The Business Today TOP TWENTY recognised the excellence in corporate Sri Lanka during the financial year 2009-2010 and is the first ranking to be held during post war time. The Business Today TOP TWENTY awards ceremony was held on January 13, 2011 in the presence of Chief Guest, Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development. The Guest Speaker for the evening was Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga.
The event and media coordination was by Glenda Parthipan of Emphasis.
This included the entertainment and attire of the dance troupe for the evening.
Business Today, since 1998 has annually recognised the top corporate performers in Sri Lanka who have strengthened the economy during challenging times. With the end of the conflict in May 2009, the enabling environment for business improved significantly with political and economic stability giving confidence to the private sector. Since the launch of the Business Today TOP 10, it is the first time that the top performers of corporate Sri Lanka are chosen in a period falling within postwar time. Though it may be premature to measure post war performance of the corporate sector, the initial signs thus far show promise and it would be interesting to see how future top performers will evolve to occupy positions among the best. Therefore with the view of mapping the near and long term business landscape and towards encouraging worthy prospects and contenders Business Today honours not the TOP 10 but the TOP TWENTY companies that have performed with vigour, strengthening the post war economy for the financial year 2009-2010.
On this occasion we are pleased to welcome the Sanghanayake of the Western Province and Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya Temple, Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara Thero, Venerable Kirinde Assaji Thero, Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero and Venerable Viyapaththugama Revatha Thero, our honoured Chief guest for the evening, Minister of Economic Development, Honourable Basil Rajapaksa our distinguished Guest Speaker for the evening, Secretary to the President, Mr Lalith Weeratunga and Mrs Weeratunga, Attorney General Mohan Peiris, honourable Ministers, Commander of the Army and Former Commander of the Navy and members of the Armed Forces, Members of Parliament, Members of the Opposition, foreign dignitaries, Government Officials, leaders and members of the business community. The future of Sri Lanka are gathered here today. We thank you for taking time off your busy schedules to be with us on this special occasion. We apologise for any short comings in protocol. An article titled ‘President Rajapaksa’s strengths and limitations’ written by Victor Ivan states, quote “Among the individuals who were close to President Mahinda Rajapksa, his brothers in the family, Gotabaya and Basil showed immense dedication and performed a number of tasks. They were an asset to the government and not a liability. Though Mahinda’s relationship as a brother imparted strength to them, they had a special aptitude and ability towards work.” Business Today has experienced this ‘special aptitude and ability towards work’ first hand.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa knows no day, night nor holiday, he works tirelessly to achieve each task and he makes others work with the same vigour. If you ask the Minister any facts or figures, his ability to reply immediately is indeed inspiring. Minister Basil Rajapaksa as the head of the Ministry of Economic Development carries immense responsibility on his shoulders. We are honoured that Minister Basil Rajapaksa was able to grace this occasion as our Chief Guest and we wish to thank Minister Rajapaksa for being here with us today.
Looking back at the past year, we BT Options have achieved much. Explore Sri Lanka, which began in 1987 will be celebrating 25 years and can proudly claim to be the only magazine to be published uninterrupted for the duration of its existence. The publication began under the leadership of Richard Tuttle and Rakesh Wadwa who operated casinos in Sri Lanka at the then Meridian rooftop in the 1980s and early 1990s. With the closure of casinos in the 1990s, the ownership of the company was acquired by Mathi K Parthipan who since then is the sole owner and shares are held by Mathi and his staff. We take this opportunity to thank Shalini Wadwa for guiding and advising us through our journey as we go from strength to strength.
The company has grown significantly and is now publishing six magazines; Explore Sri Lanka, Business Today, Target, Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, The Architect and Vaasthu, the English and Sinhala journals of the Sri Lanka institute of Architects. The business model of Serendib and The Architect is one where the magazines are fully funded by BT Options and subsequently the profits are shared on a percentage basis. Many assume that Serendib came to us due to political influence, however this would not have been possible had we not proven ourselves competent and capable from our own publications. It is the first time in the history of the National Carrier that the production and printing of Serendib has been done completely in Sri Lanka. The introduction of Sinhala and Tamil articles, again for the first time ever in Serendib has been well received from all sections of society and has instilled pride in all. At this moment we would like to take this opportunity to thank, Podi Hamuduruwo, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Dr P B Jayasundera, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines Mr Nishantha Wickremasinghe and CEO of SriLankan Mr Manoj Gunawardena for their continuous support and encouragement and also Minister Wimal Weeranwansa who supported us while he was an MP.
We have always looked at the positive side of Sri Lanka and therefore we work with everyone who looks at the country positively. We work with various political parties and politicians without accepting any monetary gain. As you can see, politicians from various parties are seated here today. We continue to give our support to those who have the best interests of the country at heart.
Some categorise us as a media organisation, but we are not a media company, BT Options is a private company working for profit where publishing is one aspect of our business. We recognised the importance of moving with new technology while valuing our traditions. All our magazines come in print form but we are also now on Zinio – the portal for digital books and magazines. We are taking Sri Lanka to the world. Business Today has reached far and wide, just go on to google.com and type the words business today and you will see for yourself. Explore Sri Lanka, Business Today, Serendib and The Architect are all available on Zinio.
Business Today features the monthly column by Richard Branson and also articles penned by President Barak Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Jr. There are many who are not aware of the major development projects completed and on going around the country since President Mahinda Rajapaksa began his term in 2005, therefore in commemoration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa beginning his second term in November 2010, BT Options produced the coffee table book – Sri Lanka the Emerging Wonder of Asia. From concept to design to production all were done by us, BT Options. All aspects of the book was fully funded by BT Options. The book highlighted the various development projects that were carried out throughout the country during the first term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Many who saw the book were surprised by what they saw; they were not aware that such massive scale projects were taking place in the country and were amazed to see them in the coffee table book. One and a half years have passed since the end of the conflict, we see the Government taking all measures and providing incentives and opportunities for the private sector to perform but we are yet to see the private sector really taking the top gear and drive the economy. It is thanks to the timely action, dedication and sacrifice of the Armed Forces guided by the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the fearless leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in safe guarding the territorial integrity of the country that we are seated here today. We wish to thank the personnel of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Military Intelligence that played a significant role in creating an environment of peace and freedom that is conducive for competitive business and economic growth.
To quote President Mahinda Rajapaksa from his speech given at the Parliament on May 19, 2009 following the victory over terrorism, quote “I value my motherland first, second and third. This should be so to you and to the entire nation. It is only our beloved motherland that we should all cherish and value.” Unquote. We thank you for accepting our invitation and being present here in mutual recognition of the Business Today TOP TWENTY.
Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thero, the Sanganayaka of the Western Province and the Chief Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple, who is known to us as Podi Hamuduruwo has been a pillar of strength, guiding us through challenging times and encouraging us through good times to aim higher. Our background with Podi Hamuduruwo runs as far back as 1989. 22 years later Podi Hamuduruwo still sees us through good times and bad.
Podi Hamuduruwo is a visionary, a monk with a clear purpose. Hailing from a line of Buddhist priests who have been pivotal to the revival of the Sri Lankan nation, Podi Hamuduruwo continues the work of his predecessors with an identity of his own. Race, religion, caste or creed is immaterial to Podi Hamuduruwo and this he has shown through action. The thero lives his life on the Buddhist teaching of the past is the past, the future is tomorrow, but the present is today.
We bow our heads in respect to Podi Hamuduruwo for being our mentor and staunch supporter through difficult times.
Ven Maha Sangha, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Attorney General, Minister of Education, Secretary to the President, Mr Lalith Weeratunga and Mrs Weeratunga, Chairmen representing TOP TWENTY, private sector corporates working with dedication and commitment to develop the country, Company Directors, ladies and gentlemen of those corporates and guests, The details about how Mr and Mrs Mathi Parthipan established new business in this country were mentioned. He is an honest, simple and a courageous man who works with sincerity and has a good understanding of the teachings of the Buddha including fortune-misfortune, credit – discredit and criticism – praise, as such he had the strength to engage in publishing for a long time. Firstly, we must thank him, for this endeavour, which he started, with the intention of providing a great service to this country, without obtaining any profit or help from these corporates. Today, the ten corporates, has transformed into 20. We constantly reminded him, not 20, this number should go to 34, because there is a belief in this world that number seven is a good number. However, there is one point that must be noted. We must firstly be thankful that he is making this determined endeavour, introducing the corporate sector to the country, creating an occasion of esteem for them and recognising those who extend a helping hand towards the development of this country. I remember that His Excellency the President always gave his support for this venture. He has participated in all these occasions.
