset that Arugambay is seasonal. By offering promotional rates we see guests arriving even during months that have traditionally been considered as off season. There is great potential in this area.

With the Government providing its support and encouragement to SMEs since the 2016 Budget, we are hoping that a development bank will be presented in Sri Lanka, so that companies such as ours can benefit.

If everything goes as planned we will be adding 60 more rooms for the next season.

We would now like to thank those who have supported us since 1987. Our appreciation to all our clients who have advertised in our publications and continue to have confidence in us. Our revenue is only through advertising sales in our publications and we do not offer contra agreements to any client. Those who advertise with us know that we always ensure a good response and value for money.

Ven Galboda Gnanissara Thero, Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya Temple, we thank you for your unwavering support and guidance throughout the years. Thank you for your presence here with us today.

Ven Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, we appreciate your presence and support to us over the years.

Ven Diyapattugama Revatha Thero we appreciate your continuous support, which has been one of the reasons of the success of the company.

Ven Kirinde Assaji Thero, we thank you for your encouragement and long standing support to us.

We also thank Honourable Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well as Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe for being our Chief Guest as well as our honoured guests since 2011.

Minister John Amaratunga, we thank you for your continuous support and for always coming to our event.

Minister Sagala Ratnayaka we thank you for being with us since the early 2000s. We appreciate your confidence and support given to us.

We thank Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister Vajira Abeywardena and Minister Harin Fernando for their support.

Mr Ravi Karunanayake, Member of Parliament, we thank you for your concern and continuous support.

Ms Sandra Perera, private secretary to the Prime Minister, we wish to thank you for all your support and kindness.

Thusitha Halloluwa and Ruwan Ferdinandez for being with us and, we have known them for more than 20 years.

We thank Mr Harry Jayawardena for his continuous support and confidence in us even before we started Business Today. He has come for the event every year and has always shown his concern for us.

Mr Manilal Fernando, thank you for being with us over the years especially during the difficult times in the 1990s.

We thank Mr Ajantha Seneviratne, CEO of PEO TV and Group CMO of Sri Lanka Telecom for insisting and persuading us to telecast the event live on PEO TV.

We thank Mr Nithi Murugesu for his guidance and advice.

Mr Charles De Silva and Mr A S Kaleel, for giving their properties to us and for their continuous support.

The concept, design and song selection for the event today, was by Glenda Parthipan with the support of BT Options team.

We congratulate the Business Today TOP 30 2016-2017 for their excellent performance and we hope that they continue to drive the economy with greater dynamism. We congratulate the Business Today Passionate for their great achievements and for instilling a sense of pride in all Sri Lankans. We thank everyone for being present here today and making this event a success.

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Something more than a miracle: Wattala Parish Priest

Posted on 09 December 2017 by admin

 

2017-12-09 – Courtesy: Daily Mirror.

The picture of Jesus Christ where droplets of sweat were seen emerging from the forehead at St. Anne’s Church in Wattala depitcs something more than a miracle, St. Anne’s Church Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Sanjeev Mendis told Daily Mirror yesterday.

He said the miraculous incident enhanced the faith of the people in Jesus Christ more and motivated them to believe the presence of the Lord, the Savior.

“More people are flocking together and praying the Lord. People seem more repentant for the sins they have committed against the Lord. That’s really a deed of God,” Fr. Mendis said.

When speaking with the lay people who gather around the miraculous image of Jesus, Ushantha Rajapasa claimed it were actual tears of Jesus who was crucified and resurrected. “I presume this will be a significant message from the Lord to renew the life of the people,” he said.

Ms. Shromi Nirmal said it was a visible symbol to signify that Jesus Christ is dwelling among us.

Mohan Kumarapperuma said a miracle has happened in his life after witnessing this miracle.

“It is something I have been looking for but nothing happened. Once I was praying before the image, I was informed that what we as a family were hoping for has become a reality. Praise the Lord,” he said. (Sheain Fernandopulle)

Pix by: Waruna Wanniarachchi

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IMF approves US $251.4 to Sri Lanka

Posted on 08 December 2017 by admin

Daily Mirror reports the IMF Executive Board completed the third review of Sri Lanka’s Extended Fund Facility arrangement on Wednesday (6), enabling the disbursement of US$ 251.4 million to the country.

In a statement yesterday, the IMF said the Executive Board completed the third review of Sri Lanka’s economic performance under the programme supported by a three-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. “Completion of the review enables the disbursement of the equivalent of approximately US$ 251.4 million, bringing the total disbursements under the arrangement to the equivalent of approx. US$ 759.9 million,” it said.

