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27th July 2012

42nd AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2012-2013

Speech by Mr. Gehan Kuruppu - Outgoing Chairman

Mr. Gehan KuruppuDistinguished Chief guest Mr. Ajith Nivad Cabral Past Chairmen , Heads of associations , Heads of Departments, Business Leaders, Special invitees, Invitees from Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber of Commerce, Ladies and gentlemen...... It is a gratification to be meeting all our associations once again may be some after one year. I thank you for reserving time in your demanding schedule to attend our AGM today. Please be relaxed and comfortable and make it a good evening.

It has been a very successful year for the SLSC. We have been working hard to carry out the objectives of the Sri Lanka shipper's council with many challenges that came along in the last year ,I have to mention that during the period I have chaired this organisation we have been through unprecedented events. Not confronted by any other committees in the past.

And some of the challenges were to take very important decisions, to ensure the smooth running /development of the council.

I would like to place on record here that we are all doing a very valuable voluntary service; Time I must say is a very important factor in our own life and to the profession that we are engaged in. And wish to thank everyone of our members and the alternate members and especially the heads of the organisation for the continuity and support extended to the Council.

I wish to thank my two vice chairmen Mr. Dinesh De silva and Mr. Sean Van Dort who have been a great strength to me and the council,and hasten to add my sincere thanks to the dedicated committee for standing by the three of us to take the council to where it is now, and wish to thank all members of the committee and the respective associations.

Ladies and gentlemen having put that in to perspective let's get on with the business of the day.

I must place emphasis that we are going through a passage of time which is of revolutionary importance to our Country and there could not be a better time for the business community ; Export /Import sector ,shipping and the other services sector to set up our mechanisms to seize the opportunities.

The Government of Sri Lanka with the vision of His Excellency the President and the Hon. Minister Basil Rajapakse Minister of Economic development through the Ministry of finance and the Govenor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Ports and aviation and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority ,and the Sri Lanka Customs Department only to name a few has to set out very broad environment for rapid economic development.

It is very encouraging to note that the country had an economy which brought a GDP growth of little over 8% in the year 2011; this is in the background of recovering from a sluggish world economic recovery from 2010 .and also withstood many Global and international factors that were not conducive, to international commercial trading.

It would be most appropriate to leave it to our chief guest to present us the current growth and the future expectation of the economy.

I set out last year the vision and the ambition of the Government , with the expected growth in Export and value added sector for coming year in 2012 .

Tea to achieve from 1.3 Bn -to 2.5 Bn US Dollars
Rubber and Cinnamon and spices 600mn to 1.2 Bn US dollars
Apparels and allied industry 3.5 Bn to 5.0 Bn US dollars
IT/BPO 500 Mn to1.0 Bn US Dollars
Tourism 600 Mn. To 2.0 Bn US dollars.

It is the responsibility of all the sectors that the Shippers Council represents and the other organisations and the trade chambers in achieving this is goal.

It is important that the Private sector and public sector converge with all academia to bring about meaningful discussions to determine matters of utmost importance for the development of the economy. in other words installing a participatory development process.

However I would emphasis on a few key word that we have been lobbying for driving growth through are:

Ease of doing business, fast tracking and speed of Implementation, Fair and reasonable shipping costs are some of the areas that need government intervention and control or supervision as the case may be .

It is noteworthy to mention that Sri Lanka's position in the World Bank's rating in Doing Business index has improved in 2012 to 89 (out of 183 countries) from 98 in 2011, some challenges still exist for improvement in this aspect.

To be globally competitive we have to consider many other facets in the context of rising commodity prices, rising fuel /energy and bunkering costs not to mention the losses that could arise from the Natural and climatic disasters. The alarming contraction in the major trading partners in the Euro Zone and the US including the economies in the region are no doubt worrisome.

The way out is through 1) Product innovation 2) lowering unit or cost of production 4) Use modern technology and latest methodologies in production 5) Automation and use of Electronic data processing .6)Technology and special applications to enhance productivity. 7) High Tech Patents - is a new area of development,for your information we have a eminent scientist born in Sri Lank has the Honour of the development of high technology, automated manufacturing, and export of automotive components and systems to Europe, China and the United States. And He holds a large number of worldwide patents on radiation processing, contactless sensors and drive by wire systems. You will be proud to know that even the the the top car manufacturers -BMW's have used under licence the drive by wire systems.

Investment opportunities.