Previously, Defence Secretary Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa attended the ceremony and this year, it’s Minister Basil Rajapaksa who is here at this ceremony showing his support for this awards ceremony. Likewise, supporting those who work towards the development of the country is a worthy deed.
Today, I am very happy to say, that under an appeal made by me, previously when it was the ten companies, they provided bicycles to school going children in Hon President’s area in Hambantota. This inspired and motivated the children. Today it is a period where weather conditions have changed in this country and around the world. Now I think in our country, we might not need air conditioners in the future. We do not know if it will be for the better or worse. However, philosophers have spoken of these changes in the world, Lord Buddha in particular has spoken about it, the uncertainty, the changes, the transformations I make an appeal today to this corporate sector. There are a large number people in this country, capable people, business people, powerful people who have become helpless and been displaced due to the floods, they are faced with difficulties. It is not only in our country, a lot of countries in the world have been affected by this. Therefore, in this speech, I make one appeal. The Hon President has gone to Polonnaruwa and met with those displaced people; provide these people, not money, but dry rations, mats, pillows, nets, this is a good opportunity to provide such items to them. To help people in times of need is also an important deed.
Hon Minister, one of the major problems for the corporate sector in this country is the date cheque, now you cannot even say date cheque because the cheque expires within six months. Therefore, now they call it open cheque. Corporates have faced difficulties because of this loan system. Consumers have also faced difficulties. I also address the Secretary to the President who is here, that to earn their wealth these businessmen also collect interest. When adding this, many forget that an extra burden also falls on the common people. Therefore, a transaction that happened in a week or two those days, today takes six months, and after six months, the open cheque concept has come about. This is a very dangerous thing. It is a major loss for this country’s development. You have a way to stop this. When approaching it from the governance of the country, this will positively affect the common people of the country. The reason for this is that it is the common people who spend money day by day and buy goods. Even this tourism sector, we hear, that certain tourism companies, delay payments to smaller tourism businesses, but when tourists come to the country, they pay money months ahead. Sharing profits is a good habit that was prevalent in our past. One didn’t serve a plate of rice only for one’s self.
In hotels, they have made the plates quite large, because they serve moreso that it spills on the carpets on the ground. I was told that in the Hilton Hotel, they have made the plate bigger and heavier. However, in those days, people in our country used to serve a rice plate, and hand it to the next person. Similarly, those in the corporate sector must share and uplift the innocent people, the common people. You have the responsibility of making this a rich and prosperous country. The time has come to engage in such deeds. Furthermore acknowledging the work done by the Hon President through great dedication and sacrifice and wishing you all good fortune, I wish Mr and Mrs Mathi Parthipan protection, with the belief in their strength to further develop their business and continue this service, I conclude my speech.
Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thero and other respectful members of the clergy, Chief Guest Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Mrs Rajapaksa, Special Guest Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Chairman and Managing Director of BT Options, Mr Mathi Parthipan, Hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, foreign dignitaries, heads of the public and private sectors, officers of the Armed Forces, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen, Mathi, first of all thank you for extending the opportunity to speak at your flagship annual event. Standing here I feel humbled by the presence of so many distinguished personalities who really are the icons of the public and private sector and who hold the key to our great nation’s future. The occasion also reminds me of the origins of the Business Today TOP 10 back in 1997, when Mathi, Dinesh who I think is also here and myself, we three of us felt the need to recognise the TOP 10 business performers of Sri Lanka. We worked out the mechanism and got the process going rather quickly. Sure, there were challenges but the feedback was positive, overwhelming and it was encouraging. Mathi, true to his nature and character as in most of the things that he does decided to host the annual TOP 10 event at his own expense without any sponsorships or external financial support and to date he has maintained that position. Mathi I know you will not want me to say this in public but your yeoman services must be acknowledged.
Dinesh of course, who was one of the core architects of the BT TOP 10 of course opted out when he joined the boards of two leading blue chip companies who have been regular features at the TOP 10 events. That also speaks for the ethics practiced by the TOP 10 team. But before leaving, Dinesh introduced Shiron Gunaratne, to the team and Shiron also spent another three or four years helping us in the whole process and extending his full support. And, after giving his support to the process, Shiron also joined a blue chip company as a Chief Financial Officer and that left just Mathi and me to continue what we started.
Fortunately of course for us in the last five years or so, we had engaged the professional services of KPMG Ford Roads who had been very supportive and of course who had been doing all the granular number crunching and analysis making our job that much more easier in selecting TOP 10. I think I should also acknowledge and appreciate the special efforts made by Suren Rajakariya, partner of KPGM Ford Roads for taking a special interest to advice and help us in selecting the TOP 10, which is now the TOP TWENTY.
A quick word on why we decided to expand the list to 20. The original intent obviously was to recognise the TOP 10 corporate performers in the hope that the captains of our private sector would strive to achieve higher excellence. I think that no doubt has been achieved. That is done, save a few exceptions and it became plainly apparent that the BT TOP 10 of late years, I suppose, in our experience, has turned out to become more like a game of musical chairs between a few. And of course, you must give credit to the companies that have been repeatedly performing and doing their best to make it to the list continuously. It’s difficult to enter the top 10 list or the 20 list as it is now. But, it is even harder to retain that position and you really have to do a lot to lead the pack in Sri Lanka and for that they should be congratulated. But, we would fall short of our endeavours, had we not provided atleast some fertile ground to recognize or to raise the scale of the excellence of our companies, and the performances of the blue chip companies in Sri Lanka. And due to that, in 2010 we decided to expand the list to 20 and due to similar scores achieved by at least two companies, the list we have emerged, that is 22 companies have emerged as the TOP TWENTY.
I use the opportunity of course to congratulate the TOP TWENTY. They each have a fighting chance to improve their performance and our sincere hope is that this would lead to achieving greater heights of excellence by a vibrant private sector. That then serves as a cue for me to return to my seat and let you listen to those who we trust to unlock the potential of a great nation. I thank you, and I hope you have a great evening.
Our Guest Speaker for the evening was Secretary to the President Mr Lalith Weeratunga. Mr Weeratunga is also the Chairman of TRC and is the current Chair of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Committee of the Economic & Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Furthermore Mr Weeratunga was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
Having been in the Sri Lanka Administrative Services since 1977, Mr Weeratunga has diverse experience, which has enabled him to provide stable and solid leadership to the Public Service. Mr Weeratunga played a pivotal role in introducing ICT to all sections of the Government and society. With President Mahinda Rajapaksa envisioning Sri Lanka to become a knowledge hub, Mr Weeratunga’s work will undoubtedly be a stepping-stone towards achieving this aim.
We have worked very closely with Mr Weeratunga and greatly appreciate the personal interest he takes in the work we do. His advice and guidance has strengthened us and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him.
Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Nayaka Thero the Chief Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Viharaya, Ven Maha Sanga, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Hon Mohan Pieris, the Attorney General, Commander of the Army and Former Commander of the Navy, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, distinguished industry captains, Members of Parliament, friends, Let me first of all say how glad I am and how privileged I am to be able to address such an august gathering.
In that connection let me thank my good friend Mathi for giving me this opportunity to share some thoughts on this momentous occasion. We are here to pay tribute to 20 leading companies that have reached excellence in business and corporate Sri Lanka. My congratulations to all the companies that have earned this coveted title and my best wishes to aspiring companies who I am sure will be bracing themselves for tough competition for a place in the next year’s awards from tonight onwards.
You heard, a couple of minutes ago the story of our being able to defeat terrorism, it is something we must celebrate and talk about. We ended 30 years of bloodshed and economic stagnation in May 2009 clearing the path for the private sector to engage in enterprise and investment. As very rightly stated by the compere, today we are here without any fear because terrorism has been eliminated from our land. That feat many thought was impossible. Sri Lankans as well as other nations did not believe that terrorism could be eliminated from our midst. But we did it. Let me thank the two distinguished members of the armed forces who are here for being involved and of course I must pay not only to the great leader that Sri Lanka produced to take this tough stance against all odds, against all opposition, against foreign pressure, he is the country’s leader, but also Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa who brought in great dimensions to defeat terrorism. The opportunity cost of the war against terrorism has been tremendous in all possible aspects.