Sri Lanka’s three-year extended arrangement was approved on June 3, 2016, in the amount of about US$1.45 billion or 185 per cent of quota in the IMF at the time of approval of the arrangement.

The statement said Sri Lanka government’s reform programme, supported by the IMF, aims to reduce the fiscal deficit, rebuild foreign exchange reserves and introduce a simpler, more equitable tax system to restore macroeconomic stability and promote inclusive growth.

Following the IMF Executive Board’s discussion of the review, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director said Sri Lanka’s performance under the Fund-supported programme has remained broadly on track since the second review.

“Macroeconomic and financial conditions have been stable, despite a series of weather-related supply shocks. The authorities remain committed to the economic reforms under the programme and have undertaken measures to improve government revenue and accumulate international reserves. Going forward, it is important to build on the progress made and accelerate reforms to further reduce fiscal and external vulnerabilities,” he said.

“Fiscal performance has been satisfactory and all targets until September were met. The new Inland Revenue (IR) Act will make the tax system more efficient and equitable, and generate resources for social and development programs. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka’s high debt burden, large gross financing needs, and weak financial performance of state-owned enterprises increases the importance of further fiscal consolidation. Timely progress in structural reforms, including tax administration and energy pricing, will support fiscal consolidation,” he said.

He also said the inflation and credit growth remain on the high side and maintaining a tightening bias for monetary policy is recommended until clear signs emerge that inflation pressures and credit expansion have subsided.

“Macroprudential tools should also be used to help rein in credit growth and head off systemic risks. While financial soundness indicators remain stable, financial sector supervision and the AML/CFT regime should be further strengthened,” he said.

Mr. Furusawa said along with efforts to deepen the foreign exchange market, it is important to further accumulate reserves and enhance exchange rate flexibility to reduce Sri Lanka’s external vulnerability. “Structural reforms are also needed to enhance competitiveness and promote inclusive growth, including measures to improve trade and investment regimes,” he said.

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Crowds flock to Wattala Church to witness ‘miraculous’ sight

Posted on 08 December 2017 by admin

 

This is a Daily Mirror News Item.

Excited Catholics and many others were seen rushing into St. Anne’s Church in Wattala to get a glimpse of a picture of Jesus Christ, where droplets of sweat were seen emerging from the forehead of the image of the blessed Saviour in what seemed to be a modern day miracle.

Parish Priest of St. Anne’s Church, Wattala, Rev. Fr. Sanjeev Mendis, said the watery droplets similar to that of sweat had been flowing from the picture since October this year. “The picture was brought to Sri Lanka by a group of priests who came here 12 years ago from Chalakkudi in India. The priests had distributed several pictures to the Catholics of the area who had attended the prayer sessions. However the

tear-like droplets had been flowing from one picture which was kept in the house of a woman named Niromi Amarasinghe,” Fr. Mendis said. He said the picture was brought to the church after the supernatural occurrence continued.

Niromi said she had witnessed the droplets coming from the forehead of the picture of Christ from time to time. “I noticed the changes and showed it to my mother as well and then we decided to inform the parish priest about it. We were advised to bring the picture to the church for it to be examined,” she said.

“We had family problems for some time and these subsided since the miracle began. I have experienced some strange feelings which are hard to explain ever since this miracle began. I feel that Christ is alive,” she added.

However, Fr. Mendis said it is difficult to make any conclusion at the movement. “There may be a scientific explanation for it but I don’t know how anyone could prove it,” Fr. Mendis said. (Yohan Perera)

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Daily FT reports a strong uptick in exports, FDI

Posted on 08 December 2017 by admin

 


  • Jan-Oct merchandise exports up 10.3% 
  • Monthly exports top $ 1 b 3 times this year
  • FDI grows to $ 800 m in first nine months, exceeds 2016 total

 

As Sri Lanka’s pro-growth reforms gather pace, amidst an improving external economic environment, exports and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) have shown substantial increases this year compared to last year.

According to the latest data released by the Export Development Board, merchandise exports have grown by 10.3% during January to October 2017, compared to the same period last year. 

Merchandise export earnings recorded $ 9.5 billion for the eight months to October this year, compared to $ 8.6 billion last year. Estimates in the services exports sector suggest an overall growth of 5.9% during the first eight months of the year, bringing total exports to $ 12.5 billion. 

Most notably, monthly export revenues breached $ 1 billion on three occasions this year, a trend not seen in recent years. The EDB expects export earnings for the full year (Jan-Dec) to total $ 15 billion. 

Within merchandise exports, fisheries exports have grown by a substantial 42%, agricultural exports by 18.5%, and industrial exports by 5.9%. Strong performance is seen in several of the ‘priority sectors’ identified under the new National Export Strategy; notably, electronics and electrical exports growing by 17.8%, spices growing by 34%, and boat building growing by over 370%.

