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‘CB continues to maintain equilibrium between capital formation and economic growth’

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank has noted the need to continue the monetary policy support to maintaining the trend of declining lending rates which is crucial for capital formation, which in turn increases investment and helps boost the economic activities post-pandemic, Central Bank Governor Prof. W.D Lakshman said yesterday.

He made this comment when the Central Bank announced its third Monetary Policy Review for the Year 2021.

Lakshman added: “The Central Bank is on a monetary policy easing cycle for almost two years now. The subdued growth which prevailed in 2019 was exacerbated by the pandemic in 2020. Warranted monetary policy easing on an unprecedented scale along side fiscal policy support and intervention by the Central Bank with measures such as policy rate reduction and large liquidity injections helped many businesses and individuals to avoid severe hardships.”

“We are beginning to see the impact of bold policy measures reflected in the sharp turnaround in economic activities, favourable developments in employment, improved credit conditions helping the economic revival and faster than expected rebound in a number of high frequency economic endeavors.”

The following are some excerpts from the statement issued by the Central Bank on its monetary policy stance.

“The merchandise trade deficit continued to narrow during January 2021, while preliminary data for February 2021 showed a further reduction in the trade deficit, driven by a larger contraction in expenditure on imports over earnings from exports. Workers’ remittances continued to record a healthy growth thus far in 2021 and this momentum is expected to continue in the remainder of the year. The tourism sector is expected to recover gradually with the opening of the borders along with the successful rollout of vaccinations locally and globally.”

“Meanwhile, the Central Bank and the government continue to engage with investment and lending partners to secure foreign financing and remain committed to honouring foreign currency debt service obligations on time. Although the Sri Lankan rupee experienced some volatility recently, the continuation of the existing restrictions on non-essential imports and certain foreign exchange outflows, among others, is expected to help cushion pressures in the domestic foreign exchange market. Gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 4.1 billion (excluding the swap facility with the PBOC), with an import cover of 3 months, at end March 2021.”

“Growth of credit extended to the private sector gathered pace in February 2021. This momentum is expected to continue, supported by low lending rates, surplus liquidity in the domestic money market and the expected rise in lending to micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) sector. Credit to the public sector, particularly net credit to the government, from the banking system continued to grow, resulting in a notable expansion of domestic credit and an acceleration of broad money growth.”



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HNB supports Sri Lanka Welfare Society of Blind Women

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Supporting the livelihoods of visually impaired women, Sri Lanka’s most customer friendly bank HNB PLC donated 300 white canes and dry ration packs to the members of the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women.

The donations made utilizing voluntary contributions gathered by HNB employees, were handed over to members of the Society at a special event at HNB Towers under the patronage of HNB Managing Director and CEO Jonathan Alles.

“HNB is proud to partner with the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women to serve the visually impaired women of the country. Our goal is to do our part in ensuring they are given opportunities, recognition and respect that are equal to every other citizen, and we hope that partnerships of this nature will pave the way for a more inclusive and caring society,” HNB Managing Director and CEO, Jonathan Alles said.

With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. Over the recent past, the bank was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.

HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020, in addition to winning the coveted Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka Award for the 11th time at the Asian Banker Awards 2020, in recognition of its sustainable growth and continuous improvements in processes, products and services amidst a challenging macroeconomic environment.

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People’s Insurance enters Medical Insurance market with ‘the most comprehensive medical insurance cover available in Sri Lanka’

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In an unprecedented effort to enhance its product offerings to customers across Sri Lanka, People’s Insurance PLC recently announced its plans to diversify into the health insurance space of the country. This strategic move to establish its presence as a health insurance provider builds on the well-established public image of People’s Insurance as the insurer who cares with love.

As the market is already heavily saturated with health insurance products offered by the competition, Peoples Insurance had the strategic objective of offering a product to make them stand out from the rest. Following a customer first approach, the insurer has decided to be a step above its competitors by offering a highly comprehensive medical insurance cover available in the country.

Citizens of Sri Lanka and those individuals who currently reside in the country are eligible to obtain a medical insurance cover from People’s Insurance. Individuals can be covered from their 5th birthday onwards. However, infants from the age of 3 months can also be protected by these covers provided that their parents have a medical cover from People’s Insurance too.

Jeevani Kariyawasam, the Head of Operations at People’s Insurance PLC commented on this new development, “When People’s Insurance PLC began to contemplate our entry into the health insurance sector, we knew we had to be different. As we are known as the only insurer who cares with love, our health insurance product had to reflect this strongly. Due to this, we decided to position ourselves as an insurance provider with a highly comprehensive product in the health insurance space. With affordable premiums, we have made every effort to ensure that Sri Lankans can enjoy the peace of mind that health insurance brings about.”

Medical schemes will vary from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 2 million and premiums will depend on the sum insured, along with the customer’s age band. It is also noteworthy that the geographical scope of treatment extends beyond Sri Lanka and into India as well. Costs related to ambulance call outs, inpatient proceedings, surgical treatments, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and pre and post hospitalization expenses are just a few of the areas that this comprehensive product covers.

As People’s Insurance PLC has a trusted and well established name in the minds of Sri Lankan customers, it is expected that their entrance into the medical insurance sector will be welcomed by citizens across the island. With the underlying goal of caring for its customers beyond anything else, this new development will allow for more Sri Lankans access to proper healthcare services. This decision truly resonates with a purpose beyond profit initiative.

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Browns Investments purchases 9.9 percent stake in HNB, boosting market

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE activities were positive but not bullish yesterday. Besides, the CSE announcement on a transaction where Browns Investments purchased a 9.9% stake in HNB plus last minute buying interest brought a positive note to the stock market, analysts said. Browns Investments bought 42 million HNB shares in the price range of Rs. 125.75 and Rs. 132.25 for RS 5.3 billion.

This quantum of shares or 9.9 % percent stake of HNB purchased by Brown Investments happened during the months of April and May, market sources said. Amid those developments both indices were positive. All Share Price Index was up by 45.85 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 890.3 million with a single crossing. The crossing is from Sampath Bank which crossed 500000 shares to the tune of RS 26 million and its shares traded at Rs. 52.

In the retail market, top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, J K H RS 189 million (1.4 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 181 million (27.8 million shares traded),Expo Lanka Rs. 53.8 million (1.2 million shares traded), Sampath Bank 50.2 million (1 million shares traded)and Royal ceramic Rs. 47.3 million (1.4 million shares traded). During the day 74.2 million share volume changed hands in 10600 transactions.

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