The government has major development plans and invite the private Sector participation through initiatives given for INVESTMENT OPPRTUNITIES.

Infrastucture Developement in the following areas are of concern to our community.

  • Power and Energy sector
  • PORT SECTOR – Sea Ports
  • ROAD and Rail Transport
  • INLAND cargo handling centres.

My contention is that we have a some leading sophisticated shipping lines calling Colombo and interesting support services from the logistics providers as I know for my own experience of how very complicated deliveries have been handled excellently by them .

A few words on the port sector.

Current throughput /container handling capacity of the port of Colombo is 4.2 Mn TEUS ( twenty equi.....) per annum with SAGT terminal contributing 2.0 Mn .A note worthy fact is that SAGT although has only a maximum capacity of 1.8Mn TEUS ,by using productivity and process flow techniques have achieved this figure.

Thanks to very prudent management systems the SLAP has improved the container handling capacity beyond its limitations and parameters.

We are pleased to note of the New equipment that is being installed in the SLPA yards and this will help to enhance productivity.

The expected growth by the year 2020 is 10 Mn.TEUS.

We are extremely delighted to note the progress of the onward construction of the Colombo south harbour port expansion plans. With the east and south terminal construction underway. by 2013/14 the first birth will be ready to accommodate the then largest vessels of 18000 TEU Triple E class

The South Harbour will have 03 terminals and when completed will add a capacity of 2.4Mn TEUS per terminal. We should commend the Sri Lanka ports Authority and the Main contractors who have fast tracked to complete the project.

I take this opportunity as the Chairman and on behalf of the Sri Lanka Shippers 'council to Congratulate and commend an outstanding personality Dr. Priyath B Wickrema and his dedicated team of officers. The vision and the energetic force with which Dr Priyath Wickrema carries on his work is admirable. I have still to see a dynamic positive thinking Chairman. The Public relations he has built is even more remarkable.

To touch on the core business of the council,

Out of several active issues brought –up by the membership

The Council on its own and also through discussions and dissemination of vital information created the impetus for member associations, as such we had close dialogue with the Ministry of Finance ,The NCED cluster ,Sri Lanka customs Department ,Ministry of ports and Aviation ,Sri lanka ports Authority, Director of Merchant Shipping, Air port and Aviation Services ,The Sri Lanka Tea Board, International Chamber of commerce The ICC , The University of Moratuwa-Faculty /Department of Transport and Lgostics Management ,and the Chartered institute of Logistics and Transport ,and the Chartered institute of Ship brokers. to name a few. We are pleased to inform that we have been successful in resolving some of the issues and brought some relief to the exporters and importers. And progress is pending on others.

Simplified VAT System – As this being an important subject to us, The council conducted a Work shop and are pleased to inform that the council has a representation on the advisory committee of the Trade facilitation Programme of the Export Development Board. My vice Chairman Mr. Dinesh De silva has made very valuable contribution to this Forum. He also was invited to the committee to draft the amendments to the Import Export Control Act through NCED. The council believes that many improvements to the existing systems can be addressed and implemented at the forum.

I wish to mention that the new incoterms 2010 implemented in the year 2011 there are many benefits to be derived from this to avoid the payment of charges that are not liable to the Exporter or Importer. It is important to Use some of these terms wisely in your commercial transactions.

The Council is pleased to mention the progress to achieve a comprehensive and effective solution to the regulatory process of the Freight Forwarders and on the control of the Ad –hoc charges on Imports and Anti –competitive practices of the shipping Sector. On the latter subject we have had many consultative meetings with the Stake holders and are expecting a satisfactory reconciliatory process.. The topic also includes the low standard of the equipment and containers issued to export and the unreasonable container charge on the Imports. We will continue to lobby this with the authorities.

We are extremely pleased .The next topic of concern is the long awaited facility of the Automated Cargo Clearing System. The concept of an IT based Electronic Gateway system designed to cover all aspects of Exports and Imports procedures from licensing /permits, on line charges payments to Customs ,bank and SLPA to cargo despatch and Final Shipping documents with a paperless environment is finally underway.

It started with the implementation of Sri Lanka Customs ASYCUDA ++ world system from end April 2012 now in operation .We are grateful to the New DGC and the ADP Unit of the Sri lanka Customs for having gone ahead with the plan and for the tremendous back up and technical services they provided. The council was much involved with the authorities in initiating the trials and feedback from the exporters/shippers.