It becomes more apparent when we experience how in these past one and a half years of peace alone the business climate has improved remarkably, prompting Business Today no doubt to elevate its traditional top notch ten to 20 this year and give due recognition to the dynamism and competitiveness of the emerging corporate giants. I am encouraged to see several new companies making the list for the first time since Business Today introduced this ranking system in 1998. With a clear vision set for Sri Lanka by His Excellency the President, we can be hopeful that our future as well as the future of our children and grandchildren will enjoy life under the sun in a country that is soon to be the Wonder of Asia. You as representatives of the corporate sector have been a courageous companion in Sri Lanka’s journey during times of turmoil and now the Government has finally created an enabling environment for you to thrive in and help take this country forward in this post conflict period.
This government will continuously strive to create conducive conditions and employ useful instruments to facilitate the private sector in its growth. We were conferred the status of a middle income emerging market country by the IMF last year. For the first time in about 50 years, our economic growth rate has surpassed inflation. Not only have we to maintain this strength, but we are looking to increase the growth rate from the present eight percent to ten percent while curtailing inflation around five percent. The Hon Minister is here who is responsible for tourism and many other things as you saw in the clip that was shown just now. I just want to say, that we are in for good times. We surpassed 600,000 tourist arrivals in 2010. The tourism sector continues to show promising signs of exceeding expectations. Critical infrastructure is being provided as never before. Ports, highways, power facilities are being built at a rapid rate to facilitate and encourage investors. Private sector has the opportunity to tap into business in virtually every sector of our economy and they are already doing that, be it in agriculture, health, industry, latest is education, transport, banking or insurance. Interest rates have been reduced on private sector borrowings and more facilities are envisaged in the future. We expect that FDI and higher foreign financial inflows to the private sector will reach USD 1.5 billion and that more domestic funds will be available at competitive rates to engage in public sector development projects.
In World Bank’s Doing Business Index, we are currently placed at the 102nd slot. Our position has not changed in 2009 and 2010. But, we are making every effort and that can only be done with the help of the private sector to elevate this ranking to 30 by 2016. And that is also the year, my dear friends, Sri Lanka would achieve the IT literacy of 75 percent. That is the target set by His Excellency the President in his IT initiatives. I wish to commend the Central Bank’s efforts in assisting in this regard by publishing a step by step guide to doing business in Sri Lanka.
One of the major areas for investment must be in man power skills development. The private sector has to tap the human resource available in the country for its own advancement. As I mentioned earlier, Sri Lanka is engaged in an upward trajectory of growth. The government is promoting regional hubs in the areas of naval, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge. We can build infrastructure and introduce the latest technology, but what will be the most valuable resource will be sustaining the economic competitiveness of these assets. It, of course, has to be a competent, skilled workforce. They need to be competent and skilled not just in traditional fields, but to meet new requirements in our economy like information technology, nano technology, oil and gas technology, satellite technology and etc. In fact, the Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future pledges to make significant changes in the education structure to produce trained persons to meet the emerging challenges in both public and private sectors. Every year, approximately, 14,000 young people graduate from national universities in Sri Lanka. For some of them, stable employment is assured.
For others, many factors influence in securing employment. Market demand, skill levels, personal initiatives and of course access to information. Traditionally, every year, more than 200,000 students leave school after advanced level, of whom, only about 20,000 manage to gain entry to national universities. Majority of the remaining students either seek job opportunities or seek vocational training of some sort. In that connection, I am so deeply privileged to have been associated with the Ven Podi Hamuduruwo, way back in the 1980s when he started his vocational training initiatives at Gangaramaya which trained thousands and thousands of young people to get into very productive employment opportunities.
This is of course a major responsibility of the Government, to ensure that our human resource is used productively not only for their individual benefit but also to advance the progress of this country as a whole. As in most other countries, the government as a single entity is the largest employment provider. The Government must find means and resources to enhance the effectiveness of not only the persons directly employed by it, but also the entire workforce through appropriate education and training. It is here that the private sector in Sri Lanka can play a major role. Many countries have realised that manpower and skills development cannot practically be the sole responsibility of the Government. Public private partnerships are therefore common in human resource development strategies in many countries. The private sector, especially the enterprises create the demand for jobs in industries. The industries in turn define the type of skill required. Here in Sri Lanka,we have to acknowledge that there is a mismatch between what is produced through the local educational and vocational training stream and what is required by the industry. The graduates who pass out every year find that they are not received with any great enthusiasm by the industrial sector due to their deficiencies in managerial and technical capabilities.
We are going through post conflict development. If we consider the experience of post conflict regions the scope for industrial development in such countries is reliant on the ability of the labour force to acquire skills in the manufacturing sector. This may be applicable to us as well and we need to forecast and be prepared for the manpower needs of the future growth industries. But when it is realised that the supply is not readily available to meet this specific industry demands the enterprises themselves can take on skills development and job trainings of these people. The experience is that graduates who train through programmes run by the industry show higher employability, productivity and labour mobility than those trained through training institutions. One of the areas identified for enhancing the skills of our workforces is to expand industry specific vocational training with continuous retraining and reskilling programmes. There can be many opportunities for the industry to collaborate with government vocational training programmesand create their own supply to the market. You can be involved with the vocational training institutions in Sri Lanka in planning programmes from the outset to meet the future growth of your business. Sri Lanka developed, as you would very well know, a well thought out apprenticeship scheme in the early 1970s. Modelled on the German skill system, our apprenticeship scheme did yeomen service to both the industry as well as young people who were keen to learn a trade or acquire a skill. From about year 2000 due to poor government industry collaboration as I feel the apprenticeship scheme seemed to have lost its original sheen. Fortunately for the youth of this country the present minister of youth affairs and skills development Hon Dullas Alahaperuma has understood this issue and is taking steps to remedy this situation. Another area of concern is the brain drain. Highly competent professionals, especially in science and engineering skills, have been leaving our shores, primarily because of the lack of opportunities in the innovation industries. We have internationally known NASA scientists and engineers who have made a mark in their countries of domicile. In fact, the State of the Economy Report for 2010 published by the Institute of Policy Studies discloses that Sri Lanka is only second to the Philippines on the extent of brain drain in this sector. It is not often that the Government can afford to pay high salaries to such deserving Sri Lankan professionals and retain them in this country, but the private sector can afford to attract them, retain them in this country and make use of their services for national development. I have spoken briefly thus far on how we as a government and you as a private sector can help this country flourish and forge ahead.
You are entrepreneurial leaders in Sri Lanka’s corporate world, with vast amounts of corporate experience and business acumen that has brought you to this status, to the level of winning highly acclaimed awards over the years. I am sure that your superior management skills have served you well in achieving the excellence that you have displayed so far.
I would like to divert your attention to a slightly different topic. An aspect of business practice. Just a few days ago I was browsing through this month’s issue of Business Today when I came across several pages of an article written by Sir Richard Branson, the British industrialist and the founder of the Virgin Group that had created an empire from airlines, record labels, mobile phones, digital publishing and even space travel.
Richard Branson incidentally is one of the most influential entrepreneurial figures in the world known for his humanitarian work and his efforts at tackling global environmental problems. While on this thought I was reminded of an interesting article I came across in a journal some years ago on what is known as corporate philanthropy.
The Ven Podi Hamuduruwo in fact brought about another aspect of philanthropy in these times of national need and I am sure you industry leaders who are compassionate, who can afford to help the unfortunate brethren of ours would come forward to help them at this point of time. This corporate philanthropy dealt with one of the best known philanthropic organisations in the world the Rockefeller foundation. This foundation was started by John D Rockefeller, his son John D Rockefeller Jr and his business advisor Fedrick Teller Gates.
