The Business Today TOP TWENTY award ceremony, acknowledged the top echelon of corporate Sri Lanka, recognising their prowess during the financial year 2010-2011.
The event was held on December 12, 2011, under the patronage of Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and an unprecedented gathering of the business fraternity and distinguished dignitaries.
The event and media coordination was by Glenda Parthipan of Emphasis.
This included the concept, entertainment and decor for the evening.
Garuthara Sangharathnayen avasarai, Hon D M Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Wickremesinghe, Hon Ministers, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Members of Parliament, Members of the Opposition, foreign dignitaries, Government Officials, leaders and members of the business community, we welcome you to the Business Today TOP TWENTY for the financial year 2010-2011.
The financial year 2010-2011 has been one of steady growth and consolidation where the private sector has cautiously expanded and ventured into new sectors during the second year of post war Sri Lanka. Though many have taken a prudent path of growth, stability and innovation, there are those who have taken that extra step to take their businesses and in retrospect Sri Lanka to the next level. The Business Today TOP TWENTY ranking for the year 2010-2011 reflects the dynamism and competitiveness of corporate Sri Lanka. It sets apart the giants who have made their presence felt.
Sonali Kadurugamuwa and Udeshi Amarasinghe, BT Options
We are honoured by the presence of Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara thero, the Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya Temple, Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka thero, Venerable Kirinde Assaji thero, and Venerable Viyapaththugama Revatha thero. It is with great privilege that we hold this event under the patronage of Hon D M Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition and we wish to thank them for taking the time to be with us today. Unity is strength and today is proof of that.
At this moment we take the opportunity to show our gratitude and appreciation to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Armed Forces, Police, CDF and Military Intelligence for giving us peace and freedom. If not for them we would not be able to hold events such as this. At this time we wish to take a moment to thank those who have been with us through thick and thin; Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara thero, the Chief Incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple, whom we fondly address as Podi Hamuduruwo has been our guiding light. Podi Hamuduruwo has always given us advice and stood by us in good times and bad. His support and encouragement has been unconditional. Api hisa nama Podi Hamuduruwanta namaskara karamu. We would like to take a moment to thank His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka for his continuous support and guidance given to us.
We wish to thank Mr Harry Jayawardena for always supporting us. He has been with us even before Business Today came into being. Mr Jayawardena’s continuous support, has been a strength to us. His support given to our magazines during difficult times is greatly appreciated. We would like to take a moment to thank Mr Dayasiri Jayasekera, especially for the support rendered to us, which we remember with great gratitude.
We would like to thank Mr Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines for his continuous support. We would also like to thank Mr Suren Rajakarier, of KPMG for his enthusiasm and consistent drive towards the Business Today TOP TWENTY. We would also like to thank Mr Dinesh Weerakkody, Mr Keith Bernard and Mr Shiron Gooneratne for their contribution to the Business Today TOP TWENTY.
We would like to thank Mr Sagala Ratnayake for the assistance given to us. We thank Dr Haroon for his support. We would also like to thank Mr Rohan Karr, General Manager of Cinnamon Grand and his team.
Last but not least we also wish to thank Mr Manilal Fernando, our godfather, for being there for us from the inception.
As reflected in the Business Today TOP TWENTY, the leaders of corporate Sri Lanka have grown stronger, which represents their stability and steady growth over the years. With the end of the conflict the availability of new opportunities has given much required encouragement to entrepreneurs and young businesses that will pose a clear challenge to the market leaders. We sincerely hope that the Sri Lankan private sector continue to take the initiative of becoming the engine of growth.
We are extremely sorry for any lapse in protocol. At such events these lapses are unavoidable and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. We thank all of you for accepting our invitation and being present here in celebration of the Business Today TOP TWENTY.
“Just 16 years old, Podi Hamuduruwo is handed the administrative running of the temple. Still a student attending lessons he takes leave to conduct interviews and select learned priests for the pirivena. Once concluded, he returns to his lessons to learn from a teacher he only just appointed…Great is the weight of responsibility on young shoulders. Greater still, is how they were borne.”
The life of Podi Hamuduruwo, as he is popularly known, is best viewed through his meritorious work not only as a Buddhist priest, but also a leader who has lent his steadfast support, be it for uplifting communities or for the triumph of right over wrong. From remedial words of advice to building entire livelihoods, decades of innumerable deeds display the sheer strength and foresight of an infallible character.
The Venerable Maha Sanga, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mrs Wickremesinghe, The Mayor of Colombo, Members of Parliament, honoured guests. I am happy that from the time this endeavour was begun, I have been invited to speak a few words and give blessings to all of you. Mr Mathi Parthipan and Mrs Parthipan together with a staff who are devoted to them like brothers and sisters have come a long way. Winning the hearts of all those who are connected to the business community in this country – although at times there may have been slight differences, which were resolved along the way – he has personally ventured to create a name for and introduce the Sri Lankan Business Community to the whole world. We are thankful to him for that. He has earned the respect of consecutive state leaders of this country both male and female and carried his business very independently and efficiently, bringing honour to the country. In this regard he has received the blessings of all religions. He has also given much from his personal wealth and strength to develop our rest house in Kataragama, and he holds the prestige in leading the venture to provide free lodging for 3,000 people per day in Kataragama. We are thankful to Mr Mathi Parthipan and Mrs Parthipan and also the staff for their support given to us for the development of the vocational training programmes that we initiated by the side of the Beira Lake during the time of the Youth Services Ministry of Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe.
We are also thankful to the business community for their care and dedication in directing youth onto a better path. Even though I do not mention names, those who were involved in our cause can be happy now about assisting these youth. Today, the Beira Lake is being developed beautifully. His Excellency the President, Defence Secretary, Armed Forces and Police decorated the area for the Vesak festival in a splendid way during the past two years. I remember that it was I who suggested to Hon Minister John Amaratunga that Christmas should be celebrated in Sri Lanka too as in countries such as Singapore, in a splendid manner. The Sri Pada is a place that Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike gather for worship. The Vesak festival is also of a similar nature. So are Hindu festivals. Therefore, in this country where terrorism is non-existent today, the business community has gained independence and while the country is gearing towards great development we should not forget that we have had to face various problems from various people around the world. Therefore, we should all be in agreement with each other, be united and act intelligently and with perseverance. Only then can we develop this tiny Sri Lanka. As a business community; institutions that are named here and those which have moved away from here, and all others must aim to develop this country without taking race, religion or any other disagreements into consideration.
Today we are very happy that the Hon Prime Minister and our Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe are present here together. What Mr Mathi Parthipan has done is a very good and insightful deed. The Government has initiated the plan to decorate the Beira Lake and its surroundings for Christmas and treat the visitors here.
His Excellency the President, the Armed Forces, the Police department and Defence Secretary Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa have been involved in this task. Our Mayor is a very moderate person. His co-operation is given towards beautifying this town. The business community too, soon after this country was united, allowed us to live peacefully in this country and give our strength to all. Sri Lanka was very developed in the past.
Sri Lanka and Burma were the two most important countries in Asia in history. I hope that this country will return to its former glory, and that you will have the strength and power to bring the country towards this goal. Blessings to Mr Mathi Parthipan, Mrs Parthipan and the staff and I wish that all their efforts may succeed. May Sri Lanka have a prosperous and blessed future.
D M Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, having first entered the Parliament representing the Doluwa electorate in the 1970 General Election, is a veteran Sri Lankan politician and a founding member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
As the current Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, he endeavours to carry forward into the contemporary political arena, virtues and political traditions that were once revered. Having held and managed a series of ministerial positions throughout his political career Prime Minister Jayaratne brings into his current office, a wealth of experience. He forges ahead determined to create a better society that respects equality and where religion is exalted as the core value in the lives of its people.
Gaurawaniya Podi Hamuduruwo athulu Maha Sangarathnayen avasarai, Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Wickremesinghe, Commander of the Army, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga, Hon Ministers, Mr K Parthipan, Chairman/ Managing Director – BT Options, the TOP TWENTY recipients of awards today, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen.
