The Business Today TOP TWENTY FIVE Award Ceremony recognised the best corporates in Sri Lanka for their excellent performance during the financial year 2011-2012. The event was held on October 22, 2012 with Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development as the Chief Guest and Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition as the Guest of Honour. The Award Ceremony brought together an precedented
gathering of politicians, 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.
We could say that the financial year 2011-2012 was one of mixed fortunes. It has been three years since the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and the growth momentum that was seen over the past two years where Sri Lanka recorded over eight percent growth during two consecutive years was short lived. Fluctuating policy decisions, rise in oil prices and increased interest rates and widening trade deficits have seen the economy slow down. However, though global conditions may not have been favourable, the private sector has sought new ventures within Sri Lanka, which is indeed encouraging. This year we saw new companies emerging, creating greater competition within the private sector. Therefore for the financial year 2011-2012 Business Today ranks the TOP TWENTY FIVE companies for their excellent performance.
We are honoured by the presence of Ven Galaboda Gnanissara thero, the Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya Temple and Ven Kirinde Assaji thero. It is indeed a great pleasure and privilege to this Awards Ceremony to have Hon Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development as our Chief Guest and Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition as our guest of honour. We wish to thank you for being with us today.
Udeshi Amarasinghe, BT Options
Hon Basil Rajapaksa, needs no introduction, we could say he is the most persistent and hardworking Minister. It would not be wrong to say that he is a perfectionist. But he lives by example, therefore there is no excuse for others. Minister Rajapaksa is a modest and humble person, he is easy to talk to and he will definitely listen, may be that is the reason he is able to solve any problem the country faces within and beyond. As the Minister of Economic Development his achievements are great, and not even an entire day would be enough to list them all. Through the initiatives the Minister has taken, we are seeing the rejuvenation of the village, where self sufficiency is encouraged. We are proud to work closely with Hon Basil Rajapaksa, it has indeed been a great experience and we wish to thank the Minister for his continuous support and encouragement.
Open your eyes to the transformation in Sri Lanka, you do not need to go far, it is visible in Colombo. Our country is experiencing true freedom and peace, stability and security. We have emerged from three decades of conflict; only three years have passed since the end of the war, it is apparent that we all feel the benefits of that victory. At this time it is most important to salute His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who gave the much needed leader-ship as Commander in Chief, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for his clear guidance and direction, the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, CDF and Military Intelligence for the immense sacrifices they made to eradicate terrorism from our country. We should not allow the country to fall prey to petty politics, the country needs to move forward as one, be-cause after all we are all Sri Lankan. Colombo, is now a green and clean city… a beautiful city.
We are seeing our heritage buildings that were once hidden being renovated to their former glory, parks are green and now there are leisure areas for people to go to. Credit for this trans-formation in Colombo should be given to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa under whose guidance the UDA and the Armed Forces are doing things that were once thought impossible. This transformation is not limited to Colombo, Gampaha, Our Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s district is now a modern area with new markets, maternity and child care centres, walking tracks and many more…then Kilinochchi, the transformation of the town is impressive to say the least. These are but a few examples of the positive change we see in the country. How do we know this? Even during the most difficult times in the country, including the entire du-ration of the war, Explore Sri Lanka continued without any external support. We promoted the positive image of the country… we showed that there is always a positive story to tell. The print-run of Explore Sri Lanka had always been 10,000 copies per month but during the past year this was increased to 15,000 and then 16,000. It will be 20,000 in the near future. Out of this we sell only 2,000 copies and the remaining 14,000 are given as complimentary copies. We have received positive response over the years for the unusual articles that we publish, many say that they did not even know that there were such places in Sri Lanka. We travel all around Sri Lanka, not just today but since 1987, and all articles are first hand experiences and the photographs are current. This makes the difference. We are extremely proud of Explore Sri Lanka.
Business Today, was started in 1996. As all you of know we feature interviews and articles that are, most of the time, controversial. We are told that Business Today is too political… well politics and business go hand in hand. Business Today was the first in many areas; before anyone knew about syndication even internationally, we started with New York Times, Global Business Perspectives and Harvard Business Review, this was as far back as 1997. Furthermore, our exclusive columns by Richard Branson, Howard Schultz and Jack and Suzy Welsch have been the first in the country. Business Today were the first Sri Lankans to attend the Clinton Forum, World Business Forum and Jack Welsch’s forum. It was only our photographers who were allowed to enter the forums at the time because of our professional attitude and presentation.
Target magazine, which portrays the developments of the government was started in February 2008. We wish to stress that this magazine is not funded by anyone it is solely a BT Options publication with all expenses borne by BT Options.
We are nearing almost three years in publishing, Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. We pay a monthly fee to SriLankan Airlines and also provide 12,500 copies free of charge. An additional 2,000 copies are distributed by us. As the entire production and printing is done within Sri Lanka, we do not use even freight from SriLankan Airlines. It is for the first time in the history of the Airline that the production and printing has been done completely within the country thereby saving foreign exchange and providing the opportunity for local talent to develop. Therefore we are extremely grateful to His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who did the impossible by bringing both production and printing of the magazine to the country.
The Architect, is the journal of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, we started publishing the magazine in 2008, until then no one knew about the magazine even though the institute had been publishing it for many years. Today, The Architect is now one of the most popular magazines in the country. We also publish Vasthu, the institutes Sinhala publication.
We have always been in the forefront of innovation, Colombo by Night which was an entertainment programme was held all five nights a week from the year 1987 to 1991, where guests would be taken to the hot spots around the capital. At that time the ticket was only 9.95 US dol-lars or 300 rupees.
We have always worked in an Apple Mac environment, even as far back as 1989. We were the first to start an Apple Store in Sri Lanka, BT Store, which was opened in 2006 and is the Authorised Reseller and the Authorised Service Provider of Apple products.
We also pioneered the concept of LAN gaming in 2002 by opening Mindhead, a premier game zone. Our continued motivation to innovate and introduce pioneering ventures have been even before May 2009. All our publications are on iTunes, Amazon Store and Samsung- An-droid. ‘No Easy Day’, the only first hand account of the Navy Seal Mission that killed Osama Bin Laden, by Mark Owen is available on Audio Books at BT Store.
We are introducing an ERP system developed by HansaWorld. We are their first customer in Asia to implement the ERP system on a Mac platform. It is the first time that they are doing a ERP system for a publisher. Even with our complicated tax systems they will be developing the ERP system.
During the year we were proud to have been part of the conference ‘Critical Women: Women as Agents of Change through Higher Education’, which was organised by the Association of Commonwealth Universities together with the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Kelaniya. We also put together the digital version of the post conference publication. Working with Prof Maithree Wickremesinghe was indeed a very good experience.
We were also happy to do the production and printing of the post conference publication of the Defence Seminar 2012. We have worked very closely with the Sri Lanka Army and we are very thankful for their professionalism in every way. We wish to thank Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army at this moment.
We wish to show our appreciation to Dr P B Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, and Secretary to the Treasury for his confidence and trust in us. We wish to recognise Dr P B Jayasundera for his efforts to maintain the stability of the economy of this country. He is indeed an asset to Sri Lanka. We also wish to thank Mr S R Attygalle, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury and Mrs Shamalie Gunawardena, Director General Legal for their continuous support.
Emphasis, the PR and Event Management Company headed by Glenda Parthipan, coordinated the Launch of the Book, “Gota’s War: the crushing of Tamil Tiger Terrorism in Sri Lanka’, the 58th Commonwealth Conference, where we coordinated the Inauguration Ceremony; the Dinner hosted by Hon Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker of the Parliament for all delegates, all the Plenary Sessions and General Assembly; and the 32nd Small Branches conference. Emphasis also coordinated the launch of Ranaviru Mawpiya Rakawarana and the Opening of the Racecourse Mini Pavillion. The concept and management of these events were done entirely by Glenda.