John Rockefeller created one of the largest oil monopolies of his time and was in a position where he controlled 95% of the US oil market. He had not only vast control over oil drilling, refineries, prices and transportation, but he also sabotaged his competitors, spied on them and manipulated secret contracts. His business success was phenomenal. Certainly I am not asking you to do those stuff what Rockefeller said and did, but these are facts. His business success was phenomenal and his fortunes were expanding so rapidly that he could neither control nor protect them. Very interesting. Yet for all his wealth, he was one of the most hated men at the time for all the excesses in his rise to power. As an attempt to soften this perception, he was prompted to make a contribution towards the rebuilding of the University of Chicago. This is a well known fact. But, what defined him in later years as a well meaning philanthropist was the result of the partnership he built with his advisor Fredrick Gates.
The story goes to say that Gates grew frantic at the extent of Rockefeller’s financial holdings and said, let me quote, “your fortune is rolling up, rolling up like an avalanche. You must distribute it faster than it grows. If you do not, it will crush you and your children and your children’s children”, unquote. Gates was an influential impact on Rockefeller’s subsequent philanthropic work. He helped Rockefeller develop a system to ensure that his philanthropic donations were put to the best possible use. Philanthropist’s real potential it is argued was in his ability to identify and change the roots of social and economic skills, not its symptoms. Heinz, the other new philanthropist at the turn of the century developed on the idea of scientific giving and were able to act in a more organised fashion and tackle areas that could not be addressed by the government such as education, science, public health and agriculture.
Rockefeller was encouraged to build universities and hundreds of schools and help disadvantaged groups in all parts of the country and finally to create the Rockefeller Foundation as a permanent corporate philanthropy in 1913 that reached many parts of the world. Although in terms of assets it has been surpassed by other organisations since then, it is the early legacy of the Rockefeller Foundation that still makes it an embodiment of modern corporate philanthropy.
That said, I am reminded of many other globally renowned philanthropic individuals like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as well as leading philanthropic companies such as Microsoft, Johnson and Johnson etc which has made a difference to people in many parts of the world. Here in Sri Lanka, we too have philanthropic individuals, many, and organisations that make meaningful contributions to society.
We, Sri Lankans as individuals are naturally philanthropic. In fact, the World Giving Index for 2010 had ranked Sri Lanka among the top ten charitable nations in the world, tied with Great Britain in the eighth place. It places us as the leading charitable nation in Asia. This ranking is based on a global survey by Gallup Research Company which measured the percentage of people who have given money to charity. The number of people who have given time to those less fortunate than themselves and those who helped a stranger. So there is an abundance of hope for this beautiful and smart island. In relation to the philanthropic companies I spoke about earlier we see in the world a new trend, even amongst small and medium businesses to do good in society. We are more familiar with the management parlance for this, which is Corporate Social Responsibility, another way of describing corporate philanthropy I mentioned all this while. Whether it is out of self-interest or image building or sheer altruism, making charitable donations or engaging in initiatives to help the lot of the disadvantaged people has become part of worldwide business strategy for reputation management, and competitiveness. However, the positive side is that this kind of strategy is almost always a win-win situation for the company as well as the beneficiaries as well as other stakeholders such as the government which during competing demand is not always able to utilise resources where they are needed. So you, as corporate bodies, industry captains, entrepreneurial leaders, innovative thinkers interested in creating this win-win situation, if you permit me to say this, ponder over these few questions. How will my company help to advance the interest of my community or disadvantaged groups? How will my company gain by such an intervention? What is in there for me? Will I gain greater acceptance among my customers due to my projection as a business that cares? How can I ensure that my company’s actions are taken as genuine by my customers and the community, and not merely as a budgetary requirement, which is not sustainable in the long run. Some of you who are involved in CSR projects in Sri Lanka will know how effective it is to properly communicate and market what you are doing to the public. Let’s put it this way. You fulfill your own objectives and the community is better off for it.
Before I conclude, please permit me to quote from His Excellency the President, when he presented the Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future, a New Sri Lanka, a Brighter Future. I think all what we have said, all what we stand for, all what we have hoped, is summed up in these beautiful three or four verses. ‘To win the world, develop the country, to develop the country, strengthen the village, to strengthen the village, protect the family, to protect the family, care for the person.
By blending your thoughts, Mahinda Chinthana was developed. By drawing on your courage, we fulfilled youraspirations. I promised you a free nation, I promised you sustainable development, I assured you a better society, I assured you a land of plenty. I delivered. The children of Mother Lanka, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay, Burgher, look to us with hope, to be their trustee, to be the one to realize their dreams. Now, I present to you our vision for a brighter future. Together, we will make the journey with your trust. I will deliver.” It’s a very personal remark that I want to make, the man who made most of this possible, in act the architect, the person who made this possible and was the livewire behind all this, is none other than our Chief Guest. He helped His Excellency the President not only during the war, but today as Chief Guest, I am very happy to see you here, Hon Minister. You have helped him in development work that is now the priority of this country. And let me at the beginning of this year, 2011, wish you the very best, all of us hope for a brighter future, not only for us but our children and our children’s children. Thank you very much.
Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman – John Keells Holdings receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Good evening most reverend Galaboda Thero and other members of the Maha Sanga, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, the Guest Speaker Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to His Excellency the President, other distinguished guests and friends,
It is with a sense of pride and humility that I stand here to say thank you for recognising John Keells in being the first among equals. I wish to salute and applaud Mr Parthipan for sustaining this award show for the past so many years and for organizing it in this wonderful manner. As John Keells it would not have been possible had it not been for the support of our stakeholders. When I say stakeholders it is our employees, customers, suppliers, the community that we work in and most importantly the government led by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The enabling environment they have created has enabled John Keells and other companies that are present here to contribute to the economy. I wish to proclaim that John Keells remains ready, willing and able to contribute to the future development of the economy of Sri Lanka. Thank you very much.
Rajendra Theagarajah, Chairman – John Keells Holdings receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Respected members of the clergy, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen, the Hatton National Bank is honoured this evening to stand before you and be recognised among the Top Twenty in this competition, which I must say has stood the test of time for more than ten years. First of all let me congratulate Mr Parthipan and his team for sustaining this. We’ve just seen the end of a very challenging 12 months but I think the Hatton National Bank has come out with flying colours, and one very important aspect in this journey is that we have mapped the bank’s strategy and journey with the nation’s strategy; not blindly, but by selecting the critical elements of the national strategy, which as a nationally important bank, we believe is doable and which makes sense to us. Two elements of that are leveraging our balance sheet for the development of infrastructure and leveraging our distribution network for the upliftment of rural development. With those few words we reiterate our commitment to be a part of the national development. Thank you
Mano Selvanathan, Director – Bukit Darah receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Good evening, respected clergy, Hon Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Last year at this forum we requested the government to create a business friendly environment. Today they have created it, Sri Lanka as you know is the best performing stock market in the world, we are the best tourist destination for 2011, the ongoing infrastructure projects, and also the low interest rate regime has created this environment and I wish to thank His Excellency the President, Hon Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development for creating this environment and am sure Sri Lanka would be an exciting and interesting place to invest. As a company we are committed to the development of Sri Lankan industry and we assure you that this year we will make Sri Lanka proud with our expansion. I would also like to recognise each and every staff member of our organisation for having contributed to this achievement and my board for their guidance.
James Yamanaka, CEO – Ceylon Tobacco Company receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Members of the clergy, Chief Guest Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, other ministers, excellencies, Guest Speaker, Lalith Weeratunga and the distinguished representatives of the award winning companies and other distinguished invitees. First of all, I would like to say that this is a great honour for CTC to be recognised once again as one of the TOP TWENTY companies in Sri Lanka and its an honour for me personally to be able to accept this on behalf of the company. I think I would be remised to take any credit for this for I have only been here for about two weeks in the country so I need to give credit to my predecessor Mustanser Ali Khan, who really did the work as the CEO, last year, to deliver the results and I would also like to thank the members of our board and the employees of CTC who are really the heroes who managed to deliver for our business and for the country.
I must say that I am very fortunate to be able to be joining CTC at a time when the country is at peace, when it is going through a bit of an economic renaissance, and I hope that Ceylon Tobacco can continue to help the country continue on this path of economic growth in partnership with the government and the stakeholders in this country.
CTC as a company, decades before I’ve come here, has been dedicated to ensuring that it supports not only its business but also the development of the country and we will continue to do that as we go forward. I think as the Guest Speaker said, all of the companies in the country do have a responsibility to help with the development in line with the government’s development plans as well and we will continue to do so through the many programmes that we have done throughout the last several decades. In closing, I would like to thank and compliment Mr Parthipan, the Managing Director of BT Options for organising this event and also to congratulate the rest of the companies on the Top Twenty list. Thank you very much.
