New airport, harbour key to future prosperity
Building additional international airports and harbours is a step
taken in the right direction as the country needs them in the future.
This was a right investment made at the appropriate time by the
government, said Chairman Arpico, Dr. Sena Yaddehige.
Speaking to Daily News Business ‘Top Vision’, he said that both
Hambantota harbour and the Mattala airport would play a key role in the
country’s future economy and more such government funded investments are
needed. Sri Lankans can be also proud of the Southern Highway and also
the massive road development that is taking place today all over Sri
Lanka including the North East.
“Did you ever dream that Sri Lanka could have a highway of this
nature?” he asked.
Dr. Sena Yaddehige. Picture by Saliya
|Dr. Yaddehige is a Sri Lankan born British Scientist/Engineer and a
UK based industrialist. He is the Managing Director of an European
Company, which is part of a group involved in the development of high
technology, automated manufacturing, and export of autom otive
components and systems to Europe, China and the United States. He holds
a large number of worldwide patents on radiation processing, contactless
sensors and drive by wire systems along with a Sri Lankan patent for
slow release fertilizer.
He is Founder, Chairman and Director of numerous companies in Sri
Lanka and abroad comprising five Listed Companies and almost over 45
companies wholly or majority owned by Richard Pieris and Company PLC. He
was appointed to the Board of Directors of National Development Bank PLC
in December 2007 and was in the directorate until his resignation from
the Bank in November 2010.
Quick road connectivity between cities would also help investors to
move out of Colombo thus helping to minimize regional disparity.
However he said that the high interest regime is a concern for the
investors. “If we were to borrow overseas we can get credit for around 3
However in Sri Lanka this is sometimes over 11% which is very high.
Unfortunately even well establish companies like ours cannot borrow from
banks operating outside Sri Lanka due to collateral.
He also identified high plantation wages as another grey area in the
country. “This is definitely reflected in our balance sheet as all
sectors of the company performed up to expectations excluding the
plantation sector where high wages are still an issue.
These have been staidly increasing by around 60 percent over the last
two years and this is a growing concern,” he said.
Dr. Yaddehige was conferred with Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in
consideration of his original research work in the fields of Radiation,
Electromechanical Sensor technology, non contact sensor technology
and automotive pedal systems along with numerous patents in the above
Following are some of the excerpts of the interview:
Q: How do you see the future of the plantation industry?
A: In addition to high wages the growing competition from
Kenya and some other countries too is a major concern for the industry.
Kenya too is making a shift from supplying bulk tea and moving to value
Arpico is in the process of exporting 10 tons of Tea to Japan
building on a new relationship.
We are in the process of increasing our product range and the company
is looking for a 250,000 square feet warehouse in Colombo mainly looking
at the tea sector.
Q: What are the plans of the company?
A: Our retail sector has been performing very well and Arpico
is planning an aggressive expansion drive with plans to move into the
North east in a big way.
The home made product range too would increase this year. We are
planning to invest Rs. three billion in the next two years for
expansions in the retail sector.
In addition Education, health care and leisure and BPO sector would
be key areas where our future focus would be. Leasing industry too would
be added to our portfolio soon. Investments into solar energy too would
be one the cards and we are in the process of hiring resource people for
I’m confident that, as the company will not only strive to retain its
heritage as a much valued provider of goods and services to the Sri
Lankan family and businesses and a preferred employer, but will continue
to move from good to great, bringing in contentment to all those who are
connected with the company.
Q: Being an inventor and a scientist you have several patents.
Is it difficult to maintain them?
A: Yes definitely. One gets a patent for a specific period of
time and if you want to keep it you have to pay which is not financially
I am currently in the process of putting together a fertiliser that
would minimise environmental impacts and bring in higher efficiency.
When fertiliser is used on slopes especially in tea plantations it gets
washed away for rain and when it gets to the streams this upsets the