We would like to express our gratitude to Hon Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka and Mr Dhammika Dassanayake, Secretary General of the Parliament for their support and confidence in us, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mr Lakshman Hulugalle, Director General of the Media Centre for National Security for their encouragement and strength.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts coming to Sri Lanka was indeed a milestone, the event coordination of the groundbreaking ceremony in Colombo and the foundation laying ceremony in Hambantota was done by Glenda Parthipan. We are extremely proud to have been given the opportunity and we wish to thank Mr Sajad Mawzoon, Director – Shangri-La Hotels Lanka and Shangri-La Investments Lanka for his confidence in us.
Even this event today, the Business Today TOP TWENTY FIVE is coordinated by Glenda, which includes the selection of songs for the entertainment.
We wish to thank Mr Bhashwara Gunaratne and Mr Sagala Ratnayake for their support.
At this moment we wish to thank Mr Harry Jayawardena for his continuous support and encouragement over the years.
We would like to mention Mr Dinesh Weerakkody, Mr Keith Bernard and Mr Shiron Gooneratne for their contribution to the Business Today top corporate rankings especially during the inception of the awards. We are extremely proud that Mr Dinesh Weerakkody is the Chairman of Commercial Bank, one of the winners of the Business Today TOP TWENTY FIVE.
We would also like to thank Mr Suren Rajakarier of KMPG for his interest and contribution to the Business Today TOP TWENTY FIVE.
The Business Today TOP TWEN-TY FIVE Awards Ceremony is held without any external support and it is through the advertising in our magazines that we are able to do hold such an annual event.
We apologies for any lapse in protocol as it is difficult to maintain protocol in such events.
Last but not least, Business Today wishes to thank all of you who are present today to celebrate the excellence in corporate Sri Lanka.
Podi Hamuduruwo, is a priest who lives by example. The thero’s words are sincere and pure. If he says that something will be done, it will be done. His work has given many youngsters in Sri Lanka a new lease of life. The Gangaramaya Temple is unique in the sense that devotees from all walks of life, race or religion finds solace inside its premises. Podi Hamuduruwo has been a great source of strength to us. His words of wisdom and advice have been a great blessing to all of us.
We are witnessing the result of activities that Mr Mathi Parthipan, Mrs Parthipan and their staff working together with the various business organizations that by advertising have assisted him, have continued for many years now. The life of a country is interwoven with kings of the past to the present leader. We are harnessing the results of those efforts by the various people who have toiled hard on behalf of the country. Likewise, if we act with tact and intelligence together as one, with foresight, the children of our future generations will be able to live united without any difference of caste, creed or political differences.
Today’s world has evolved with countries that exist with violence in a dangerous way, and our country was in a very unlucky state but has overcome that status now, and is moving towards a brighter future and we must all be united and work with intelligence and foresight. I say this as a Buddhist priest of this country and speak on behalf of other religious heads also. We have religions to make us intelligent people, and to maintain a sound mind. We need religions for the country’s economy as well as discipline. I won’t go into detail about how Mr Mathi Parthipan has helped and treated all religious places with kindness and donations and come this far in his business activities as was announced previously announced. However, this is an unusual vision that has gone into our history. Because Mr Mathi Parthipan and Mrs. Parthipan and their staff have the ability to present events to those who look at or read about the happenings of a country in a systematic manner. It makes us happy and we bless them. Also recognizing the business sphere and providing them with a proud, high status, his aim is to uplift the business sector in the country without expecting personal benefits in return.
He started this with one or two people in the beginning with great difficulty and today with a large workforce, it is important that he has brought it into a state of acceptance by the contenders without any disputes or complains. It is a good example to us. I believe that even the business community and the con-tenders of this TOP TWENTY FIVE which has come from TOP 10, TOP TWENTY up to TOP TWENTY FIVE, will regard this as children of one mother, united and as one, keeping in mind that another group such as this has to be created in this country, especially in these times where we do not give much thought to villages. The government is looking at them but the business sector will have to go into the villages as it has come to a situation that people will have to be brought from overseas to work here. Therefore, they should help raise the children of the villages, develop the greenery, find out the factors that the economy of the country depend on. We also we have to protect the children who are being educated, the university students. Some of the needs of the universities cannot be provided by the government alone. Businesses need the services of educated people now. However today, some provide services to foreign countries whilst being in this country. Therefore, our business com-munity must protect our economy and villages. His Excellency the President as the current leader of the country is doing his duty perfectly and we should help him to continue to do so. I take leave of my speech with that note, and give my blessings and thanks to Mr Mathi Parthipan, Mrs Parthipan, their staff and all those who assist him.
Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi is the Minister of Technology and Research. She represents the Ratnapura district, which is her home area. Minister Wanniarachchi first entered Parliament in 1994 and has since then held various posts in the Government. The Minister is the daughter of the late Darmadasa Wanniarchchi a renowned political leader in the Ratnapura District who was a Member of Parliament from 1965 – 1977 representing the Pelmadulla electorate. The Wanniarachchi family is a well known business family in Ratnapura. Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi is a lawyer by profession and represents the new generation of politicians. She is also an inspiration to women, as one of the few who has consistently garnered the support of her electorate to remain in Parliament. She is a simple and kind person. A hard worker.
First of all let me congratulate all of you for your excellent achievements duly recognized by Business Today, the premier business magazine.
I see the significance of these awards in two aspects: in one way by recognizing the achievements, the top businesses are motivated to retain their standards and continue to be awarded so that they will always look forward in their progression. In another way the new businesses will take this as a target to achieve and will try harder each year to be recognized among the TOP TWENTY FIVE. What is remarkable is that either way the corporate entities are motivated to raise their standards and keep moving forward and we should also appreciate the effort by Business Today magazine for providing this momentum.
We as the government have always been sensitive to private sector investments and have done our best to sup-port and facilitate the private sector development. The greatest investment we have done under the leadership of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa is ending the thirty year long civil conflict. When many local and international experts on conflict were loudly saying that this war could never be ended by defeat he was confident and took the challenge even risking his life and showed the world that a terrorist conflict can be defeated. We invested billions of ascertainable resources and young lives that can never be valued and compensated. We should remember that these are the capital investments from the government that paved way for a growing economy that stood still even within the global recession. I am confident that the private sector will utilise these benefits and contribute to the national economy as strongly as the public sector.
Three years have passed since the end of conflict and we as a government did not terminate our investment at bringing the much-anticipated peace and political stability to the country. We took further steps to invest in physical infrastructure development and to ensure continuous economic growth. It is my duty to appreciate the hard work and dedication by our dynamic Minister of Economic Development honorable Basil Rajapaksa in success of both infrastructure and economic development. Under his directives our rural economies are flourishing where the physical development is visible to support the economic growth in areas that used to be remote and inaccessible.
We have identified the importance of the private sector in our policy framework and are keen to become the facilitator to nurture investments from private parties, and even extend-ing our hands for private public partnerships. As a facilitator we have expedited road development work and was able to open the first expressway in the country which brought down the travelling time almost to one fourth. Opening of the new harbour at Hambantota, constructing the second international airport at Mattala, expediting the completion of airport highway, initiating the northern expressway, opening the Upper Kot-male power plant are among the key developments from the government to facilitate the economic growth and to create a conductive environment for private investments.
The social infrastructure development was also not neglected and we continue to invest in free education and free national healthcare system, being among the very few countries continuing to do so. There are many social benefit schemes integrated into development programmes such as Divi Neguma to ensure the sustain-ability of the development and achieving the long-term development goals.
The expected private investment in 2016 is 27 percent of GDP, which includes FDI direct investment of four percent of GDP to reach 33-34 percent. To achieve this target the government has been successful in mobilising large investments from well-connected global players. Furthermore, a good example of the public sector and the private sector working together is private public partnership that was carried out with the Colombo Port. Utilising this experience the Government is working on the Northern superhighway, which connects Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Trincomalee with a private public partnership. The same approach has been utilised for certain power generation and solid waste management projects. The reason for mentioning this is that for the private sector of Sri Lanka PPPs are a good mechanism to work in larger projects where the knowledge and the expertise of both sectors are required.