Amitha Gooneratne, Managing Director – Commercial Bank of Ceylon receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
The Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thero, Members of the Clergy, Chief Guest Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a great honour for me to be present here today on behalf of Commercial Bank of Ceylon to be represented in the TOP TWENTY list. We look towards the list as a matter of great satisfaction this year particularly as the number has been expanded to also encourage other members of the corporate sector in vying for this great, prestigious event. So we are very glad to see the number being increased. We are no strangers to this competition, as we have been in the rankings since the inception. We have indeed in the past been adjudged the best corporate and been in the rankings.
The year 2009, for which we have been assessed, was not one of the best years for the bank, because we came through from the global financial crisis, and there were lots of issues facing the banking industry. But mercifully, the war came to an end and thanks to this present regime, for bringing it to an end and ending terrorism, gave a lot of impetus to the banks to increase their performance and we ended the year with a fairly good result. So we chose the recipients of the bank and we have continued the good work, in the year 2010 as well in participating in the development of the country. They have been involved in very innovative projects like wind power, and that was a pioneering and innovative venture where we assisted our partners in providing finance. Likewise, as the year grows on we are very confident that we’ll have a better Sri Lanka and we congratulate the government for providing the infrastructure for this development.
Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Mathi Parthipan, for organising this event over many years and encouraging the corporate sector. Also in conclusion I would like to congratulate all the winners of this competition who have been in the ranking and the number one institution John Keells Holdings. Thank you.
Mangala Yapa, Managing Director/CEO – Colombo Dockyard receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Most Ven Maha Sangha, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen, First of all, we are very pleased and honoured to be adjudged among the Top Twenty companies of Sri Lanka, this happened to be the second occasion that we are adjudged.
Let me take a brief moment and express that Colombo Dockyard is a unique entity amongst these twenty companies. Today, we are earning almost two percent of Sri Lanka’s export revenue, competing in a global market. Perhaps one company that has taken the challenge to harmonise Sri Lankan expertise, engineering skills, talents and go out to the global market and make a mark in that regard. So, we’ve proven ourselves to be a local ship builder who can compete internationally and bring the Sri Lankan flag across the world. So our ‘made in Sri Lanka’ products are now flying many international waters, bringing pride and glory to mother Sri Lanka. We are indeed grateful for all the governments, successive governments who have helped us in building this capacity in Sri Lanka, all our past clients, specially Admiral Karannagoda who is here, the Sri Lanka Navy, Ports Authority who gave us the opportunity to harness this capacity and more than anything else capability and competency within this company and to face this challenge internationally.
Mr Weeratunga spoke about environmental concerns and other aspects of global business. Shipping industry is today going through major challenges. Although many businesses have recovered after the global economic recession, the shipping industry is still trying its best to get out of the aftermath of the global economic recession. Despite all these odds, for 2009/2010 when we were adjudged to the sixth position in this top twenty companies, we came way above many of our other competitors in the region. That is because we were able to focus on people, we were able to focus on team effort, we were able to work internally as well as externally and then make a unique product with dedication and commitment. So therefore, this award is dedicated to all the people, all the teams, from our Chairman down to the last worker in Colombo Dockyard who has made it possible. I also congratulate all the winners tonight and thank the Business Today and Mathi for the wonderful efforts taken to recognise all of us. Thank you.
Greg Young, CEO – Sri Lanka Telecom receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven Galaboda Thero and members of the Buddhist clergy, our Chief Guest, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Secretary to the President, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Attorney General, Mr Mohan Peiris, Managing Director of BT Options, Mr Mathi Parthipan, Hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of over 9,000 dedicated and hardworking employees across our subsidiaries and the main company of the Sri Lanka Telecom Group, it is my pleasure to accept this award on their behalf. I feel very humbled to be in such exalted company standing amongst our peers in the Sri Lankan corporate world, which just further underscores the importance of the efforts that underpin our achievement. The year 2009 was a challenging year, not only for Sri Lanka Telecom, as we saw our profits dip under the prevailing economic conditions, as did many corporates and businesses. But none more so than those in the Telecom sector, which experienced significant price competition and an erosion of profitability that impacted us all. Pleasingly, we have put behind us this challenging period and now our company and the sector in general has posted improving financial performances. The year 2009 saw us embark on many projects to expand and modernise telecommunications infrastructure in the North and the East resulting in significantly improved access to fixed voice, mobile voice, and broadband services in these previously war torn areas. Examples of these are many, but none more worthy than the example of our completion of the optical fibre expansion along the A9 highway.
With the commissioning of this link in 2010, our optical super highway linked the Jaffna peninsula to that of the rest of the country, thereby enabling broadband services’ capacity for expansion of our telecommunications services and the introduction of many corporate and business services into this peninsula. During 2009, we introduced new broadband packages and services that supported tremendous growth during this period and this was continued unabated during 2010. I remain very confident that this trend will continue as Sri Lanka Telecom drives broadband growth to increase penetration and close the gaps that exist between our ICT and broadband penetration and that of comparable countries. With mobile broadband from Mobitel, SLT ADSL fixed broadband, we continue to drive innovation in our services, improve performance and quality of service for our customers. At SLT, the broadband journey never ends. As the leading telecommunications provider in Sri Lanka, we remain dedicated and focused in delivering our mission for all Sri Lankans to be seamlessly connected with world class information and entertainment services.
My congratulations to Business Today and your team at the hard working magazine for your on going efforts to recognise and promote business performance in Sri Lanka and for your recognition of Sri Lanka Telecom again this year. On behalf of the SLT Board of Directors and my dedicated staff across all our group of companies, I thank you.
Nihal Fonseka, CEO – DFCC receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven Members of the Clergy, the Chief Guest, Hon Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Guest Speaker, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Mr Parthipan of Business Today, fellow award winners, distinguished invitees, I feel honoured and privileged to accept this award on behalf of DFCC Bank on being named among the TOP TWENTY companies for 2009-2010. Although I am standing here representing the bank, it is an award that belongs to all our stakeholders including our numerous clients, shareholders, employees, the community that we work in and the government who have supported us, all of whom who have contributed to our success. I must also record my appreciation to Business Today for conducting this ranking since 1998 and for expanding the list to 20, as it is a positive development and will be a source of encouragement to new and emerging companies in Sri Lanka to strive for greatness.
Ever since its founding in 1955, DFCC has been at the forefront at supporting development in Sri Lanka. In fact, we have been associated with many large businesses and companies who in their formative years were partnered by DFCC. I am happy to say that most of them continue to be our partners even today. We all know and it has been said, several times before, that the government through a very concerted effort, delivered to the people and the private sector of this country, more than a year ago, a country without the scourge of terrorism. We are now beginning to see a private sector which is not scared to make long term plans and I have no doubt that in the year 2011, the pace of implementation of those plans will gather speed. In our formative years, after the World War II and in the post independent Sri Lanka, DFCC was an instrument to nurture entrepreneurship in this country. For our part, we are still very well positioned to participate in this resurgence, beating infrastructure or thrust sector development to propel our country towards achieving the ambitious goals envisaged in the government’s development plans. Once again, I thank Business Today and Mr Parthipan for the continued commitment to this event. Thank you.
Mohan Pandithage, Chairman/CEO – Hayleys receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven Podi Hamuduruwo, Assaji Hamuduruwo and the other members of the clergy, our Chief Guest, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Members of Parliament, Hon Ministers, the Commander of the Army, the Attorney General Mr Mohan Peiris, keynote speaker and Secretary to the President, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, and other dignitaries, fellow award winners, ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honour and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of Hayleys Group and indeed to receive acknowledgement for our diverse business activities here tonight at the Business Today TOP TWENTY ceremony 2009-2010. With a proud history of over 130 years, Hayleys is today one of Sri Lanka’s largest multi national companies having a portfolio of globally competitive core businesses with over 140 companies spanning global markets and manufacturing, agriculture, transport and logistics, power and energy, consumer, leisure, aviation, and business processing outsourcing. As the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of coconut shells based activated carbon solutions, we are one of the few Sri Lankan entities to add value to waste materials such as coconut shell to produce world class products and services. Similarly, we are proud to be the largest manufacturer of rubber gloves with a clientele spanning over 70 countries. Today, Hayleys remain in the forefront of shipping, transportation and air freight services representing some of the world’s leading shipping lines and freight forwarders. We proudly state that 60 percent of the Hayleys revenue is generated through exports and 2.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s export income is contributed by Hayleys Group of Companies.
