Tag: Sri Lanka

Counterfeit and piracy: Far-reaching consequences on our lives and the economy

IMG_1329

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Sri Lanka recently hosted a panel discussion titled ‘Counterfeits and Piracy – the far reaching consequences on our lives and the economy!’ The objective of the program was to bring together key public sector officials and private sector representatives of industries affected by the rampant issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations, in order to formulate a joint effort to address the challenges facing both sectors.

AmCham will be carrying out a series of similar programs over the coming months in order to create awareness regarding IPR and the need to fight counterfeit and piracy, since there is a strong correlation between IPR and Foreign Direct Investment and it has been further established that IPR protection is a strong determinant of inward investment.

The theft of Intellectual Property (IP) from industries is a serious matter, as it stifles innovation, slows economic growth and weakens the competitiveness of businesses. IP theft has an adverse impact on innovation, commercialisation of new products and overall economic success. However, it has been noted that Small Medium Enterprises are particularly vulnerable because they are at a distinct disadvantage in securing IPR in foreign markets and confronting its theft.

During the panel discussion, the public sector was represented by National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) Director General Gitanjali Ranawake and Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI) Project Scientist Kumudini Gunasekera. Representation for the private sector was made by Glaxo Welcome Head of Sales for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Dr. Kusal Senanayake and Ceylon Tobacco Company Head of Legal Ranjan Seneviratne.
Sudath Perera being an Attorney-at-Law and the Managing Partner of Sudath Perera Associates, formed part of the panellists where Perera gave a valuable insight with regard to the enforcement of IP laws and legal reforms in relation to IPR, in Sri Lanka. The panel discussion was moderated by Amice van der Burg-Dissanayake, a Strategist and Commercial Lawyer, in the Netherlands and also at John Wilson Partners, Attorneys-at-Law and Notaries Public.

The private sector representatives brought to light the impact caused by IPR violations and Dr. Senanayake addressed the necessity of the public to understand the concept of counterfeit and the damage caused by such counterfeit products, for e.g. plenty of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are available in the market for a very cheap price but most often the main purpose of a pharmaceutical drug is lost and the desired treatment from such a drug is not achieved and such drugs can be harmful and as a result has caused many deaths.

It was also mentioned that most pharmaceutical drugs that are counterfeit are not properly stored and are channelled through illegal means for trading and therefore products such as vaccines lose its effectiveness and may even cause harmful side effects.
Seneviratne informed that tobacco products need to be properly manufactured subject to quality control. Most tobacco products that are smuggled are not up to standard and are mostly expired but such products are packed using packaging of branded tobacco products to mislead the consumer.
Monetary and non monetary impact
Counterfeit products being sold in the market has a monetary and non monetary impact since allowing counterfeiting to take place damages the goodwill of a brand; as a result most brand owners allocate a large amount from their budget to protect their IPR, which could have been used to invest in research to develop better products as done by most pharmaceutical companies. In terms of monetary losses, the Government is hit the hardest as the Government losses around Rs. 200 million every year as revenue.
In order to protect the IPR in Sri Lanka, Perera informed that the key legal regulatory procedures that IPR owners may rely on are the criminal or civil procedures, and also section 30 and 31 of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act No.09 of 2003; where parties are prevented from misleading, deceiving and or falsely representing counterfeit products as originals to consumers and traders.
The criminal procedure is known to be the most cost effective and easiest method to rely on as the IPR owner to make a police complaint; however the IPR needs to be duly registered with NIPO in order to proceed. It was also mentioned that even though it will be time consuming most IPR owners rely on the jurisdiction of the Commercial High Court to prevent further damage being caused by counterfeit items through interim relief such as injunctions.
It was also mentioned that the Commercial Crimes Investigations Unit 2 is a special unit at the Criminal Investigation Department that handles matters concerning the breach of IPR and handles many IPR matters concerning internationally renowned brands.
Perera further added that with the assistance of AmCham, a customs recordation procedure is to be implemented shortly in Sri Lanka where once a trademark is registered at NIPO such also gets registered with the Customs, and the Customs can monitor any parallel imports taking place and take necessary action to prevent IPR violations due to such parallel imports.
The way forward for IPR in Sri Lanka
The question was raised as to what is the way forward for IPR in Sri Lanka and Ranawake explained that the necessary laws are in place but much more needs to be done and most important is to create awareness regarding the importance of protecting IPR and also the registering process of IPR to safeguard IP in Sri Lanka. It was also mentioned that government officials need to be more conversant with regard to IPR especially the government law enforcement agencies, the Customs and the CAA, and the NIPO is currently engaged in educating these officials around the country.
Gunasekera informed that amongst its many objectives, COSTI engages in linking private and public partnerships in order to commercialise and protect IPR in Sri Lanka, and create awareness regarding the importance of patenting inventions which most inventors are not aware of and Sri Lanka is quite behind in terms of innovation as Sri Lanka was ranked at 105th place in the Global Innovation Index for 2014. It was also mentioned by Gunasekera that COSTI along with NIPO and WIPO are in the process of preparing a National Innovation Policy in Sri Lanka to encourage more innovators.
Participants at the panel discussion addressed the importance of a strong IP system in a country and which will be one of the key pre-requisites to bring in FDI and therefore ensuring IPR is well protected is a vital component for a growing economy such as Sri Lanka.

