Nepali exhibitors impressed by SAARC Fair

By Jagath Savanadasa, President Sri Lanka – Nepal Business Council
“We were very impressed by the range of products that the SAARC Fair exhibited. The number of exhibitor stands especially from the biggest of the SAARC members, India and Pakistan too was equally impressive. More than any other factor the Fair enabled my own products to be exposed on a wide scale. The interest they evoked too was pleasantly surprising”.

This was the observation made by a young entrepreneur from Nepal, Munindra Sakya, commenting on the Trade Fair.
Evidently Sakya had brisk sales of his exquisitely carved products of a wide range. Similar views were expressed by some other exhibitors from Nepal especially those who displayed shoes and other leather products. Nepal had ten stalls at the Fair. Hopefully it is an indication of return to normalcy in that country.

A meeting convened by the Ambassador for Nepal in Sri Lanka Durga Prasad Bhattarai at the Embassy in Kynsey Road on September 1, enabled all those present to share the views expressed by several members of the business community from Nepal, who had participated in the SAARC Fair which was held at the BMICH from August 28 to 31.
The government officials present at the meeting included Dinesh L Gupta, Acting Executive Director of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies of the Government of Nepal.

There were two main objectives in holding this meeting. One was to have a feed back on what the Nepal business sector representatives felt about the Sri Lankan market, and examine prospects for conducting trade with the country. The other was to have a face to face meeting between the exhibitors and members of the Sri Lanka Nepal Business Council.

There has been a much felt need for improving and expanding trade and investment between Nepal and Sri Lanka, as interaction between two in this respect had for long being virtually dormant. This was to an extent due to civil unrest and violence in Nepal – the haunting bugbear of economic activity. Though Sri Lanka too had a similar experience, her economic activity had largely been unaffected as reflected in the surge of growth seen in recent years.

Among those who were present from the Sri Lankan side were: Hony Secretary, Sri Lanka- Nepal Business Council and Finance Director of the “ Island” Newspapers Ltd, Lakshman Perera, Director of Malibans, Bertie Wickramapala, Carlo Ponnampalam, Chandra Ediriweera of Ceylon Tours Ltd, Nimal Piyasena of Y.R. Piyasena & Co. and Hector Abeysirigunawardena.
Also present on invitation was Palitha Wijewardena whose expression of interest in investing in a Hydro Power Project in Nepal was timely and promising.

The company Wijewardena represented Lanka Transformers Ltd, was into power generation locally. It was also keen to venture into Nepal since Nepal had considerable water resources.
The meeting identified the following potential areas for mutual ventures and issues that needed to be sorted out to achieve progress:

  • Tourism: To set about the task of establishing joint ventures and collaborations. In this regard resumption of direct flights between Katmandu and Colombo was a prime prerequisite.
  • The establishment of sales outlets by Nepalese manufacturers in collaboration with local counterparts. Among the product sectors of promise Nepal, Buddhist – oriented handicrafts and leather products like shoes.
  • The establishment of a “Nepal House” in Colombo which will inter alia be a marketing and Sales Centre for Nepal in Sri Lanka besides showcasing such products on an ongoing basis.
  • The exploitation of trade potential following likely new developments covering the SAARC Corridor and Highway interlinking all SAARC nations.
  • As a measure of cementing further ties, it was decided to mount a Trade Mission to Nepal and, vice versa promote a mission from Nepal to visit Sri Lanka.
  • A further important aspect was the holding of a single Country exhibition of Nepali products in Colombo and also a single country exhibition of Sri Lankan products in Katmandu.
  • Some of the Nepali exhibitors were of the view that sufficient information especially relating to taxes that are payable when products exhibited are sold, should be available in advance to such exhibitors in the future.

Quite apart from the above the visitors seemed fascinated by the splendid natural as well as man made beauty of Colombo and the suburbs, which also dispelled their illusions about Sri Lanka being a country torn by violence. Despite the heavy downpours during the last few days, they also said that it had made Colombo greener, cleaner and cooler.


SCB sets up Glaucoma Unit at Panadura Sight Hospital

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) has addressed the increasing risk of glaucoma related blindness in the country, by setting up an exclusive Glaucoma Unit at the Lions Gift of Sight Hospital, Panadura. Equipment valued at Rs 3.25 million was handed over to the hospital by CEO, Clive Haswell, as part of the Bank’s long term commitment to eradicate curable blindness in Sri Lanka.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). People over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted are most at risk. Glaucoma is detected through the use of specialised equipment and, if left unchecked, will lead to progressive loss of sight. Glaucoma is a condition that is irreversible and as such, the burden on early detection is greater.

The Visual Field Recording Analyser helps identify the gradual reduction in the angle of vision caused by Glaucoma and can be treated and controlled in accordance thereafter. The Visual Field Recording donated by SCB is only the third of its kind in Colombo.

