The Sri Lankan President, Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse has appointed Prasad Galhena, a qualified management and accounting professional, with a proven track record of turning around loss making state institutions, as the Chairman of the National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka, with effect from January 5, 2012. His appointment has been welcomed by all stakeholders in the industry, who eagerly look forward to the application of his wealth of experience, gained in the positive development of other state institutions, on the gem and jewelry sector, hopefully fast-tracking the set goals of the NGJA, in achieving a modest target of US $1 billion export earnings by the year 2016, in comparison to Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor and economic giant India, whose export earnings from gem and jewelry alone for the fiscal year 2010-11 stood at US $43 billion.
Mr. Prasad Galhena’s first assignment was as Director of Finance of the government-owned Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd which was then running at a loss of Rs. 12 million per week. His efficient and prudential management successfully steered the company, in becoming a profit-making venture, recording profits of Rs. 8 million per week, within a short period of time.
He was then appointed as Chairman of Laksala, a government parastatal coming under the Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board. Laksala is Sri Lanka’s premier handicraft marketing organization set up in 1983, under an Act of Parliament, dealing not only in the purchasing, marketing and export of handicrafts, produced by nearly 3,500 mainly rural-based master craftsmen and entrepreneurs, but also in providing training to craftsmen with a network of 140 training centers spread across the country. Laksala was on the verge of collapse, when Mr. Prasad Galhena was appointed as its Chairman. In a repetition of his performance in his first assignment, his management skills and abilities were able to rescue an important loss-making government venture, and turn it around into a viable, profit-making institution, creating several new divisions and branches, introducing new product lines, and settling all outstanding dues to craftsmen, and thereby protecting the livelihood of many innocent rural folk.
Soon after the success story of Laksala, Mr. Galhena was appointed as a Commissioner in the Public Utilities Commission, and while holding these two posts was concurrently appointed as Chairman of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd., by President Mahinda Rajapakse, who assigned him the task of making the Shipping Corporation an effective and efficient business enterprise, capable of achieving the objectives laid out by the government, and generating valuable foreign exchange for the country. The Ceylon Shipping Corporation first set up as a government corporation in 1971, was converted into a limited liability company in 1992, known as the Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd., the Sri Lanka Government still holding all the stakes, but conferring more commercial independence, enabling the company to respond to market forces more quickly. The company that owns two cargo vessels, the Mv Lanka Mahapola, and Mv Lanka Muditha, with a capacity of 410 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent container units) and 101 TEU respectively, and provides other services, such as in-house ship broking, agency services, logistics services etc. had a modest turnover of around Rs 120 million at the time Mr. Prasad Galhena took over the reins of office. However, after being at the helm of affairs of the company for 18 months, during which new and profitable ventures were initiated, such as the Colombo-Tuticorin ferry service, feeder service for vessels docking at ports in India and Bangladesh, a freight logistics division, personal baggage handling and transportation of coal for the Norochcholai power plant, the company is well on its way to earning staggering profits, estimated to be around Rs. 7 billion, by the end of the fiscal year 2012. During his tenure in office, he also initiated plans for adding four more vessels to the CSCL fleet, an Oil Tanker and three Bulk Cargo Vessels.
Mr Galhena graduated from the University of Colombo with a first class honors degree in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and later obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a merit pass from the same University. He also holds a fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) – UK, and is a passed finalist of both the Chartered Institute of Accountants Sri Lanka and the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK. Mr. Prasad Galhena, has now quit his post as Chairman of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd. and assumed duties as the new Chairman of the National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka, with effect from January 5, 2012.