Monthly Archives: September 2006
By Ayesha Zuhair
Apparel giant Brandix Lanka Limited yesterday publicly announced that the company is in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art integrated apparel supply chain city in India. The ‘Brandix India Apparel City’ (BIAC) is being constructed in a 1,000 acre plot of land, which is 47 km from Visakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar (second from right) at the media briefing yesterday. Others from left are Dr. Peter Y. T. Sun, CEO, BIAC; Udena Wickremesooriya, Director, Brandix Lanka; and Ajit Johnpillai, Director, Brandix Lanka. Pic by K. Dayawansa Nanneththi
With the lease agreement for the block of land having been signed in June this year, the large manufacturing base will enjoy all the benefits of operating in one of India’s Special Economic Zones. Training of workers is already underway, with the assistance of Sri Lankan expertise. Brandix expects the consolidated annual turnover of US$ 280 million to swell to US$ 500 million within the next two to three years as a result of this investment.
According to the company, the potential of India – one of the fastest growing economies of the world, its ability to offer scale advantages and other strong business fundamentals makes it an ideal platform to leverage Brandix capabilities. This, the company notes, will make Sri Lanka the hub for all front-end and product development activities, while exploiting the scale advantages that India offers.
Dismissing claims that the aim behind the investment was due to a lack of confidence in the local economy, Ashroff Omar, CEO, Brandix Lanka said, “We are looking to be a regional player, if not a global player so we have to think in terms of large-scale operations. Undertaking overseas ventures is not new to us; we have done it before in the Maldives and Madagascar. But the apparel city in India will certainly not come at the cost of growth in Sri Lanka. The Indian operation would in fact complement Sri Lanka.”
Omar said that the company will be making an initial investment of US$ 35 million for the start up of an underwear manufacturing unit and a fabric plant but the investment is expected to rise substantially over a period of five to seven years, possibly reaching the US$ 1 billion figure. He disclosed that they have already received firm commitments from Pioneer Elastics (Hong Kong), Quantum Clothing (UK), CMT (Mauritius) and Brandot (US).
Contd on B2
Brandix plans to create a self-sufficient apparel city with a ‘fibre to store’ concept providing speed and flexibility. As a vertically integrated operation it is envisaged that investors will benefit from being able to rely on global expertise to fulfil its designing, manufacturing, sourcing, logistics, technology and training requirements, all under one roof.
Dr. Peter Y. T. Sun, CEO, BIAC, said, “We are moving to a new frontier in order to meet Brandix’s vision of providing inspired solutions for branded clothing but our commitment to Sri Lanka remains unflagging,” He noted that the company’s investment in Sri Lanka has increased over seven-fold from 2003 to 2006, with as much as US$ 30 million invested in Sri Lankan facilities for the current year.
Pointing out that the move to India was also a result of a push by customers with buyers such as JCP expected to source between US$ 200 – 800 mn of apparel. “Our strategy, therefore, is to use Sri Lanka as a regional hub and use India as a production base owing to the fundamentals of scale and cost. Sri Lanka still offers an attractive destination for EU countries, whereas India is more attractive for the US,” he said. He also added that India had the second largest spinning capacity and the third largest cotton capacity in the world.
Dr. Sun further revealed that the two fabric mills in the site will have a capacity of producing 15,000 metric tonnes of fabric per month and 280-300 million garments per annum. It will require a staggering 60 mn litres of water per day.
Brandix is Sri Lanka’s largest exporter with an annual consolidated group turnover of over USD 280 million. The Group’s command of its supply chain in both woven and knits is its key strength. -Daily Mirror
Children a critical area of concern
By Indrani Iryagolle
The objective of this article is to examine, review and present recommendations to improve further the lives of children, especially those in vulnerable sectors. Special reference is made to the large numbers of Internally Displaced Children, Refugee Children and the Tsunami affected children of Sri Lanka. This article is heavily condensed to save newspaper space.
In general the progress of a nation is linked to the advancement of women and men, the promotion of Human Rights and the improvement of conditions for social justice. But many overlook the fact that the impact and significance of these same factors relate to the advancement and development of children too. The child who is born with the right to live and a legacy of other rights – including the right to development both physical and intellectual is unfailingly caught up in either the web of poverty or world of affluence. Observation and research reveal that a child who is born healthy, well cared for and stimulated in the first 5 Years usually gets a head start in life. By this measurement “vulnerable” children “of Sri Lanka are positively a disadvantaged lot.
Since 1980 the writer has visited and seen at first hand women, children and other inmates living in conditions of squalor and misery caused by armed conflict. Children in camps, Internally Displaced person’s camps, (later known as welfare camps) IDP s in Temple shelters and others living with family relatives. They have been comforted, and helped to “Mind Mend” children and mothers.
