to attract regional investment
By Azhar Razak
Business for Peace Alliance (BPA), Sri Lanka’s network of
regional business chambers plans to host a regional investment
conference, ‘BizPact’ in Colombo at the BMICH from June 25-29.
The event will be the first major post war initiative to try and
attract both national and international investments to the
peripheral regions of Sri Lanka, says BPA officials.
‘The event will highlight regional investment opportunities
in Sri Lanka focusing on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s).
We have already picked twenty such potential projects around the
island, to showcase to the investors,’ Mrs Manique Mendis, BPA
Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer told reporters
Mendis said that the event would be timely with the end of the
war and Sri Lanka being on the verge of prospering into a new
‘We expect Colombo based businesses, the Sri Lankan diaspora,
the international community to get together to join hands and
work with a common objective to rebuild Sri Lanka,’ she said.
She added that when BPA initially planned to feature the event,
the war was still on and the confidence levels were not as high
as they felt now.
‘Fortunately, the war has ended and now we are in a different
climate geared up to rebuild Sri Lanka,’ she said.
Supported by government agencies and big business chambers, the
BizPact investor programme will be launched in Colombo and
supplemented with visits to the ‘investment friendly’ regions.
Among the projects that would be on display to the investors are
business opportunities in the fields of tourism, ceramics,
furniture, apparel, recycling, foodstuffs and leisure in
locations around the island.
‘These are not huge BOI projects but small projects to build
capacity, to empower people for a better Sri Lanka,’ Mendis
Besides matching investors and deserving entrepreneurs from the
regions, the conference will provide prospective investors an
opportunity for dialogue on policy issues relating to
investments with high level government officials and offer first
hand insights into the regions revealing the ground realities of
the Sri Lankan situation, organisers said.
The Chairman of BPA, Suresh De Mel speaking at the occasion
said that he was confident of attracting a good number of
investors to the island with the symposium also turning into a
‘The Sri Lankan diaspora irrespective of where they are resident
always have a soft corner for Sri Lanka’s development.
Therefore, we are pretty sure they will respond to this call,’
BizPact conference will be organised by BPA in collaboration
with the Government of Sri Lanka along with the Ceylon Chamber
of Commerce, Board of Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Sri Lanka Tourism Authority, and Secretariat for Coordinating
the Peace Process and the National Chamber of Exporters.
The symposium content will include presentations scheduled to
be held on June 25 on SME investment opportunities in Sri Lanka,
BizPact projects, call from the regions of Sri Lanka (discussion
on conflict sensitive post war investment), understanding
conflict sensitive investment climates (highlighting the
importance of context) and networking.
‘The inaugural conference will be followed by travel to the
regions/project sites on June 26 and a wrap up conference in
Colombo also scheduled to be held on June 29,’ M I M Pathaulla,
BPA Vice Chairman said.
A network set up in 2002 by the regional Chambers of Commerce
throughout Sri Lanka, the BPA, is a “not-for-profit” company
engaged in conflict transformation and empowerment of rural
communities. As a “bottom-up” and inclusive initiative that
works with partners to deliver regional capacity programs, the
BPA advocates for “social cohesion through commerce” to bring
about prosperous, peaceful and sustainable communities.
of war in Sri Lanka revs up hopes of Indian auto makers
By Anupama Chandrasekaran
The recent escalation in conflict between the Sri Lankan army
and the LTTE hurt exports of auto makers such as Ashok Leyland
and Mahindra and Mahindra
Indian vehicle makers facing sluggish domestic and overseas
demand, are peering at a conflict-free Sri Lanka for a sales
The recent escalation in conflict between the Sri Lankan army
and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hurt
exports of auto makers such as Ashok Leyland Ltd and Mahindra
and Mahindra Ltd (M&M).
On May 18, the Sri Lankan authorities declared victory
against LTTE in a war that spanned over a quarter of a century.
Big fall: Workers assemble engines on an Ashok Leyland Ltd
production line in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. The firm saw Sri Lanka’s
contribution to its exports fall to 15% in 2008-09 from 50% in
past years. Rogan Macdonald / Bloomberg
“I do expect the overall investment scenario for Sri Lanka to
improve,” said Nisha Taneja, professor at Indian Council for
Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier), an
autonomous think tank on economic policy.
“From an India perspective, I foresee further expansion of
connectivity to the northern region. This will open up a
completely new route, which will reduce transaction costs and
provide a corridor for easy linkage.”
The auto industry has been riled globally by the economic
slowdown. In India, sales of passenger and commercial vehicles
slipped for the first time in seven years to 1.9 million in
2008-09, from two million the previous year, according to data
from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
The country’s exports of such vehicles, though, climbed to
378,412 in fiscal 2009 from 277,395 earlier. Companies Mint
spoke with, however, said exports to Sri Lanka fell in 2008-09.
The strife-ridden nation has been a key export destination for
Indian firms. India’s auto exports to Sri Lanka in 2007-08,
before the tensions mounted, had risen to $249.19 million, at
least five times the $45.27 million figure in 2001-02, according
to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
M&M is already in talks with prospective dealers about
starting a franchise in former LTTE strongholds.
“There had been some impact due to the conflict growing in
recent months since we were not able to carry out our field
activities aggressively, and also the impact was further
aggravated due to the financial turmoil (global credit crisis),”
said Pravin Shah, executive vice-president of international
operations for M&M’s automotive business, via email.