I wish to thank Mr Parthipan, Chairman/Managing Director of BT Options for the kind invitation extended to me to attend this award ceremony as its chief guest. This is an occasion to felicitate the best performers of our country’s private sector whose contribution to the country’s economic growth over the years had been immense. It is quite fitting that we recognise the high performers yearly and bestow on them awards, which will be a source of encouragement to all those in the private sector.
I understand that BT Options had been organising this award ceremony as an annual event which is quite praiseworthy. There is much hard work that is involved in the selection of leading corporate performers. The selection of TOP TWENTY is strictly based on published financial information of companies listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. Established financial criteria used for the selection are: Sales Turnover, Growth in Sales Turnover, Profit, Growth in Profit, Return on Equity, Growth in Earnings per Share, Market Capitalisation, Value of Shares Transacted and Value Addition. Ensuring that all business and industry sectors are equitably represented, the weights are assigned to the criteria after due consideration of their significance.
BT Options started initially selecting TOP 10 corporate performers and now the ranking has been increased to 20, which is quite salutary as more companies are encouraged to vie for places having entered the fray. This type of competition among entrepreneurs would strengthen their resolve and resilience to grow, thereby improving the economy of the nation. It is the contribution of the high performers that will propel our country’s economy to greater heights. Ours is a mixed economy. We expect the growth of the private sector side by side the public sector. In fact, the private sector is considered the engine of growth. Since Independence, successive Governments have encouraged the growth of the private sector and incentives were given for its growth.
Setting up of the Board of Investment, establishment of Industrial Estates and Economic Centres in many parts of the country, awarding of tax holidays and incentives to prospective investors and a host of other measures were mooted by successive Governments to help develop the private sector. In fact, when we examine the 2012 Budget Proposals of His Excellency the President, we note that many incentives has been proposed in the Budget for the growth of the private sector. It is up to the private sector organisations to grasp the opportunities provided to expand and attain high growth in their respective fields. Recognising the high performers in the private sector would, undoubtedly go a long way in strengthening their resolve and commitment to continue with their high performance. That also will be an example to their fellow entrepreneurs.
May I once again thank BT Options for organising this event to recognize our country’s high achievers. While requesting BT Options to continue with these awards annually, I wish the award ceremony all success!
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, lays claim to a political career spanning 35 years. He has held numerous positions including the Prime Minister of the country. His experience is diverse, his service to the country is immense, with great knowledge and versatility, he is looked up to by many.
The hallmarks of his statesmanship are absolute tolerance, consensus building, strategic thinking, a vision outside the box, firmness of purpose, decisiveness when required and silence at other times. As the Leader of the UNP and Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe stands as an affirmation of the stately hood of the Sri Lankan politician.
Venerable members of the Clergy, Ministers, Parliamentarians, leaders of the corporate world and friends. In a moment of forgetfulness I had promised Mathi sometime back to attend one of the award ceremonies. As usual whenever I was reminded I kept putting it off, but then I thought, ‘‘Look both Mathi and wife have done such a wonderful job. If not for anything else, I should come and say well done and thank you.’’ So that is the main purpose that I have come here. But when I came and looked at the awards that were given at the TOP TWENTY awards, I was rather confused. On one hand you are giving Harry Jayawardena, the Distilleries Company, and Aitken Spence an award for being in the TOP TWENTY while the Government is punishing him saying his subsidiary Pelawatte Sugar has underperformed all this time. One of the two has to be true. So I was thinking to myself – I hope you don’t get angry with me – what is the use of having a TOP TWENTY when the underperforming and the underutilised assets act has a big schedule? It includes not only Harry but also my political colleague Daya Gamage of the Daya Group and Daya Wettasinghe and many others. Anyway, thank you for somehow recognising them and for keeping them going.
So I asked Mathi, ‘‘What on earth do I speak when I come here?’’ He said, you were one of those who was involved in starting the market economy. You have done the reforms. Why don’t you say something about it? I said, everyone has forgotten that the UNP was responsible for the market economy. That is as much a part of history as much as Mahasen building the Minneriya Tank. Then what do I talk about? But looking back I first have to say thank you to the corporate world. They have done a good job, especially during the war. From the time we started in 1977 when we began the market economy, then the round of liberalisations I did with the strategy for industrialisation, which President Premadasa encouraged, things have changed. But during a difficult time you all have kept the economy going. That is where I have to commend you. But at the same time I have to say the world has changed, and the slack that was created by the war has now been filled in the last two years. We can no longer say that the war is over and the economy is going to boom. To get that opportunity you have to capitalize and go ahead, instead of which there are other factors which we have to face. And do not for a moment think that the global economy is not going to impact on us. It is going to impact on us and that is the key issue, also what is happening here.
I was surprised today morning – today afternoon actually, I must say morning in London but afternoon here when I read it – I read two Occasional Papers published by the Bank of England over the weekend. Here they are praising the Bretton Woods Agreement and finding something good. A concept which had been derided and attacked in the last decade, looks like they are coming back to fashion. The Occasional Paper is not the view of the Bank of England but it is basically the scouts who go ahead to find the reaction. So having read it, I thought I should read it out to you. ’In the future of international capital flows’, they said the experience of the past decade has demonstrated challenges that international capital flows can pose for financial stability.
And among those that they are recommending are the use of capital control. The use of capital control is done by the Bank of England’s Occasional Paper. And they are talking about the reform of international monetary and financial system. The next paper which deals with it admits that the present system has not been able to tackle the three issues of internal balance, allocative efficiency – this is what we all say, the market is the best act – and financial stability.
And what are they talking of? They are talking of a rules based system which should prevail; rules based is what Bretton Woods is. But about 15 years ago or more in the mid 1990s after the fall of communism, the IMF, the World Bank and the US Treasury imposed market fundamentalism on the world. And what is that? That basically is that the primacy of the markets will resolve both our economic and social problems. It has certainly achieved it. It lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in Asia and Africa. It has transformed the communist economies, it has shifted manufacturing to the Asian and African regions. But while doing so it has created social inequality. So as some of them say one percent worse than 99 percent, and that’s a reflection. Secondly by allowing the market and the market alone to determine issues you run into the biggest economic crisis since the Depression of 1931.
I remember about a year and a half or two years back reading an article interview by Joseph Stiglitz and he said the fall of the Wall Street is to market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall is to communism; and now market fundamentalism has been buried by its own founders. The G20 drove a nail into its coffin at the London Summit in 2009 but unfortunately they are still driving nails into that coffin instead of wondering what the replacement is. The fight we have today is not between Marxism or a control economy and a market economy but the directions it should take because the world has failed to come up – either the Americans or the others have failed to come up with what the alternative method is, or what the path has to be. The two views that are prevailing have now come into conflict last week. It was an important week for everyone in the private sector and the public sector. Where did you see that conflict take place? In Brussels when the EU met.
While the Americans and the Anglo-Saxons have been pressing market fundamentalism, the continentals did not accept it. And when the Lisbon Treaty was drafted they did put in article two which said “the highly competitive social market economy aiming at full employment and social progress”, there was very little that they could do then. But with the crisis that took place, the fall of the Wall Street, they have now come out with their own theory. Americans at least have found now a scapegoat for the fall of the Wall Street which is none other than Raj Rajaratnam; if you think the whole world has fallen because of him. They are now pushing this issue and now the time has come where the Europeans feel that the financial markets, which were responsible for this fall, have to be regulated, while the Americans and the British – the Anglo-Saxons – want to protect the financial market, which is a big part of their economy and which allows them to dominate.
I think many of us who are in the International Democrat Union have seen this; this clash taking place within it, between the Conservative Party plus the ruling parties of Germany and France, which are also members of the International Democrat Union, to the extent that the Conservatives walked out of the European People’s Party, formed their own party. And the European People’s Party – the Germans, the French, the Swedes and others – blocked it from getting recognition in the IDU for sometime and to step in. I am not surprised. This in a way is a clash that has come, because the Germans feel partly, “Look we are not going to spend our money to rescue others”. They feel that the financial markets push the concept of Eurobonds to get the Germans to rescue the banks and they said we are not going to save the financial markets. You must take a haircut. But what has come now is something for the future.
