Super marketers to work in harmony

Forms a committee with CCA and others to continue dialogue
By Quintus Perera
The key supermarket players in the country, - Keells Super, Arpico, Laughfs, King’s and Cargills Food City; sections of their suppliers, consumer society representatives and the officials of the Consumer Affairs authority (CAA) along with its Chairman, Sarath Wijesinghe met at Galle Face Hotel last week to strategize to work together in harmony.
W K H Wegapitiya, Chairman, LAUGFS Holdings Ltd representing the Laughfs super markets said that it was very strange that the Ministry of Trade has chosen only five items - mosquito coils, match boxes, gas and milk food as essential while leaving out a host of other essential items for the day to day life of the people and said that the CAA has been established with different intentions to replace the earlier Fair Trading Commission.
He said it has been very unfair that whenever the CEYPETCO decides to reduce the prices of fuel the other distributors are forced to reduce prices immediately despite those distributors stock large quantities of fuel purchased at higher prices earlier. He said the CAA is not affording a fair deal.
Not catering to the rich
There were accusations levelled at supermarkets that they cater to the high income segments while some participants pointed out that in some items the expiry dates appear to be altered by pasting a sticker and what sort of action would be taken if anybody is selling out dated products. An officer of the CAA said the manufacturer is mandated to print the expiry date, date of manufacture and the maximum price and if anybody has changed the original date of expiry indicated by the manufacturer, it should be brought to their notice to take appropriate action.
It was also brought to the notice of the forum that when these supermarkets in their organized systematic manner could be able to sell at low prices, the wayside ordinary corner shop keeper would go out of business which has become a part of the culture of the rural society coming down from generations.
V Rajnit Page, Managing Director, Cargills Ceylon Ltd representing the Cargills Food City Chain said that they are catering to the high society, top-end elite is a myth as they have been striving throughout to sell and lowest possible prices, 70 percent of the items sold are that produced locally and purchased directly from the rural farmers and their margin has been a mere one percent.
He said it was equally a myth to suggest that they make enormous profits and setting up of supermarkets would be very easy. They are continuing their trade under tremendous pressure as it is not like selling items in a way side shop, but all items such as vegetable, fish, meat and fruits are stacked under refrigeration, lot of electricity is consumed, their staff has been trained and all the regulations are adhered to, while the huge outlets are air-conditioned. He said all these supermarkets have penetrated to 11 to 12 percent of the retail market. He said there are many other things that are vital and important for the growth of this industry.
Quality at low price
He said the system they are adopting to serve customer with quality items at lowest possible price is itself is unique as such a system is not available in the neighbouring countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal.
They were able to make an impact in the market to make the prices stable and low, a tremendous achievement.
He said that all the supermarket players thought of coming together to serve the customer better and to create a healthy competitive atmosphere. He brushed off the thinking of some that the supermarket owners make big money.
Page said that once a supermarket is launched with a huge investment, that have to wait around 3 to 3 ½ years to get the results.
But as some people think that supermarkets could make easy quick money by now the industry would have grown to more than 1000 supermarkets.
He said the Taxmen find it easy as all their bills are complete with printed prices and there is nothing hidden. He urged everyone to help them to make the industry grow as they are consumer friendly.
No price controls in future
Sarath Wijesinghe, Chairman, CAA said that the country is fast moving towards free trade and in that system there are no price controls, but the prices are stabilized through healthy competition. He said that matters could be settled amicably rather than confrontations. He said that this dialogue will create a new business culture.
He said there should be mutual understanding between the society and the businessman as they have to co-exist depending on each other.
He was little unhappy of the huge fines imposed on small items sold above the price etc and said he would give careful though and find a way out to remedy the imbalance.
At the end of the meeting a committee was formulated among the participants in a bid to continue this dialogue.
Along with Ranjit Page and W K H Wegapitiya, Jit Gunerate of Keells was also present.


Business Events

RCU organizes EDEX exhibition and launches website for jobs
The biggest challenge for the parents and children today is the severe competition in education from nursery to the university education in Sri Lanka and to then to find suitable opportunities in the job market where various organizations need the appointments made within 24 hours.
These ideas were expressed by Upali Gunasekera, Principal, Royal College, Colombo briefing the media at the launch of the Web based job seekers data base – WWW.EDEX.LK , held at College Skills Centre Auditorium last week.
The briefing also gave details of the EDEX 2007 – the national higher education and career exhibition which is scheduled to be held from January 19-21, 2007 at the BMICH was also revealed.
He said that the Website therefore would be very useful for the job seekers as well as the job providers. Gunasekera lauded the Royal College Union (RCU) for launching of the Website and the EDEX 2007 as a commendable social responsibility activity.
Giving an overview of the EDEX 2007, Kamal Abeysinghe, Project Chairman, RCU, said the Exhibition will also be held at Kandy Queens Hotel from January 23-24, 2007 and their strategic partner is the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Jobsnet ably supports the total exercise.
EDEX first launched in 2004 with only 65 exhibitors and attended by 15,000 visitors have grown to 200 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors last year and the focus is on education as well as employment.
He said EDEX promises an effective and far reaching marketing and communication plan, designed to improve the target market.
The exhibitor profile would include: local participants, foreign participants, foreign missions, financial institutions, NGOs, professional educational institutions, government institutions, educational training/trainers institutions, local and private university affiliates, education product and tool promoters, service providers, offshore recruitment companies, direct universities, university promoters and corporate establishments.
School leavers, high school students, those looking at studying abroad, university applicants, graduates/undergraduates, academic staff, state authorities, job seekers, corporate decision makers and general public are all expected to visit the exhibition and make use of it optimally. - (QP)


Launch of the ILO Technical Assistance Project

The ILO Office in Sri Lanka with Financial Support from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions launched its Technical Assistance Project for Trade Unions last week at Hotel Renuka, Colombo 3 at 6.30 p.m. Mr. Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will be in attendance for the occasion as a special invitee.
On this day the ILO will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Association for Trade Unions Research and Education (NATURE) to initiate the implementation of the two year project in Ampara District, supporting 10 trade unions. The participating trade unions include – Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS), Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS), Ceylon Federation of Trade Unions (CFTU), Free Trade Zone and General Services Unions (FTZ & GSU), United Federation of Labour (UFL), Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Confederation of Public Service Independent Trade Unions (COPSITU), Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CCTU), Health Worker’s Alliance (HWA), Lanka Jathika Estate Worker’s Union (LJEWU) and the National Worker’s Congress (NWC).
Trade unions have a very important role to play to ensure that issues related to the world of work take into account the needs of the workers concerned, specifically in the tsunami affected areas of the country.
The support to mobilize the tsunami-affected workers is essential in protecting their rights enshrined in the ILO conventions and domestic labour laws.


South Asian Capital Markets Conference

The South Asian Federation of Exchanges, popularly known as “SAFE”, a regional federation of stock exchanges of South Asia is arranging to hold their first South Asian Capital Markets Conference on November 16 and 17 2006, at Taj Samudra in Colombo.
Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) as a member of the SAFE is organizing and coordinating this event the CSE announced. SAFE consists of eleven leading stock exchanges from eight regional countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The objective of the conference is to promote interaction among regional capital markets and to explore cross border business opportunities and work towards closer regional integration.The Conference will be attended by wide range of professionals from the South Asian capital markets, including banks, stock exchanges, securities and banking regulators, depositories, clearing companies, corporates and other financial institutions, the CSR said in its new release.
The Conference would have speakers and panel discussion sessions on various topics including the Capital market cooperation in South Asia, Role of mutual funds and role of Foreign institutional investors in promoting regional investments, Emerging trends and opportunities for brokerage industry in South Asia, Growth of derivates markets in South Asia, Corporate governance norms in South Asia and Emerging trends in securities transactions technology.


Ceylon chamber to hold post budget seminar

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual post-Budget seminar “Budget 2007” on November 20, 2006.
It will be held from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at the Ground Floor Auditorium of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, No. 50, Navam Mawatha, Colombo 02.
The intention of this seminar is to educate and alert the private sector and interested individuals about the implications and consequences of the National Budget 2007 on business and the macro economy.
Highlighting the Economic Implications of the Budget will be Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Deputy Vice Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. H. B. A. Seneviratne, Commissioner ?
Tax Policy and Rulings at the Department of Inland Revenue will draw attention to the Tax Proposals of the Budget.
The agenda also includes a Panel Discussion by Ms. Premila Perera, Patner ?
This seminar will prove to be an ideal opportunity for the private sector to interact with well-informed policy makers, economists and tax experts on matters pertaining to the National Budget. Registration will be on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For registration or further clarifications, please contact the Economic Intelligence Unit, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on 2380152 / 2452184.


 “Ceylinco FastCash” – An international money transfer system

With deep penetration into the financial services sector, Ceylinco has been focusing the development of products to expatriate markets. Ceylinco Insurance has already developed insurance products that are being distributed in the Middle East through strategic partnerships with Dubai National Insurance & Reinsurance Company in Dubai, Dhofar Insurance Company in Oman, Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Company in Qatar & Al Ahlia Insurance Company in Bahrain. In the Money transfer business, Seylan Bank has strategic partnerships with Asia Express Exchange in Oman & Hadi Express Exchange in Dubai.
After a careful study of the money transfer business, the Chairman led a think tank to develop an international money transfer product that will facilitate speedy & reliable money transfer mainly for the expatriate workers with a host of value added services attached to the product.
In the true spirit of innovation, Ceylinco is now ready to unveil a revolutionary international money transfer product – “Ceylinco FastCash” to the global market.
Ceylinco FastCash is a fast and reliable money transfer system that would be launched in the Middle East from Ceylinco Express Remittance (Pte) Ltd, a company incorporated in Singapore within Ceylinco.
The remittance system has been developed by one of the largest IT companies in Singapore with whom Ceylinco has a strategic business alliance. NCS Pte. Ltd is a subsidiary of SingTel Ltd (Singapore Telecom) & is majority owned by the Singapore Government investment arm, Temasek Holdings Ltd. The system was developed & tested by a dedicated team from NCS with domain knowledge provided by Ceylinco with its vast experience in the money transfer services.
The remittance system is a web enabled, thin-client system using standard office pc’s. NCS has used state of the art technology to develop this system. The network connectivity is provided via the internet. The infrastructure is hosted in Singapore with adequate protection for downtime & redundancy to provide 99.99% reliability. The system is built on a secure platform with 128-Bit SSL protocol and the data is transmitted in an encrypted format.
The system has also built in manual controls for greater security & monitoring of transactions. A dual user login control has been implemented for supervisory & teller level login to prevent unauthorised remote login via internet. The system has also built in features to monitor transactions for anti money laundering (AML) purposes.
The system will be activated through a network of authorised agents who are licensed by the respective monetary authorities to send & receive funds. Seylan Bank will function as the settlement/custodian bank for the system. All the agents & the customers will be provided with technical training & back office support services from Singapore & the regional office in Dubai.
Ceylinco FastCash is not a mere money transfer system. It has been developed with a host of value added services. The key feature is the loyalty card given to all the customers. The loyalty card known as the “WishCard” will have a unique number that will be the customer identification number in the system. Once a customer is registered, the data base will carry the senders’ information.
The remitting agent will be able to turnaround customers much faster with this system due to the minimum information that needs to be keyed in.
A unique feature of the product is the instant advice of the transfer to the beneficiary via SMS. The message will indicate the advice of remittance & the transaction number known as “CeyPin”.
The facility also provides for the sender to be informed once the beneficiary receives the funds and where the system will generate a SMS once the disbursement is effected.
The product will be initially targeting Sri Lankan expatriate workers. These customers will be provided with value added services such as insurance cover, special housing loan schemes, cash delivery to home of the beneficiary, quarterly prize draws and a Helpline in Colombo in case of any emergency. Ceylinco propose to offer similar services with strategic partners to other market segments once the distribution network is in place in those countries.
Ceylinco Express Remittance (Pte) Ltd. has already made plans to launch Ceylinco FastCash in other international markets in the future.


“Jayoda” Lottery relaunched

The Development Lotteries Board (DBL) relaunched last week Jayoda Lottery in response to popular public demand.
“The Jayoda jackpot will be drawn from six lucky numbers using six different cages containing numbers that range from 0-9 with an additional super number ranging from 1-26 and it will be drawn from a separate machine to determine the winner of the snowballing super jackpot that starts with an initial amount of Rs 10 million,” a DBL release states.
It further states that , in addition to cash prizes on offer , every non-winner will be included in a special draw to be held soon after the main draw.
This draw will have prizes that make up of Motorcycles worth over Rs 65,000 and with the winners being drawn from eight different districts, through the barcode of the non-winning tickets.
“DBL has always been in the forefront of innovation in Sri Lanka’s Lottery Industry as it was the first to introduce instant winnings with the scratch and win feature and with Saturday Fortune tickets being one of the highest contributors towards the President’s Fund,” a DBL official says. DBL was established in 1983 and over the years has assisted in the economic development of the country by contributing all of its profits to the President’s Fund and of which 50 per cent is directed to the Mahapola Scholarship Fund. With the relaunch of the Jayoda DBL aims to surpass Rs 1 billion from all its lottery brands and further contribute to the President’s Fund which supports numerous projects to enhance the living conditions of the rural communities .


CINEC – Best Corporate Citizen 2006

At a recently concluded ceremony at the Cinnamon Grand, the Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC) received the prestigious ‘Best Corporate Citizen Award - 2006’ in the SME sector. This prestigious award was presented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for the third consecutive year.
The main objectives of the awards were to raise awareness on the importance of CSR to the business community and to promote and encourage CSR practices amongst the corporate sector. The awards are a measure of the rankings of the services a corporate entity provides to its stakeholders, customers, shareholders, employees, environment and community.
Each contender had to submit detailed information to satisfy the Committee of Assessors in all five stakeholder groups/criteria covering environment, community relations, employee relations and terms and conditions, customer and supplier relations and economic performance CINEC is a Maritime Education & Training Institution complying with standards specified by IMO (International Maritime Organization) of the United Nations.
It is ISO 9001:2000 certified for Quality Management Standards, ISO 14001:2004 for Environmental Management Standards, OHSAS 18001:1999 for Occupational Health and Safety Management standards and Det Norske Veritas Maritime Academy Standards.
It has also received the prestigious National Quality Award twice: first in 1999 for the Best Service Organization and again in 2004 for the Best Educational Organization for service excellence.