 

Published in DailyFT, Sri Lanka on June 11, 2015 (http://www.ft.lk/article/428265/Demystifying-the-complexity-of-related-party-transactions). Image courtesy of The American Chamber of Commerce.

Words by Radhi de Silva

Doing Business with China: Free Trade Agreement and beyond

A forum titled ‘Doing Business with China: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Beyond’ was held recently at On Golden Pond, Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo. It was organised by Verité Research Limited in partnership with the Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka.

Coinciding with the title of the forum, the discussions by the guest speakers were based on creating an understanding about the opportunities that are available for the private corporate sector in Sri Lanka when doing business with China and the opportunities that may further arise in the event the proposed FTA between Sri Lanka and China is executed.

A number of participants were present at the forum mainly consisting of those engaged in export trade and those who are interested or already doing business with China. The opening remarks were provided by Mangala P.B. Yapa, Secretary General and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce who emphasised on the fact that Sri Lanka is a gateway or a corridor which enables nations to carry out international trade and considering such it is no surprise that China would want to create trade relations with Sri Lanka and it is up to us to utilise this opportunity.

An expert presentation was provided by Subhashini Abeysinghe who is the head of economic research at Verité Research Limited. The presentation consisted of a detailed analytical discussion with the currently available data in relation to the Chinese economy and its positioning in the international market.

Further, a comparison was done between the Chinese and Indian economies, and Abeysinghe drew the audience’s attention to the promising opportunities that prevail by doing business with China in export and in the import trade. Based on the statistical findings and with tea and apparel being the front-runners in the export trade in Sri Lanka, it was disclosed that the Chinese market has high potential which needs to be considered by the tea and apparel sector in Sri Lanka and with the FTA coming into place it will be highly beneficial for the trading between the two nations.

Guest speakers at this forum consisted of Niraj De Mel, Former Secretary General, Tea Exporters’ Association, who provided the potential benefits that prevail for the tea export industry when trading with China and how it is certainly promising compared to the current FTA with India and Pakistan.

Anushka Wijesinghe, Research Economist of Institute of Policy Studies and Deshal De Mel, Senior Economist/Strategic Business Development of Hayleys PLC spoke about their perspective on the export sector and what to expect when trading with China and the practical requirements that need to be addressed prior to creating trading links with China. Yohan Lawrence, the Chairman, Sri Lankan Apparel Exporters’ Association drew attention to the issues pertaining to trading with China by the apparel sector in Sri Lanka and hopes that the FTA will address the prevailing issues and open the export of apparel from Sri Lanka to China which is restricted at the moment. Later on a panel discussion was conducted which was chaired by Dr. Nishan De Mel, the Executive Director of Verité Research Limited with panelists consisting of Anushka Wijesinghe, Deshal De Mel, Yohan Lawrence, Niraj De Mel, Subhashini Abeysinghe and P.D. Fernando, the Former Director General of the Department of Commerce.

During the panel discussion matters were addressed especially with the difficulties faced by the traders in Sri Lanka when doing business in India and Pakistan and it was not surprising that Sri Lankan traders were sceptical about the FTA with China. However P.D. Fernando having the insight as a former government official informed the reasons for the lack of success with the FTAs signed with India and Pakistan and the main reason being the lack of understanding regarding FTAs by such nations and Sri Lanka at the time of signing the agreements since this was each nations first FTA but going forward and by having a better understanding Sri Lanka should be able to enter into an effectual FTA with China but it is up to the government policy makers, negotiators and the private sector to ensure that such FTA addresses our nations requirements. The gold sponsors of the forum were CIMB and NDB Bank, whilst the insurance partner was SLECIC. The media sponsors were, Daily FT, Daily Mirror, Sunday Times, Lankadeepa, Echelon and News 1st.

Published in DailyFT, Sri Lanka on December 18, 2014 (http://www.ft.lk/2014/12/18/doing-business-with-china-free-trade-agreement-and-beyond/). Words by Radhi de Silva. 