By controlling the budget deficits and the structural deficits they feel they can get a grip on the financial markets. The British have opted out. But I must tell you one thing. What will it lead to? It will most probably lead not to a solution but to a trade war with the continentals trying to control. The European Union and Eurozone and others trying to control the financial markets and the Anglo-Saxons trying to fight back. And you will see very soon, efforts that have been made by the continentals to regulate the financial markets; already the Germans are saying the German banks in London must pay the Tobin Tax. They have to pay the financial transaction tax. That is the fight and that is there and that is the key issue.
Will this resolve the main issues the global economy faces? I don’t think so. The main issue is not anything else but we are all politicians. At the end of the day whether you like it or not politics decides the issues and as long as you find you have no solution to growth, jobs and household budgets, Europe and America – North America – is going to be in serious trouble. And the rest of the world, because the market may be a billion people per capita GDP of USD 25,000 or more, will not grow and they cant pay their debts. Even the agreement itself has not sparked off any major response in the markets. In addition, Finland says the Parliament must look at it, Ireland says there has to be a referendum, Netherland wants the Parliament to look at it and today I found that a member of the Board of the Bundes Bank has said, “look we are not going to allow our money to be given to the IMF to circumvent the rules of the EU and start funding countries.” Then the President of the Bundes also said he wants the Constitutional Court to examine it. So this is the major issue that we are faced with.
And that is going to impact on all of us, it’s going to impact on China, it’s going to impact on India and it’s going to impact on Sri Lanka and this tussle. Finally, remember all these agreements are useless because each country is a national democracy and their electorates will decide what happens, and what can be done; if they can take the pain, they’ll take the pain, if they can’t take the pain, the agreements will be broken; so that is the position that we are all in. Remember that this is going to impact on all of us as moneys are pulled back into Europe and America, leaving the markets in this part of the world. Secondly, there is another important decision taken a few days later in Durban. The Kyoto Agreement will be extended. The efforts made success fully in Copenhagen by the Americans, the Chinese and the Indians to derail the Kyoto Agreements failed this time because the Europeans got together with the rest of the developing world; so there is a commitment to a legal treaty, with legal impact – a document legal impact – to replace the Kyoto and by 2020 to come into place. That means in our terms low carbon technologies and the whole issue of global warming and how to go from it. This is going to have an impact and it is going to be managed by a market mechanism. So this is one way in which all the markets industry and services are going to move. The third one is of course the issue of technology which is developing so fast. You are talking of policing the markets but the Internet moves everything finally, so even the issue of policing the Internet will come, but technology will drive it on one hand whatever we politicians try to do. So those are three issues that are going to impact us.
Then of course we come also to Sri Lanka and as I have told you the slack that was created by the war is over. Where do we go from here? You know, in 1977 when we started and again in 1992, we devised our own strategies picking the areas; Mahaweli, Free Trade Zone, 200 garment factories, hotels and pushed it. But in the mid 1990s I don’t know why but for some reason or the other the IMF was able to impose its fundamentalism on Sri Lanka and where we didn’t have any policy goals or documents except to have the regular poverty reduction and growth strategy, which in other words has not reduced poverty. So what we have had is, without guidance we have been moving around. I have found this in 2003 when I brought in ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ the fight we had with the IMF; they just wouldn’t accept it but fortunately because we had the peace process and the Tokyo talks I was able to impose my will. But we are no longer in that. What has the IMF done instead? They have told us, go in have your sovereign bonds, and what will happen to the whole exchange if Europe collapses; if the exchange rate changes, if we depreciate more, we have followed the IMF model. So market fundamentalism doesn’t matter anymore in my view.
Especially because the IMF is being tested not only because of advocated market fundamentalism but its failure to handle the East Asian economic crisis of 1997 and more so now when the whole global economy is up in flames. They out did Niro, at least he only fiddled whilst Strauss Khan had call girls being flown in from Paris to Washington while the rest of us are wondering what’s going to happen to the global economy. It’s very much under attack but what have we done? So on one hand we have the corporate sector that has grown, but I look at it as a politician as many of you here. Have we created employment? If we have good jobs and good incomes then why are people going on to the Middle East and other countries paying 100,000, 200,000, 300,000? How many villages are there? Now part of Wennappuwa is called little Italia and part of Italy is called little Wennappuwa; in Japan, why is this? We have not provided the jobs, let’s be frank about it. That is not only a problem for us, the same thing is there in America. We talk of growth but the jobs are going to China. Now they are talking about it. Secondly how long can we be this type of low wage or middle wage economy.
Remember the world has decided that Myanmar is a good place to invest. Myanmar and Bangladesh will become the low wage manufacturing base for this whole region and Myanmar has also the road to China, the old Burma road; that’s China and India. Then where are we? What are we going to do? On the other hand, remember this is the only growth area in the world, which by mid century will have an additional 500 million people. Have we thought of that? Have you thought of how tourism is going to change? How the hospitality industry is going to change? How the demography is going to change? Unfortunately we havent done so. My job is in the Opposition and what I must say is that in that instance I would have to find fault not only with the Government but also with the corporate sector.
What are you having now? You are having a whole lot of deals that are being made between companies or sectors and the Government. Immediate one, what is the tax concession I get, what’s the contract I get. Have you all thought out about the future? Where have we gone after apparels? That’s the question I want to ask. We are making individual deals. But when the whole lot is in trouble, the Daya Gamages or Harry Jayawardenas, we all keep our mouths shut. That’s just something which I saw this time. You have to speak out. I know individually you can’t, with the problems you have. But if the chambers don’t speak out, who on earth is going to speak out for the private sector? That’s one of the major issues. When the Government wanted to take some money from the Provident Fund the workers came out. One boy died. At least they saved the Provident Fund. The other is, who makes decisions.
Ok, the private sector is the engine of growth. But in Sri Lanka what I find very alarming is, that a business cartel is trying to take over the Government. Let’s be frank about it. What is happening in the stock market? What is happening in the stock exchange? I mean the purge of the Security and Exchange Commission beats any purge by Stalin in Russia. Overnight the Director General and the Chairperson disappears and they are non-persons. For whose benefit? And we are all silent. We all know our stock exchange is rigged. I mean you have blue chips here. Their share stock value doesn’t go up. All of a sudden someone comes out of nowhere and the share values go up. And people buy, people sell. We are concerned, but we don’t want the EPF and the ETF money used for that. We are also concerned because the Parliament has the final say on the financial system of Sri Lanka. How did that money come in from and where did some of them make the money? If some of you here put the money out, I know. You have the money you can buy. As to some of who are buying I certainly, being in Parliament have no explanation. And that is what is happening. Gradually, the stock exchange is no longer transparent. It’s not even a casino, it’s getting fixed and if you can move out the policeman, then what can you do? When the chairperson was appointed I wondered what experience did she have? But at least in her departure she upheld her office. That much I must say. No one speaks here. And what you are getting is not only that. Have you heard the story of Icarus, the Greek, who had wings made out of wax and flew near the sun. Got too close to the sun and the wings melted. You know the rest of the story. The Secretary to the Treasury is like that. He got very close to the private sector and now the private sector wants his job. That’s where it’s going. But we are concerned, because there can’t be a conflict of interest as far as the Treasury is concerned. That cannot be questioned. His policies can be.
Just as much as we were in Government whether you are a Lal Jayewardena, you are a Thilakeratne, whether you are a Paskaralingam, a Charitha Ratwatte, the Opposition has to attack. Just as much as we have attacked and what Dr Jayasundera has done we have attacked. But we must know that there is no conflict of interest, where as the decisions being taken. In addition to a civil war, though we have ended one civil war in the country with the North and East, another one is raging now between the Central Bank and Treasury. In this we have to turn the search light inwards.
