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‘BOC entering year of consolidation having done its duty towards the nation in 2020’

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Bank of Ceylon (BOC) successfully weathered the ferocious pandemic year of 2020 while doing its duty towards the nation at an unprecedented time of difficulty, so I don’t see that we should worry about about any greater challenges in the year 2021, but harness that power of resilience and enter into a year of consolidation in 2021, BOC chairman Kanchana Ratwatte said yesterday.

The BOC chair said so in response to a query posed by The Island Financial Review at a media conference held by the Bank to announce the Bank’s performance during the year 2020 amid the COVID 19 crisis and its approach for 2021 and beyond.

Elaborating on the matter Ratwatte said: “The bank entered the year 2020 as the undisputed market leader with great hope and enthusiasm. However with the pandemic that engulfed the entire globe we had to change gear and focus as the unfolding situation compelled us to innovate fresh strategies to face the situation, The experienced human resource in the bank rose to the occasion and faced the situation with vigor and vitality. Bank of Ceylon continued to perform, playing a lead role in keeping the wheels of the economy moving as the crisis continued to the New Year as well.

“Following concessions announced by the government and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka with the advent of COVID-19, the bank strengthened its capabilities to cater to customers in the best possible way, while continuously delivering services with strict adherence to health and safety measures.

“To date, the bank has disbursed more than Rs. 39 billion under the “Saubagya COVID-19 Renaissance Facility” by extending working capital to COVID-19 affected businesses.

“Further the bank disbursed Rs. 128 billion for development and agriculture sector including credit facilities under “BOC DiviUdana” loans scheme. Despite the challenging situation in the country, the bank is moving forward with stable performance and reported a Profit Before Tax (PBT) of Rs. 16.6 billion and Profit After Tax (PAT) of Rs. 11.7 billion, for the nine months ending September 30, 2020.

“The total income of the bank for the period was Rs. 181.8 billion with a marginal increase of 2% YoY. The non-fund-based income for the period amounted to Rs. 12.9 billion showing an increase of Rs.1.7 billion YoY, and an exchange gain of Rs. 3.6 billion, which contributed to this growth.

“Amidst socio-economic challenges that prevailed due to the pandemic situation, the bank’s assets base grew by 17% to Rs. 2.8 trillion, backed by an increase of 25% in the loan book. The bank’s loan book stood at Rs. 1.9 trillion and both government and private sector lending contributed to growth, including lending to major infrastructure development projects initiated by the government, funding requirements for mid-corporates for business expansion, lending to the SME sector, and other priority sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and related industries.

“Term loans, scheme loans, personal loans and overdrafts are the key contributors to loan growth during the period. The term loan portfolio grew by 28% demonstrating the bank’s support in terms of working capital requirements.”



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People’s Bank celebrates 75 years of Independence by offering gifts to newborns

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People’s Bank celebrated Sri Lanka’s 75thNational Independence at a modest ceremony held at their Head Office which was followed by a series of island wide initiatives.People’s Bank’s ‘Birth of Freedom’ programme which commences on every Independence Day was carried out this year as well. Under this concept, People’s Bank gifts Rs.2,000/- worth of an ‘IsuruUdana’ Gift Certificate to every baby born between the 1st and 14th of February.

People’s Bank launched this programme in 2006 with the vision of instilling national pride and encouraging parents to plan for their children’s future. Parents can open an ‘Isuru Udana’ Children’s Savings Account at any People’s Bank Branch using the Gift Certificate.

Director of the Castle Street Maternity Hospital Dr. Ajith Danthanarayana, Director of De Soysa Hospital for Women in Borella Dr. Pradeep Wijesinghe, People’s Bank Senior Deputy General Manager (TB & OCS) Rohan Pathirage, Deputy General Manager (Retail Banking) Renuka Jayasinghe, Deputy General Manager (Strategic Planning, Performance Management & Research) Jayanthi Kurukulasooriya, Deputy General Manager (Risk Management) Roshini Wijerathna, Deputy General Manager (Banking Support Services) Nipunika Wijayaratne, Deputy General Manager (Channel Management) T.M.W Chandrakumara, Head of Marketing Nalaka Wijayawardana, Assistant General Manager (Retail Banking) Nalin Pathiranage, Assistant General Manager (Human Resources) Manjula Dissanayake, Colombo North Regional Manager S.L.M.A.S Samarathunga, Colombo South Regional Manager M.S Kanakka Hewage, Borella Branch Manager W.A.N Udayangani, Town Hall Branch Manager Tiral Pradeep, Deputy Director of De Soysa Hospital for Women in Borella, Dr. K.M Nihal, Administrative Officer of Castle Street Hospital for Women S.M.T.A.R. Bandara, Nursing officers along with hospital staff were also present at the event.In line with the above all People’s Bank branches across the country initiated ‘Nidahase Upatha’ activities island wide.

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Norlanka Manufacturing Trincomalee receives LEED Gold Certification

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Norlanka Manufacturing Trincomalee was recently awarded the prestigious LEED Gold Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).Norlanka, one of Sri Lanka’s largest sustainable exporters of baby and kidswear, has an extensive ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) strategy and understands the responsibility it has concerning the future of a sustainable apparel industry. Therefore, ethical sourcing, in particular working with responsible supply chain partners has been a critical operational necessity.

The LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement, and it is backed by an entire industry of committed organizations and individuals paving the way for market transformation. It’s awarded for projects that have earned points by adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health and indoor environmental quality. Buildings consume energy and resources at an alarming rate, therefore the LEED rating system is the most widely used green building rating system, as it provides a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings.

LEED takes multiple areas into account with varying sub-criteria when certifying a building such as location, transportation, sustainability of the site, construction, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resource, waste management, indoor environment quality, innovations and more.

Chief Innovation Officer of Norlanka, Buddhi Paranamana stated, “This LEED Gold certification is a testament to our constant drive to improve our sustainability efforts. This award marks yet another milestone in Norlanka’s journey towards becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Since 2010 we’ve constantly been learning how to do things in a more sustainable way. I would like to congratulate our team for obtaining this certification. It showcases dedication towards achieving sustainable excellence while achieving our goals and providing customers with high-quality products.”

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SL bondholders ready for debt restructuring talks with authorities– with conditions

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Sri Lanka’s bondholders have told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they are prepared to engage with Sri Lankan authorities in debt restructuring talks consistent with the parameters of the global lender’s program.The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka bondholders conveyed its stance in a letter directed to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Friday (Feb. 03).

“The Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.”

The Bondholder Group acknowledged the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledged that such engagement has recently resulted in the Indian government delivering letters of financing assurances to the IMF, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India’s letter to the global lender.

Sri Lanka Bondholder Group Letter to IMF stated:

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as (i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032, (ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and (iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA. We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability. Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

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