Carolina: its past, its presents and its black tea

View of the Seven Virgin Hills from the Agarawatta Division Courtesy of Bhagya Senaratne
View of the Seven Virgin Hills from the Agarawatta Division Courtesy of Bhagya Senaratne

The hill country terrain has always been an escape from the tropics for the local and foreign visitors alike. When passing through the mountain ranges, the travellers are able to view picturesque clusters of green spread throughout the hills, which makes up the high end, up country, tea plantations of Sri Lanka. This picturesque view has always been a breathtaking sight to any visitor, who enjoys the splendours of the hill country.

With the temperature dropping to an average low, and with road-bends which are sure to make some travellers slightly giddy, makes up half the experience while on the Avissawella/Hatton/Nuwara Eliya Highway (A7 road). But with the clearing of the foliage when passing through Ginigathhena, the clusters of green start to appear, and with a sight such as that makes the long bending journey certainly worthwhile.

Tea plantation was introduced by the British during the existence of their colonial rule of Ceylon. A visitor being able to visit one of the tea factories built during that rule and reminisce the colonial era is of course an opportunity which definitely should not be missed.

Apart from the scenic view on the A7 road, the perceptive traveller will come across the historical Carolina Tea Factory operated by the management of Carolina Estate which is owned by Watawala Plantations PLC. This is one of the first tea factories to be seen located at Watawala while on the said A7, and which is located passing the Diyagala Junction. And interesting enough the management of Carolina Estate allows visitors to visit this historical land mark and the management is more than happy to share the history of this age-old factory and the estate.

Carolina Tea Company of Ceylon Limited incorporated in 1892 was one of the pioneer tea companies in the country, set up primarily to plant tea. It consisted of a group of plantations situated in Lower Dickoya, which were Agarawatte, Carolina, Kandawella, Mount Jean, Wigton, Udeapola Group, Trafalgar, Goarfell and St.Margaret Estates. The Management of this group that was originally with Leechman and Company changed to Mackwoods Estates and Agencies Limited at a later date. According to the Times of Ceylon Green Book of 1939, this group had over 1,000 hectares in tea.

The Carolina tea factory was one of the original ‘central factories’ constructed closer to the shores of the Mahaweli river that flows by the estate. John Walker, who was the founder of the present Colombo firms, Walker Sons and Company and Walker and Greig, had by then acquired much prominence as a designer of plantation machinery. Therefore the task of planning and equipping the Carolina Factory was entrusted on him.

This factory was built in 1932 and it was indeed an improvement compared to some of the other factories at that time, by having mud free floors and cadjan roofs. The building was constructed with wood, which was assembled firmly on stone pillars. It had three floors going up to the height of 42 feet from the ground to the ridge. The novelty was that very often than not, the green leaf arrived by train. The factory had sufficient capacity to accommodate all the leaf not only from the group, but from many other adjoining plantations who were satisfied with a return of 9 cents (about 2p) per pound. Currently, with modifications being done to the factory and the machinery over the years, the factory can boast of its high accommodation capacity of 22,000 kilo grams of green leaves even today, and manufactures black tea subject to the Cut Tear Curl (CTC) manufacturing process.

At the time the plantations were nationalised, Carolina group had in all 1023 hectares with 579 hectares in tea, however other subsidiary crops such as cinnamon and vanilla had been planted on this property by then. Currently the Carolina Estate consists of Agarawatte, Carolina, Kadawala, Trafalgar and Binoya Divisions consisting of 892.42 hectares and 216.25 hectares are of tea while the other extents consist of cinnamon, vanilla and areca nut.

Carolina Estate Images

Amongst the lush cultivations exists the scenic mountain ranges coupled with pine forests and ever flowing waterfalls which are at times hidden behind the mist yet emerge at times to amaze the un-expecting traveller with the beauty of Carolina.

With the change in times and the demand for upcountry black tea ever so increasing it has been quite difficult for the plantation sector to keep up in this industry especially with the difficulty in hiring labour to work in the fields, whilst ensuring that the demands for the supply of high quality, upcountry black tea are met. Matters get even difficult as explained by Mr. Prasanna Premachandra, the Manager of Carolina Estate when individuals encroach on these estate lands ignoring proper legal procedures and thereby claiming rights over these lands which have been leased out by the government to plantation companies such as Watawala Plantations PLC.

With plenty of tasks and obstacles at hand it is quite commendable to see that the management of Carolina Estate is able to ensure that the manufacture of black tea runs smoothly and the standards of upcountry black tea are met.