Firstly, forget everything else. Are you going to have a transparent private sector? When a cartel fixes it, it’s you all who will lose. Because there is no level playing field and we are still looking at Sri Lanka instead of going out and seeing the world, where there are an additional 500 million people where we stay. I believe in the market economy. I have always believed in the market economy. But a market economy that also combines social equality, a market economy that gives growth, that gives employment and also believe in the free movement of goods, services, money, people etc, which some in the private sector do not; and don’t want that and they proclaim it loudly from the platform ‘I don’t’. But what is happening now is very much, I mean if George Soros can be concerned of what is happening to the global economy, I think some of us also can have that same concern. If Warren Buffet can be concerned about what is happening, the need to control banks, the need for social equity, I think we in the Opposition can. So these are issues that we have to face. We can’t be silent. Firstly, whatever happens, whatever be the policy right or wrong, whether they are going to have a ceiling on income of Rs 2,500 or we are going to remove tax on many issues, we must ensure that the Treasury is answerable to Parliament and there is no conflict of interest there. If you want to raise money then you must have a stock exchange rate. The opportunity we had for people coming, is closed. That window is gone. So these are issues, which everyone talks of privately, no one wants to talk about publicly. If we are not going to tackle these issues forget about the private sector, forget about the corporate sector. We have to find the guts to talk out and challenge it. I know there are things that you can’t do, which we say in Parliament. But that alone is not enough. While you are striking your deals also think of what the market economy should be and as one who was responsible, as one of those who was involved in opening it up, taking it forward, I thought I’d make my comments at this stage. How many of you will speak to Mathi now after this for inviting me I don’t know, but thank you for inviting me and thank you for listening to me.
Ronnie Peiris, Director – John Keells Holdings receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Good evening Venerable Maha Sanga, Hon Ranil Wikremesinghe Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Wickremesignhe, Mr and Mrs Parthipan, Hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, distinguished colleagues, guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Much has been said today, and I don’t have much to add on various topics ranging from sustainability development, to performance and corporate history. I think we all know about that but what I want to say is with humility, John Keells acknowledges the recognition that has been bestowed upon it by Business Today. To be the first amongst equals indeed brings a sense of pride and we are most grateful for that. Whatever we have achieved has only been possible because of the unstinted and generous support that we have had from our stakeholders; whether they be our customers, our suppliers, the society that we work in, the Government of the day and most importantly our employees. Our employees continue to be our most valuable asset and just imagine if they have been valued and included in our balance sheet what magnitude those balance sheets would take. In closing it is these sentiments of our employees that I echo by saying that John Keells stands ready and poised to participate in the economic and social development of this wonderful country of ours. Thank you
Harry Jayawardena, Chairman – DCSL receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable Clergy, Hon Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Madam Wickremesinghe, Hon Members of Parliament, Mr and Mrs Mathi Parthipan, my colleagues. Ever since this competition was launched, my company has always been in the TOP 10 before and now in the TOP TWENTY. About five–six years ago, when our present President was the Prime Minister he also participated as the chief guest. He made a comment at the time that he will always consult the private sector, get advice from the private sector and will always take decisions for the the importance of the private sector. They are opening their arms, in leaps and bounds, inviting investors with all their resources, giving them all benefits immediately after the debacles in their own countries.
What have we done? We are going forward, the Government changes, another policy comes forward, then again a change and another policy is changed. We are at crossroads, or facing mixed signals. Therefore I appeal to the Government, whoever the Government that comes in, that there must be one coherent policy. The Indians have been private sector for the benefit of the people. Today, it is very heartening to note that the Prime Minister of this country, mentioned in his speech that the private sector is the engine of growth. All what the private sector – unfortunately he has left – is asking for is an equal level playing field. I am sure all the captains of the industry, who are here, not only those in the TOP TWENTY this time but those who have been winning awards over the last so many years, have contributed in great numbers to the benefit of the country and the economic growth.
Look at India and their entrepreneurs. After us, their public sectors were first privatised and to what extent these entrepreneurs have gone and acquired large companies in the world. Have we been able to do that? Why? Look at Cambodia, Laos and Burma today, they have all realized able to achieve as they are not changing their policies; either the public sector or the private sector, they continue with one vision. They may have failures, but they are learning from their failures. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do that. This is the best opportunity for us, after the war has ended, we must thank His Excellency for that achievement. You can’t find another opportunity.
All the investors are looking at Sri Lanka. Why have we not been able, like in Vietnam, immediately after the war where all the big players have gone? Why have they not come here? These are matters one has to examine and see where we have gone wrong, or whether we have made any mistakes or whether the positions that we have taken and explained are not clear. The world is very big. Europe and America are in trouble – this is the best time people are looking – and part of the Middle East is in trouble. This is the best time, best opportunity for us to go and see in these areas, what is available for us. We at Aitken Spence have done that.
J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman – Aitken Spence receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
So I urge the captains of the industries and the leaders here today, Sri Lanka is a small country and the world is a big market. The market has to be the world, not Sri Lanka. Once you have that ambition, once you have that motto, I am sure you can achieve. You must think big to become big. If you only confine yourself to this country it is not going to work.
We have to have bigger markets, we are only thriving on our tea, rubber and coconut. These are also not performing at the moment and we cannot live from those industries alone. We have to go and see our workers and the amount of foreign exchange they bring in every year. These are the small workers who go and work.
We, the captains of the industry, have a bigger role. We should go and acquire those businesses. If you cannot you must always make a joint effort with all your other colleagues and I am sure, if we do that, we will achieve the best results.
I must thank you Mr Mathi, for continuously and single handedly appreciating the private sector. You are the only man in Sri Lanka who is giving this recognition to the private sector, continuously year by year. I wish you all the success and I must thank the Hon Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Wickremesinghe to have been with us today, to share our thoughts with and I congratulate all the winners. I wish you a very nice evening, thank you.
Amitha Gooneratne, Managing Director – Commercial Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
The Venerable Maha Sangha, Hon Leader of the Opposition, Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, business leaders present here today, I am indeed proud and privileged to be representing Commercial Bank, which has once again been selected in the rankings. We as an institution have been featured in this business ranking ever since this award ceremony was organised well over a decade ago. On one occasion we have been adjudged as the number one institution and today we are ranked as number three.
We are very proud to be there and also the fluctuations that has been there in the rankings, which gives an indication that there’s dynamism in the business community and organisations move from one ranking to another. We may ask as to how we must achieve to be in the rankings ever since this competition was organised. That I must say is due to the positive approach towards business. Just to give an example; early in the year 2000, when there was a civil war raging, we took a decision in providing electronic banking to the northern peninsula. It seemed quite a daunting task at that stage getting approvals from the defence authorities, but via satellite communication we provided electronic banking and we were not deterred.
Then in the year 2003, again when there was a war raging, we took a very important decision in moving our business operation partly to off–shore centres, very importantly we acquired Credit Agricole in Bangladesh and that was a very important decision. We took money from our own reserves, we did not borrow, we had dollar reserves and established a business venture there having acquired Credit Agricole.
Today, I am very proud to say that 15 percent of our bottom line is contributed by Bangladesh. We have 17 outlets there, and business too is growing. And that was again a very positive approach we have taken. Looking today at the TOP TWENTY institutions, I am very proud to say that we have business connections with almost all these institutions. So we have helped the corporate sector in providing financial advice and financing to meet their daily needs. Very importantly, today we have realised that, to improve the country and move forward as a nation, we need to build up the SME sector. To that end we signed the Innovative Financing Programme in the IFC very recently, which provided 65 million dollars as concessionary financing, which would extend to the SME business sector in this country, so that would help grow this very important business sector. Therefore, I can assure you ladies and gentlemen, the Commercial Bank will be there in the forefront of business, we will be innovative and support the business community, as we have done in the past. In conclusion I would like to thank Mr Mathi Parthipan, for organising this event, which has now continued for many years, and given a lot of inspiration to the business community. Thank you and have a pleasant evening.
Hari Selvanathan, Chairman – Bukit Darah, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Reverend Galaboda Gnanissara thero, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Leader of the Opposition Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mrs Wickremesinghe, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen.
