EPF declares the highest ever interest on its member balances in 2009
Employees’ Provident Fund has declared the highest ever rate of interest of 13.75 per cent to its member balances in 2009. This is an increaseof 55 basis points compared to that of 13.20 per cent in the preceding year.
By end 2009, the total number of member-accounts increased to 12.7 million from 12.5 million in 2008. As at end 2009, the Fund (i.e. totalliability to the members) stood at Rs. 752.2 billion recording a considerable increase of 16.6 per cent from Rs. 645 billion as at end 2008. The
total amount of refunds to the members and their legal heirs in 2009 was Rs. 31.9 billion, which is an increase of 23.2 per cent from that of Rs.25.9 billion in 2008. Compared to the preceding year, the number of refund applications processed increased by 5.4 per cent to 108,066 applications during 2009. The net contributions (contributions less refunds of benefits) stood at Rs. 16.3 billion during the year compared with that
of Rs. 20.0 billion in 2008.
The Fund’s investment policy continued to be focused on long-term positive rate of real return to the members ensuring the safety of the fundwhile maintaining an adequate liquidity for refund payments and meeting the expenditure of the Fund. As at end 2009, the total investment portfolio of the Fund stood at Rs.738.1 billion reflecting a 17.7 per cent growth compared to Rs. 627.3 billion as at end 2008. Of this total, 97.1 per cent was in government securities while 2.4 per cent was placed on corporate debentures and equities. The balance 0.5 per cent was invested in high liquid assets such as reverse-repos on Government Securities to maintain liquidity.
In 2009, the gross income of the Fund increased by 37.9 per cent to Rs. 109.6 billion from Rs. 79.5 billion in 2008. The rate of return on average portfolio increased to 16 per cent in 2009 from 13.8 per cent in 2008.
Sri Lanka builds to lure business visitors
Mar 25, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is building more convention centres amid fears of a shortage of accommodation following a flood of tourists with the end of its war and temporary closure of a big conference hall.
Tourist industry officials said they are promoting MICE tourism, as travel abroad for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions is known, catering to the high-end business traveller.
Hosting international conferences and exhibitions draws not only delegates who help fill up hotels but other tourists as well as word about the island’s attractions spreads.
“Sri Lanka is not new to MICE tourism,” said Vipula Wanigasekara, general manager of the Convention Bureau, which organises events. “We have a long history to way back in 1976.”
That was when Sri Lanka hosted the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought in 83 leaders of Third World countries and around 600 foreign delegates.
Last year, the island hosted several international conferences and exhibitions on trade and information technology despite the surge in fighting between Tamil Tigers and government forces.
The Tigers were defeated in May, ending the 30-year ethnic conflict that had retarded economic growth and deterred tourists, resulting in an immediate flood of visitors.
Tourism officials said they are worried the country’s infrastructure, neglected by war, has not developed on par with countries competing for MICE tourism like Singapore and Malaysia.
“We were hosting around 60,000 delegates a year in corporate tourism. That was the optimum level we could go with the available infrastructure,”
Wanigasekera said. “Now we have a situation where the prospects are very high in the coming years.”
Sri Lanka gets foreign loans for tourism, roads
Mar 26, 2010 (LBO) – The World Bank has approved a loan of 18 million US dollars to Sri Lanka to develop sustainable tourism, international trade minister Gamini Peiris said.
“This is a matter of high priority for Sri Lanka now,” he told a news conference, referring to the revival in tourism following the end of the 30- year ethnic war in May 2009.
The World Bank loan is interest free and repayable in 20 years with a 10-year grace period.
Peiris also said Korea’s Export-Import Bank was giving another loan of 40 million dollars to upgrade a road connecting the hill-country towns of Hatton and Nuwara Eliya.
The bank is charging only a 0.1 percent interest a year and the loan is repayable in 40 years, including a 10-year grace period.
“With the end of terrorism, large funds are coming from abroad,” Peiris said. “It shows the confidence investors have in us.”
In 2009 China gave 294 million dollars, Japan 311 million dollars, the Asian Development Bank 283 million dollars and the World Bank 202 million dollars, he said.
“These funds are to be used for infrastructure development,” Peiris said.