The facility was gradually extended to the tea shippers for submission of export licensing through the same Customs link by Mid May.

The next exciting Automation was the SLPA cargo management system CMS which took over the payment on line and CDN submission for the container to gate in. This too is in operation now satisfactorily. There are some more phases to come in.

As in all IT based systems anywhere in the world the exporters experienced the initial problems which were resolved with the assistance of Many divisions of the Ports Authority.

Activities of the Council

This year whilst going ahead with the pursuance of our core values and main business we wish to give our members a value addition in our services and concentrate more on Capacity building and membership development. As promised last year, We have progressed by having many Seminars and Workshops and Bringing together Authorities on current topics that are of utmost importance to the entire trade. and are in the process of planning many more interactive Programmes in the coming year.

I am very honoured to have been the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Shippers' council for the last two years, and as the outgoing chairman I wish to thank the executive committee and the Vice Chairman Mr Dinesh De Silva for the tremendous support that he gave me.

I thank the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for backing me in all Activities Mr Harin Malwatte As CEO and secretary General and Deputy Seretary General, Mrs. Alikie Perera , the membership for your continued support and co-operation during my tenure as Chairman. I also wish to especially thank the Immediate Past Chairman Mr. Randolp Perera , for the guidance and direction given to me in conducting events. My special thanks and appreciation goes to the Secretariat of Ceylon Chamber and especially to Mrs. Manori Dissanayake and Miss. Manjula Maldeniya and for their cooperation and abundance of energy and speedy responses, and all you ladies and gentlemen for your corporation and your presence today. And the members of the press for carrying out my messages to the accurately to the public from time to time.

This brings and end to my delivery.

Thank you.

Speech by Mr. Dinesh De Silva - as the Incoming Chairman

Mr. Dinesh De SilvaOur Chief guest Mr. Ajith Nivad Cabral Members of the head table, past Chairmen, Committee Members, distinguish guests, ladies & gentleman.

Firstly I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all present in this evening as we are indeed honored and privileged to have you with us on this special occasion. Also wish to thank Mr. Gehan Kuruppu the outgoing Chairman, The Members of the Committee for placing your confidence in me to be the Chirman of this prestigious organization for the year 2012/2013.

Ladies & Gentlemen, as we all know our industry is continuously changing. As a result we always will have new challenges coming our way. Therefore I feel that we as an industry should have the expertise to solve them at the inception.

We are quite happy about our country's vision to become a Logistics HUB in Asia in 2015. This will become a reality soon. What does this mean? It means opportunities & challenges. To tackle these situations, we as an Industry should be able to visualize the future. We cannot afford to face these as surprises.

Therefore we as an industry should starting changing from now on. Change towards an advance future is the need of the day.

Keeping in line with the future requirements government has taken initiatives on developing infrastructure which are very beneficial to our industry. Especially the developments in road network, Ports, airports & Information Technology developments in government institutions are commendable. However these developments should continue to improve at a higher speed. Decision making, solving current issues cannot wait for tomorrow.

From our industry point of view Customs, SLPA together with some other government institutions have implemented on line operations. But lot more work to do to implement this fully and to arrive at a paperless environment. Further trade need the Single window concept implemented soon, where all Import & export related work can be done in one location. As mentioned Mr. Kuruppu's speech, currently Sri Lanka's rank in ease of doing business out of 183 countries has improved from 110 to 98 in 2011 and to 89 in 2012. Future plan is to move to 60 -70 in 2013 & then to 30 – 50 in 2014.

In order to achieve these targets, the private sector has a larger role to play. The industry also has to change their ways of working, need to actively get involved in the facilities available and make use of them to save operational costs. At a time the global economy is not doing well, we need to be cost effective to compete in the foreign markets. When the economies are so volatile due to very many global economic reasons, every country takes effective decisions to stay competitive in the global markets. In this context Sri Lanka has to be more aggressive in thinking to be ahead of our competition. In order to do this every govt. authority involved in International trade should take a conscious effort towards trade facilitation. We have to move away from more manual checking, more manual controls & requirement of more documents. We should use technology to handle the bulk of the operation & reduce human involvement to have ease of doing business. The Imports & Exports should flow freely. The controls should not harass the Importers or the Exporters. In order to do this in a more practical and in a more commercial way, an attitude change is required across the trade.