I dedicate this speech today to my staff, without whom we would have never reached this forum. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute and thank our group staff, especially our senior management team, for their passion and hard work in leading the company to be a recipient of this award this year. Profit has been the result and not a sole objective in conducting our business affairs. We want to be a company that young people aspire to work at and a company that shares its rewards with society. In achieving this, we have increased our turnover for the first six months of this year by 100 percent to USD 300 million, increased our talent pool by 100 percent to 15,000 people and increased the beneficiaries of our CSR projects by 100 percent to 135,000 people.
We have also achieved our long-term vision of transforming ourselves into a regional holding company and now we’re moving beyond the region. I thank Mathi Parthipan for having organised this annual awards night and wish his team the very best for the future. Thank You.
Ranee Jayamaha, Chairperson – Hatton National Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable Maha Sanga, Hon Leader of the Opposition, Hon Members of Parliament, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to be here and to be recognised in the TOP TWENTY business leaders in this country. Hatton National Bank, which is fondly known as HNB Bank has a humble history of more than 132 years and it has grown from strength to strength each year. Today the bank is in a very stable position, and we are looking ahead to expand to an extent possible within the regulatory framework that is given to us. The bank caters to all segments of the population. We have many of the top corporates with the bank. We also cater to SME’s in a big way and we work at ground level as well. We cover financial inclusion as well as access to finance.
HNB’s strength is mainly because of its stakeholders. I must mention here that its good shareholders, its staff and the confidence the public has placed in the bank, has made the bank grow from strength to strength. The award, which we have received this evening belongs to all of them and let me also mention that I thank all of them for bringing the bank to this level. It is a great pleasure to be recognised in the fifth place of the TOP TWENTY, to be in the top five. Thank you very much to the organisers for selecting and placing HNB in this rank. Wish you a very good evening, thank you very much.
Dr Hans Wijayauriya, CEO – Dialog Axiata, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Most Venerable members of the Clergy, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Wickremesinghe, Members of Parliament and distinguished invitees present this evening. First of all, I would like to thank Mr Mathi Parthipan, the management and the directorate of Business Today for having given us this honour of being a name within the TOP TWENTY corporates in Sri Lanka. Accepting such an award is a humbling event for any company. But more so, for a service provider. And as customary, I would like to thank all those who have made this achievement possible. Unfortunately, there are too many of such true recipients of this award – as opposed to myself – to name. To begin with, our customers, ranging from the corporates in Sri Lanka all the way down to the poorest citizens of our land, from across all nine provinces of this beautiful country. Seven million Sri Lankan citizens who honour us with their custom and patronage. The Government of Sri Lanka, whose progressive policies towards the development of telecommunications regulation liberalisation, have made it possible for this industry – as Mr Welgama very correctly pointed out – to be a star in the entire Southeast Asian region.
Today we are proud to have a penetration rate in mobile telecommunications of over 80 percent. Eight out of ten people in this country have equal access to communications and that is a beautiful concept for a truly united country. Our people, the Dialog team, who for the last 15 years have brought the last entrant into this telecommunications sector in the last decade, to being a market leader and Sri Lanka’s leading code-play integrated service provider. Last but not least I would like to thank every citizen of this country who has welcomed the Dialog brand into their home and who have guided us, for being patient, in helping us to deliver the future today. Thank you for your patience.
Nimal Welgama, Chairman – Sri Lanka Telecom, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Garuthara Maha Sangarathnayen Avasarai, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Wickremesinghe, Mr Mathi Parthipan, Mrs Parthipan, Members of Parliament, my friends from the corporate sector, and my friends from the media. I am pleased to be here today to humbly acknowledge our achievement and I thank Business Today for the opportunity. It is independent rankings such as this, that give credence to our performance as a business entity.
Reaching the Business Today TOP TWENTY is a true accomplishment and we appreciate the valued contribution BT has made to promote Sri Lankan businesses and recognise outstanding corporate performance.
Achieving this would not have been possible if not for the commitment and passion of our team of over ten thousand people at SLT Group, who tirelessly work around the clock on Poya days, holidays – we have no holidays – to lead Sri Lanka in the communication front. I must thank His Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, for having afforded me the opportunity to help Sri Lanka Telecom with a very dedicated team of Directors in all the subsidiaries as well; and for the support and encouragement he has given me whenever I sought his encouragement.
We are pleased to state that today we are the leading and the most integrated telecom player in Sri Lanka, with our sights set on seamlessly connecting Sri Lanka with world class information and communication. With peace having been secured and stability returning to the country, infrastructure development is continuing at a rapid pace; with highways, ports, power and the financial sector among many others making steady progress, business activity in the country has much potential to flourish. In terms of the macro economy we have achieved unprecedented combination of single digit interest and inflation rates. Both interest and inflation rates were in the 20s not so long ago. Our economic growth of eight percent is among the highest in the region and our unemplyment is down to a very low figure of five percent.
From an ICT front, though the present level of penetration is low and the rate of growth is accelerated, complemented by Government initiatives to enhance ICT literacy from 30 to 75 percent by 2016. Considering all these factors it is indeed a most favourable promising time for the entire corporate sector. Despite stiff market challenges I am proud to say that the telecom sector has made bold decisions with the longer term in mind and invested in the latest advanced technology. We can compare and compete with the best in the industry, not only in the region but around the world today. And improved conditions will favour us more and more. And importantly to you the corporate guests and the retail consumer, who will have access and advantage of the latest ICT technology to power your own businesses.
It is interesting to note that way back in 1858, when Sri Lanka commissioned its first telegraphic circuit, we were amongst the first few in the world to have done so and today we continue to be in step with the latest development in ICT. A sound example of this is the i-Sri Lanka initiative we have embarked on with an investment of five billion rupees to enhance broadband penetration and empower the nation to become the research and development hub in South Asia through cutting edge technology and industrial innovations. Our fully owned mobile phone subsidiary Mobitel was the first in South Asia to launch the latest 3.5G HSPA technology and amongst the first ten in the world to do so. Mobitel was also the first in Sri Lanka to demonstrate HSPA + MIMO and the first in the Southeast Asian region to demonstrate 4G LTE. We are the leading ISP in the country and the only operator that can offer integrated land cellular, broadband, 3G solutions and IPTV along with it as a bundle. We are proud of our accomplishments but more importantly we assume ourselves the role of the national telecom service provider in leading and empowering Sri Lanka to achieve greater prosperity in the future. Towards that we consistently invest in developing and building our position.
As a company with the national interest at heart Sri Lanka Telecom will do its best to attain regional global excellence, which invariably will facilitate a platform for all Sri Lankan businesses and people to strive for excellence and prosperity of their own.
In conclusion my friends, I would like to state that today’s achievement in reaching Business Today TOP TWENTY strengthens our resolve to do better, we are ever conscious of our duty and responsibility to the larger society as much as to our shareholders and will continue to challenge ourselves in the quest for better performance. And we have a good motto ‘One country, One voice’; I thank you very much.
Kapila Jayawardena, Managing Director – LOLC, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable members of the Clergy, Hon Leader of the Opposition, Hon Ministers, Members of Parliament. Today is a great day for LOLC because for the first time in the history of my company we have come within the top ten of Sri Lanka’s top companies, top corporates. So we are very proud; it’s a very proud day for all of us, and I must thank Business Today and the organisers for organising this great event. I would like to spend a couple of minutes talking about the business philosophy of LOLC.
Firstly, we are a company with a vision, always keeping an eye on the economy, on economic trends. If you take the last ten years we have seen a consistent growth in the GDP of this country, plus per capita income. We have seen around our region, countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, how after they break the USD 2,500-3,000 per capita range there has been a rapidupward movement in the economy, in the quality of life, in the conditions of living. In our country we have now broken the USD 2,000 barrier, and we feel if we break the USD 3,000 per capita barrier there will be rapid movement in terms of economic activity, like a rocket, which has broken the shackles of gravity. After that the going gets much easier in terms of business activity. So that is what we are looking at; and our role right now is to position the company to take advantage of the potential and the growth that we see in this country.