In general the caring role of parents towards their children and other’s children is a great boon we enjoy in our country. Both religion and traditions have cemented this relationship between parent and child. Although it is argued that over protectiveness is disadvantageous to the child, that it restricts mobility and social relationships in reality both parent and guardians need to see the child grow within the proper context and be empowered before he/she is seen in liberation. Both parents and society contribute to enhance children’s status in society, and provide the security she/he needs as a child. It is this aspect that gets totally neglected in the case of refugee children, IDP’s children, and others vulnerable whether it be in armed conflict situations or by tsunami destruction. to mend minds or build new bridges for reconstruction and rehabilitation the basic principle of awareness raising on the existence of child laws or child related laws in the country and the prevalence of international covenant and standards need to be understood by those in the role of child protection and law enforcement.
The UN Declaration of Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the child 1989, International Covenants on civil and political rights covenant on economic and social rights set out the basic principles. Such covenants do not impose compulsion, these instruments set standards and guidelines to aspire towards quality standards, to promote balanced child development. Reform of laws, enhanced penalties, new offences, fresh interpretations, of concepts etc. are radical changes brought in with the Penal Code Amendments 1995. Community attitudes could be changed with more understanding and awareness of such laws and rights. This is a neglected area in Sri Lanka, despite the good work done.
The following basic principles are covered by conventions, laws, and the constitution of Sri Lanka. Read the rest of this entry
By Ayesha Zuhair
“My opinion as an outside observer is that civil society should play a much stronger role in order to rectify the potentially dangerous situation that is now evolving in Sri Lanka. I firmly believe that the majority of Sri Lankans yearn for peace and peace-loving citizens should work tirelessly to promote the ideals of a peaceful society. That includes promoting the use of non-violent methods to achieve society’s goals.”
Eliana Carvalho Mukherjee was responding to my question on what could be done to reverse the downward spiral of Sri Lanka’s peace process with the Ceasefire Agreement which came into effect in February 2002 confined to paper in the midst of open warfare in the country’s North and East.
Democracy and Public Participation
According to Mukherjee, a feature of vibrant democracies is the participation of civil society in matters of national interest. “This form of democratisation should not be postponed until the post-conflict phase. It is the participation of civil society in peacemaking which nurtures the democratic processes and opens up channels for consultation and decision-making at the societal level,” she pointed out.
“There will, of course, still be a need for negotiations between the protagonists on ceasefires and terms for a final settlement and the sensitive nature of this process may require some discussions outside public scrutiny. But this should not be used as an excuse for the public to be excluded from issues of broader consideration,” Mukherjee said.
So we agree that there is a need for the public to be seriously involved in peacemaking efforts. But what can they do in real terms to advance the cause of peace? “People themselves should create spaces for discussion and build consensus among a broad range of stakeholders. The peace process should build on these foundations, not ignore them,” came the response.
“It is important for peace groups to actively lobby to apply pressure on the conflicting parties, to respect the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement and to compromise in order to reach a solution which will be acceptable to all those concerned. Even if peace support groups feel alienated in the process, they have to persist because peace is a long-term mission,” she opined.
In her view (and the view of many peace educators), it was a strong civil society movement that lead to the anti-apartheid strikes in South Africa.
Peace as an all-inclusive process
“Peace is indeed a process, not a static goal. It is a dynamic, complex and difficult process. Therefore, those who work in conflict resolution and transformation have to work hard over a period of time to attain their objectives,” the Assistant Professor noted. Asked if spoilers should be included when attempting to work out a solution, she said, “Absolutely. All the stakeholders have to be involved and that includes even the spoilers. It is true that spoilers seek to deliberately obstruct the process but they must be managed effectively. It is useful to try to understand what factors have made these individuals or groups spoilers and manage them in view of that. Continuing contact with all parties is critical in this regard,” she commented.
She went on to explain that peace education is a powerful tool in transforming the mindset of individuals. “I believe that peace education should start at a very young age. One of the first messages that children should be taught are that we are all part of the human family. By including peace-related themes into the existing curriculum, children could be taught that, despite their differences, they are – above all – human beings. That should be the first step,” she stated. Mukherjee then broached the subject of Sri Lanka’s language policy. In 1956, the passage of the Sinhala Only Act in Parliament heightened tensions between the Tamil and Sinhala communities leading to ethnic riots that year and more serious riots later on. The 1978 Constitution gave parity of status to both Sinhala and Tamil. “I must congratulate Sri Lanka on the language policy, which was originally one of the sources of conflict. Now I also noticed that government websites have information in all three languages – Sinhala, Tamil and English. That is certainly a positive development for reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” she said.