Though it has been challenging, some excellent work has taken place over the last few years and this is reflected in our placing tonight. Along the way, we have succeeded in enhancing technical skills at the grassroots level fostering an entrepreneurial spirit among diverse Sri Lankan communities. As I look back over 2010, what has been most rewarding are the benefits achieved from our sustainability and the development initiatives, some of them being unique to the country and well recognised by the global community as well. We are blessed to live in a lush, fertile country. Coconut, rubber and tea are commodities that have accounted for export income, employment and higher standards of life. From Hayleys perspective we have achieved business sustainability by conserving and effective utilisation, utilising these natural resources and this has helped us to weather harsh economic conditions.
I would like to conclude by thanking Mathi and Business Today, again for this honour. We expect that our tomorrows will be more rewarding because of the changes that we have made today. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention, enjoy the rest of the evening. Thank you very much
Harry Jayawardena, Chairman – DCSL receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst.
Most Ven Theros, Hon Mr Basil Rajapsaksa, our Chief Guest, Hon Mr Lalith Weeratunga, our guest, keynote speaker, Hon Attorney General, Chief of Armed Forces, Mr and Mrs Mathi, award winners, my friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Today is a very important occasion for us. Except for one year, from 1998 upto 2010, we have been in the group of, earlier top ten and today top 20. From the first place, we have been rotating in various places, and today we have been the tenth participant.
Mr Rajapaksa today you have the distinguished honour of being with us for a second time. You are holding a very key, a very dynamic, result orientated two key ministries. Hon Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa has paved the way for all of us who are here to come here and look for a better tomorrow. He has, which no one has done for the last 30 years, paved the way for all of us who are here in the private sector to make sure that we act vigorously, and more importantly to go forward without any fear of any terrorism. The guest speaker today has done a lot of research and he has, I must congratulate you sir, given a lot of food for thought. His topic was not one but many that gave us a lot of encouraging words. So all the captains who are here, the private sector, there is something that we could learn and also the Ven Thero, who made an appeal on behalf of our fellow countrymen who are in difficulties today to try and help them if any of us can do so. These are compassionate words, but we must show deeds.
I also must say, he must take all these captains in the private sector into confidence. They must be given all the encouragement, the local entrepreneur who has been over the years for the last 30 years, striving hard with all the aches with global recession, high interest rates, inflation, to strive and continue with their business. They never gave up. Thanks to Mr Mathi, from 1998 he has started this campaign, through which everybody was kept in tact and was given the encouragement to show that there are people in this country who can thrive even under these trying conditions without any assistance. We must congratulate them and thank them for their efforts. If you look at this list, this list contains the cream of the society that contributes more than 50 percent of the economy. My own company, we have diversified from our core business. Likewise, I earnestly appeal to all others to look forward, beyond borders, and to not only this country, look at the countries ahead, look at the agreements and the favourable conditions that have been created. Look at the free trade agreements with India, with Pakistan, and with other countries we have, the whole region opening. If one were to concentrate on this region, business can thrive and this country can be developed in no time.
At number 13, Aitken Spence, Dr Rohan Fernando – Director receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
All of us have freedom to think, to work, to travel, to do anything. Today the private sector economy is very responsible and they are always thinking of new ventures, new areas. So the government and Mr Minister, you must think of their plight. I am not discouraging the public sector, but having the public sector alone is not going to create a better tomorrow.
You will have to depend on these captains who are here. They have not only given employment, contributed to the economy of this country but they have, over the years, done yeoman service in trying to develop in these most trying conditions.
Now you must take them into confidence, you must give them some assistance, you must get their advice. I am not saying that the public sector decision makers are not capable of doing so, but these people who are here are experienced, they are here today because of their knowledge and their experience. So there is something out of nothing that you can take and I have confidence and they will deliver the goods.
We have been always, over the past 30 years, thinking when this curse will be over. For the last one and a half years we have had this freedom, but unfortunately, the expected growth within that period has not been achieved. This is something that all of us, the twenty captains must take note of. If you look at Vietnam, immediately after the war, see the development that they did. Look at other areas, other countries, look at Japan after the Second World War. Look at Europe after the Second World War. I am not saying or I am not comparing Sri Lanka to those countries. But at least from the history, you can learn a lesson. This is something that we must be mindful of, why we have not been able to achieve this speedy growth, what is wrong with us. Take stock of what has gone wrong or what is going to go wrong. If we do that, I am sure we will be able to go forward.
Having said that, there are so many others to speak. I thank Mr Parthipan once again for all your efforts in singlehandedly having this programme continuously year after year. I thank all the 20 winners, I wish you can make it 30 next year so that there will be other entrepreneurs, as the guest speaker said, who will be coming into the stream, who will be coming into the limelight. Now that the world is open before you, you are ready and you should have a better start and a quick start and join their line. Thank you and have a nice evening.
Russell De Mel, CEO – NDB Bank receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven members of the clergy, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Mrs Weeratunga, Mr Mohan Peiris, Attorney General, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, For 30 long years NDB played a dominant role financing SME and infrastructure projects of Sri Lanka. Today the NDB group is positioned as a unique knowledge hub encompassing fullfledged banking, capital markets which encompasses investment banking, wealth management and stock broking and of course insurance. Backed by a well trained and a skilled team, today the NDB group is well positioned to face the challenges arising from the programmes for economic reconstruction and development in the country. We at NDB believe that sound risk management is all about good lending.
There is a need to move away from collateral based lending and to make our judgments on cash flow based lending. The well-managed delinquencies, perhaps one of the lowest in the industry in the backdrop of a growing portfolio endorses our strength in credit risk management. We also believe that we have a bigger role to play in encouraging the unbanked to migrate to the banking sector. We need to build confidence in them and encourage them to get back to the banking sector. The livelihood development programme launched by the bank is a step in this direction and reflects very encouraging results. This is our contribution to the nation. They are our future customers. Tonight we are indeed proud and honoured with this felicitation. In this moment of honour I would like to share this accolade with our valid employees our loyal customers without whose dedication, commitment and patronage this achievement would not have been possible. I also need to pay tribute to my predecessor Eran who was in the audience a little while ago, who led the bank throughout the year 2010 and who should share part of this accolade. Last but not least I need to thank Mr Parthipan for this wonderful, great event that you’ve been organizing throughout and the great evening you’ve given us tonight. Thank you.
Abdul Waheed, Managing Director and Deputy CEO – Cargills (Ceylon) receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Respected clergy, Hon Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be here on behalf of Cargills to accept this TOP TWENTY award. This was possible only because of the commitment of the 7,000 associates who work at Cargills our business partners who are the farmers of this country, the small business enterprises and the corporates who supported us in this growth and most importantly the customers who had been continuously patronising our outlets and supporting us to grow further. Sri Lanka is on the right footing for a take off and we at Cargills believe that in this growth we are committed to the growth of this country and we will contribute in our small way towards the growth and development of Sri Lanka. Finally, I would like to thank Business Today for organising this event and making it a success. Thank you.
Anushman Rajaratnam, Managing Director – Lankem Ceylon receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Good evening, Venerable members of the clergy, Hon Minister of Economic Development, Mr Basil Rajapaksa, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen. The Board of Directors and staff of Lankem Ceylon PLC are honoured to be nominated by Business Today for this prestigious award. I would like to thank Business Today for expanding the number of companies that they have selected from ten to 20, because it provides us with motivation to improve every year, year on year. Lankem Ceylon today is an organisation of nearly 50, 000 employees. We are present in many of the most crucial sectors of our economy. We are an important player in agriculture to provide innovative crop protection solutions, yield maximisation chemicals for our farmers, we continue to play a major role in the production of tea and rubber in our country and we have a presence in hospitality and leisure. Ladies and gentlemen I come from a generation that until May of 2009 has known war and conflict, in the time since then we have been provided with many opportunities to improve our country and for me to do my business. I am thankful for these opportunities and I will strive to make my country and my company proud. Thank you.