Ladies and Gentleman this is a challenging time to be the Chairman of the –APEX body which presents 13 product Associations together with individual members covering a large percentage of the shippers in the country. From the recent past, we are experiencing the rising operational cost due to the movement of the exchange rate, rising fuel prices, unfair trade practices, higher freight rates & exorbitant 3p service providers charges. We are fully aware that some can be solved through commercial decisions and by using proper INCO terms but large amount of transactions which have unrealistic payments have become a real burden on the Importers & exporters adding a high cost on their products. Also collection of these funds by 3p can be considered as draining of foreign currency out of the country.

In view of the above, we believe Shippers Council have a major role to play in protecting Shippers interest while maintaining a very cordial relationship with our most important service providers. I believe we have to work positively with the relevant stake holders to resolve these and look forward to handle these challenges efficiently & effectively within the coming years. Also we look forward to work closely with SL Customs, SL Ports Authority & other government institutions to handle our trade related issues.

It is important for all of us to remember, that we have unresolved matters which are directly impacting import, export business & shipping. We as the shippers' Council will repeatedly take up these matters with the relevant authorities and strongly feel that should make progress as otherwise not only the trade, the entire country's economy will be affected if we cannot boost our exports.

Dear members, Finally, I expect all shippers to highlight the constrains and I wish to assure you that Council will take up all trade related issues with the relevant authorities ensuring a level playing field and will do our best to bring the industry to the next level and hope that these will finally add value to our members business.

Before I conclude, I wish to thank my outgoing Chairman for all the guidance given during the year, Past chairmen, Product associations, members, Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Harin Malwatte Secretary General, Mrs Alikie Perera deputy Secretary General, efficient secretaries for their Secretarial work, and for the numerous services provided during the year.

Also a special word of thanks to our secretaries, Manori Dissanayeka and Manjula Maldeniya for the enthusiasm and for the perseverance shown, towards their secretarial functions during the year. They have been a great strength on our council activities..

Thank you and have a nice evening.

Speech by Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor Central Bank of Sri Lanka

Mr. Ajith Nivard CabraalIncoming Chairman, Mr Dinesh De Silva, the outgoing Chairman Mr Gihan Kuruppu, Vice Chairman Mr Sean Vandort, Members of the members of the Sri Lanka Shippers Council and my dear friends. First of all let me congratulate the incoming Chairman for his election and also congratulate for the excellent for results he has been able to provide to all his members for the past one year and congratulate the committee as well.

I think the work that was done was elaborated and the outgoing Chairman also set out some of the key areas that are of interest to all of you. And let me try and touch on some of those points in the course of my address to you as well. The Secretaries when they sent us the details of what they are expecting told me to specifically concentrate on achieving economic growth amidst global challenges. I thought it was a very apt topic. So let me first of all touch on some of the challenges that we are facing in the world today. I am sure many of you are aware of those challenges.

But just today if you reflect on the global challenges that are before us you will find that there is a huge stretch of such challenges. I was listening to Christian Legarde the Managing Director of the IMF and she went on to say that the biggest challenge today is not the crisis in the Euro zone but what they call the US fiscal cliff? that is changing the world. Of course these are nice words that people can be interested in knowing and what they mean by that is that the US is having a greater than 100% debt to GDP ratio and greater than 10% fiscal deficit and those two combined together gives you the impression that you are at a cliff and hopefully you won’t fall down from that. But these are the new challenges that are coming up with greater intensity at different times of the world’s history. Particularly the last few years we have been treated if I may use that word on a regular basis to new turmoil, new crises almost on a day today basis. You have the Euro zone crisis, you have the fiscal cliff, you have the downturn in economies in the hitherto joined economies.

Even though those not in great trouble China and India were also growing at very great speeds. There is a reduction in growth speeds now again putting some tension into the overall world condition. Raising finances in different countries has been challenging that has also put a lot of pressure. Flight to safety which was something that people took as a given today no longer in the same mode as in the past. There is an intense difficulty in retaining competitiveness that the outgoing Chairman also referred to that. These are in a way everyday problems today.

In the past some of these problems would have faced over a longer period of time may be over a decade but today within a few weeks you’ll probably face the same amount of challenges that would have been challenges that people faced over a decade or even a longer period. So in that competitive and difficult world we still have to grow. It would have been very easy for us to say let’s now go to sleep, it is too difficult out there and let us not try to do anything really constructive. It would have been very easy and tempting also. But that is not the approach that we should take. We should take the more proactive approach to see how do we still grow in these really tough conditions.