We specifically identified the important role of private sector in some industries such as tourism, construction, entertainment and have provided concessions to encourage investments. We have seen key global players in the tourism and hospitality investing in the country setting a positive trend for further developments.
During the past year especially with the economic downturn in leading global markets, as well as with the devaluation of the rupee, increase in world oil prices and retraction of the economy as a whole, the Sri Lankan private sector has increasingly looked inwards at opportunities within the country and many of the Business TOP TWENTY FIVE winners have utilized this approach. This depicts that we are moving in an accurate path towards becoming a developed nation.
We strongly believe that without the contribution from the private sec-tor we could not achieve our economic development targets and I urge you all to become an active partner in national development, try to explore new ventures, find innovative solutions, improve research and development capacities and utilise your share of the peace dividend.
We are always there to support and facilitate you not to make any hindrance. So let us work together to build a better nation for our future generations as a developed country.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the UNP, first entered Parliament in 1977. He was the youngest cabinet minister in Sri Lanka. He has held various ministerial posts and has been the Prime Minister of this country twice. With years of experience and knowledge, there is much that the younger generation of politicians can learn from him. Ranil Wickremesinghe is seen as a strong and stabilising force in Sri Lankan politics.
I think you politicians have got fixed by Parthipan. Generally, it’s 25 of us speaking and about two of you; and the rest of you listen. But this time you got to listen to 25 businessmen and just two politicians speaking. Is it that you want to make us feel what it is like when you sit at all the functions and have to listen to all the long winded speeches that we have to make.
Anyway, you have got your message across and for some reason I found that I have been invited for the second time, which I’m generally not. But I must first say that Business Today must be commended for this ceremony, which you have done to recognise and reward all those who have done well in the corporate sector; by something given by the private sector to the private sector. Anyway, I saw you at work this time also with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. That was a job well done, I must say, especially the party, the street party afterwards. I must say that many of the delegates went back regretting that they couldn’t stay much longer but then the Treasury was thankful that they didn’t wait any longer because our deficits certainly would have gone much further.
Anyway, I have listened today to the reports and the performances of the companies. I must say that Hari Selvanathan did make a good point when he said why don’t you have something for the government. Because sometime back it would have been very difficult. There wouldn’t have been 25 ministries. But now it’s a 100, I think it’s worth giving it a try.
Well, for those who have performed, some of you have gone through difficult times; some have known what life was like before 1977 when we had gone into a market economy. Some of you have contributed to building it up as Pandithage said through the difficult years; and sometimes you have to close the door and do business from the side. And we had to go through this whole episode of renaming ‘Bombay Onions’ ‘Big Onions’. Anyway, we have got over all that.
But still while commending you all for all that you have done I still thought I have one or two issues that I would like to raise. I was reading through Business Today and I have no problem with the criteria you have selected; but I looked at how that criteria has changed over the years; not only in Sri Lanka but also abroad, which is a reflection of how the global economy and the market economy has changed. Even now capitalism has changed as we all call it the ‘Market Economy’. A few days back I was reading an article on what is called Modern Capitalism. It was very good; it dealt with American Capitalism. What it is today; it is unique. I don’t think it can be duplicated anywhere else in the world. How democratic socialism went out of vogue and what we have got in the last ten years. Firstly socialism with Chinese characteristics. That is the biggest form of capitalism you have today and in state capitalism also. Social market economy, and that is where the financial markets dominates and is called stock market capitalism. These seem to be the three. And it dealt with how the countries in Asia, the smaller countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have developed; how modern capitalism came first through European money which brought in the plantation sector. Then the export sec-tor, either with the local money or with foreign money. And now where do we go? We have gone to one extreme – fortunately we are not there and I hope we don’t get there – of the economies which rely on drug money, hot money and black money. Now where are we? Well we have I feel excessive dependance on the financial market depending on what we read in the newspapers and the media a lot on the stock exchange and the public borrowings. Well, to me our stock exchange is very much a casino with a laundry attached. That’s where the black money from Malaysia and India is turned into white. And this year we’ve also added an altar because now twice a year we sacrifice the chairpersons there.
Now we also have something, which have been concerning me and I thought I should mention it to you all. It is something seen in some of the other economies but also seen in Sri Lanka. Of course, many of you did mention how much of credit is available for the small and medium sector. But I find this development has always been in Sri Lanka like elsewhere, where the banks are with the big corporates and the capital requirement of the small and medium sector has suffered. I’ve gone through many towns, many cities met with those who run the high street, they are the people who matter and they are complaining of their lack of access to capital. That’s something you have to recognise. Because in today’s society it’s the small and medium enterprises that provide the jobs; whether it be in manufacturing, whether it be tourism or in trade. They are the job creators and that goes down from the United States to Japan to other parts of the world. And that’s where we’re having a problem. Excuse me for say-ing so, because I believe that is where not enough money is going. If all that money that was given out by the banks to margin trading but is instead given out to the Small and Medium economy all of us would be better off today. There’ll be more money in the pockets of the average persons in the country. Second is if you look at the composition of government expenditure, which is alarming to me. In 1990 when we were doing the economy, I must say, the biggest expenditure was the categories of what we call goods services transfers and subsidies. Second came interest payment and third came salaries. In the last two years it has changed. First is interest payments, second is salaries and third is the rest. And today you have come to a situation where goods services transfers and subsidies are just about half of interest payments. What does this mean? It basically means two things. One is the social sector expenditure is going down; we have seen the crisis we’ve had of the university teachers, the Minister had to handle that. We have seen the problem of health expenditure; but if this is the composition of government expenditure it’s going to get worse. And we are a country that has depended on free education and free health. So unless you change the composition of government expenditure what you spend more, you spend more on these sectors it’s going to be downhill for the majority of the people. How do you change it? This itself is the problem, because you have this big public debt.
I was reading the Road Map on Public Debt Management and they are talking of reducing the deficit; the same thing the IMF says. You have to reduce it. You can’t cut the interest payments or debt servicing, you can’t cut the salaries bill, whether you think they are gainfully employed or not. Then the cuts come in the other sectors.
That just is not going to work. Then they are saying cut the expenditure on the transfers to the corporations. But what are we doing? They are transferring that expenditure also on to the people, instead of trying to make those corporations efficient and see how it’s been made viable the easiest way, the IMF way now is to transfer that off and the price increases.
These are two of the problems we are facing, which means: firstly, not enough credit to the small and medium entrepreneur and secondly, the additional expenses. Then how do we repay the debt? That’s the big question. Because today our revenue and our debt service is virtually the same. Actually we are rolling over the public debt. We are borrowing to repay, which is what we did with the last sovereign debt in July; of the 500 billion dollars has gone to repay the 2007 loans. So this is a serious situation which we are in. And unless we find a way of moving out then the burden is going to more and more on the people. We’ve seen what’s happened in Greece. We’ve seen what is happening in Spain, We’ve seen what’s happening in Portugal and many other countries. Now this is the big question that all of us have to face. And I thought I should mention something which all of us overlook, because we are all short termists now looking at the performance of one year and not how do we go beyond that. We are told to be more competitive and to earn more exports. Where do you earn the exports? The world market is a billion people in the western world whose incomes are coming down. What do we sell? How do we sell it? We can’t sell very much more to Europe. We’ve lost the GSP Plus facility. I got involved in how to save it. Finally I fell foul both of the apparel sector and of G L Peiris. Nevertheless, there is very little that we can do there.