Kapila Jayawardena, CEO – Lanka Orix Leasing Company receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Most venerable members of the Maha Sanga, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, other distinguished members here and friends. We are very honoured to accept this award from Business Today. In fact, this is the first time that LOLC is winning this award and we hope to be here in the long-term. So I would like to thank Business Today for extending the awards from ten to 20 best, top companies in Sri Lanka. We have seen the transformation of LOLC in the past thirty years from a pure leasing company into a conglomerate mainly focusing on financial services. I would like to dedicate this award to the hard working staff who have really helped us to achieve what we have done at this stage. So again I would like to thank Business Today for this award. Thank you very much.
Alois Hofbaur, Managing Director – Nestle Lanka receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Respected members of the clergy, Hon Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Hon Lalith Weeratunga, Members of the Parliament and distinguished guests, I am very proud that we Nestlé has for the first time been selected into this group of fine Sri Lankan companies and that our contribution to the country has been recognised. Nestlé has been in Sri Lanka for over 100 years in the good times and bad. So I am very very happy that now in the good times again I can report to you. We trusted our report meeting and our report has actually proved that we invest over ten billion Sri Lankan Rupees in the development of our facilities in Sri Lanka.
Nestlé philosophy is what we call creating shared value. Today we actually have invested heavily in the dairy industry and we collect on a daily basis from over 15,000 farmers – daily milk, fresh milk, which we process, manufacture and market in Sri Lanka. So I am very very proud to be a part of this distinguished team of companies. And once again we are proud to be a part of the history, which Sri Lanka is writing to become the Miracle of Asia. Thank you very much.
Kishu Gomes, Managing Director – Chevron Lubricants Lanka receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Most Ven Maha Sanga, Minister of Economic Development Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Guest Speaker this evening, secretary to His Excellency the President Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Members of Parliament, distinguished invitees, fellow corporate leaders, ladies and gentlemen, To begin with let me thank my good friend, Mathi Parthipan for his decision to recognise 20 companies this time as opposed to recognising ten companies in the past, which paved the way for Caltex – we are better known as Caltex – to come back and win this award once again. I remember winning this award for three consecutive years, during early 2000. So thank you very much. I must say this decision is very timely, given that there are 242 companies listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange today. So 20 is roughly about nine percent, which I think is a good percentage to maintain. Having said that, we at Chevron have been winning many awards on a regular basis and winning awards for Caltex has been a regular feature. Having said that I must say that this award, is very very special. There are other competitions in this country where you’ll find companies that are making huge losses winning the top place. But you don’t find a single company making losses in this list. Therefore, the companies that are winning awards tonight are a strength to the country’s economy.
I must say that being further encouraged and inspired by this award, we will be committing ourselves to adding greater value to the motherland. We as a company over the years have been focusing on a strategy that helps the country’s economic growth. While there is 49 percent shareholding in the hands of the public, we have been exporting products to two countries that directly come under the purview of the Sri Lankan operation. In those countries, the growth has been phenomenal. We are keen to further grow the volume, revenue, profitability to help the country’s economic growth. While there is a multinational background, I am proud to say that there is not a single expatriate working in our organisation. Over the years we’ve been able to enhance the performance of our company with Sri Lankans. That goes to show that we the Sri Lankans can perform as good as the expatriates or better than the expatriates. Also we’re quite pleased with the fact that we have been able to contribute over three billion rupees to the government coffers on an annual basis.
With the business growing we believe we’ll be able to contribute more. We also have strategic partnerships with several large companies in Sri Lanka. To name a few, Hayleys Logistics, its Chairman made a good speech, just a while ago, we have a strategic partnership with them where they handle our distribution and warehousing. Then we also have a strategic partnership with the number one plastic manufacturer in Sri Lanka, Phoenix. By the way we are the largest plastic consumer in Sri Lanka. So we have that partnership with them and apart from that we’re also the largest steel drum consumer in Sri Lanka. We buy 95 percent of Sedawatte Mills production for our manufacturing process. Apart from that we have tie ups with various service companies and other companies for various inputs that we use in the manufacturing process.
So we are quite pleased with our ability to contribute towards the success of those organisations as well. While we have a limited number of permanent employees, we have provided indirect employment to about 5,000 people across the island. We do have a mega warehouse operation covering the entire island, and then we have our channel brands numbering thousands. So these channels employ over 5,000 people. I can go on and on talking about the value creation we are bringing onto the table and we’re quite pleased with that.
We at Chevron believe in delivering the results the right way and we believe that the right way is the right way for the country too. Before I quit I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the government for presenting a budget that is very very private sector friendly. We have the right environment now, other things are falling into place, and its up to us now to perform, perform in such a way that helps the country’s march towards achieving economic independence. So again I would like to thank Parthipan for taking the decision to recognise 20 companies and we are keen to keep on elevating our ranking so that through that process there’ll be greater value being realised for my own country. Thank you very much, wish every one of you a better future, Semata Theruwan Saranai.
Edgar Gunatunga, Chairman – Tokyo Cement receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Reverend members of the clergy, Hon Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, the Secretary to the President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, First and foremost, we at Tokyo Cement are greatly encouraged, that Tokyo Cement has been placed among the first 20 well-run business houses during 2010. I take the opportunity to thank Business Today for the event.
Ladies and gentlemen, please permit me to say a few words regarding Tokyo Cement. This is very interesting. It was incorporated to build and operate a large sophisticated Cement Mill in Trincomalee. The founder was Mr Samuel Gnanam, late Mr Gnanam, was a very highly respected entrepreneur with a lot of vision. The plan came into operation in December ’84 and within a very short period of time the company’s product cement was highly accepted in the market place. Unfortunately this did not continue long for the main asset of the company in Trinco got destroyed by the terrorist bombings. Mr Gnanam being a great fighter was not disheartened. He found it extremely difficult to raise money from the shareholders and most of the banks, but fortunately through financial assistance of Commercial Bank, Amitha, you are here, you must be pleased to hear that he got the company or the mill going again.
Today I would consider Tokyo Cement as a big conglomerate. It has five subsidies, all engaged in cement and allied products. The company has four ships, for its own use, its private jetty in Trincomalee, a very sophisticated bagging plant in the port of Colombo.
I am very very pleased to say that last few years the company has been enjoying 34 percent of the cement market in the country, notwithstanding there are three foreign well-known names operating in the country in cement. I believe this is entirely due to the superior product of the company. The company makes good profits, but it is the policy of the company to pay a reasonable dividend to the shareholders and retain most of the profits in the business because we believe this country needs further development and the best way to development is generate profits and retain the profits for development purposes. The company is very particular in research and development and it was only about two years ago that the company invested 5.2 billion, not million, billion rupees in installing a vertical rolling mill and a bio mass power generating plant. Just a word about the power generating plant, it is a ten megawatt plant: it uses Gliricidia firewood and paddy husk for the operation, it generates sufficient power for the company’s entire use and also they have excess power that we sell to the national grid. The residue ash goes to manufacturing cement. The company employs over 600 people and we are very pleased, most of the employees who joined the company at the initial stages, are still with the company.
Mr Minister, we are very conscious that cement is a very important component in your development infrastructure. We can assure you that we will provide you with necessary raw materials in your ventures. Also it is the policy of the company to be very much aligned to our social responsibilities, so much so, before we consider a dividend, we put away part of our profits for charitable and such like purposes. Frankly, I like to conclude on a personal note, I did banking for 57 years, now I am engaged in manufacture of cement, and I find that the latter is as interesting as banking. Thank you gentlemen.
Ranjith Pandithage, Managing Director and CEO – Diesel & Motor Engineering receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven Maha Sanga, Hon Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Attorney General Mr Mohan Peiris, Secretary to the President Mr Lalith Weeratunga and Madam Weeratunga, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a proud day for DIMO. With a very humble beginning, 71 years ago our founder fathers Mr T S Peiris H A Algama, C A Algama, and my father Alexander, started this business in difficult times, with the advent of the World War II. During this 75 years we have come a long way and today we are recognised by the Business Today being in the first 20 companies.
