The Council for Business with Britain (CBB) held its 12th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, 5th July, 2012 at the British High Commission in Colombo. His Excellency John Rankin – British High Commissioner was the Chief Guest.

Welcoming guests to the event, Chairman CBB, Mr. 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 31MAR12 which has now increased to 149 year to date. We were also able to generate surplus funds of Rs. 858k which has allowed us to carry out our responsibilities as well as make significant contributions to our CSR project – the English Language Teaching Programme. We are indebted to our sponsors for this programme- HSBC; MAS Active and Intimates group of companies; Aviva NDB Insurance PLC; One Sri Lanka Foundation; C G V Anthony & 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 4m, and will impact about 13,000 pupils, and we are also very grateful to HSBC, Sunshine Holdings, Colombo Cinnamon Roundtable 4 and Hayleys PLC for their generous financial contributions. ”

Addressing the gathering, The Chief Guest His Excellency John Rankin – British High Commissioner said, “In 2011, UK exports to Sri Lanka increased by 20% in terms of value at £155 million and the Sri Lanka exports to the UK were up to £ 804 million, an increase of 14% compared to 2010. We remain Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in Europe and by overall volume the 2nd largest trading partner in the world. We have over 100 UK companies operating here successfully and having an increasing number of partnerships between UK based companies and Sri Lankan companies in sectors such as education, technology, construction and tourism. I would like to thank all of you here that have been supportive to what we are trying to achieve, because the best tool for us in encouraging UK companies coming to the SL market is by showcasing the examples of those who are already doing well here. So I thank all of you in that respect since it helps us immensely.’

Mr. Nick Nicolaou, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, was re-elected as the Chairman of the Council for the year 2012/2013. Mr. Shirendra Lawrence, Managing Director, MAS Active (Pvt.) Ltd. was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Council. Meanwhile, Mr. James Yamanaka, Managing Director and CEO, Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC and Mr. Mohammed Ziauddin, Managing Director, Norfolk Foods (Pvt.) Ltd. were elected as the Hony. Secretary and Hony. Treasurer, respectively.

The following were appointed as Committee Members for the year 2012/2013:

  • Mr. Anil Wijesinghe, Chairman/Managing Director, AWS Institute of Education (Immediate Past Chairman, CBB)
  • Mr. Romesh David, President, Transportation & IT, John Keells Holdings PLC
  • Mr. Shah Rouf , MD, Aviva NDB Insurance PLC
  • Mr. Sarath Ganegoda, Director Hayleys PLC
  • Mr. Manesh Fernando, General Manager, Hilton Residence Colombo
  • Mr. Giles Watkins, Managing Director, Coats Thread Exports (Pvt) Ltd
  • Ms. Tania Polonnowita, Managing Director, Hellmann Worldwide logistics (Pvt) Ltd.

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

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce provides Secretarial services to the Council for Business with Britain. the official website of the Council for Business with Britain was re launched by Mr. Nick Nicolaou at the event. The improved site would be a dynamic source of information as well as projecting the image of CBB.

Mr. Paul Hilder – Deputy Country Director of the British Council 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 programme 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.