That is something that we ourselves face daily. We need to energize ourselves in a daily basis in the face of many of these challenges as to how we would continue on the growth path that Sri Lanka had been given to chart in the last few years. As the Chairman mentioned in the past two years we had one of the best growth periods in our history. Over 8% growth on a year on year basis that has never been achieved in the past. And this year too, although we have taken certain measures to some extent to reduce that growth which is to ensure that the growth is a lot more moderate we still would end up with a 7.2% growth. And that in the context of the worldwide condition would be a growth that perhaps other countries would sell an arm and a leg to achieve.

So in that part I believe we are on track. And at the same time some of the other key factors of the economic scenario for example unemployment we have been able to bring it down to a level of about 4.2%, the lowest in our history. The poverty levels have reduced sharply. Our foreign reserves are today in a excess of four months as far as import cover is concerned again a very comfortable number. Some of the people forget that for a long time that, up until 2006 we had only about two months of reserves. Today, when we have three and a half months or four months people still think it is still not enough. And I can assure you that there is sufficient reserve for us to make sure that all our balance of payment are taken care of and that we can approach the world with a lot more confidence than we did in the past. We did see some rupee depreciation as well as the change in our interest rate which pushed up. We also brought in kind of a overall barrier as far as credit growth is concerned. But these put in place in order to ensure that our growth is lot more stable and lot more sustainable.

So we would see adjustments taking place this year which has taken place as well already and a little more to come but you would see that it will place us on very strong macro footing going forward from 2013 onwards. Sometimes you need to take some measures to slow down in order to be ready to grow faster later on. Sometimes when you are driving you will find that at the bend if you don’t and you try to take the bend at the same speed that you were coming on the straight you have a tendency to meet with an accident. Without doing that you have to gently reduce speed take the bend and go forward once again. So we have done that and some adjustments will take place in our economy as a result of that. One of the most significant features that we have been able to deliver to you as a government and also as the Central Bank is that we have been able to maintain inflation at single digit numbers for the past 42 months.

It has been a very challenging task to do that but if you look at it in the context that in the past the only time the longest time that Sri Lanka has been able to maintain single digit inflation was that uninterrupted period of 23 months only. So this is the longest ever period and we have taken a lot of steps to ensure that, that particular effort is sustained. It is going to be tough in the next few months particularly because we have had some pressure from the supply side. And also some adjustments that we needed to take as far as the overall commodity prices are concerned. Your Chairman alluded to that as well but that is something that we have taken a lot of steps to give you a platform for you to do your business and do your all the other activities as well.

The government has cooperated very closely as you know last year the fiscal deficit was brought down to 6.9%. When you think about the numbers that you had in the past of 10%, 11% it is a very very tight number of 6.9%. And this year the government has committed themselves for fiscal deficit of 6.2% and they are so far on track to deliver that. Our debt to GDP ratio has reduced. I am telling you this because that there is quite a lot of hype about Sri Lanka’s debt level I can assure you that for the first time in the last 30 year period our debt to GDP ratio which is the normal measurement of debt level anywhere in the world has come down to below 30%. For the past 30 years it has been over 80% and in the year 2003 and year 2004 it had been as high as 104%. So we have gradually brought it down it has been a tough call it has not been easy in the context of all the public investment that we have been able to maintain as well. Again the Chairman mentioned about the extraordinary amount of infrastructure development projects that are taking place today.

Five ports are being constructed simultaneously an airport, international airport, 14 other domestic airports. These are all very costly projects which are taking place simultaneously. We would have been sometimes forgiven even if we had phased these out for a longer period of time. May be over 30 years but the President has been keen to ensure that entirety of development activities are taking place simultaneously. And that has put a lot of pressure but at the same time you can see the transformation on a much better scale today.

You can see road which are constructed, even if you travel for three or four hours today you will probably not hit a road which is probably not hit a road which is not maintained. If you look at the city you can see the developments that are taking place in the city. If you go to the port you can see the development, I am sure I saw pictures in your annual report where you been there. Last Sunday I was at the construction site of the Mattala airport about 50% to 60% of that also has been completed, including even the tower 43 metres high.

So a lot of work in all these areas are taking place in order to give you a platform, in order to do your business there. If you look at the airport the Bandaranaike International Airport is having a new facelift with a completely new terminal. For who is that being construct? Business. It is for businesses, it is for people. So that you can be in position to do your activities a lot better. So that is the price that we need to pay in order to ensure that the infrastructure is being maintained and being delivered to you. That has been taking place. Notwithstanding all that the debt level also has been managed. That is something we need to be also conscious of.