Secondly, what are we going to do in the US market. I can’t see how we can enter that. Thirdly, India; even the private sector has to decide whether they want to enter the Indian market or not. One half says very loudly no CEPA; we don’t want it. We don’t want the Indians coming in. The other half says silently no, we want CEPA. And everyone wants to see how we can make quick money out of the Indian black money that is being laundered here. So we’ve got to decide where exactly, because these are the markets that are available for us. So what are the markets that are available? Secondly, just look at Myanmar. 2015 at the elections they will get conces-sional aid maybe as much as 10 billion. Once the elections are done fairly and squarely they can take the GSP facility, they get something in the US market and they get something in the Indian market. That’s what we are going to see from 2016 onwards. As some of the Europeans point out its useless getting into Myanmar now because they are not ready. They haven’t got the basics. They require two, three years. And then what are we going to do? Where are we going? That’s what we have to think. I for one am very skeptical about the IMF. As I said last year Bretton Woods insti-tutions without Bretton Woods is of no use. What are they saying throughout the world? Cut your expenditure. Now we have come to the bone. As politi-cians can we cut into the bone? We can’t. So what can we get from the IMF? They can’t sort themselves out as to where the voting power should be. It’s dominated by the European voting power and is at the moment dependent on Asian money. That’s what we are. So I would forget about them. I don’t think they can give any solutions. Unfortunately, we have the habit where that everything said by an IMF representative here or by some IMF guy who comes here is highlighted in the media in the same manner in which Moses and the ten commandments were treated at that time. That’s unfortunately been a habit. I don’t think they know where they are going. And certainly they can’t tell us where we are going. We have to now innovate we’ve got to think out of the box. All countries are thinking out of the box. You’ll be surprised at the reports that are coming out of England. The Vickers Banking Report wanted ring-fencing of the banks. Then Paul Volcker the Former Chairman of the Reserve Bank of the USA said that’s not enough, you’ve got to separate them. Go back into an earlier system they had of separating investment banking and retail banking. Now you’ve got the key commissioner report which says there shouldn’t be quarterly reporting on the stock market. You focus too much on the short-term profits and you forget about the medium and the long term. So that’s one country that is trying to work its way out. America is working its way out in a different manner, including fixing all the British banks whenever they can; so they still keep the monopoly in banking. So we’ve all got to think out of the box.
Where are we going? How are we going to get there? Because I still feel that we have the capacity to innovate. And from here we have innovators and we have entrepreneurs both here in this room and outside there; maybe in Nugegoda, maybe in Nittambuwa, maybe in Beliatta – I don’t know where the Minister belongs to whether in Nittambuwa or Beliatta or both – down in Medawachchiya which has been long quoted now in the parliamentary debates, who can make it. But we’ve got to think what we are going to do. So I’m sorry that I had to sound the discord note here amongst all those who thought it is maybe better. But I was one of those who had faith in the market economy when many others didn’t. When we went through those dark years; we paid a price to get the market economy back. Because I wanted the market economy to benefit everyone. You can’t have two classes of people either here or in England or in America so that’s a big debate. So we must have the market economy to benefit all. We cannot have people thinking our children can’t be educated here. We cannot have people come into the view that there are no health services here. We talk of shortage of labour. Then why on earth are people paying three or four hundred thousand rupees to go abroad? There is something wrong; either there is no job satisfaction; if all the Sri Lankans are back here we still have unemployment. But those are great skills that have been brought back but can we pay the prices? or do we go to a higher level of economic activity?
So this is why I raised the question. I don’t want to keep you all much longer. But just to thank you again for having invited me; and there’ll be many who will go along saying “what nonsense this man is talking” but I hope there’ll be at least one who would think of what I said; because like Harry I believe we can make it. I may differ on how we make it, but we can make it if we can think straight.
Ronnie Pieris – Director, John Keells Holdings
Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman/CEO receiving the award from Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition is also in the picture.
John Keells Holdings is extremely humbled by having been elected as the first among equals from among an array of corporates who represent the who’s who of the private sector.
Our financial performance for which we have been recognised would not have been possible if not for the unstinting and unwavering support that we have received from all our stakeholders, who range from employees, customers, suppliers, the government, and indeed the society at large. We are most humbled by this accolade and whilst we accept the plaudits we look to the future; a future where we can contribute to the national development and we can contribute to the upliftment of the quality of life of all our citizens in Sri Lanka. In conclusion, I wish to thank Mr Parthipan and his team, for once again having very successfully organised the Business Today Awards Ceremony.
Hari Selvanathan, Chairman – Bukit Darah
Hari Selvanathan, Chairman receiving the award
I dedicate this honour to all those individuals who have silently assisted our company, and seen through our journey, and I also thank the organisers for having judged us as one of the leading public listed companies in Sri Lanka.
A snapshot overview of our last years expansion programme, is as follows. The refurbishment of the Pegasus Hotel has been completed or will be completed in another few months, our Lion Brewery expansion will also be completed in a few months, which will more than double our current capacity. The palm oil plantations overseas are expanding despite the current low prices in the world markets, a new entrant to our group the oils and fats division, although it’s not making much money, it’s running at a loss; we have decided to increase capacity modernise the machinery to meet the global demand. We are also spending money on our R&D which will innovate new products. Our products are being used by most of the consumer food companies. Nearly 40-50 percent of the consumer food companies use vegetable oil derivative containing products. And there lies the scope for vegetable oils in this world. Our revenue has been up by 92 percent, our Capex 136 percent, the group employment by 24 percent, profit by seven percent, last but not least, a revenue to the government by about 46 percent. From 7.8 billion to 11.3 billion rupees.
For this I thank the management, the board of directors for their guidance and the government of Sri Lanka for providing a positive environment to expand our business. Going forward, I see that the world is going through an economic crisis which has never been experienced ever before. And we anticipate new challenges, and we hope and we are certain that we have the strength to face them as a country and as a company. I once again thank the organisers for having supported and recognising the private sector, and I would suggest to Mr Mathi Parthipan to consider an awards function recognising the top government ministries for their achievements and services to Sri Lanka; the same way you’re doing with the private sector, and you are the only one who could do this.
Ravi Dias, Managing Director – Commercial Bank of Ceylon
Ravi Dias, Managing Director receiving the award
It’s nice to be at the TOP TWENTY FIVE awards of Business Today and it’s nice to be among the TOP TWENTY FIVE. We at Commercial Bank work with a wide cross section of the economy, ranging from top corporates to SMEs to micro and individuals; in Colombo we do Corporate Lending, Trade Finance and Project Lending and through our 225 branches we get involved in a lot of SME and micro lending, providing employment opportunities to masses, and also we have branches overseas as well. We have 17 branches in Bangladesh, so we are very much involved in the economic take off of the country and although we’re geared to face challenges, we are very confident of the future. We know that this country is going to take off economically, and with the strength of Commercial Bank, we are geared to take part in the economic drive of the country.
Let me take a moment to thank the entire team of Commercial Bank, and also our customer base. Our customers have always been with us. We thank all of them for the support given over the years. Let me also wish John Keells and Bukit Darah, for being number one and two and all the rest of the corporates who are within the TOP TWENTY FIVE.
Harry Jayawardena, Chairman/Managing Director – Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka and Chairman – Aitken Spence
Harry Jayawardena, Chairman/Managing Director – Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka receiving the award
last so many years. We have been repeating the same thing over and again when I have been called upon to say something about the Company.
This time I chose that I must tell the honourable Minister that he must in no uncertain terms recognise this Sri Lankan who has been in the helm of this event. Mr Mathi Parthipan, has created this contest and I am sure all the winners who are here are capable or even more capable jointly or single handedly to go forward with the economic development of this country.
Minister you have been at the helm of the events today. You are personally aware that the so called foreign investments that came which have gone bad, why? They have been given preferential treatment. We Sri Lankans are quite capable who have been with the country through the most difficult thirty years and have gone forward and helped to sustain in whatever the possible way the economy and to go forward. Today we are witnessing the peace. The stage is set for all of us to take the baton from here and to compete in the world.