Questioned on international developments and whether she thought that the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI and the reactions it drew worldwide was confirmation that a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ does truly exist, she asserted that such a clash does not exist, but equated it to a profound misunderstanding between the Western and Islamic worlds.
“Many in the West view Muslims with a great deal of suspicion and that is primarily due to the misperceptions perpetrated by the media. They have hijacked the notion of jihad, which to my understanding is actually one’s personal struggle. Although there are strict conditions under which war can be waged, the media has portrayed jihad as a quest by Muslims fight non-Muslims no matter the cost. That shows a profound lack of education and understanding,” she proclaimed.
So is she optimistic in the face of rising confrontations? “Optimistic? I would not be in peace education if I wasn’t optimistic! Despite all the disparaging developments, I have so much faith in people and I see that faith in students of all our programmes at UPEACE.
Maybe it’s just my utopian thinking, but my faith in humanity tells me that people can learn to live together. Human beings, in my view, are inherently good and it is their environment which propels them to conflict. To co-existent, people must embrace the culture of peace and confront the culture of war. Peace, therefore, is possible!” she smiled.
via… Daily Mirror
Country’s premier telecommunications provider, Sri Lanka Telecom partners with Global giant Huawei Technologies in an exciting new project that will enable its customers to enjoy Broadband facilities at an affordable price. The tie up will enable SLT customers to enjoy a host of value added services such as high speed Broadband internet, VoIP services, IPTV, Video on demand (VoD), e-Learning and Gaming, ushering in a new era in communications technology in Sri Lanka.
"Till recently, services such as video conferencing and IP telephony have been limited to top Corporates who benefit from being connected to high bandwidth virtual private networks, while domestic customers are also demanding for the high speed internet, video conferencing and so on" says Mr Shuhei Anan CEO, SLT. The new 100,000 ADSL project launched by Sri Lanka Telecom, will allow more customers to go online with DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] services and also facilitate high bandwidth triple play services for all Sri Lanka’s technology buffs. The project which will use the SLT’s existing copper wire line network will enable SLT to provide standard DSL connectivity to many suburban and rural parts of Sri Lanka currently not enjoying DSL coverage, thus creating a significant impact on the economy.
Broadband services on ADSL [Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line] are a fast growing product offering with 100% growth per annum over the last two years. Broadband access has seen tremendous growth globally with over 500% growth reported from 2003 to 2005. ADSL is no longer a service limited to business and is now emerging as a valuable tool for households across the Island, for students and for small scale entrepreneurs who have learnt to harness the tremendous potential of communications technology.
This exiting new initiative from Sri Lanka Telecom which is powered by Huawei Technologies a global giant in the telecommunications sector will help SLT partner with the national mega ICT projects like SchoolNet, Nenasala and e-government to provide connectivity to many schools, education institutes and homes across rural and urban Sri Lanka thus helping the government and ICTA achieve the objectives of creating "e-citizens" by giving people access to information through the internet at affordable prices. Huawei Technologies is a world leader in providing next generation communications solutions and have partnered with 28 of the world’s top 50 communications providers thus touching the lives of over one billion customers worldwide.
Together with new technology SLT is the rolling out training for customer care agents based in regional customer service centres, to help build up the knowledge and the skills required to support regional users with any support calls.
"We can provide DSL to every building where the demand exists, even to locations where fibre connectivity is not practical. I am happy to say that we are ready to introduce VDSL [Very High Bit Rate Digital Subscriber Line] service to our valuable customers in the very near future with the completion of this project. We can provide very high bandwidth like up to 52Mbps connectivity via a VDSL connection" says Mr Priyanka Undugodage, General Manager (IP & BB Network)/ SLT
The 100000 project is proof of SLT’s commitment to provide the Sri Lankan public with the best available technology at affordable prices thus stimulating the development and growth of the national economy and helping Sri Lanka bridge the Digital Divide.
Sri Lanka Telecom ( http://www.slt.lk) is one of the country’s most valuable blue chip companies with an annual turnover in excess of US $ 300.0 million. NTT Communications Corporation of Japan owns a 35.2% stake in Sri Lanka Telecom Limited (SLT) while 49.2% is owned by the Government of Sri Lanka and 15.3% is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
The Company’s customer base is over 1.5 million including multinational corporations, large and small corporate, retail and domestic customers. Today with NTT of Japan as a strategic partner, SLT provides facilities and services to its customers, which are unmatched in scope. These services range from domestic and international voice, communication to advanced data transmission services which include internet services on leased lines, broadband [on ADSL] and dial up, data circuits, frame relay solutions to IP based services such as IP-VPN, total corporate solutions, satellite uplink services and mobile telephony through the fully owned subsidiary Mobitel. With a view to making Sri Lanka a broadband island, SLT is in the process of introducing the necessary infrastructure in the form of NGN networks using a fibre backbone and broadband services such as IMS, IPTV etc. SLT also provides high speed global connectivity to countries in the South Asian Region through its investments in international submarine cables such as SMW3, SMW4 and the India/Sri Lanka Bharat Lanka cable. The proposed submarine link between SLT and Dhirragu will also extend cable connectivity to the Maldive Islands.
