'Ground realities should correspond to President's words' – The Island.lk

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‘Ground realities should correspond to President’s words’
Privatization option being considered for Sri Lankan Airlines – CEO Richard Nuttall
The National Peace Council called on the government to restore political stability.
“The immediate need is to restore political stability. The route to follow is not Emergency rule, by cracking down on the protesters and their leaders, but to find ways and means of engaging with them in a nonviolent manner and address the root causes that brought tens of thousands of citizens, young and old, to the streets, countrywide,” the NPC said in a statement.
It said: President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s inaugural address to Parliament set forth a vision of good governance and civility that would stand among the most outstanding in the world.  His speech comes at a time when several leaders of the protest movement, and youth activists, have been arrested for having violated the law during the public protests that led to the resignations of the former President Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers of the country.
The National Peace Council congratulates the President on his assumption of office and pledges our support to make his vision a reality.  We see the government, headed by the President, is taking forward several new initiatives to improve the current situation.  The system change, the protest movement and youth of the country are seeking, is a transformation of the existing structures, both within and outside the current Parliament, which contributed to the collapse of the economic fabric of the country.
We have five specific requests to make of the President at this time.
1.       The Cabinet has approved the proposed 22nd Amendment to strengthen the system of checks and balances.  Three of the 10-member Constitutional Council will represent civil society.  However, the discretion is given to the Speaker to pick them, which makes it likely that the choice will be in favour of the government.  Therefore, we call for the civil society representatives to be appointed as in the 19th Amendment by both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader together.
2.       In his inaugural address, which was welcomed by many for its content and delivery, the President repeated his call for an all-party government.  Earlier he had written to all parliamentarians regarding this.  We urge the President to establish the all-party government in a manner that would give equal weight to each of the political parties in Parliament, irrespective of their size or numbers.  The Cabinet needs to be established in such a manner that each party feels that they have a say in the governance, otherwise it will be a show only.
3.       The significant role that the protest movement has made to the rise of the President to his present position has been recognided by the President who has offered them places in the national policy council, which is yet to be established.   Additionally, we call for representation of members of the protest movement in the all-party government.
4.        We urge the President to recognise the exceptional nature of the public protests that included youth, entire families and spanned the communities as the President noted in his inaugural address.  We call on him to grant a blanket amnesty/pardon to those currently being held in custody or being subjected to legal action. Being magnanimous towards the youth and others who contributed to ushering in the change of political leadership needs to be done without resorting to Emergency rule.
5.       The economic difficulties, the country is going through and its present inability to earn more than it spends, will require significant restructuring of the economy and livelihoods and living standards of the people.  This will require a government that has the people’s backing and a fresh mandate. We call for elections to be held, within a time frame of a year, and that the long-postponed provincial elections, which are especially important to the minority communities, should also be held.
Unfortunately, the spate of arrests of leading members of the protest movement have cast a pall of gloom over the country which the President’s inaugural address can dispel if words are the precursor to change on the ground.  It is essential that they do or else the hope of political stability and getting out of national economic distress will prove to be elusive.

The immediate need is to restore political stability. The route to follow is not Emergency rule by cracking down on the protesters and their leaders but to find ways and means of engaging with them in a nonviolent manner and address the root causes that brought tens of thousands of citizens young and old to the streets countrywide. The legitimate demands of people who have seen their living standards crash in a matter of months should be addressed through dialogue with them and not by assuming Emergency powers and engaging in witch hunts to silence the dissenting voices.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.

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Unilever launches all new Surf Excel 2-in-1 laundry detergent with added fragrance of Comfort
Privatization option being considered for Sri Lankan Airlines – CEO Richard Nuttall