If the government of the day recognises the local investor, the local entrepreuner, the local businessman, he is the man who is going to be here and either vote for you or not vote for you. This is very important because you see our neighbour the Indian companies, they are now going to all the traditional markets, buying of companies. Why? Because at that time after Independence of India, Jawarhalal Nehru, the late Prime Minister gave them assistance, he picked up a few companies, I am not saying to do the same here, but take a lesson from what has happened after 50 years where they are and after 50 years where we are. How many of us have the strength? Of course India is a large country with all the resources. Don’t underestimate our own country. We have the same resources. Unfortunately the decision’s made, see the bad investments, you have to bring a bill in Parliament to revive those out of which at least 90 percent are foreign based companies. What have they done? They bring a handful of money, go to our banks take all the loans possible and our bankers are here, they also give them as much as possible. Look at the hits that they have taken. If all those funds that have been given for such people including EPF and ETF, how many billions today we would have saved in this country. This is something Minister you must address in your mind. This is very important. These are some of the areas which are available which have been handed over to the foreign investors. I’m sure if you tell all these top 25 people who are here they will be in a position to form a company or even contribute and give them an opportunity.
The next generation of this country must reap the benefits of this peace and this is not a difficult job but a possible job. If you have taken this money that has been swindled, I must say by all these so called investors who have closed shop and gone, another two budgets of this country can be made. So this should not happen. Look at the heart of our employees that have gone overseas spending their hard earned money they pay the agencies and they go and they bring in three to four billion dollars of cash here. What happens? That too is being spent without any hesitation and all the profits have been taken. If you need you let me know personally I will let you know how to retain those. That is something that everybody has to look into.
Dr Rohan Fernando, Director – Aitken Spence receiving the award
This area is neglected otherwise we will be in this mess forever. It’s high time we take a lesson; it is high time we make a note of what is taking place. Otherwise everybody will have a budget deficit for the rest of our lives. We will not have any budget deficit if we properly looked into the gaps and stop those leaks, if the gaps are stopped and the leaks are stopped you will have sufficient funds, we don’t have to go to this bank, IMF or the World Bank, all the funds are here but unfortunately they are being taken away.
So put your thinking cap on and then make sure that next time when you come here to do your presentation at the awards ceremony – I’m sure Mr Mathi Parthipan is going to continue to invite you – we will have better results.
So I must thank all my stakeholders, my employees, our directors and our workers who have been able to give their best and their loyal support and are the second largest taxpayer I think in this country. I see some faces that are not so very happy about what I am saying. And I don’t mean anything, foreign investment must come, but we must know how to manage it, how it should be put into practice.
Thank you very much Mr Mathi Parthipan for organising this event continuously, as somebody said, single handedly, it is an event that has to be recognized and I hope you will only stop at 20 not at 30 and continue to do it for a long period.
Kapila Jayawardena, Managing Director/CEO – LOLC
Kapila Jayawardena, Managing Director/CEO receiving the award
It is a very happy occasion. The previous speaker actually spoke about the evils of corporate lending, but I must tell you that at LOLC we have achieved these heights; we have been successful by lending to the SME’s and the micro areas. We are a company with over 300,000 customers, some are below the poverty line, some are above the poverty line, but in deep rural areas of this country. So we have made a difference to these people. I have met people when I go to open branches who have told me that this is the first time they have walked into a formal financial institution. So, basically improving financial inclusion, moving people from the informal market to the formal market, has been the goal, has been the focus of LOLC.
With Browns, we have been at the helm of helping the agricultural sector of this country. The Browns Tractor TAFE has 85 percent market share and then the Batteries like Exide, they have a very high market share in this country. That has been the story of our success and I would like to thank Mr Mathi Parthipan for organising this event, I think it has been a wonderful event from ten we have seen it going to twenty, TOP TWENTY now twenty has become TOP TWENTY FIVE. I would also like to thank the LOLC team and all the stakeholders who helped us achieve this position.
Rajendra Theagarajah, Managing Director/CEO – Hatton National Bank
Rajendra Theagarajah, Managing Director/CEO receiving the award
The Hatton National Bank is truly delighted, at the same time also very humbled at being recognised this evening at the BT TOP TWENTY FIVE awards. We have had the privilege of being part of the TOP 10, almost since the inception, other than in one year. After that year we listened to where we went wrong and hopefully have rectified and continued with the journey with what we are good at, which is basic commercial banking. I’d like to dedicate this recognition and honour to most importantly our customers, our employees who made the difference, the shareholders who have supported us throughout our journey and all other stakeholders. The Hatton National Bank is a full service national bank. It is large enough to be of systemic importance and ever since the war or civil conflict ended in 2009 we have mapped our road map with the nation’s vision and looked wholeheartedly at engaging into the post war renaissance of this beloved country.
Last year, the banking sector – not just our bank – was very pleased at the government’s efforts in harmonising what was the thorny issue in bringing down the taxation rates of banking to be comparable with the rest of Asia, I think we should thank the government for doing that. Having had that behind us, we continue with our journey of engaging into the economic development whole heartedly. And we continue to request the government to do what we would like them to do – to build up on creating an enabling environment which supports law and order, freedom of expression and to build a solid framework of governance which will help us to do what we are good at, doing business.
I’d like to thank and congratulate Mr Parthipan for continuing this initiative and also widening the network of not just ten corporates but extending it to 25 so that many others also have the opportunity of competing.
James Yamanaka, Managing Director/CEO – Ceylon Tobacco Company
James Yamanaka, Managing Director/CEO receiving the award
About two years ago I arrived here in Sri Lanka and I came to these awards about two weeks after the day that I’d arrived in the country. So quite honestly I knew very little about Ceylon Tobacco and a limited knowledge of Sri Lanka and I certainly didn’t know the importance of these award ceremony. Thankfully what I can say after two years is that I’m very proud to be leading Ceylon Tobacco, a company that has been here for well over a 100 years, I’m very optimistic about the direction of the country with the environment improving year on year, and also I now recognise the importance of this event as well.
Ceylon Tobacco Company, like I said, has been in operation for well over a 100 years here in this country, and over that time it has been a leader in many areas, in terms of corporate governance, human resource practices and even in the area of CSR, where we quietly do a number of CSR initiatives including one where we recently came up to about 10,000 families in rural areas where we helped them to reach economic self sufficiency.
What I also want to say tonight is a thank you to all of our stakeholders from the farmers to our distributors to the Government and all of our partners in business as well as many of the colleagues in this room, who have helped the company to succeed and have helped along with all the other stakeholders in the country to help bring economic development to the country of Sri Lanka.
Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Operating Officer – Dialog Axiata
Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Operating Officer receiving the award
It is indeed a great honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of Dialog and to be named amongst the TOP TWENTY FIVE corporates in Sri Lanka. Accepting such an award is truly a humbling event for any corporate and more so for a service provider as Dialog. As we accept this award it is important to recognise and thank those stakeholders who have helped us who have guided us to achieve this recognition.
To begin with let me thank our customers from the top corporates in Sri Lanka to the individual citizens representing the bottom of the pyramid consumers in this country, over 7.5 million Sri Lankans who honour us with their custom and patronage; to the Government of Sri Lanka for their progressive development policies and regulations that have enabled the telecommunication sector in Sri Lanka to shine as a bright star in the entire South East Asian region. To our team, the Dialog family for making Dialog the leader in integrated quad play service provider in Sri Lanka over the last 15 years. Last but not least let me thank all Sri Lankans who have welcomed the Dialog brand to their homes, who have guided us, who have helped us, for their patience as we deliver the future today.
