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BOC floats bold business revival scheme to uplift loyal customers



Bank of Ceylon (BOC) adopts a novel humanitarian approach in debt recoveries through a special recovery unit. In Sri Lanka, all commercial banks are governed by a set of rules and regulations in lending and recoveries set out by the Central Bank.

However recent unexpected happenings globally as well as locally, affected activities in the Sri Lankan economic landscape causing major setbacks to domestic as well as other investments in an unprecedented manner.

In this backdrop the Sri Lankan economy faced severe hardships due to the stand still and the crippling effect on the vital economic indicators of the country. This occurred due to the extraordinary spread of new COVID – 19 Pandemic which affected nations across the world and the Easter Sunday terror attack two years ago in Sri Lanka.

Deputy General Manager – Recovery Provinces, Business Revival & Rehabilitation, of BOC Rohana Kumara explained the novel mechanism which the bank adopts to recover advances made to the bank’s loyal business customers in an amicable and more prudent manner. This was very difficult than the stringent recovery policy which banks are normally supposed to adopt in recovery of advanced money from the so called past-due or defaulted customers.

Rohana noted that as a government sector institution the bank’s recovery policy took a new turn from the conventional banking practices and adopted a different approach by viewing the business in a more progressive manner.

Explaining further Mr Rohana noted, most of the corporate businesses which were affected very badly by the Easter Sunday terror attack and the Covid-19 outbreak were helpless. They faced a situation where they could not recover due to the sinking nature, they face in the economy with either curtailed or limited avenues to pursue in their normal activities- the situation was forcing them into insolvency. Many among these were well to do businesses which had generated employment opportunities to many and all those were faced with a debacle that would become a burden to the economy.

The Government and the Central bank introduced many concessionary loan schemes to uplift these falling businesses. However, considering the losses incurred by these businesses, it was essential to assist the Government with its economic revival agenda going beyond the assistance provided by working capital loans under ” Saubhagya” scheme.

Customers with long lasting unblemished relationships with BoC cannot be left alone “it is prudent to think outside the box and help them” Rohana said. BoC decided to review these customers’ businesses and help them to get into the main track of profitability, Mr Rohana stressed.

Adhering to normal banking procedure in such a scenario these businesses will be considered as defaulters and face the inevitable end of extinction. “As a responsible bank we do not want that to happen to the loyal and long-standing customers hence the main intent of the bank is to revive them where both parties will be benefited”.

With this unique vision in mind bank decided to establish a special unit separate from the regular banks’ recovery division and transferred all these selected corporate level business customers with a view of to reviving them. These businesses are not viewed as past due customers with defaulters’ intent but businesses with genuine recovery ability and intent.

The Bank of Ceylon has commenced activities of this unit in January 2021, and in March ’21, about 14 categories were identified for revival and more than 10 are within the final phase of recovery. Total debt with direct and indirect facilities so far revived is over Rs. 30 billion. Mr.Rohana further stressed that the bank has plans of extending these services to provinces and small and medium scale business as well in the future and the indication is this is getting more popular day by day among genuine customers.

At present a new credit policy to accommodate special concessions and terms is completed and presented for the approval he said. Once the approval is granted the bank intends expanding this business revival policy to many sectors and accommodates the regions. These reviews do not offer total interest waivers but some possible waivers and some other special concessions Mr Rohana explained.

The prerequisite in the revival scheme is the businesses should be able to submit to the bank an acceptable business plan. However, if any business needs guidelines and help to provide such a plan the bank is willing to help them to do so. Rohana was very positive about the success of this revival scheme and quipped customers revived during the last couple of months have paid their dues on time and this is a very positive indicator towards this scheme’s success.

“the industries for revival are selected through a very stringent review process following all the financial guidelines, also the credit committee of the bank which is headed by the General Manager and consisting of many DGMs have the final review on all the credit concessions and revival decisions this unit takes.” Rohana noted. “The Chairman of the Bank and the members of the Board of Directors too are very keen on the progress of the revival plans approved and regularly review the position of the reviewed businesses. Most of the selected revivers’ balance sheets and debt ratios are not within normal banking norms but if our review indicates going by their past behavior pattern, a revival is possible within a two to three years’ period, the bank considers them as a suitable business for revival” he further explained.

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Norlanka Manufacturing Trincomalee receives LEED Gold Certification



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



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



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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