“We hope this equipment can provide early detection of Glaucoma to those who would not otherwise be able to detect and minimise the impact of this disease. We see it as part of the next phase of our commitment to increase the support that we have been providing the Lions Hospital and also in line with the next phase of the Bank’s Seeing is Believing programme,” said CEO, SCB, Clive Haswell.

SCB has been working closely with the Lions Gift of Sight Hospital, Panadura, over the years, providing over 20 cataract operations a month, free of charge to patients who could not otherwise afford the operations and aftercare. Also providing equipment for Eye surgery to regional hospitals, SCB has funded training of ophthalmologists in Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SISC) as well as providing them the micro instruments they require, training ophthalmic theatre nurses and providing Eye-care training for over 175 Healthcare workers. At a grass roots level, volunteers organised free Eye testing for the public through mobile Eye Testing Units, regular refurbishment of the Ratmalana Blind School, as well as reading and recording books for the visually impaired.

SCB’s work with the Lion’s Gift of Sight Hospital is part of its Seeing is Believing (SiB) programme. SiB both helps to build healthy communities and supports economic growth by helping visually impaired people and also their dependants, families and communities. SiB has progressively evolved from curing Blindness, to Prevention, to building sustainable Eye-care services and capacity.

As part of the Bank’s commitment to the WHO’s Vision 2020 programme, it has set a target to raise US$ 20 million in funds for Eye-care projects across the world. The recipients will be 20 cities targeted in key locations within the Bank’s footprint and will benefit 20 million people. Projects will target less advantaged populations, providing Healthcare services. The projects will provide sustainable solutions for all Eye-care needs from outreach and awareness to spectacles and surgery.

“SCB is making a great contribution towards Eye-care in Sri Lanka. Their commitment has been recognised globally and here, in Sri Lanka too, we are indebted to them for the commitment and assistance they have provided in expanding these services to the truly underprivileged, through the Lions Gift of Sight Hospital, “said Immediate Past President- Lions International & Chairman LCIF, Mahendra Amarasooriya.

Initiated in 2003 and driven by the Bank’s employees, ‘Seeing is Believing’ is helping tackle avoidable blindness, 90% of which is found in the developing world, where the Bank’s business is rooted. Globally SCB is now recognised as the single biggest Corporate sponsor of avoidable blindness projects around the world. SCB Sri Lanka is also the single largest Corporate donor to Vision Care.

The urban focus of the programme reflects the increasing incidence of avoidable blindness in cities, especially, as urbanisation swells the numbers of people living in less advantaged urban areas, where access to eye care is poor and awareness around eye health is low.

The services will be comprehensive, delivering community eye health education and awareness raising, together with a range of interventions, from spectacle provision, to surgery according to need. The services will also be sustainable, designed to support marginalised and excluded populations both now and in the future.

In the design and implementation of the programme, the Bank is working with the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness, the WHO and leading eye care NGOs.


FedEx Express launches “Express Your Vote”

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and the world’s largest express transportation company, today announced its support of “Express Your Vote”, an initiative of the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF), a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to ensuring an estimated six million overseas Americans have the ability to effectively participate in the federal electoral process. With FedEx supporting this initiative, Americans abroad in 89 countries will be able to access express delivery of their absentee ballots between September 15 “ October 29 of the 2008 election year. The innovative Express Your Vote programme will provide American voters abroad the convenience of online shipping, track and trace capabilities, and proactive proof of delivery through the Overseas Vote Foundation Web site, which has been developed with the latest advanced automation solutions from FedEx.

Statistics from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2006 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act Report” indicated that the third most common reason for ballots being rejected and not counted was because the ballots were returned to local election offices after the deadline.

“FedEx is committed to delivering innovative solutions to customers all over the world,” said Rajesh Subramaniam, senior vice president, International Marketing, FedEx Services. “Teaming up with the Overseas Vote Foundation to offer the Express Your Vote initiative is a natural extension of our ongoing commitment to making strategic use of our physical and digital networks to meet the needs of people worldwide.”

“Overseas Vote Foundation is delighted to work with FedEx Express to bring Express Your Vote to U.S. overseas and military absentee voters in 89 countries,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO of Overseas Vote Foundation. “This initiative will bring tremendous value to overseas and military voters who need access to the unrivaled network and services of FedEx Express.”


The Spirit of the 8th ICAAP carries on

Many of you remember the sensational 8th International Congress on Aids in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) at the BMICH last year. The seeds of knowledge and awareness which were sown were not limited to the Congress last year. The force of trained volunteers gathered again on August 23rd, at the BMICH in the spirit of communalism and purpose with the aim of serving their country further. The Movement proposes to be a path breaking venture, which many of us will look forward to in the coming months. The National Volunteer Movement is being aided by the 8th ICAAP Trust and facilitated by the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka.