A M Pandithage, Chairman/CEO – Hayleys
A M Pandithage, Chairman/CEO – receiving the award
I’m delighted to accept this award from Business Today for recognising my company Hayleys Group within the top ten best corporates in Sri Lanka. Hayleys Group has steadily climbed up in the Business Today rankings and we are hopeful to maintain this momentum. Hayleys could be considered as one of Sri Lanka’s most diversified corporates with a revenue base of around USD 550 million. I took over the chairmanship of this Group in mid 2009 and during these three years, Hayleys aggressively pursued into new business foray particularly into leisure, wind power, manufacturing of aluminum extrusions, tea marketing which has made a significant impact to our country’s economy and its people. What is perhaps unique in our company is that we add value to Sri Lanka’s natural resources such as tea, rubber, coir fibre, coconut shell, fresh fruits and vegetables, and have successfully marketed these in developed economies such as US, Europe, Japan and Australia earning valuable foreign exchange to our country.
In addition, Hayleys is also a very large transportation and logistics service provider in the country. We had some difficulties encountered in our textile manufacturing subsidiary, which is now turning around well and geared towards making profits.
I take this opportunity to thank my entire board of directors especially my deputy chairman Mr Dhammika Perera, the staff for taking Hayleys Group to new heights. I also wish to place my sincere appreciation to the Business Today team and extend my best wishes to the award recipients.
Nimal Welgama, Chairman – Sri Lanka Telecom
Nimal Welgama, Chairman receiving the award
Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel consistently continued its work towards achieving the Government’s ICT goals, which is also a part of His Excellency the President’s larger vision to transform Sri Lanka into the Wonder of Asia.
Out vision compliments this goal. If I were to spell it out, it would be to make our nation an info com and a knowledge rich society. Sri Lanka Telecom’s work over the years has always stayed true to this. The work we have done is very exciting putting us at the forefront of the ICT industry. We have soon become one of the country’s technology leaders being one of the few in South Asia for embracing and deploying many state-of- the-art technologies.
In June this year we completed stage six of our network expansion, which involved increasing the total number of 2G and 3G base stations by over 1000 sites within record breaking time. Stage seven of the mobile network expansion has now begun and once completed will perhaps have Asia’s first commercial 4G network making us one of the most advanced and smartest mobile operators in the industry.
If you take a look at the stats, mobile penetration was recorded at a staggering 87 percent at the end of 2011, compared to 27 percent in 2006, these are certainly encouraging growth patterns. At the recent ITU meeting held in Colombo we saw its Secretary Generals stating that competition and innovation were some of the main drivers of the ICT industry’s growth. This is all very encouraging. From an ICT front – though the present level of penetration is low – the rate of growth can be accelerated complimented by government initiatives to enhance ICT literacy from 30 to 70 percent by 2016. Growth, ICT adoption rates demand and outlook all remain positive; and like Business Today’s TOP TWENTY FIVE, Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel have weathered the storm. We have stood strong and we will continue to work towards His Excellency’s vision of making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia.
I wish to thank the board of directors, stakeholders of our companies and the two CEOs Greg Young and Lalith De Silva for the commitment they have shown. I wish also to thank our employees at Sri Lanka Mobitel Group. Finally, on behalf of our Group I would like extend once again my warmest congratulations to Business Today TOP TWENTY FIVE wishing them for bigger and better things to come.
Dhammika Perera, Chairman – Sampath Bank and Chairman/Managing Director – Vallibel One
Dhammika Perera, Chairman receiving the award for Sampath Bank
On behalf of Sampath Bank and Vallibel One, it is my great pleasure to accept these awards today. I recall the very first Business Today awards, which was held when our nation was in the height of the conflict. I am sure all of you would agree that BT Options should be applauded for its perseverance to recognise corporate excellence. In my opinion we must be thankful to His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Honourable Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the three armed forces as well as the police for bringing to an end, the war.
After three decades of conflict we have finally reached a time of great opportunity and a safe and sure environment for all Sri Lankans. While Sri Lanka managed, over the past years, to stake resilience and demonstrate growth. We are only now on the threshold of a new phase of the nation’s growth. I am confident that in the next five years we will see the very first signs of what Sri Lanka is to become as an economic hub of the future.The current market cap of the quoted companies is only 29 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP. I believe that with the growth of the economy, this figure will go up to 40 percent. Now is the time when corporate Sri Lanka can become the real engine of growth for our nation; the opportunity is before us. These awards today, I believe, play a key role in identifying our direction towards generating growth.
Dhammika Perera, Chairman/Managing Director receiving the award for Vallibel One
I wish to thank the staff, management team and board members of Sampath Bank, Vallibel One and its subsidiary companies, Royal Ceramic, LB Finance, Orit apparel and Delmege for their dedication and contribution.
My congratulations go out to all of the winners tonight. I believe these awards truly reflect the dynamic and diverse business sector of our country. Together, we are the foundation of Sri Lanka’s journey into the future.
A R Pandithage Chairman/Managing Director – Diesel and Motor Engineering
A R Pandithage Chairman/Managing Director receiving the award
It indeed a great honour for the DIMO Group to be in the first 25 corporates. DIMO started in difficult times; with the advent of World War II in 1939, it was a tough going. The DIMO tribe knows to face tough goings. We faced the glorious 50’s and then we went into the 60’s, where all the restrictions were there, quotas were imposed to imports etc, but still we survived. Then we came into 77 when the markets were opened, from a sellers’ market we had to gear up to real marketing. We were doing well and then we had to face the JVP times, which were tough times and I can remember in the IPKF time we were forced to put a board outside saying, ‘Indian badu vikunanne naa’. Being the TATA agent, we had to sell. We survived that.
Then during this terrible 30 year war, we were still resilient enough to face the challenges. So give us a level playing field and my tribe knows how to exist. What we are facing today is the dignity of labour, as one speaker clearly said, “Very soon we’ll have to import skilled labour.” We were the first to go to Jaffna to train people and with Rev Assaji’s help we are starting a training center in Sooriyawewa. I think overall we will have to develop skilled people in Sri Lanka to face the development challenges.
Once again, I would like to thank the DIMO tribe and the other stakeholders for keeping us in this prestigious pack and I would like to thank Mr Parthipan and the rest of Business Today for organising this prestigious event.
Alois Hofbauer, Managing Director – Nestle Lanka
Alois Hofbauer, Managing Director receiving the award
I’m very proud and happy that Nestle has been once again awarded to be a part of the Sri Lankan TOP TWENTY FIVE, and even more proud so after the words of our good friend Mr Harry Jayawardena that we have been considered.
Let me share with you a few things I think in principle a business can only be successful, be it foreign or local, if it actually creates value, creates value to the communities it operates in. Today Nestle collects milk from almost 20,000 farmers every day and on a daily basis we spend over ten billion, which we pay to farmers mostly dairy and also in coconut. We are the world’s biggest exporter of coconut milk powder and we export to 60 countries and bring a lot of foreign exchange to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has been the place where Nestle has located itself a 100 years ago and for over 30 years, basically we are representing here with our manufacturing operations. We feel and I think when you see what we do, we feel, that we are actually a deep rooted company in Sri Lanka and we are proud of doing so. We have been here in the good times and have been here in the bad times and obviously now we enjoy together to see the rise of Sri Lanka.
Ladies and Gentlemen, once again a big thank you for being a part of this TOP TWENTY FIVE. I also want to thank our employees, staff and all our stakeholders who make this happen.
Sanjay Niles representing CT Holdings
Sanjay Niles receiving the award
It is my great pleasure to accept this award on behalf of CT Holdings PLC. We are humbled by this recognition to stand amongst some of the most prestigious corporates of our times. This moment reinstates the vision and focus of our founders, bold entrepreneurs ahead of their times investing in the future of a country that they cared for deeply. Today the enterprise founded for the cinema business has taken many new directions. Yet their philosophy of creating value for Sri Lanka remains our legacy handed down to each generation of leadership as the truest benchmark of business success.
