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CBSL adopting ‘as and when needed’ stance on foreign reserves

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The country’s foreign reserves will be added to, and utilised as and when needed, Dhammika Nanayakkara, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) said at a virtual forum hosted by the Central Bank on Monday.

“The Central Bank has taken many steps to have some standby arrangements with some friendly countries and also some other avenues ‘as and when’ we need reserves in foreign currency, and to utilise them ‘as and when’ the need arises,” Central Bank DG said.

“Referring to the recent bilateral currency swap agreement with the People’s Bank of China (PboC) amounting to CNY 10 billion (approximately US$ 1.5 billion), he said,”This agreement was entered into with a view to promoting bilateral trade and direct investment for economic development of the two countries, and to be used for other purposes agreed upon by both parties. I think we first entered into this kind of an agreement with the PboC in 2014. And it served as a standby arrangement. We hadn’t used a cent of that facility. Similarly this swap also could serve as a standby arrangement. We will try to make use of this facility but only if the need arises. Otherwise it could serve as a standby arrangement without any money being utilised during the period the contract is valid for.”

Explaining further he said: “As for the terms of the swap with the PboC, it can’t be swapped into USD.. But it is not completely stopped though, because there are three purposes the money can be used for. 1. Enhancing bilateral investment between the two countries 2. financing the trade flows 3. Any other purpose agreed to by both the providing part and the requesting party.”

“That covers a broader range of utilisation provided that both parties agree to it. That’s where we are in terms of utilising the swap facility.”

“It’s publicly known that we have some standby arrangements with PboC and also we are discussing with friendly countries such as India, Bangladesh, Qatar, Oman; a number of countries in different ways as to how we can ensure some standby arrangements,”

“If you look at the government’s policies, especially export-oriented domestic economy, increasing FDIs through non-debt creating inflows. I think all these things will definitely provide the much needed cashflow to service the debt obligations. The government has clearly mentioned that it has no intention of increasing foreign currency debt obligations going forward. Gradually the government wants to bring it down so that it can rely more on domestic borrowings,” the Deputy Governor said.

Meanwhile, the government of Republic of Korea and the government of Sri Lanka signed a new framework arrangement recently for the period of 2020-2022 to obtain loans up to an aggregate commitment amount of USD 500 million to finance projects mutually agreed.



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CSE Continues Regional Awareness Drive in Negombo

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) successfully concluded yet another virtual forum organized as part of an awareness drive for island-wide Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). The second event of the series which was held for SMEs in Negombo, drew strong interest among the entrepreneurial community based in the region. The series of virtual forums is hosted by CSE with the objective of promoting the advantages of listing on the Empower Board.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, Senior Analyst at Acuity Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited and Mr. Nuwan Chathuranga, Manager of CSE Negombo Branch made a strong case on a number of potential advantages available for SMEs through the Empower Board. The speakers further joined in a Question-and-Answer session which fostered an engaging and open conversation with the participating entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, elaborated on the process of listing and the relaxed policies applicable to SMEs through the Empower Board. A comprehensive comparison between the growth of listed companies and companies opting for other sources of capital were discussed.

She further commented on the multitude of benefits of listing, including capital acquisition for growth prospects, elevation of business value and defining the market value of the company, investor attraction, improvement of business recognition, business opportunities and regulation of business processes.

Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited, shared the company’s experience in the listing process. He explained the specific and demanding capital requirements of the warehousing industry and how listing on the Empower Board has benefited them. He further elaborated on the recognition among the business community and the national and international stakeholders they have attracted to the company within a short period since listing.

As the advisors and sponsors to Empower Board’s first listing, Chrissworld Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited added that the main objective of sponsors is not to list a multitude of companies but to bring suitable companies to the correct standard to list.

He elaborated on the importance to ensure minority shareholder protection, sharing his experience in listing Chrissworld and wished that company a successful journey ahead. Senewiratne explained reaching the required standard to list is not a hard process but an organized restructuring process, in order to bring the business to a better standard so that a company gains the trust of investors.

For more information on the Empower Board and CSE visit www.cse.lk or contact Mr. Purasisi Jinadasa, Head of Origination & Issuer Relations at CSE.

(CSE news release)

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LAN and GBAN to promote Sri Lankan startups globally via Entrepreneurship World Cup

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Lankan Angel Network (LAN), the country’s largest network of angel investors, has been appointed the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Official National Organizer for Sri Lanka.

 This long-term, strategic initiative follows on from LAN joining the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN) as a committee member. GBAN is affiliated with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). LAN and GBAN aim to take local entrepreneurship to a global level with the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Global Hosts MISK, GEN and TGELF.