The company has been awarded an AAA (sri) rating by Fitch Ratings Lanka followed by a BB- international rating by Fitch International and Standard & Poor’s.
Huawei Technologies is a leader in providing next generation telecommunications networks, and serves 28 of the world’s top 50 operators, as well as over one billion users worldwide. The company is committed to providing innovative and customized products, services and solutions to create long-term value and potential growth for its customers.
Huawei’s products and solutions include wireless products, core network products, network products, applications and software, as well as terminals. Major products are based on Huawei’s self-designed ASIC chips and shared platforms to provide high-quality and cost-effective products and solutions with quick response.
Huawei has over 44,000 employees, of whom 48% are dedicated to R&D. Huawei’s global R&D centers are located in Bangalore in India, Silicon Valley and Dallas in USA, Stockholm in Sweden and Moscow in Russia in addition to those in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Chengdu in China.
via… Financial Times
By Sunimalee Dias
Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Chairman A.K. Ratnarajah addressing journalists yesterday at the CNCI board room. Others present (from left): CNCI Past Chairman Nimal Perera and CNCI Secretary General/CEO Upali Samarasinghe . Pic. by Daminda Harsha Perera.
The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI), the country’s premier industries chamber is urging the government to come up with progressive measures in its second budget to make the industrial sector globally competitive.
The chamber outlined the key areas that needed to be dealt with such as: competitiveness, productivity, power generation, port and customs facilities, taxes and levies, under invoicing, Research and Development and the Textile and Apparel sector.
With global trade based on competitive pricing, the Sri Lankan industries have to be competitive to survive, CNCI Chairman A.K. Ratnarajah told journalists yesterday.
It was noted that the signing of FTAs with other countries alone was not sufficient for a win-win situation for Sri Lankan businesses unless the necessary macro and other policy decisions were also put in place.
The chamber expressed dismay that the country had not and did not appear to focus on the urgent need to become a productive and competitive nation.
“This has to be a national priority and cannot be ignored any longer as the nation is paying a high price due to uncompetitiveness arising out of inaction,” he said.
In addition, it was pointed out that power generation was one of the biggest problems only second to the problem of peace in the country.
CNCI demanded urgent action be initiated by the government in this respect, and said that the government had to take this matter very seriously.
They requested for a reduction in the cost of electricity, and noted that the urgent need also arose because, despite government allaying fears of fuel costs with the establishment of a coal power plant in three years’ time, manufacturers need to survive to see this date.
Meanwhile, for the improvement of the road network they called on the government to explore all possibilities of obtaining foreign aid and land acquisition for road development.
It was noted that the government does not possess adequate resources to revamp the much needed railway network, as such urgent restructuring and improvements to make it a viable system was required.
Concerns were expressed regarding the Port and customs charges which they noted was imperative that the4se be compared with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Singapore as these were the prime areas with which we have to compete.
Under invoicing of goods was highlighted to be taking place at an alarming proportion, denying the state of its legitimate dues by way of taxes and on the other hand affecting competition of the local industries.
Therefore it is reiterated that wherever possible the maximum retail price (MRP) should be market by the manufacturer of the product before shipping it to Sri Lanka.
They also expressed concerns over the multitutde of taxes and levies by Sri Lanka Customs which make things difficult to the respective authorities, the impo0rters/exporters and business community as a whole.
The enormous paper work, wasted man-hours on collection and monitoring of administrative expenditure could easily be minimized by proper planning, it was said.
“One of the major causes hampering the development of the industrial sector is the insufficient investment on R&D by the government and the private enterprises themselves,” Ratnarajah said.
It was advocated that industries be encouraged to invest on R&D by making the import of equipment duty and VAT free and allowing twice the cost of equipment to be claimed as capital allowance for tax purposes.
In addition it was pointed out that the GSP+ scheme was not possible to gain on by all in the garment industry as the establishment of a finishing plant was costing investors heavily.
CNCI also noted that frequent changes in policy were a major contributor for the collapse of certain industries. And the sudden changes in policy without studying the implications on the industry in consultation with the stakeholders, resulted in either their collapse or relatively sick industries at great cost to the economic and to the stake holders.
via… Financial Times