Secondly, we have also done very well in improving financial inclusion for the rural poor. Right now we have more than 160 branches in the most rural areas of this country, and I’m proud to say that when, on many occasions I have met customers who have told me, “look this is the first time we have walked into a formal financial institution”, so that we feel we are doing a very good service to the business community, to the SME sector and to the micro sector. And that, I must tell you has been one main reason for the strong and consistent growth we have seen in this company. So again I would like to thank my employees, team LOLC, they have done a wonderful job and all the other stakeholders that have made LOLC a strong company that it is today. Thank you very much.
H A Ariyaratne, Executive Vice President – DFCC Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable members of the Clergy, Hon Leader of the Opposition, Hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, fellow award winners and distinguished invitees.
I’m honoured to represent DFCC and accept this award, and would like to dedicate it to all our stakeholders, who have continuously supported, throughout the last five and a half decades. We at DFCC are truly proud to have achieved this recognition repeatedly while balancing twin objectives, the commercial success on one hand and provision of meaningful development existence on the other. Yes, DFCC has been successful in commercial terms though not excessive, but it has been much more successful in terms of assisting thousands of Sri Lankan entrepreneurs in this country, to realise their entrepreneurial dreams and achieve their commercial objectives.
In 1955, DFCC committed itself to developing the private sector or assisting the development of the private sector in this country. Since then thousands of enterprises large as well as the SMEs have formed prosperous and very fruitful partnerships and relationships with DFCC.
I take this opportunity to thank all of them. Despite global uncertainty and turmoils, Sri Lanka continues to demonstrate sound economic fundamentals. I’m sure this is largely due to the exemplary leadership shown by our policy makers and our business leaders such as those who have been recognised here today.
My congratulations go out to all of them, and my sincere appreciation to Mr Parthipan and his team at Business Today for all the efforts in putting up this event. Thank you.
Arthur Senanayake, Chairman – Sampath Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable Clergy, political and business leaders of our country and the distinguished gathering.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Sampath Bank and the staff, I wish to thank Business Today and the organisers for recognising Sampath Bank today within the list of TOP TWENTY businesses in the country. Sampath Bank over the last few years have been helping the Government in its post conflict effort to develop the country, and we had an aggressive growth expanding the network over the last three years. We opened 93 branches in the last three years unparalleled in banking history, and out of that nearly one third in the North and the East. This shows our commitment to the underdeveloped areas of the country to bring them up to a developed status so that the unharnessed one third of the country could participate in the development of the country. Similarly, Sampath Bank is determined to help the country in the coming years and we will build on this foundation that we have laid in the last few years. With that, I wish to thank the organisers for this wonderful event today. Thank you.
A R Pandithage, Chairman/Managing Director/CEO – DIMO, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Garuthara Sangarathnayen Avasarai, Hon Leader of the Opposition, Ministers, Members of Parliament, the Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Today is another great day for DIMO to be recognised in the TOP TWENTY in Sri Lanka. If our founding fathers, know about this achievement: DIMO was born in difficult times, the four gentlemen Mr Peries, Mr Harold Algama, Mr Cyril Algama and my father Alexander Pandithage were working for a German gentleman and with the advent of the Second World War, since they were working for a German gentleman and Sri Lanka was a British colony, the business was confiscated and they lost their jobs. So, in a humble and small way they started Diesel and Motor Engineering and after the Second World War, Mr Heller helped them to get all these top names. We represent the best engineering companies in the world. So to look after the best we have one of the world’s best teams and during this year DIMO has won many accolades. In fact, we were selected for the Business Excellence Award in the country and we won five golds on Friday. The Institute of Chartered Accountants recognized us as a Sector Gold and CSR Gold from the entire country. Well, DIMO is not in the business of collecting trophies and certificates, we are in the business of touching the lives of Sri Lankan people in many a ways: whether it’s through a Mercedes Benz Car or an Osram Bulb or a CT or MRI scanner, even the DIMO Batta. Today with the help of DIMO Batta, there are mobile astrologers, mobile barbers etc. So, while we touch the lives of people of Sri Lanka we have to excel in many ways. Now the CSR award is about sustainability. We are very aware of sustainability. We would like to look after planet earth, the society and the other stakeholders and we want to challenge ourselves. We benchmark ourselves and that’s why we take part in all these competitions and get them to certify us and say whether we walk the talk. So I think we have to thank Business Today for recognising us in the TOP TWENTY.
Eleven more to go, I should keep quiet now. Thank you very much.
Prof Lakshman Watawala, Director – Richard Pieris and Company, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable Maha Sanga, the Hon Leader of the Opposition, Members of Parliament, Hon Ministers, distinguished invitees, colleagues in the private sector, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all let me bring you the greetings of our Chairman, Dr Sena Yaddehige, who is overseas at the moment and gives his best wishes to the organisers of BT Options and BT Options awards ceremony and also congratulates all the business leaders who have won awards today.
Richard Pieris and Company is one of the old established companies, which may have started with one or two sectors of motor and rubber. But today it has diversified into a number of areas, some of which are mainly the retail sector, the plantation sector, plastics, tyre retrading and other areas. The new areas that we have gone into are insurance and stock brokering areas. I do not want to speak at length, but I think this type of occasion is something where the private sector is really being recognised for their performance. We are indeed happy that the Hon Prime Minister was present here and in fact one of the words that he mentioned was that the private sector is the engine of growth. I think this is something that we have to really look at. If we are really the engine of growth, what is it that is required to make the engine move? Not slowly but faster and faster. I think that is something that is greatly required and I think the Government has to take this into account. Today, after a long lapse of 30 years we have achieved freedom.
Freedom especially in the economic sector. But if the economic sector is to be vibrant, if the private sector is to really come forward then the policies, the stability has to be in place. We should have long term policies, which will not be changed. Only then will both the local investors and foreign investors come to this country. So it is absolutely essential that we are on the right path; but, the confidence has to be created, the confidence has to be given, only then can we all come forward and perform better in the next year. Only then would BT Options be able to evaluate us and say what we have done. We do not want to go on the negative aspects, we always want to go on the positive aspects. Therefore, I feel that there is a great role for the private sector in Sri Lanka and the country. The Government should make use of this because there are people with a lot of potential both with the experience and the young people who are coming up. So I do feel that this type of function that is being organised by BT Options will pave the way for the private sector to play the real role that they want to make this country a real prosperous country. Thank you.
Sarath Ganegoda, Group Director – Hayleys, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Garuthara Sangarathnayen Avasarai, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Leader of the Opposition, ladies and gentlemen. All of us at Hayleys are very happy and proud to have been recognised among the TOP TWENTY of Business Today and to receive this award.
As my good friend Kishu said a while ago, Hayleys too is well down on the list, but we’ll get back rapidly and steadily. It is possible because at Hayleys we have an excellent, dedicated, committed and competent team led by our abled CEO and Chairman, Mr Mohan Pandithage, who often reminds me of what Dr Christiaan Barnard said when he visited Sri Lanka many years ago – this is the doctor who performed the first open heart surgery or heart transplant in the world. When he was interviewed he was asked “Doctor, when do you think one should retire?” and his answer was “When you wake up in the morning you should feel hungry, hungry to perform, hungry to achieve, hungry to succeed.” So our team is led by a CEO who I feel sometimes, is too hungry. When Hayleys was formed over 140 years ago and during the last 15 months we have made investments so many times more than we have done during the first 140 years in the history of Hayleys and this is in the areas of agriculture, renewable power, leisure and the construction industry. For those who do not know, Hayleys exports 1.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s total exports. It also exports four percent of Sri Lanka’s tea and three percent of Sri Lanka’s rubber and under our pay roll there are 35,000 names. Of course a good part of that belongs to estates, but all together we have 35,000 people and indirectly many thousands of people are dependent on Hayleys and we have taken that responsibility very seriously. And in doubling Sri Lanka’s GDP by 2016, which is the goal of His Excellency, Hayleys expects to perform its role. I congratulate all the other winners and I thank and congratulate Business Today for organising this event. Thank you and have a nice evening.