We represent world’s top brands from OSRAM light bulb to Mercedes Benz car to sophisticated medical equipment from Siemens, watch products etc. Why have they laid trust on us. Our founder fathers have inculcated in us the ethical way of doing business, sustainability triple bottom line, and corporate governance first, even 71 years ago, which is very modern today. To look after these top brass we must have a world class team. For capacity building we spend a lot of time and that’s why we’re here in the TOP TWENTY.
Because I lead a team, we are a top board and I have a world class team so that we could achieve this. This year we’ll be celebrating a couple of milestones. We are celebrating the birth of the automobile. In 1886, Carl Benz invented the car on January the 29th. So we are celebrating 125 years. We are also celebrating our relationship with TATA Motors, we are the first export country for TATA, 50 years ago we started with them. We are the largest exporter of TATA Motors products here. So we would probably say we showed the world to TATAs.
Also sir, I think our great school was created 125 years ago, Ananda College was created by Col Olcott 125 years ago. Mr Lalith Weeratunga talked about vocational training and CSR effects. In fact I contributed for NAITA about 25 years ago when NAITA was created. We have an automobile school with Mercedes Benz which is about 20 years old and we started a year ago the same school in Jaffna also. We do not charge the students, it’s a world recognised qualification, that the automobile technicians get. In fact we don’t even bond them. So with this certificate they could go anywhere in the world. In fact in Melbourne, there’s a DIMO Automobile School to alumni.
Thanks to Podi Hamuduruwo and Assaji Hamuduruwo, we are starting a similar school in Sooriyawewa. I would like to thank Business Today for recognising us to be in the first 20. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.
Eastman Narangoda, Chairman – Seylan Bank receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Nayaka Thero, and other members of the Maha Sanga, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, and other members of Parliament, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, and Mrs Weeratunga, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Two years ago, I would have never dreamed that Seylan Bank could be ranked among the TOP TWENTY companies in Sri Lanka, when considering the unprecedented crisis we faced during the early part of the year 2009. Frankly speaking we faced a run on the Bank. To me the crisis was an important chapter in the Bank’s history. It taught us lessons that today have become lessons not only for Sri Lanka’s corporate arena, but for the entire world. I must say that no bank in the world has survived the utter run but in Sri Lanka we did that.
Thanks to the Government and the Central Bank for their timely intervention, and for appointing us to run the affairs of the Bank. Our case study won an unprecedented number of awards at the Oscars of Annual Reports in New York last year, at the International Ark Awards, winning five awards, including that of the prestigious Chairman’s Letter. This was ample evidence that Seylan Bank had got its recipe right. Our Governors and management initiatives were back on track as were our processes. Our outlook too was one of pragmatism. At the same time while winning awards we made sure that the bank returned to the glory it once enjoyed. All the initiatives we implemented since 2008 December were challenging.
It meant belt tightening; budget cutting and gaining back lost confidence. It also meant that our team had to outperform their competitors to ensure that we made our way up the ladder.
Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, it hasn’t been easy and I am sure my team at Seylan feels the same way. At the beginning I must say that, normally the Board meets once a month, but at the beginning we met once a week and started with the board meeting at 4.30, it went on till about two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning. We had to put in a lot of hard work to come to this situation. Today we stand here, as one of the TOP TWENTY companies in Sri Lanka, to wear a crown that meant hard work and many sacrifices. What is now exciting and rewarding is that we have overcome most of our obstacles. We have turned this large bank around. We have truly now become that ‘bank with a heart’ which is what we espoused from inception.
To be chosen as one of the TOP TWENTY companies in Sri Lanka by Business Today, I must thank Mr and Mrs Parthipan for giving us this opportunity. It is indeed an honour. My heartfelt appreciation to the panel of judges and Mr and Mrs Parthipan, and to Business Today who have undoubtedly been discerning, just and fair in the choices they have made and thank you for presenting Seylan Bank with yet another rung of confidence in the country. This award belongs firstly to the Government of Sri Lanka, and also the Central Bank and to my Board of Directors, and the Seylan team who have worked tirelessly during this time to get us back onto a strong foothold and sustainable platform. Thank you my Board of Directors, team Seylan, the Government of Sri Lanka, and the Central Bank and the other stakeholders. Thank you very much once again.
Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director – Lanka Walltile receiving the award from Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Also in the picture, Lalith Weeratunga – Secretary to the President and Keith Bernard – Business Today TOP TWENTY analyst
Veerable sirs, Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Mr Mohan Peiris, and ladies and gentlemen, It is indeed a great honour, to be recognised this evening, as one of the TOP TWENTY companies in Sri Lanka.
At Lanka Walltiles our passion is to add value to Sri Lankan soil and market our products around the world. I am very happy to say that today at Lanka Walltiles is a globally recognised brand, in the ceramic tile industry. We will continue to invest in our country to add value to the lifestyle of our people. In that I am sure you will be pleased to know that we will be commissioning in a few weeks what I describe as the most technologically advanced tile manufacturing plant in this part of the world. With interests in plantation, packaging, and aluminium, Lanka Walltile Group will play a leading role in our country’s development. This award therefore goes out to over 12,000 men and women who contributed to the growth of this company as employees.
Finally with all humility, we at Lanka Walltiles take pride in being part of what is so close to your heart. Your home. Thank you for trusting Lanka Walltiles.
A person who is calm amidst the storm, diligent and persevering, hardworking, a meticulous planner and master strategist but most of all a humble human –
that is Minister Basil Rajapaksa. He recognises those who are genuine and work tirelessly as he. Having worked very closely with Minister Rajapaksa we have clearly seen that he works towards the upliftment of all communities regardless of race, caste, religion, gender or creed. There are no barriers.
As the Minister of the powerful Ministry of Economic Development much responsibility lies on his shoulders. From rural empowerment to tourism and investment, all aspects come under the purview of the Minister. With the end of the conflict there is an expected boom from these areas of the economy. Minister Rajapaksa is actively engaged in promoting tourism, investment and economic development in the country. He has always focused on remaining true to our roots, our identity where the country’s natural resources, heritage and culture are taken to the world. Much has been achieved in all spheres, especially in rural empowerment thereby reducing poverty from 15 percent to 7.6 percent in 2010. Minister Rajapaksa takes personal interest in all aspects and constantly provides encouragement to those who contribute to development of the country. Minister Basil Rajapaksa is a strength to our nation and we are extremely proud that he was our Chief Guest on this special occassion.
From left to right: Mathi K Parthipan, Chairman/Managing Director of BT Options, Russell De Mel, CEO of NDB Bank, Abdul Waheed, Managing Director and Deputy CEO of Cargills (Ceylon), Ranjith Pandithage, Chairman/Managing Director/ CEO of Diesel and Motor Engineering, Nihal Fonseka, CEO, DFCC Bank, Dr Rohan Fernando, Director, Aitken Spence, Eastman Narangoda, Chairman of Seylan Bank, A M Pandithage, Chairman of Hayleys, Kishu Gomes, Managing Director of Chevron Lubricants Lanka, Rajendra Theagarajah, Managing Director/CEO of Hatton National Bank, Mano Selvanathan, Director, Bukit Darah, Keith Bernard, Analyst, Business Today TOP TWENTY, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Chief Guest Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman/CEO of John Keells Holdings, Harry Jayawardena, Chairman/Managing Director of Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, Kapila Jayawardena, Group Managing Director of LOLC, Greg Young, CEO of Sri Lanka Telecom, Alois Hofbauer, Managing Director, Nestle Lanka, Amitha Gooneratne, Managing Director, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Edgar Gunatunga, Chairman, Tokyo Cement, Mangala Yapa, Managing Director/CEO of Colombo Dockyard, Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltile, Anushman Rajaratnam, Managing Director of Lankem Ceylon and James Yamanaka, CEO of Ceylon Tobacco Company
Anoma Laphir, Indrani Weeratunga, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Mohan Peiris, Attorney General, Glenda Parthipan, Mathi K Parthipan, Chairman/Managing Director of BT Options with Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple
Ven Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, Ven Kirinde Assaji Thero, Ven Viyapaththugama Revatha Thero, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Former Commander of the Navy, Lakshman Hulugalle, Director General of the Media Centre for National Security and Willie Gamage, Secretary to the Ministry of State Resources and Enterprise Development
Sonali Kadurugamuwa and Udeshi Amarasinghe, BT Options
Minister Basil Rajapaksa with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga with staff of BT Options