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Resignations at SLT as Board overhaul begins

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Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) yesterday saw its Board members resign after President RanilWickremesinghe directed the Treasury Secretary last week to reconstitute the Board with immediate effect.

SLT PLC yesterday disclosed to the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) that Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director Reyaz Mihular tendered his resignation with effect from 29 January 2024.

The five other Directors also tendered their resignation, a separate filing to the CSE said.The Directors are Rohan Fernando (former SLT Chairman holding 120,000 shares), Lalith Seneviratne, Ranjith Rubasinghe, Mohan Weerakoon, and Treasury representative K.A. Vimalenthirarajh (holding 1,300 shares).

The former SLT Chairman Fernando also stepped down as Chairman from SLT Subsidiary eChanneling PLC.

On Friday (26 January), Secretary to President Saman Ekanayake, under the directive of President Wickremesinghe, announced the appointment of a new set of Board of Directors to SLT.
The new members are; K.D.D.D. Arandara – Chairman, Dr. K.A.S. Keeragala – Member, Attorney-at-Law Dinesh Vidanapathirana – Member, Prof.  K.M. Liyanage – Member,  Dr. D.M.I.S. Dassanayake – Member and Chathura Mohottigedara – Treasury Representative.

As reported by our sister paper the Daily FT, reconstitution is due to the government being irked with SLT-Mobitel challenging in Court the proposed merger between telco giant Dialog Axiata and Airtel.

(dailymirror.lk)

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Rs. 20 Bn loan lifeline for SMEs

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The government has taken measures to implement a Rs.20 billion credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector in Sri Lanka.  

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted its consent to the proposal forwarded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies Minister to implement a credit scheme to revive the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department, Cabinet Spokesman, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the proposed Rs.20 billion will be spent on the entire project which has two components.

“Out of this, Rs.15 billion will be used to strengthen existing and new enterprises and the remaining amount of Rs.five billion will be used to support enterprises under the non-performing loan category.

A significant number of small and medium scale entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing, import, export, tourism, apparel and various other commercial operations have found it very difficult to continue running their enterprises as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of external factors beyond their control.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide working capital support for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector as a relief. The proposed programme is intended to provide credit facilities to existing micro, small and medium scale enterprises for further expansion and recovery of their businesses through licensed commercial banks and licensed specialised banks at concessional interest rates.

(dailynews.lk)

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Won’t be able to offer SriLankan to investors even for free – Minister

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Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday (26) spoke firmly on the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines, stating that the airline’s disruptive employees and tarnished reputation would deter potential buyers in the privatisation process.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, he said  “We cannot run an airline with disruptive employees. This is a critical moment for SriLankan Airlines. We cannot afford to entertain employees who fail to handle situations under pressure.”

“The deadline for the Expressions of Interest (EOIs) is set for 5 March and in the present scenario, according to the information I received some of the bidders want to withdraw. With the negative reputation plaguing the airline, we will not be in a position to offer it free-of-charge even,” the minister claimed.

However, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage’s views had contrasted starkly with that of Minister de Silva.

The discussion saw a disagreement regarding ground handling. Minister De Silva advocated for immediate privatization of the service, citing shortcomings. Chairman Pathirage, while acknowledging areas for improvement, argued that the lack of aircraft, not ground handling, was the primary issue. He blamed lengthy government procurement procedures for hindering fleet acquisition.

De Silva justified his push for privatization by citing the airline’s struggles and reports of potential bidders withdrawing their interest. While not inherently opposed to privatization, Pathirage emphasized the ongoing process and the lack of control the airline has in the decision.

Meanwhile, trade union representatives commended Pathirage for his leadership whilst blaming political interventions and its past management. 

“We all undoubtedly praise the Chairman for his leadership and unwavering commitment to operate this airline amidst all odds. Neither the employees nor the current management of the SriLankan Airlines are responsible for the cancellations and bad reputation, but the political intervention,” they stated.

They also slammed the former COPE Chairmen and MPs Dr. Harsha de Silva and Dr. Charitha Herath for disrupting the lease procedure of the airline when the aircraft were at a lower price. “They are responsible for all the operational delays the airline is facing at present,” they claimed.

(Excerpts : DailyFT)

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Australia’s United Petroleum enters SL market

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Australia’s United Petroleum has entered into an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to supply petroleum products to the Sri Lankan market.

According to United Petroleum Lanka, Australia’s United Petroleum entered into the relevant agreement with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power and Energy on Feb 22.

Following the signing of the agreement, United Petroleum is assigned 150 existing fuel stations and also has the right to build 50 new fuel stations in Sri Lanka.

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