Mangala P B Yapa, Group Managing Director/CEO – Colombo Dockyard, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Gauravaniya Maha Sangarathnayen Avasarai, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Wickremesinghe, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen. First of all I must express my sincere thanks to BT Options and Business Today for continuing with their valiant efforts in recognising Sri Lankan corporates who are doing well. Invariably, when performers are rewarded – and awards are rewards – they do even better. So in Sri Lanka’s quest for doing better the motivation of those corporates that take the lead through such an award scheme is very much appreciated.
Today most of the developed economies are going through some difficult times. It’s rather difficult to say when these external environments would return to somewhat stable levels. However, in contrary the situation in Sri Lanka is getting better day by day and we see greater opportunities opening up for the future. In the year 2009–2010 one year before this awards scheme, adopting prudent strategies with foresight and resilience, we at Colombo Dockyard PLC performed extremely well. As a result, we stood at the sixth position in the Business Today TOP TWENTY competition.
During the current year we managed to record a seven percent growth in our revenue but the profitability was dropped due to the downturn in the shipping industry globally. Our efforts to consolidate our position and stabilise in the challenging global business environment were successful. We are happy to be amongst the TOP TWENTY, though our position has significantly dropped.
This award is dedicated to all the people at Colombo Dockyard who excelled in doing their jobs under difficult circumstances, proving that Sri Lankans can. I consider Colombo Dockyard a unique and a different entity among the many corporates present here. We are different primarily because we are an export oriented company, which relies very much on the knowledge, competence and the ability of our people.
People are the key to our success and we believe in that. Our market is international and therefore, the competition too is international. Thus, our people have to compete with those abroad. So, to be successful, we have to think different. It is our unique differentiation that will make us winners.
We always work with an international focus because our market is international. However, we recognize that we are too small to impact or control the international circumstances. Thus, we always strive to excel ourselves to meet the emerging challenges of the market, truly believing in our motto ‘an odyssey of excellence’. We do our utmost to excel in everything we do – to always do better than what we have done in the past. We appreciate that we can’t be good at doing everything; thus, we focus on our core business and niche markets, especially in the shipbuilding sector. By now we are renowned for building high quality specialised complex vessels used for support services in the offshore exploration activities, passenger transportation, coastal patrolling and law enforcement. With our consistent efforts we are now proud to be considered the best in South Asia for such niche market products. While recognizing that our market is international we also recognise we are a Sri Lankan company and we want to remain so, creating value within Sri Lanka. As a result, our unique ships built in Sri Lanka and sold globally generate a domestic value addition of around 35 percent. In the ship repair sector such domestic value addition is around 89 percent. Thus, with the right combination of this business mix, depending on external market conditions, we are now able to generate an overall value addition of over 55 percent locally adding true value to Sri Lankan people and their competences. Ladies and gentlemen in conclusion I congratulate all the winners and wish them success in all their future endeavours. Thank you very much, Business Today, for recognising us today.
Russell De Mel, CEO – NDB Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable members of the Clergy, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Wickremesinghe, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. It is with a sense of pride and honour that I stand before you tonight when NDB Bank is recognised once again as one of Sri Lanka’s TOP TWENTY corporates by Business Today. So I would like to take this opportunity to impress upon you, our philosophy in banking in a very simple way.
When the war ended two and a half years ago, there was much expectation that hostilities too would come to an end. We at NDB Bank felt that there was a need and space to develop a sense of belief amongst the communities in Sri Lanka and also build bridges of trust; bridges that would withstand tension, bridges that would not collapse. We also felt that there was a need to focus on the youth of this country, particularly the youth of the North and East. The youth, because they are in fact our future leaders of this country, and the North and East because they’ve been born and bred there for the past 25 years; perhaps all they may have heard would have been gunfire, all what they have seen may have been bloodshed. We felt that there was a need to demonstrate to them that in fact there is a society that would respect them and care for them.
So we launched a new product at NDB Bank called NDB ‘Jeewana Livelihood Development Scheme,’ which provided vocational training for the youth. We teamed up with industry leaders and so far two batches from the East coast have graduated in Hotel Operations, whilst another batch from the North passed out in Motor Mechanics. Besides, these students also became valued clients from the first day of the programme.
Today not only the students, their families and even their extended families believe in us, they trust us. Ladies and gentleman this is by no means a CSR programme of the Bank. This is our philosophy in banking where we make our clientele believe in us. And I would like to dedicate this accolade to my valued team members of NDB Bank who practice this difficult philosophy. Whilst I congratulate all the winners here tonight, Mathi, Glenda and your team, many thanks once again for organising this wonderful event. Thank you very much.
Sidath Kodikara, COO – Cargills (Ceylon), receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Good evening, reverend members of the Clergy, the Prime Minister Hon D M Jayaratne, Leader of the Opposition, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, all dignitaries and guests.
On behalf of Cargills (Ceylon) PLC, its team and its subsidiaries, I am honoured to accept this award. This recognition, along with all awards won by Cargills reiterates our commitment towards the people of Sri Lanka.
Each and every business that Cargills has nurtured, has in turn nurtured Sri Lankans, touching the lives of thousands of young men and women, largely from rural parts of the Island, empowering thousands of farmers and entrepreneurs, reaching out to their communities and bringing affordable nutrition to millions of consumers.
Today Sri Lanka has proven to the world that in every one of us, there’s a powerful driving force that once unleashed can make any vision, any dream or any desire a reality. What, we as a team, endeavour to do at Cargills is to direct that energy that drive, towards contributing to the development of Sri Lanka. The true result of this effort is not translated into simply profits or awards, but is rather felt in the hearts of Sri Lankans spread across the country. Winning this award is certainly a noteworthy feat and I take this opportunity to congratulate all who have been recognised this evening. But ultimately at Cargills we let our hearts be our best judges and the hope we spread be our finest reward. Thank you.
Imtiaz Esufally, Board Director and Head of Transportation – Hemas Holdings, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Venerable Sirs, Hon Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon Leader of the Opposition, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I wish to thank Business Today on behalf of our board, for recognising Hemas as amongst the TOP TWENTY corporates for the year 2010-2011. I am accepting this award on behalf of our Board, for this great recognition and I also accept this award on behalf of over 3,000 of our people whose dedication and achievements have enabled us to come to these great heights. Hemas has focussed on five sectors, which are FMCG, healthcare, power generation, leisure and transportation.
What transcends across these sectors is our ability to grow great brands through our detailed knowledge of the Sri Lankan consumer, our partnerships with great world-class companies and being blessed with a great team, which has been very innovative and which has delivered.
Ladies and gentlemen, we were born in the year of Independence. And we are proud of our role to support the national development effort through the private sector. We continue to invest in hospitals, hotels and power generation and look to new opportunities in the positive business climate.
It is also our aim to raise the bar in the industries which we compete in, and thus we are proud that recently our hospital, was internationally accredited – this being the first in the country. We are mindful of giving back to society and our ‘Piyawara programme of early childhood learning has just finalised its 34th school, adding to those spread over the country and complementing our other early childhood development initiatives. Our tag line is ‘enriching lives’. We look to deliver this promise to our valued customers and stakeholders.
To the organisers, thank you again for this noteworthy recognition. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience.
Kishu Gomes, Managing Director/CEO – Chevron Lubricants Lanka, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Garuthara Maha Sangarathnayen Avasarai, Hon D M Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe Leader of the Opposition, distinguished invitees, Chairman/Managing Director of BT Options, my good friend, Mathi Parthipan, ladies and gentlemen.
To begin with, let me thank BT Options and its dynamic Chairman/Managing Director for recognising Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC for yet another year.
When I saw the name of our company my mind went back to the time when we used to be within the TOP 10 and then last year when we received the award being the 16th in the list. Surely compared to where we’ve been it’s a demotion.