So on behalf of them and the 17,000 people who form the CT Holdings Group, a sincere thank you.
Sunil Liyanage, Director – Richard Peiris & Company
Sunil Liyanage, Director receiving the award
On behalf of 31,000 committed people and our Chairman Dr Sena Yaddehige who formed the Arpico family, I’m indeed honoured and privileged to be here this evening to accept one of the TOP TWENTY FIVE Awards. Richard Pieris ladies and gentlemen, was founded 80 years ago. In fact, last month we celebrated 80 years of service. We were started by four entrepreneurs and has grown to a technologically diversified conglomerate with many pioneering features. It would not be incorrect to say that there isn’t a single household in Sri Lanka that hadn’t used an Arpico product. Now this is something that we are very proud of. For the future we will expand our manufacturing base. We will be creative, we will be innovative, and we will continue to give Sri Lankan society various products and services.
Here I am very privileged and humbled that in the long journey we will be recognised as one of the TOP TWENTY FIVE. I would like to thank all our staff, members of the Board, members of far reaching factories who stride as one family to give Richard Peiris the impetus to reach where we are. I also would like to thank the organisers of Business Today for having this ceremony, inviting us and also to the people of Sri Lanka who have always held Arpico in the highest esteem.
Indrajit Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer – NDB Bank
Indrajit Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer receiving the award
At the outset let me thank Mathi and Business Today for continuing this award ceremony every year regognising outstanding performances in the private sector. It gives me much pleasure and I do feel honoured to stand before you tonight when NDB is being recognised as one of Sri Lanka’s TOP TWENTY FIVE corporates by Business Today again this year. With our beginnings in development banking and SME banking NDB has been able to effectively take on the post conflict growth of Sri Lanka. The significant growth in our SME and project financing portfolios, particularly in the last two years bear ample testimony to this. As we face the future, with the strength of our balance sheets and the multi faceted capabilities of our human capital NDB stands poised and well positioned to take on the new opportunities within the emerging economic developments in Sri Lanka.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this award to team NDB and to our customers who have made our success possible. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the award winners tonight.
Arjun Fernando, Deputy Chief Executive – DFCC Bank
Arjun Fernando, Deputy Chief Executive receiving the award
On behalf of DFCC Bank, Board of Directors, management, staff and customers I am humbled and privileged to accept this award I wish to thank Business Today for recognising business excellence among the corporate world. I can assure you that DFCC Bank and DFCC Vardhana Bank will work smarter and continue to provide professional expertise to our customers and hopefully this will regain us a top ten finish next year.
Chanaka Yatawara, CEO – United Motors
Chanaka Yatawara, CEO receiving the award
Motors is a 68 year old company and we have celebrated many achievements over the years. Today is a very special honour being selected as one of the TOP TWENTY FIVE companies in the country, one among companies that we have admired and for so many years. As a company within the automotive industry we face many challenges, of them the main challenge being the sudden changes in duty rates which put a lot of pressure on our operation and as a result on our bottom line. Despite such uncertainties we have been able to deliver the results we have by being innovative and by trying to minimise our risk against such situations.
I like to very quickly mention two important strategies that have worked well for us in the areas of product management and human resources. In the area of product management we increased our product range to cater to almost every segment representing some of the most prominent global brands in the automative industry. Today we offer passenger vehicles, light and heavy commercial vehicles two wheelers, three wheelers and vehicles from our own assembly facility. In the area of human resource, I believe we have created a culture within our organisation that has succeeded in making our staff passionate about getting things done through a process of rewards recognition training and a healthy governance culture. Developing this culture is possibly the single most important thing that we have done for our business.
Before I conclude please permit me to recognise all our principles for being extremely supportive to us and for considering Sri Lanka as an important market to them even though we are very small in comparison to most other markets that they are present in. Finally, I must thank all our customers for their confidence and trust our Chairman and board of directors our staff and of course Business Today for this great honour.
Roshan Rassool, Director – Softlogic Holdings
Roshan Rassool, Director receiving the award
On behalf of Softlogic and all the members it is an honour and privilege to receive this award for the first time and be among the 25 top successful organisations in the country for the year 2011 and 2012. It is indeed an outstanding achievement for us not only considering the criteria that was applied in the selection of this award but also to be selected among such a list of distinguished organisations.
Who would have thought 21 years ago that a young man’s dream of offering software solutions to the business community would be the beginning of a journey that would place his organisation Softlogic to be in this position. From just 12 employees to 5,000 from 20 million rupee revenue in the first year of operations to over 21 billion rupees; from a single entity today to a group of companies of approximately 30 subsidiaries this is a clear indication that whilst we adhere to the best practices that a powerful dream could become a reality in Sri Lanka, even when the country went through the darkest times in its history. From a single ICT company we have taken bold steps to expand our existing businesses into growth sectors of the Sri Lankan economy. Today our presence in the healthcare sector, the leisure sector, financial services sector, retail sector and automobile sector are an indication of our intent to capitalise on the peace dividend that is upon us.
There are many factors that have led the organisation to this position, but if there was one that needs to stand out it would be the individuals in the organisation that form a great team, a team that is dedicated and focused in achieving fast pace growth and sustainability. We believe strongly that it is better to be fast and good rather than slow and perfect. Of course this is rallied around a strong visionary leader in our Chairman Mr Ashok Pathirage who is able to articulate a clear path and direction. Unfortunately this DNA cannot be valued in and if done so we would be worth many times over than our recorded revenues. Once again I take this opportunity to thank the BT Options team for this award and also congratulate all the winners. I would also like to take this opportunity to issue our stakeholders that we will strive to live by our tagline ‘Best in the Business’ in the visionary path that we have chosen.
Hanif Yusoof, Director/ Group CEO – Expolanka Holdings
Hanif Yusoof, Director/ Group CEO receiving the award
I am indeed humbled because this is the first time that Expolanka is recognised as one of the business entities amongst the top ranks in this country. When I started and founded the company 30 years ago, in a 300 to 400 square feet office, I used to admire companies like Aitken Spence, Whittall Boustead, Harrison and Crossfield. I aspired to be them and still admire them and I still admire the corporate colleagues who are amongst the TOP TWENTY FIVE.
Thank you Mr Parthipan for recognising Expolanka, from an export company, which has expanded its footprint into 14 countries. We are proud to be a Sri Lankan company, we are proud to employ over 32 different nationalities. We are proud to be in 16 countries and 48 cities. But we are more proud of what we could do in the future. We have grown during the conflict times, and now the peace time, over the conflict times we have thrived, and now we have grown.
I would like to say that the dream has not been fulfilled yet. The dream is to make Sri Lanka the distribution hub for the region. The time has come we are at the right place at the right time in Asia and in Sri Lanka to be the distribution hub for the two large markets which surround us, China and India.
This dream will continue. I thank once again for this recognition, I am deeply humbled by this, I thank my board of directors, my employees, I thank all of them for one thing – for having that dare to do spirit.
Rajkumar Renganathan – Managing Director/CEO, Ceylinco Insurance – Life
Ajith Gunawardena, Managing Director/CEO, Ceylinco Insurance – General and Rajkumar Renganathan – Managing Director/CEO, Ceylinco Insurance – Life receiving the award
It has been said that one of the hardest tasks of leadership is understanding that you are not what you are, but what you are perceived to be by others. In that context to be ranked among an eminent group of leading businesses in Sri Lanka is indeed fitting for Ceylinco Insurance. Ajith and I have been with Ceylinco Insurance, from the day the first share was issued. Many are the challenges that we together with our staff have faced since the inception of our business 25 years ago. While we have remained the market leader in the past eight years, it is rewarding to feel that an organisation such as Business Today, has recognised us. We Sri Lankans are capable of meeting any challenge. This leadership is built on the trust of our customers, the trust that we have earned through passion, hard work and commitment, to best practices and professionalism. Our enduring commitment to citizenship as demonstrated by our many community initiatives and our focus on innovation also sets us apart from our peers. Ceylinco Insurance is therefore honoured to be the only company in its sector to be amongst Sri Lanka’s TOP TWENTY FIVE companies.