Nawaloka Hospitals, NSB, unite to promote better health

In order to maintain a high level of productivity, attendance and punctuality within an organisation, it is essential to ensure the good health of its staff. It is with this end in view that two of the country’s leading Corporate entities entered into a partnership recently.
Nawaloka Hospitals, the pioneer and leading private sector health care provider, together with the National Savings Bank, the leader in domestic and corporate banking in Sri Lanka, established a new partnership whereby Nawaloka Hospitals opened a Medical Centre at NSB headquarters for their management and staff .

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director/ General Manager Nawaloka Hospitals, Professor Lal Chandrasena said that they were looking forward to introducing innovative health care facilities at the Centre and providing specialised customer services in areas such as channel appointments, an in house pharmacy, as well as consultations with well qualified doctors and skilled nursing staff.

General Manager NSB, S.H. Piyasiri said that the initiative to provide health care facilities at the Bank’s premises would help them to achieve positive feedback from both management and staff, while this new initiative of providing medical facilities on site would not merely serve as an added convenience, but improve productivity and enhance cooperation and loyalty amongst employees.

The management of NSB together with Nawaloka Hospitals is currently in the process of introducing such Medical Centres at their main branches, thus spreading the message of good health and Corporate Social Responsibility.


A.S.P Group inaugurates special housing project at Kandana

A.S.P Group of Companies, pioneers in land sale recently inaugurated its special housing project, “New Royal Gardens” in Kandana, 100 metres away from Colombo- Katunayake highway.
It was declared opened by Auxiliary bishop of Colombo, Rev. Dr. Marius Pieris and a special blessing ceremony was conducted on the land.

“New Royal Gardens” has 43 plots of land out of which 25 had been sold. The Company offers 24 hours electricity and water supply with a 20-30 feet stretched roads.

“New Royal Gardens” also features a play area for children and a swimming pool enabling the residents to spend their leisure time in a peaceful environment. The company also provides 24 hour security and a special security wall is in force to protect residents from burglars.

According to A.S.P Group of Companies, Chairman, A S P Liyanage, the location of the land is very convenient for future residents as it is located closer to Colombo- Negombo road and a 24 hour bus service is available.

“The land is situated closer to Morawaththa junction next to Kings Apparel Garment. It is the only land which had been developed in the area with full facilities,” he said. “New Royal Gardens” offer its future residents a peaceful environment away from the hectic life of a metropolitan area. A perch is valued at Rs.5 lakhs and upwards while a 15 year instalment payments are available for buyers and the monthly instalment amounts to about Rs. 35 000.

This project has six to ten perches per plot and many of the buyers hailed from different professions, “Many of the buyers are professionals and the rest were bought by non residents of Sri Lanka living in Italy,” Liyanage said.

He emphasised that “New Royal Gardens” is the ultimate place for a family to live in a peaceful environment with 24 hour security. A.S.P Group of Companies also offers a special deal for prospective buyers, if any one wishes to trade their plot of land to own a land at New Royal Gardens.


Amazing offer to farmers from Browns

Brown & Company PLC recently initiated an island wide promotion offering a free double door refrigerator with every 45DI TAFE tractor purchased. Starting from September 1, 2008, the promotion will go on till October 31, 2008. This promotion is specially targeted at farmers who will be cultivating this Maha season.

Speaking on this offer General Manager Agriculture, Battery & New Business, Panduka Weerasingha said, “This is probably the first time that such a valuable gift has been offered for four wheel tractors. We believe that this promotion is an ideal way of rewarding our loyal customers.”

Originated in India, TAFE, one of the four wheel tractor imported by Browns which is well known for its fuel efficiency, has a number of special features such as Live Hydraulics, Duel Clutch, 47hp Simpson S 325 Direct Injection Diesel Engine, Swing-up Bonnet and a modern design to achieve excellent performance by being operator friendly.

Added to this, TAFE tractors have the advantage of being compatible to high capacity equipment such as combined threshers, disc ploughs, tine tillers, disc harrows etc. This tractor’s versatility is seen through its use in both high land & low land cultivation.

Browns agriculture organised training and demonstration programmes using TAFE tractors to uplift the lives of the farmer community by training them on operating, servicing and maintenance of tractors and their implements. These training programmes were carried out in areas such as Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Kanthale. Currently Free Service Campaigns on tractor maintenance, upgrading, repairing and special technical advice are being carried out island wide.

An exhibition named Browns Krushi Udanaya, focusing more on Agriculture started off recently in Kurunegala which on going in Anuradhapura & will be stretched to areas such as Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Matara and Galle. This exhibition displays all kinds of agricultural machinery & supporting implements.

Brown & Company PLC maintains a strong brand presence amongst the agricultural community in Sri Lanka, having pioneered agricultural mechanization since 1950’s. The division currently dominates the market with its world renowned two & four wheel tractor brands.