 The Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) will offer Sri Lanka’s national champion, to be selected in July, the chance to pitch on a global stage for a share of USD 1 million in cash prizes, plus additional investment opportunities, and another USD750,000 in in-kind support. EWC in 2020 featured 175,000 entrants applying from 200 countries.

 According to LAN Chairman Mano Sekaram, “Lanka Angel Network is proud to be entrusted with organizing the national finals for the Entrepreneurship World Cup, a testament to our longtime efforts in pioneering and building the local startup ecosystem and promoting local talent worldwide. We are also pleased that the top startups of Sri Lanka are participating in this endeavor, especially considering the challenging business environment experienced by so many both here and abroad.”

 With a goal to grow to 250 angel investors by 2025, with 30% of its membership from abroad, LAN’s future is closely linked with the growth of the local startup ecosystem. During these trying times in particular, LAN relies on the deep domain expertise of its unmatched pool of mentors and investors to assist startups in traversing the difficult business environment they are experiencing.

Most importantly, LAN also strives to provide startups with networking, training, and even follow-on funding, an essential part of its efforts to grow its portfolio.

 EWC is more than just a global pitch competition with a shot at life-changing prizes. It elevates entrepreneurs from all stages—idea-stage, early-stage, growth-stage or beyond— by providing them with tools and resources to grow their venture. EWC Accelerates is a virtual training and mentorship program that helps entrepreneurs hone their skills and increase their chances of winning their national competitions – as well as those who advance to the Global Finals.

 The EWC online platform also offers all contestants who complete an application, access to more than USD 25,000 in perks from partners such as Google Cloud, Hubspot, Stripe and more.

 National Finals competitions are held through June and July 2021. In November 2021, 100 startups will be flown to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to participate in the EWC Accelerates program for an intensive startup bootcamp and to compete in the EWC Global Finals.

 To learn more, visit the Entrepreneurship World Cup at entrepreneurshipworldcup.com

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Amãna Bank’s Dilan Joseph becomes Sri Lanka Toastmaster Champion

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Amãna Bank’s Toastmaster (TM) Dilan Joseph was adjudicated as the Sri Lankan Champion of the Toastmasters District 82 International Speech Contest which was recently held on a virtual platform and will now go on to proudly represent Sri Lanka in the Region 13 Quarter Finals.

Having previously won the Club, Area and Division contests with his enthralling speech, TM Dilan Joseph competed amongst the country’s finest orators in the national competition representing 8 Divisions constituting of 179 corporate and community clubs in Sri Lanka. Titled ‘The Gap’, TM Dilan’s heartwarming speech gave one key message, which is applicable to all, that is accept yourself for who you are.

Going forward with his dream of becoming a World Champion, TM Dilan Joseph, representing the entire Sri Lankan Toastmasters fraternity, will compete amongst country winners from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia at the Region 13 Quarter Finals. District 82 of Toastmasters International is known to be a breeding ground for champion public speakers, witnessing 3 World Champions of Public Speaking during the short span of the last 7 years, including producing Sri Lanka’s one and only world champion TM Dananjaya Hettiarachchi.

TM Dilan Joseph, who is attached to Amãna Bank’s Retail Banking Division as the Manager Digital Customer Experience, is the incumbent President of Amãna Bank Toastmasters Club. Prior to this victory, TM Dilan Joseph also won the Division F Humorous Speech Competition in 2018.

Commenting on his success, the Bank’s Head of Human Resources Farhan Refai said “We are very honoured of Dilan’s achievement. I believe it is a great example in showcasing dedication and hard work to achieve one’s dream. Since joining Amãna Bank TMC in 2015, Dilan has been an active member of the club and has come a long way, having won many other speech competitions. On behalf of the Bank, we would like to wish Dilan all the best as he represents the entire country in the forthcoming Quarterfinals, and pray he becomes successful in reaching his ultimate goal of becoming a World Champion.”

Sharing his views, TM Dilan Joseph said “I am truly blessed to have won this competition and would like to congratulate all other participants who gave out their best at the District contest as well all others who contested in the runner up from Club level onwards. I am thankful to the support extended by Amãna Bank and Amãna Bank TMC to me in this journey. Toastmasters is a wonderful program that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. I am humbled to say that I have come a long way and benefitted immensely from the Toastmasters program.

Amãna Bank PLC is a stand-alone institution licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange with Jeddah based IsDB Group being the principal shareholder having a 29.97% shareholding of the Bank. The IsDB Group is a ‘AAA’ rated multilateral development financial institution with a membership of 57 countries. The Bank was recently recognized with the Best Employer Brand Award at the Sri Lankan edition of the Best Employer Brand Awards 2020 organized by World HRD Congress. Amãna Bank does not have any subsidiaries, associates or affiliated institutions, other than its flagship CSR initiative ‘OrphanCare’ Trust.

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