The Estate takes pride in its all time records for PF1, BPS and BP1 tea grades and also has won many awards, and has obtained numerous certifications and some of which being HACCP and ISO 22000 certification. The Carolina Estate has also partnered with Ethical Tea Partnership which is a non-profit membership organisation that works with tea producers and tea companies to improve the sustainability of the tea industry.

Visitors are welcome to reminisce the past of the Carolina Estate, explore the scenic presents that Carolina has to offer and of course enjoy that excellent cup of black tea while at the Carolina factory by contacting Watawala Plantations PLC on 011-4702400.

This article was published on DailyMirror Life and http://www.life.lk

Incorporating an Entity

Development taking place in Colombo

A company in law, is recognised as a separate legal entity having its own rights and obligations separate to that of those who own and/or run the Company.  Subsequent to passing the new Companies Act No. 7 of 2007, the laws governing the incorporation of companies (Public, Private and Guarantee ) have been reformed. Such reform was welcome by many since it introduced a new system that made the incorporation process less tedious and making the functioning of the Department of  Registrar of Companies (the government body that deals with the company incorporation) more efficient, allowing an incorporation to take place within a week or two.  However, there still exists certain draw backs that need to be addressed, such as establishing branch offices of the Registrar of Companies in other districts,  so that everyone who wants a company incorporated need not come to Colombo to do so, specially since the government is currently on the fast track to develop particular districts. But since the internet is easily accessible by many, why not allow the incorporation of a company to take place online like in many developed nations.

But according to a foreign investor, he was surprised about the manner in which a company in Sri Lanka was incorporated, since it was an uncomplicated process compared to other developing countries in Asia, in which he had invested in.  So clearly it was something to be proud of, but that does not mean we must ponder on such and not evolve with time, specially since the time has come to attract more investment for the development in this country.

For those who are interested in Incorporating a Company, the instructions are clearly given on the Registrar of Companies website.

I happen to meet some young entrepreneurs, wanting to start-up small scale businesses and was opting to incorporate a Private Limited company than to just register the Business name under the Provincial Laws, due to certain benefits that come along by creating a separate legal entity.  So quite evidently the new laws being simplified makes it easy for anyone to incorporate a Company in Sri Lanka.

For those wanting to know the process of incorporating a “Private Company” the procedure is as follows;

Step One: Obtaining Company Name Approval;

Time to complete – 3 days
Cost to complete – LKR 500 + 12% VAT (Cost is subject to change)
Comment – The reservation is valid for 3 months

Step Two:  Registration of the Company;

Time to complete – 3 days
Cost to complete – LKR 10,000 + 12% VAT for registration fee (form 1) + LKR 500 + 12% VAT for each of the forms: 18 & 19 + LKR 500 + 12% VAT for the Articles of Association (Cost is subject to change)
Comment –
A company may draft or adopt the standard set of articles of association in Table A of the Companies Act of Sri Lanka, No.7 of 2007. Professional charges are higher for drafting new articles of association than for adopting the standard articles.

Also, will be required to appoint a registered Company Secretary as per Form 19, who can attend to all Company incorporation matters and other matters pertaining to the Company.

According to the Companies Act No.7 of 2007 the articles of association must be submitted in duplicate printed on A4 paper to the Registrar of Companies with the balance of documents for incorporation. No prior approval from the Registrar General of Companies is required for the articles of association. According to the new Companies Act, a notary public is no longer required to witness the signing of the articles of association.

The certificate of incorporation can be obtained usually in about 3 days.

Real Men Do Not Harass Women

As most of my friends and I have had our fair share of encounters with perverts, mostly while traveling in public transport. Initially when a woman encounters such weird disturbing characters we become scared and even come to a point to be ashamed that maybe it was our fault for have invited such due to our dress code or so on. But due to the mentality of such perverts they actually tend to enjoy making a woman feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and probably assume we will not make a commotion and carry on with their pervert-ish acts.

It is well known that in society there exists people with diverse mentalities but harassment is not something any woman should face in order to satisfy anyone idiosyncrasies. Any person found to have caused harassment is possible to be faced with penal sanctions and no woman should stay quiet about it, speak up and stand up for all women! since no one should tolerate harassment.

One project that interested me was one carried out by Reach Out with the help of Beyond Borders that creates awareness through forum theatre relating to harassment of women in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately I could not commit to this project due to busy work schedules, but something anyone should be a part of, since it speaks of a social issue that needs to be addressed by all.

Recently I came across a post by this site called Hollaback, which is a global movement to end street harassment and HollabackMumbai is where Indian women can share their experiences of such harassment and create awareness. One article that caught my eye was the following, and thought of sharing it with everyone.