M&M’s Sri Lanka sales volumes fell 23% to 850 vehicles in
2008-09. It expects demand to grow by 20-25% in the coming
months in the nation for its utility vehicles and pick-up
“It will be ideally suited for these regions where the road
infrastructure is not yet developed,” Shah wrote. “We are
actually focusing more on making the after sales service and
spare parts availability rather than just having showrooms… We
are sure of covering the region in next 6-8 months time.”
One of the worst-hit Indian vehicle makers in Sri Lanka has been
Ashok Leyland. The Chennai-based firm saw Sri Lanka’s
contribution to its exports crash to 15% in 2008-09 from 50% in
past years, Ashok Leyland’s chief financial officer K. Sridharan
told Mint over phone, blaming the conflict.
The firm’s average annual sales of about 3,000 vehicles in
Sri Lanka halved to fewer than 1,500 last fiscal, Sridharan
said. The company claims it has traditionally been one of the
biggest auto players in Sri Lanka with a 65% share.
Icrier’s Taneja finds it hard to believe that companies whose
businesses are focused largely around Colombo, have been hit by
the recent complications. “I don’t think the escalation of the
ethnic conflict affected trade between India and Sri Lanka,” he
One example is Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. India’s largest car
maker claims to be unaffected by the heightened tensions between
the Lankan government and Tamil rebels the past few months,
though its exports to the country slipped.
The car maker said it lost its 2006 market-leader status as
demand for bigger cars jumped following a concessional duty
scheme for Sri Lankan government employees. It expects demand in
the nation of 20 million people to grow as construction of new
roads, bridges and buildings takes off.
Indian vehicle makers stand to gain as more trucks are
employed to haul cement and machinery to aid infrastructure
building, while better roads and better standard of living post
war are expected to spur demand for passenger cars.
Still, some observers see such outcomes to be hyped.
“I think rebuilding will be limited to certain pockets and there
probably won’t be large-scale rebuilding as was the case after
the tsunami-hit Sri Lankan coasts a couple of years ago,” said
Mahantesh Sabarad, a senior auto analyst at Centrum Broking.
( Courtesy Livemint.com)
Challenge is to revive the
economy – Dr. Kohona
By Ishara Jayawardane
“Those who are in the forefront of the business community can
learn a lesson from the government when it comes to overcoming
adversities and that one can triumph over obstacles if one has
the will”, was the message of the Secretary to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona at the 9th annual conference
of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Speaking on the theme “Unconventional Marketing Strategies to
Survive Turbulent Times” Dr. Kohona said; “Sri Lanka is one of
those rare cases where terrorism has been comprehensively
defeated. We did it despite the fact that the world told us that
we could not do it”
Dr. Kohona elaborated that this feat was achieved by our own
efforts [the government] and that we did it our way and on our
own. The business community must take that lesson to heart.
Whatever the adversities that confront you [the business
community] in the world, you can overcome it.
In his speech, Dr. Kohona challenged the business community
that since the LTTE have been shattered the war on terrorism has
been won and now the next frontier is to bring peace. “Your
challenge is to revive the economy now that the war is over.”
At the conference, on the subject of marketing itself,
distinguished Emeritus Professor Michael J Baker speculated “As
in many other areas of management I think we can learn a lot by
Analogy/similarity if we look at other subjects and other
disciplines and we see what insights and ideas they have to
offer us. We can use them as an analogy for the problems we face
in the context in which we work”.
“Adaptation is critical for survival” said the Professor of
Marketing, Michael J Baker going on a Darwinian line of
thinking. “On the notion of struggle for existence. There is
only a finite availability of resources and therefore there is
competition between organisms, species, for access to those
resources. And in that struggle only the fittest will survive.
The fittest tend to be those organisations, individuals and
species which are best able to cope with environmental change
and adapt to it” declared the Professor.
IMSL raises awareness on Global Citizenship
By Abeeth Sarathchandra
The Institute of Management of Sri Lanka (IMSL), in
collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Management and the
Management Club, held The 12th National Management Conference (NMC)
at the Galle Face Hotel on the May 19. The main concept behind
NMC 2009 was ‘Global Citizenship and Management: Capacity
Development in Challenging Times’.
“A global citizen should have a sense of identity that is
inclusive of the diversity that represents their society. He
should be able to relate positively and work with diverse people
in any location; have means of accessing information and
knowledge, and be in touch with new ideas and thoughts in their
respective fields of work,” said NMC Chairperson, Dr Wijaya
Jayatilake for 2009, when The Nation Economist contacted him.
“They should also be able to adhere to, and respect universal
human values such as justice and equality, and also be aware of
and adhere to the global standards of performance and
professionalism,” he added.
Wijaya also commented on the key areas that the students of IMSL
needed to improve on, “They should have a global and regional
sense of commitment, be willing to learn and strive for
professional excellence, master effective communication skills
in all relevant languages and also be able to take up risks and
challenges,” he said.
The NMC this year had two main segments, with the first
session being the opening and setting the tone and the second,
discourse. The opening session set the tone by highlighting the
challenges that the private sector faces in playing its vital
role as a leader in the development of the country
Some well renowned names in the field such as Dr. Wijaya
Jayatilake, Ajith Samarawickrema, Anver Dole, Prof. Uma
Coomaraswamy, Dr. Bhadra Aarachchige, Sunil Dissanayake, Dinesh
Weerakkody, Prof. Kapila Gunesekara, Lakshman Gunasekara and
Shanthi Satchithanandam addressed the conference.