Generally, demotions are not celebrated, but to be very honest and open with you, I, and we, as a company, have reasons to celebrate. The reason being that, if I saw a promotion for my organisation, that would have meant that the environment would have been a tougher one for the rest of the industries. As far as the list goes there is only one petroleum company and within that we are featured, which we are quite pleased with. This result goes to show that every single industry has been able to record a positive growth within which, companies have been able to do better than the previous years.
As far as Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC is concerned, in 2010 or 2009 we grew, the top line and the bottom line, by a decent percentage. We created real value for the country by bringing in foreign revenue through exports which again, was a positive growth, and then from every other aspect of the business we’ve done much better than in 2009. So logically, one would have expected a promotion in the list, which we don’t see, which is why I’m delighted.
I am delighted because this gives me hope and confidence that the future for my business is going to be much greater than the past. It is because of that reason that I said, I am delighted. There are going to be 18 more speeches so therefore, I wouldn’t take long with my speech, which can be somewhat boring. But surely, the recognition and reward for a business is a basic need and by winning this award, we as a company have been able to fulfill that basic need thanks to the excellent efforts by BT Options.
So thank you so much BT Options, for giving the business community the recognition the community deserves. Whenever I get the opportunity I not only talk about my company, ourselves, but I also talk about my country. An Anglo-American doctor by the name of Brian Brink, commented on an issue South Africa was faced with many many years ago. This doctor said “We saw it coming, we thought it wasn’t our responsibility and let the Government sort it out”. And today, as a result, every single organisation in South Africa is paying the price for a big mistake all the business organisations in South Africa made at that time.
Here in Sri Lanka, you may know, you may not know, HIV and AIDS have become one of the biggest issues. Sadly, we the business community have not been able to recognise the magnitude of the issue, which we as a company have been able to recognise. On a daily basis, one person falls victim to HIV and AIDS, which means that for a year the number exceeds 350. We have 4,000 HIV-infected people.
In my view, as a country the biggest asset we have is the people asset. We have twenty million people, 8.5 million people in the workforce. And if we as the business community do not protect and nurture this workforce, we’ll never ever be able to achieve the economic prosperity we are eagerly waiting for. Therefore, we have an obligation. Whatever the business we are in, let me say, HIV and AIDS should be our business. And with that attitude, if we the business leaders start doing what it demands, we will be able to create a sustainable future for our country.
Sustainability is not water being blue and environment being green. It’s also about creating a healthy workforce for our country, as I said, in my view that being the biggest asset that we have, should be used in the correct manner in order to drive economic growth for our country. So again, I would like to thank Mathi for this excellent initiative that has been conducted over the years to recognise the excellence by the business community and I wish all the award winners who will receive the awards in a short while from now, with 2011 results, which you have done much better than 2010. We hope we will be able to improve our performance, but at the same time I would expect every other business organisation to raise the level of performance, which will be good for the country. Thank you very much.
Eastman Narangoda, Chairman – Seylan Bank, receiving the award from Guests of Honour Prime Minister D M Jayaratne and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become.
Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara thero, and other Nayake theros, Chief Guest, Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Hon D M Jayaratne, Leader of the Opposition Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mrs Wickremesinghe, business leaders, Mr Parthipan, Chairman/Managing Director of Business Today, Mrs Parthipan, Hon Ministers, Members of Parliament, distinguished invitees.
I wanted to open my appreciative remarks with this line that I read earlier, because it truly speaks of what Seylan Bank has become, possessing the roots of a strong will, that propels us to become the best we can become. With this award today, being included in the TOP TWENTY of Sri Lanka’s business landscape, I, as Chairman of Seylan Bank am truly honoured and humbled.
This award showcases our team Seylan – the root of this achievement and others we have been awarded within the recent years. For example the will, that everyone has displayed putting their shoulders to the wheel, and not letting the sometimes impossible challenges stand in our way.
Today, we have really achieved the goal that we aspired to, to become the best that we can become. In any journey, there are hurdles. Some of them insurmountable and some of them that can be vaulted over, but all these hurdles teach us lessons, and we believe are put in front of us for a purpose. We at Seylan, will never forget the dark chapters of our history, not so long ago. While, some would rather forget those bad episodes, we constantly remember it because, these chapters are what gives us added strength and the fortitude to go on. We have learned lessons, and discovered inherent strengths in ourselves that we would never have if not for these chapters. We rose from the mire as the phoenix would, and today, as I stand here before you, I recall, and I am thankful for those chapters, which really gave us the determination to move forward no matter what.
We have been judged for this award on all our financial indicators whether it’s growth, in sales, profit, turnover, return on equity, market cap, shares or transactions. The fact that these have all showcased consistent growth and stability in the last few years, and more so last year is, what resulted in us, being named among the TOP TWENTY business entities in Sri Lanka.
The underlying factor in all this, is that Seylan has without a doubt, turned around and is ready for business in this new era. The very stringent monitoring, the governance and the transparency and accountability that we infused into a culture of strong values and ethics, paved the way for a highly motivated team to innovate products and a service philosophy that was truly outstanding. Team Seylan is a great example of unwavering fortitude.
Ladies and gentlemen, this award that I am getting today belongs wholly to my Seylan team. Finally, while congratulating other winners, I would like to thank Mr Mathi Parthipan, Chairman/Managing Director of Business Today and his team for organising this event, in an excellent manner and wish them all the success in their future endeavours. Thank you very much.
From left to right: Sarath Ganegoda, Group Director – Hayleys, H A Ariyaratne, Executive Vice President – DFCC Bank, Rajan Brito, Deputy Chairman – Aitken Spence, Mangala P B Yapa, Group Managing Director/CEO – Colombo Dockyard, Ranee Jayamaha, Chairperson – HNB, Russell De Mel, CEO – NDB Bank, Kishu Gomes, Managing Director/CEO – Chevron Lubricants Lanka, Kapila Jayawardena, Managing Director – LOLC, Prof Lakshman Watawala, Director – Richard Pieris and Company, Imtiaz Esufally, Board Director and Head of Transportation – Hemas Holdings, Ronnie Peiris, Director – John Keells Holdings, Prime Minister D M Jayaratne, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Harry Jayawardena, Chairman – DCSL and Aitken Spence, A R Pandithage, Chairman/Managing Director/CEO -–DIMO, Arthur Senanayake, Chairman – Sampath Bank, Amitha Gooneratne, Managing Director – Commercial Bank, Hari Selvanathan, Chairman – Bukit Darah, Eastman Narangoda, Chairman – Seylan Bank, Sidath Kodikara, COO – Cargills (Ceylon), Nimal Welgama, Chairman – Sri Lanka Telecom, Dr Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO – Dialog Axiata
Anoma Laphir, Glenda Parthipan, Maithree Wickremesinghe, Ranil Wickremesinghe – Leader of the Opposition, D M Jayaratne – Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mathi K Parthipan, Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara thero and Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka thero
Venerable Kirinde Assaji thero, Venerable Viyapaththugama Revatha thero, Jens Plötner – Ambassador of Germany to Sri Lanka and other foreign dignitaries
John Amaratunga, Lakshman Hulugalle – Director General, Media Centre for National Security and Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander – Sri Lanka Army
Jalani and Sajith Premadasa with Faizer Mustapha
Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Buddhika Pathirana and Eran Wickramaratne
Gayantha Karunathilake, Dr Jayalath Jayawardena, Sagala Ratnayaka and Tissa Attanayake
Mangala Samaraweera and Ravi Karunanayake
Arjuna Ranatunga, Sagala Ratnayaka and Tissa Attanayake
Buddhika Pathirana, Eran Wickramaratne, A J M Muzammil – Mayor of Colombo and A R Pandithage
Sujeewa Senasinghe, Daya Gamage and Mrs Gamage
Harry, Priya, Stasshani and Sanjivani Jayawardena
The elegant decor and the dance performances of the evening
Prime Minister D M Jayaratne with Mathi and Glenda Parthipan
Glenda Parthipan, Maithree Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mathi K Parthipan
Venerable Galaboda Gnanissara thero, Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka thero, Venerable Kirinde Assaji thero and Venerable Viyapaththugama Revatha thero with Mathi and Glenda Parthipan