I thank our policy holders and the Ceylinco Insurance team countrywide, for this award. Our gratitude must also be extended to Business Today for its continuing efforts to recognise and encourage corporate excellence.
Kishu Gomes, Managing Director/CEO – Chevron Lubricants Lanka
Kishu Gomes, Managing Director/CEO receiving the award
To begin with let me thank Mr Mathi Parthipan for his decision to recognise the TOP TWENTY FIVE, as opposed to TOP TWENTY, which were recognised last year. If you had continued your decision to recognise twenty corporates, I wouldn’t have been on this stage this evening. Thank you for that.
Talking about our performance itself, you did say that you started this award ceremony back in 1996, we were within the TOP 10 for many years, andwehadtogooutofitforgood reasons and we made a comeback when you decided to recognise the TOP TWENTY. Back in 2009 I created history by recording the best financial year for the organisation by crossing the billion mark, I was ranked 16th. And then in 2010, I came very close to 1.5 billion and I was ranked 19th, and last year I went past 2 billion, I am ranked 24th. So I need to better understand how the whole criteria works. That’s in a very light vein, I do understand where the KPIs are and how you make the selection. I am very proud to be standing on this stage to receive this award of excellence and as far as we are concerned it’s an award that helps us to be perceived as a good corporate in Sri Lanka.
Talking about the performance itself as I told you, award ceremonies are not something that we chase behind. All what we do is focusing on performance, creating value for the country. Having said that while there are so many award ceremonies in Colombo, this being the most premier award ceremony, it is always a nice thing to be receiving this award. I already have a few of these nice standing professionals in my room. I would like to keep on adding more and more so that I will be perceived better by my stakeholders.
Many business leaders talked about the human capital. And I as a business leader believe that the biggest asset the country has is the workforce. 8.5 million people. Last year when I got on stage I tried to draw attention to a national crisis. I wanted your attention on HIV and AIDS. Last year our country was recording two HIV infections per week. After 12 months, the country is recording one HIV infections. So this is a trend that is seriously alarming and if we do not nurture and protect our workforce, we won’t be able to achieve the economic renaissance we are trying to achieve for the country.
So I would like your attention on this crisis. There are so many corporates here who are doing the right thing in terms of taking mitigating actions in order to protect and nurture the workforce, with which to achieve the economic prosperity for our country.
I would like to thank Mathi for your decision to recognise 25 companies once again. But I will take a very serious look at the criteria to make sure that I come within the top twenty so that even if you decide to scrap the TOP TWENTY FIVE and revert back to TOP TWENTY, I will still be in.
Mangala P B Yapa, Managing Director/CEO – Colombo Dockyard
Mangala P B Yapa, Managing Director/CEO receiving the award
At the outset let me thank all the winners and congratulate them. Standing the 25th the last in the list is indeed a privilege because I have been listening to all the speeches that the other have been giving.
Our performance in 2010 and 2011 had not been very good. Whilst many other companies in Sri Lanka had done extremely well. So therefore they deserve the award. Our industry, the ship building, ship repairing industry is very much integrated into the global shipping industry, which is certainly not doing good at all. It had a slight resurgence in 2009 but dipped again after short while and continued to be so and the hard truth is that no one knows when this downward trend will stop. Maybe in 2013 or it could be even 2014.
However we at Colombo Dockyard being a very small player in the global business environment realise that we are not in a position to control the global business trends and our job is to manage our small but important business prudently. I must say that in spite of all odds, thanks to prudent strategies that we adopted with foresight and resilience, Colombo Dockyard performed extremely well, compared to many others in the same industry.
No doubt it was a tough year for us yet we managed to further stabilise our position in the market and establish a name as a high quality service provider and delivering four ships that we built to our customers within the year. Not only that we have been able to become one of South Asia’s leading ship builders taking the Sri Lankan flag across the oceans. We are happy to be amongst the TOP TWENTY FIVE though our position has dropped further.
I must thank BT Options for giving us a chance to be amongst the best performers by extending the list to 25. This award is dedicated to all the people at Colombo Dockyard, who excelled in doing their jobs under difficult circumstances, proving that we Sri Lankans can. Our focus in these trying circumstances is to sharpen ourselves in all what we do giving utmost attention to several key aspects. Enhancing capacity, and productivity, enhancing quality, and health environment safety across the organisation. Finally, transforming ourselves to be better consistently. In other words to prepare ourselves better to reap the benefits when the external environment turn to be better. Whilst consistently continuing to perform to the best of our abilities. In conclusion, let me thank once again to Mr Parthipan and BT Options for having a wonderful event, the TOP TWENTY FIVE business awards.
L-R: Sunil Liyanage, Director – Richard Pieris & Company, Kapila Jayawardena, Managing Director/CEO – LOLC, Susantha Ratnayake, Chairman/CEO – John Keells Holdings, Dr Rohan Fernando, Director – Aitken Spence, Hanif Yusoof, Director/Group CEO – Expolanka Holdings, Ravi Dias, Managing Director – Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Mangala P B Yapa, Managing Director/CEO – Colombo Dockyard, A R Pandithage, Chairman/Managing Director – Diesel and Motor Engineering, Kishu Gomes, Managing Director/CEO – Chevron Lubricants Lanka, Arjun Fernando, Deputy Chief Executive – DFCC Bank, Dhammika Perera, Chairman – Sampath Bank and Chairman/Managing Director – Vallibel One, Sanjay Niles, CT Holdings, Harry Jayawardena, Chairman/Managing Director – DCSL and Chairman – Aitken Spence, Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Hari Selvanathan, Chairman – Bukit Darah, Rajendra Theagarajah, Managing Director/CEO – Hatton National Bank, Alois Hofbauer, Managing Director – Nestle Lanka, A M Pandithage, Chairman – Hayleys, Roshan Rassool, Director – Softlogic Holdings, Indrajit Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer – NDB Bank, Chanaka Yatawara, CEO – United Motors, Supun Weerasinghe, Group Chief Operating Officer – Dialog Axiata, James Yamanaka, Managing Director/ CEO – Ceylon Tobacco Company, R Renganathan, Managing Director/CEO, Ceylinco Insurance – Life, Nimal Welgama, Chairman – SLT and Ajith Gunawardena, Managing Director/CEO, Ceylinco Insurance – General
Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development received by Mathi K Parthipan
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition received by Mathi K Parthipan
Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe received by Glenda Parthipan
Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thero and Ven Kirinde Assaji Thero greeted by Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Arrival of Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Technology and Research and Kanchana Jayaratne, Chairman – Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council
Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Glenda Parthipan, Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and Mathi K Parthipan
Mathi K Parthipan, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition, Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe and Glenda Parthipan
Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Technology and Research with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Mangala Samaraweera with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Nirupama Rajapaksa, Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Faizer Mustapha, Deputy Minister of Technology and Research with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Sajith Premadasa with Glenda and Mathi K Parthipan
Minister Basil Rajapaksa with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Mangala Samaraweera and Minister Basil Rajapaksa
Dayasiri Jayasekara and Minister Basil Rajapaksa
Sagala Ratnayaka, Mangala Samaraweera and Sanath Gunathilaka
Minister Basil Rajapaksa speaking with Harry Jayawardene and Anoma Gamage
Bhashwara Gunaratne, Kanchana Jayaratne, Chairman of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council and Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi
Minister Basil Rajapaksa speaking with Ven Galaboda Gnanissara thero and Ven Kirinde Assaji thero. Daya and Anoma Gamage also in the picture
Minister Basil Rajapaksa with Susantha Ratnayake
Staff of BT Options with Chief Guest Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and Guest of Honour Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition