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BOC chair optimistic about notable economic growth in 2022

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The launch of BOC Fuel Card. Ms. Ramya Ranaweera , Director Finance, Hovel Holdings receives the first fuel card from BOC Management. -Pics by Saman Ranaweera

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Bank of Ceylon Chairman Kanchana Ratwatte expects that growth will rebound in 2022 with three primary elements as drivers of the economy, moving forward.

According to his predictions, Sri Lanka should see notable rebound in earnings from tourism, SME sector businesses and foreign remittances.

Speaking at an event held at its Head Office In Colombo yesterday with a multi-religious ceremony to invoke blessings on the staff of the bank, all its customers and all Sri Lankans in general, Ratwatte said, “I see a rainbow on the horizon. Sri Lanka should see a significant rebound in the tourism sector, small and medium enterprises (SME) sector and the country’s foreign remittances base in the first half of the year. The Bank of Ceylon stood as a tower of strength during the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years supporting to hold the national economy in place, and will unwaveringly continue to do so until the country gets back to normalcy,” he said.

The following are some excerpts from his speech.

“Today signifies a momentous day in my life. Two years ago, I assumed duties as chairman of this giant organisation which comprises a family strongly bonded with one another. I regard being able to serve for BOC as a great fortune in my life.”

“In the past two years despite challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, BOC was able to give promotions to its employees in compliance with the due process. Also, we absorbed the trainees who had successfully concluded their training into our permanent carder. We were able to give promotions from junior executive ranks up to the echelon of general manager amid the pandemic chaos as a recognition for their dedication and loyalty towards the bank.”

“Most notably, we were able to successfully complete the official process in signing the collective agreement with the trade unions of the bank providing the basis for sound relations between the management and employees.”

“With that said, our happy workforce is not solely because of those motivations but also because of the positive work environment which encourages collaboration and communication; which is a unique feature of the BOC family.”

“BOC’s improved strategies to counter the pandemic saw significant resilience in its foreign remittances base. In 2019, remittances stood at USD 2.5 billion for BOC. In 2020, we managed to reach USD 2.8 billion. Despite the ongoing external challenges, this year we have crossed the USD 3.5 billion benchmark of remittances.”

“We thought the pandemic’s vulnerable conditions would be an opportune moment to launch and implement the BOC Export Circle to support the SME sector to revive the battered businesses and help take the surviving ones to the next level. Last year, BOC placed special emphasis on the revival of businesses through Export Circle.. Thus a revival unit was established to rekindle the businesses hit by the pandemic. I am proud to say that many of these companies have stayed afloat and the BOC has been able to turn around almost Rs. 35 billion worth of assets through this exercise. I see a few smiling faces here who have been served by the Revival Unit of the BOC.”

“BOC managed to overcome most of the issues the pandemic introduced to us out of the blue by ensuring seamless online banking services for our customers. However, most employees reported to work upon ensuring minimised impact of the pandemic on them.”

BOC Chairman Kanchana Ratwatte, General Manager/CEO K.E.D Sumanasiri and CFO Russel Fonseka inaugurate the BOC SME Circle at the BOC Head Office in Colombo yesterday.

Talking about external sector challenges, he said,””A 20-foot container of a particular item that came from Shanghai via Singapore for USD 900 in 2019, costs USD 8000 today. The prices of wheat and petroleum have surged among other commodities. Today a litre of petroleum in India is 104 Indian rupees. It is about LKR 270. The State is still subsidising petroleum products. Has the consumption gone down at current prices? No, it hasn’t. Despite the lockdowns, usage of petroleum increased. Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the BOC for petroleum imports grew by 20% despite Coronavirus lockdowns. These should be factored into the current situation.”

Talking about revenue from Tourism, he said,” Up to 2019 prior to Easter Sunday attacks, Tourism generated a minimum of USD 4.5 billion. As a result of the pandemic, Tourism sector had to be looked after by other sectors. It was a double whammy on the economy. In contrast, now I see a bright side emerging as more than 200,000 tourists arrived in the country last year.”

“The livelihoods of Sri Lankan migrant workers came to a complete standstill for two years due to travel restrictions imposed globally. Now we see the encouraging trend of them going back to their overseas jobs as well as students going abroad for higher education. On a daily basis, the BOC gets requests from customers to remit amounts ranging from USD 2500 – 20,000 for their children’s higher education requirements. We oblige with that segment of customers regardless of which bank they initially banked with.”

“BOC reached rupees one trillion in its asset base in 2012 – the equivalent of a USD 5 billion worth company when converting the currency at LKR 200 per US dollar. In 2018, it reached two trillion making it a USD 10 billion worth company. In March 2021, we reached the 3 trillion mark which made it a USD 15 billion company. I am proud to say that every year we will be adding USD 5 billion to the asset base of BOC. By next year, we should be a USD 20 billion company. This is the strength on which we continue to serve our customers and the nation at large. Dear customers, let me tell you that BOC is resilient and strong enough to hold the economy until the country gets back to normalcy,” he said.

Emphasising the importance of encouraging Sri Lankan SME and Micro entrepreneurs, the Bank also launched BOC SME Circle yesterday.

In addition to that the Bank launched the BOC Fuel Card. The BOC fuel top-up card is designed to be beneficial to customers who face the hassle in managing their fuel expenses. The card is offered to corporate entities, fleet operators and individuals to add convenience to their daily operations.



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Wing Commander (Retd.) D. Pradeep S. Kannangara elected president, Industrial Security Foundation

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The Industrial Security Foundation (ISF) which acts as the sole organization in Sri Lanka to represent the Private Security industry having incorporated by an Act passed in the Parliament, Act No. 51 of 1999, elected Wing Commander (Retd.) Pradeep Kannangara as its President for the years 2022/2023 at its 30th annual General Meeting which was held at the PIM Auditorium in Borella. Wing Commander Pradeep Kannangara was appointed President while 14 other members were appointed to the Executive Committee, strengthening the ISF in order to drive and uplift the standards of the private security industry in Sri Lanka.

He has served on the ExCo consecutively since 2012 under four different presidents where he held the positions of Senior Vice President during the last three consecutive years. He has also been a committed member of the ISF and was awarded prestigious coveted FISF title due to his many valuable contributions to the organization and the Private Security Industry in Sri Lanka in 2012.

Wing Commander Kannangara’s journey into private security began after a successful career in the Sri Lanka Air Force for over 24 years where he served in many capacities finally being the Officer Commanding of the Special Air Borne Force. A recipient of the Ranasura Padakkama (RSP) Gallantry award for his bravery, sacrifices and service to the nation by the President of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1990. He holds a Master’s in business management from the Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia too and serves as a Board Director in AB Securitas (Private) Limited in Sri Lanka and AB Securitas Bangladesh Limited.

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Kitchen & Bedroom reaffirms its partnership with Häfele Sri Lanka

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(L-R) Pawan Singh- General Manager Sales & Marketing at Hafele Sri Lanka, Jurgen Wolf- Managing Director Hafele South Asia, Dr. Sacquaff- Group CEO Kitchen & Bedroom, and Manish Mahajan, Director Sales Hafele South Asia

Kitchen & Bedroom, a name synonymous in the interior designing and furniture sector in the country recently celebrated its long-standing partnership with Häfele Sri Lanka during the latter’s 12th year anniversary celebratory event, reaffirming its ambitious plans to further strengthen and explore the numerous opportunities available here.

Häfele Sri Lanka, part of Häfele India which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hafele Global network, is a technology partner for various projects and initiatives of Kitchen & Bedroom. Both the companies operate in the interior design space, sharing their cumulative knowledge and expertise to provide extensive and personalized solutions catering to domestic requirements.

‘We take great pride in our association with Häfele Sri Lanka having exchanged and collaborated on many projects both commercial and household. We share similar values such as providing high quality, sustainable, functional and customized solutions to our customers, and most importantly to guide them through every aspect and step of the project and how best we could bring out their desired design,’ said Dr. Sacquaff, Kitchen & Bedroom Group CEO.

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DSI strengthens its islandwide presence with three new showrooms

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Amid the prevailing economic hardships faced by Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s premier footwear brand DSI recently expanded its islandwide presence in the country with the opening of three new showrooms in Kahawatta, Akuressa, and Chavakachcheri, with the aim of offering greater access to its diversified product range to a wider customer base.

Gracing the special occasion, the showrooms were declared open by D. Samson & Sons (Pvt.) Ltd. Managing Director Thusitha Rajapaksa, in the presence of Director Asanka Rajapaksa, General Manager Pradeep Samarathunga, National Sales Manager – Retail Sales Naleen Weerawardana, invitees, and well-wishers.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Thusitha Rajapaksa stated: “We are excited about expanding DSI wings to three new locations. Despite the ongoing economic conditions of the country, we took a call to take a proactive measure to expand our islandwide presence. While it has been a challenge, the commitment and hard work of our team has made it possible to serve our loyal customers better, and we are confident that we will be able to continue these efforts in the future as well.”

DSI is renowned for its well-trained staff who offer exceptional customer service. The three new DSI showrooms prioritize providing a unique service and customer support to make purchasing further convenient for the customer.

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