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Sri Lanka Telecom Group (SLT Group), the National ICT Solutions Provider, posted stable growth for the first half of 2022, with revenues increasing by 6% to Rs 52.9 Bn and a 19.8% increase in profit before tax (PBT) at Rs. 7.2 Bn against the same period last year, showcasing resilience in its business model amidst complex socioeconomic challenges facing the country.
Demonstrating operational efficiency, SLT Group’s EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) went up to Rs. 20.9 Bn for the first half of 2022, recording a growth of 7.8% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. The EBITDA Margin stood at 39.7% for the period under review.
Building on the success of the previous quarter, the SLT Group was able to maintain a positive momentum for Q2 2022 recording gains of 4% in operating profit when compared to the previous quarter. The Group recorded a foreign exchange gain of Rs. 135 Mn during the quarter due to the prudent foreign exchange strategies of the Group. However, profit after tax (PAT) declined by 26.5% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter, mainly owing to the increase in income tax expenses during the period.
The SLT Group continued its strategic plan implemented at the beginning of the year, consolidating its performance throughout Q2 as well. However, during the period from April to June, the Group faced several business growth challenges including an unprecedented economic crisis, import restrictions, inflationary pressures etc. Furthermore, ongoing investments were affected; new projects were also impacted due to the increase of operational costs and the energy and fuel crisis resulted in operational challenges. Overcoming uncertainties, the Group with resilience made headway in strategic investments, undertaking appropriate management controls, in addition to managing the revenue portfolio in multiple segments.
The Operating Cash Flows of the Group grew to Rs. 23.5 Bn, up by 21.2% year-on-year. The Group recorded a favourable cash and cash equivalents position of Rs. 27 Bn as at the end of the reporting period. SLT Group’s contribution to the Government of Sri Lanka during the first half of 2022 amounted to Rs. 14 Bn. in direct and indirect taxes including levies and dividends.
SLT Group Chairman, Rohan Fernando said, “The period under review has been one of the most challenging periods that SLT-MOBITEL has faced in recent times exacerbated by a tough operating environment. However, due to the agility in our business model to deliver growth and a motivated team effort, we have been able to successfully generate positive results.”
By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The CSE gained over 1 per cent in mid-day trade yesterday pushed by Chevron Lubricants, Aitken Spence and Lanka IOC. The market remained extremely bullish yesterday too with mixed reactions in indices while the turnover exceeded the Rs 5 billion level. However, profit- takings were noted in certain blue-chip companies due to witnessing some down trend in certain companies, market analysts said.
Investors continue to focus on Lanka IOC stocks; which company dominated the country’s energy sector over the last two months. Consequently, its profitability also increased in leaps and bounds due to the heavy demand for fuel. Lanka IOC is to set up 50 filling stations and the approval has been granted by the Energy Ministry, which is also one of the reasons for the company’s share market to move up, stock market analysts said.
However, there was selling in most of the main counters of the CSE due to fears of unprecedented tax increases in the interim budget, a top market analyst said.
Further, Chevron Lubricants’ share prices also appreciated due to market speculation that the company is planning to enter the energy/fuel business with a Chinese company.
Amid those developments stock market indices reflected mixed reactions. The All- Share Price Index reached the 8500 points mark. It gained 77.03 points (0.91 per cent) to end at 8500 and S and P SL20 declined marginally by 9.49 points (0.34 per cent) to end the day at 2784.66.
Turnover stood at Rs 5.3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Watawala Plantations, which crossed 4.6 million shares to the tune of Rs 403 million; its shares traded at Rs 87, Citizens Development Business Finance 1.1 million shares crossed for Rs 217 million, its shares traded at Rs 200, Commercial Bank 2.6 million shares crossed to the tune of Rs 145 million and its shares fetched Rs 54 and Hunas Falls 625,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 25 million; its shares traded at Rs 40.
In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Lanka IOC Rs 1.9 million (14 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 449 million (2.3 million shares traded), JKH Rs 252 million (2.1 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 135 million (226,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 131 million (16.9 million shares traded), Chevron Lubricants Rs 130 million (one million shares traded) and LOLC Holdings Rs 88.5 million (9.8 million shares traded).
It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Melstacorp and Bairaha Farms. Mixed interest was observed in Lanka IOC, Expolanka Holdings and JKH, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, LOLC Finance and Agstar.
Energy sector was the top contributor to market turnover (due to Lanka IOC), while the sector index gained 15.15 per cent. Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Melstacorp).
Expolanka Holdings, JKH and LOLC Holdings were also included among the top turnover contributors. The share price of Expolanka Holdings lost Rs. 1.50 (0.73 per cent) to close at Rs. 203. The share price of JKH closed flat at Rs. 119.
Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 357.29 and its selling rate Rs 368.61.
Standing as a testament to its commitment to innovation, to meet the changing needs of Sri Lankan consumers, Unilever Sri Lanka’s leading laundry detergent brand, Surf Excel, recently launched its latest 2-in-1 laundry detergent product, fused with the premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner.
For the first time in Sri Lanka, consumers can experience Surf Excel’s all-inclusive superior stain removal with the premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner, which gets rid of tough stains from deep within fabrics. Comfort’s premium floral fragrance will leave washed laundry smelling fresh and fragrant after every wash. The new formulation is also gentle on hands, making every handwash a pleasant experience.
Speaking on the launch, Sharmila Bandara, Marketing Director – Homecare and Nutrition, Unilever Sri Lanka said, “When children go out and play, they don’t just get their clothes dirty or stained, but experience life, observe, make friends, or learn to share. This helps them get stronger, develop well rounded personalities and brave the world outside.” She further added “For generations, Surf Excel has been taking care of tough stains for mothers around the country. Now, with the addition of the premium fragrance of Comfort, washing and wearing clothes will become a much more memorable experience for all.”
Surf Excel 2-in-1 with the added premium fragrance of Comfort Fabric Conditioner comes in a pink and blue pack and consumers may purchase the product in seven different sizes at retail outlets and supermarkets island wide.

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