Rural electrification has taken place not only should we ensure that people in the western province are looked after that all of you can do your business well. Political stability in order to be maintained you have to ensure that people of this country are also brought in to the picture.

That they also will realize that overall economic benefits are trickling down to all the provinces of this country. That has been happening. Five years ago the contribution of the western province was as high as 49%. But this year you will find that at the end of last year that it has worked out that most probably the disaggregated figures of province wise GDP calculations would be released in the next few days. You would find that western province contribution would have come down to 44%. Not because the western province has been going backwards but because the other provinces have also been doing quite well in order to ensure that there is greater equity in the development that has been taking place. We have seen recently that the confidence levels coming up in our country. Just last week, I am glad that two of our assistant governors are here, two people who were involved in the current bond issue that we concluded. One billion dollars and when you think about the number sometime people do not realize when you say one billion dollars, the largest ever share offering in our country has been 80 million dollars. So you can see that this is twelve and half times that. In one time sovereign has been offering in the world? It has been oversubscribed in 12 hours to the extent of ten times that is ten billion dollars. For whatever anyone may say you can see how much foreign investors who have to part with dollars not just with mere words have Sri Lanka on their radar screen. They have committed themselves they have shown the interest and the appetite which they have for Sri Lanka that can be seen in the way that they responded to the bond issue. For 10 billion dollars they responded in 12 hours.

Again it scaled down in order to take only one billion dollars. And if you look at it in perspective you can see what a huge number that is and what a huge endorsement of confidence that is. So we have been able to add that, we have seen the stock market rebounding in the last few days with the foreign interest being shown. So all these are indicators of the growth of the interest of the country. Just last week again you saw that the IMF and the Sri Lankan government concluded the first SBA that we had and that mind you Mr Chairman is the first time ever in our history that we have been able to go through a multi period programme with IMF.

We have done a programme with IMF before at the second tranch they have failed. They never made it to the second tranche this time we have gone through 9 tranches. I think that is something that gives you confidence in order that you can continue with your investment activities. And ensure that you can take your investment forward. And now let me touch very quickly on what we think is further growth for the next few years. There has been a platform that has been set, sound macro fundamentals have been arranged for you, at the same time there are areas that has been identified and has been the areas that will help you to concentrate on and look at as growth areas. Spoke about high risk, particularly you. I am sure you will be interested in port activities.

There have been plenty that have been put on the table, I am sure you are familiar with that so I won’t go in to that in depth. So we did with airport, power sector, telecommunication, sanity. These are all. These are all areas that a lot of work has been done and these are all being maintained at the highest level so that you can continue to have faith and invest. The ease of doing business was referred to. Again we have a unit at the Central Bank which looks at each of those areas. For your information there are about 10 areas, which are selected by the World Bank to give certain amount of points in order to ensure that there is a parity as far as the selection of the countries are concerned. So we have done well each year. Each year we have done better than the other but we also have a target to go to the 30th position by the year 2060.

I can tell you with the help of the other agencies as well we are working towards that. You are about to feel tremendous amounts of growth activities taking place in the Northern Province and the Eastern Province. Particularly in the Northern Province we have seen growth which has been extraordinary. I have seen myself, with own eyes a lot of work that has been taking place in the area. And the growth figures you will see in the near future when these are announced.

We have seen tremendous growth in the Northern Province in the last couple of years. That is very salutary but at the same time we need to continue that so that those areas soon will be able to compete with the other areas as well. Now, you all know that we are well positioned through our geographical location, our workforce, good infrastructure, agreement, logistics etc. But at the same time we need to have the companies all committed to these goals. That is where you come in.

I have been happy to hear what your companies have done. And notwithstanding all the challenges, when I am reading the news papers how each company has done better than last year with the challenges. It gives us great confidence that you are also on the right track. So we need to maintain that situation for the future. We need to have faith in the economy. We need to have faith in ourselves that we can deliver. If we do that I am sure we can transform this country, the new Sri Lanka that we are all dreaming of. Thank you very much.

DailyFT Article on 06 August 2012

The Sunday Leader Article on 05 August 2012

The Nation Article on 05 August 2012

Daily News Article on 03 August 2012

Daily News Article on 01 August 2012

Lanka Business Today Article on 31 July 2012

DailyFT Article on 31 August 2012

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