Encourage UK companies by showing who are already doing well here: Rankin

Friday, 20 July 2012 02:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Council for Business with Britain (CBB) held its 12th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the British High Commission in Colombo. British High Commissioner John Rankin was the Chief Guest.


Seated from left: Vice Chairman Shirendra Lawrence, British High Commissioner John Rankin, Chairman Nick Nicolaou, Hon. Treasurer Mohammed Ziauddin and Immediate Past Chairman Anil Wijesinghe Standing from left: UKTI-British High Commission’s Michael Halpin, National Chamber of Commerce Asoka Hettigoda, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics’ Tania Polonnowita, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Kamani Bartholomeusz, John Keells Holdings President Romesh David, Hayleys Sarath Ganegoda, British Council’s Paul Hilder Absent: Hon Secretary James Yamanaka, Aviva NDB Insurance Shah Rouf, Hilton Residence Colombo Manesh Fernando, Coats Thread Exports Giles Watkins, British Council Director Tony Reilly

Welcoming guests to the event, CBB Chairman Nick Nicolaou said, “We conducted a very active programme during the year which included breakfast/luncheon meetings, special events, sporting and social activities. The theme was to present opportunities to members to gain a better understanding of economic sectors of prominence and how they could exploit them. The Council is in excellent health with a stable membership of 145 up to 31 March which has now increased to 149 year to date. We were also able to generate surplus funds of Rs. 858,000 which has allowed us to carry out our responsibilities as well as make significant contributions to our CSR project – the English Language Teaching Program. We are indebted to our sponsors for this program – HSBC; MAS Active and Intimates group of companies; Aviva NDB Insurance PLC; One Sri Lanka Foundation; C G V Anthony and Sons (Pvt) Ltd; Dave Tractors (Pvt) Ltd; and Norfolk Foods (Pvt) Ltd. We have recently agreed with the British Council on funding for the next stage of the project which amounts to Rs. 4 million, and will impact about 13,000 pupils, and we are also very grateful to HSBC, Sunshine Holdings, Colombo Cinnamon Roundtable Four and Hayleys PLC for their generous financial contributions.”

Addressing the gathering, Rankin said, “In 2011, UK exports to Sri Lanka increased by 20% – in terms of value to £155 million – while the Sri Lanka exports to the UK were £804 million, an increase of 14% compared to 2010. We remain Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in Europe and by the overall volume, the second largest trading partner in the world. We have over 100 UK companies operating here successfully and have an increasing number of partnerships between UK based companies and Sri Lankan companies, for example in sectors such as education, technology, construction and tourism. You have been supportive to us in what we are trying to achieve, because the best tool for us in encouraging UK companies coming to Sri Lanka is by showing examples of those who are already doing well here. So I thank all of you in that respect, it helps us immensely.”  

Nicolaou also CEO for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, was re-elected as the Chairman of the Council for the year 2012/2013.   

MAS Active Managing Director Shirendra Lawrence was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Council. Meanwhile, Ceylon Tobacco Company Managing Director and CEO James Yamanaka and Norfolk Foods Managing Director Mohammed Ziauddin were elected as the Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer, respectively.

AWS Institute of Education (Immediate Past Chairman, CBB) Chairman/Managing Director Anil Wijesinghe, John Keells Holdings Transportation and IT President Romesh David, Aviva NDB Insurance MD Shah Rouf, Hayleys Director Sarath Ganegoda, Hilton Residence Colombo General Manager Manesh Fernando, Coats Thread Exports Managing Director Giles Watkins, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Managing Director Tania Polonnowita, were appointed as Committee Members for the year 2012/2013.

British High Commission Head of UK Trade and Investment Michael Halpin, British Council, Sri Lanka Director Tony Reilly and National Chamber of Commerce President Asoka Hettigoda were invited to attend Committee Meetings for the year 2012/2013.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce provides Secretarial services to the Council for Business with Britain.

www.cbb.lk. the official website of the Council for Business with Britain was re launched by Nicolaou at the event.  The improved site would be a dynamic source of information as well as projecting the image of CBB. British Council Deputy Country Director Paul Hilder made a brief presentation on the CBB’s CSR initiative, the English Language Teaching (ELT) Project, now in its sixth year and run on their behalf by the British Council in association with the National Institute of Education and the Ministry of Education. Aimed at improving the English language skills of pupils in rural schools, the programme concentrates on building the capacity of English language teachers so they can deliver lessons more effectively.

Another dimension to this program is that CBB members also have the opportunity to sponsor individual teachers in an area of their choice and share in that individual’s teaching progress. Hence the CBB is directly contributing to the Government’s stated aim of improving the level of English language literacy in the country.