 Meanwhile, food and beverages exports have dipped by 13.3%. By export destination, earnings from exports to the European Union have increased by 4.1%, and exports to USA have increased by 1.5% during January to October this year, compared to the same period last year. Exports to the ASEAN region have grown substantially, by 45%, to $ 400 million (compared to $ 276 million last year). 

Exports to India have performed strongly, growing at 24%, from $ 456 million to $ 566 million during the period in review. Meanwhile, exports to the UK have declined by 1.8%, largely on account of the depreciation of the GBP and the consumer market uncertainty due to Brexit. 

Foreign Direct Investment, too, has picked up pace. Data from the Board of Investment indicates a substantial uptick in FDI inflows to the country of $ 795.5 million during January to September this year; 80% higher than the same period last year and already exceeding the full year 2016. 

The BOI expects FDI for the full year 2017 to total $ 1.36 billion. The manufacturing and services sectors have seen the larger share of FDI inflows – of $ 397 m, while the infrastructure and utilities sectors received $ 352.5 m. 

FDI from China (including Hong Kong) is around 35% of FDI to date, while India is 16.4%, and Singapore is 9.3%. Others in the top 10 countries for FDI into Sri Lanka are Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia, Sweden, and Australia. 

Several steps have been taken to streamline and strengthen the investment approvals and facilitation process over the past few months, and these measures have begun showing results.

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Sri Lanka once again named Asia’s most sought after travel destination

Posted on 29 November 2017 by admin

Sri Lanka has continued to receive a number of achievements for its recognition as a compact travel destination across the globe, and received another endorsement recently becoming one of the emerging destinations and one of the most popular global destinations from the key findings of the 2018 Virtuoso Luxe- Australian edition report.

In parallel to this achievement, Sri Lanka Tourism completed a successful series of road shows and a consumer fair in the major citiesof Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Sri Lanka has bagged several awards as an upcoming destination this year, as Asia’s leading adventure tourism destination, Asia’s leading destination at the World Travel Awards, becoming the best long – haul destination at the family traveler awards held in UK, and also was voted as finalist for culture and holiday destination category at the travel bulletin star awards which was held recently in London.

According to Virtuoso’s Asia Pacific Managing Director, Michael Londregan, “Australians always have a robust bucket list and start each year ready to explore the world. This year it seems that many are drilling down the list beyond the perennial favorites’ to exotic cultures and natural wonders’’.

“It’s clear that 2018 will be a year of exploration and immersion. Perhaps it’s the geopolitical climate, but there is no doubting the trend for destinations that were once warm, are now hot’’.

Sri Lanka was named in the Virtuoso’s bucket list of emerging destinations among Japan, Iceland, Portugal and Norway, while the other categories included most popular global destinations, most popular global destinations, Most popular US destinationsand Most popular family destinations. The Virtuoso Company also has its own magazines and also expands its services to cruises, hotels and tours.

These were a few of the endorsements that Sri Lanka won for its uniqueness and holiday friendly atmosphere in par with the ongoing peace process in the country, which has been declared as a safe country to travel.Sri Lanka also has been featured on the National Geographic channel, Lonely Planet and many other international channels and also on social media platforms.

Virtuoso is the World’s leading network of luxury travel experts, revealing the top trends, destinations and motivations for upscale Australian travelers as they head towards the new year, with ‘’ticking items off the bucket list’’ the No. 01 motivation for people travelling in 2018. 

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Sri Lankans allowed to invest US$200,000 outside country – Economy Next

Posted on 29 November 2017 by admin

 

Nov 29, 2017.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka's new forex law has allowed an individual to invest 200,000 dollars outside the country, in their lifetime, a partnership 300,000 dollars, but an unlisted company could invest 500,000 US dollars a year. Sri Lanka ended draconian laws against individual investments abroad, under then Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal, who relaxed many controls, which are continued under a new simplified exchange control low.

A listed company in the Colombo Stock Exchange could invest up to 2.0 million dollars a year.
The outward investors could buy shares, units, debt securities, and sovereign bonds.
A partnership or company setting up an office overseas could also take out 300,000 US dollars a year.

The funds have to be remitted from an outward investment account. The limits could be exceeded by the use of capital gains.

Sri Lankan firms could in general invest any amount to set up offices or subsidiary with specific central bank approval.

Sri Lanka has exchange controls because a currency board was replaced in 1951 with a soft-pegged central bank which printed money and generated foreign exchange shortages, high inflation and currency collapses. (Colombo/Nov28/2017)
 

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