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All clear for a stronger GDP growth trajectory in 2021 – Asia Securities Research

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Leading stockbroking firm Asia Securities (Pvt) Ltd., maintained that all signs point to a strong GDP growth trajectory in 2021. The latest Economic Outlook report titled Balancing the Priorities – The New Normal forecasts a GDP growth of 5.4% for 2021, driven by improved investor sentiment and consumer demand, an accommodative monetary policy environment, and a pickup in global demand.

Asia Securities’ report on 27 March 2020—the first such report to forecast the impact of COVID-19—forecasted the economy to contract by 13.0%—17.0% YoY in 2Q 2020. The report considered three probability-weighted scenarios combining a top-down and bottom-up analysis. The firm’s assessment was in-line with the 16.3% YoY contraction for 2Q 2020. While the outlook for 2021 remains largely positive due to improved policy certainty and a stable government, the firm notes that several challenges remain.

The 2021 budget emphasizes on a domestically driven recovery amidst fiscal support. With improving business and consumer confidence seen following the end of the first lockdown, a continued low interest rate environment bodes well for investments in the short-medium term. However, a negative real interest rate environment will likely continue in 2021.

Sri Lanka looks to head towards a negative real interest rate environment in 2021

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) will take center stage in 2021 with the government’s focus on executing investment driven FDIs, particularly related to the Port City and Hambantota Port zone. The Asia Securities report notes that attracting long term non-debt related inflows is a key factor at this juncture of the Sri Lankan economy. Improving the FDI landscape can resolve two long-term issues: (i) the dependance on external financing and (ii) fiscal pressure. The report further highlights that there is potential for FDI to reach 4.0% – 5.0% of GDP in the long term if correct policy measures are in place.

One of the key challenges going into 2021 is the government’s debt obligations amidst a low credit profile. With a USD 4.5bn repayment schedule in place for 2021, the government would need to ensure that reserves are maintained at relatively healthy levels. We expect the government will continue to depend on domestic financing. However, with credit growth expected at ~8.0 – 10.0% YoY in 2021, Asia Securities expect interest rates to face upward pressure. While this may lead to higher debt rollover costs, it could be mitigated if non-debt related investments materialise in-line with expectations. In addition, Asia Securities forecast indicate that inflation will remain within the Central Bank’s threshold of 4.0% – 6.0% in 2021. While Asia Securities forecasts the fiscal deficit to weaken in 2021, the firm notes that an increase in the revenue base and higher growth can bring the overall deficit down by 2023.

Asia Securities is a leading investment firm in Sri Lanka providing Investment Banking, Research, Equities and Wealth Management services to local and international corporate, institutional and individual clients. Asia Securities’ clients can access the full research report titled Sri Lanka: 2021 Economic Outlook – Balancing the Priorities – The New Normal via the online Research portal or their investment adviser. To become a client of Asia Securities, reach out via inquiries@asiasecurities.lk.

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Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments

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Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.

Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.

The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.

“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”

“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.

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Taking cashless transactions across the country

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.

Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.

The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.

Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.

The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.

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SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers

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SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.

Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.

Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”

Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.

 

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