By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) will not negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) any more but negotiations are in progress with foreign institutions, such as central banks, banks and donor agencies, for rapid financial instruments to strengthen and raise foreign reserves, Central Bank Governor. Prof. W.D. Lakshman said.
“We have witnessed very little success with IMF programs and those guidelines are not suitable for the country, Lakshman told a media conference on the Sri Lankan economy yesterday. The press conference was held at the Central Bank auditorium, Colombo.
The Governor said that it is the government’s policy to work as much as possible to resolve Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange problems on a self-reliant basis, which in turn will be founded on domestic efforts. The CBSL is to discuss with institutions, organisations and countries that are willing to assist on a relatively non-interventionist basis.
“This is the policy currently adopted and we also have the policy of finding foreign exchange requirements on non-credit increasing arrangements. I think we are going to be relatively successful in the process, as the negotiations we are carrying out with a few countries and international agencies will come to successful conclusions, probably soon, the Governor added.
The Governor added – ‘At present the country has foreign reserves amounting to approximately US $ five billion. Negotiations are on with several agencies to generate foreign reserves by way of swaps and other alternative mechanisms which will not burden the economy.
‘The Central Bank will promote a market-oriented economy guided by the government to achieve rapid economic growth in the year 2021 and beyond.
‘Import restrictions on luxury items will continue for some time until the balance of payments issue is resolved.
‘In 2021, we expect economic growth to be more than 6 percent and to achieve that the Central Bank has laid a proper foundation to stimulate the economy and to increase export revenue. Further, many relief measures have been taken to support the tourism sector which was badly affected due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
‘Further, the IT industry was the industry that was affected least and it will bring foreign reserves into the country once normalcy returns.
‘During 2020 the economy experienced a current account surplus, the likes of which was witnessed in 1950/51, 1964/65 and 1977.Therefore, the Central Bank intends to achieve that level in future years.
‘Currently the country’s inflation is around three percent. Inflation on food stuffs has increased but will come down soon.’
HNBA Group records impressive 3Q22 results
HNB Assurance PLC (HNBA) and its fully owned subsidiary HNB General Insurance Limited (HNBGI) reported a consolidated Gross Written Premium (GWP) of Rs 11.3 Bn marking a steady growth of 26% and a consolidated Profit After Tax (PAT) of Rs 1.5 Bn marking a growth of 228% during the nine months ended 30th September 2022 compared to the comparative period last year.
A press release from HNBA said:. Rose Cooray Chairperson of HNBA and HNBGI, expressed her views on the financial performance of the Group stating, “despite of the negative impact caused by the economic turbulence of the country and the challenges faced, both companies have performed extremely well in terms of both topline and bottom line. Both HNBA and HNBGI were able to increase their respective market shares by growing well above the market averages. Group PBT grew by 167% for the period reaching Rs 1.9 Bn compared to Rs 731.4 Mn in the corresponding period last year. The key reason for the exceptional growth is the transfer of Rs 1.1 Bn surplus from Life policyholders fund, subsequent to the valuation of the Life Fund as at 30th September 2022. It must be noted that no surplus transfer from Life policyholders was made in 3Q 2021 as it was done in December 2021.These profits posted were after incurring Rs 4 Bn as Net Insurance Benefits and Claims to our policyholders in 2022, compared to Rs 2.9 Bn in the corresponding period. The Group’s strategic emphasis is on increasing growth across key products and services while delivering a superior customer service through digital enablement and process efficiency”.
Sharing his views, Chief Executive Officer of HNBA Lasitha Wimalaratne said: “I am happy to note that the resilience of our core business model has led to yield these remarkable results despite the challenges we had to face in the previous months. While the business keeps retooling itself with tech transformations and keeping abreast of market trends, HNBA’s GWP increased by 32% achieving Rs 6.6 Bn. HNBA posted a PAT of Rs 1.2 Bn recording a 483% growth with the surplus transfer from the Life Fund. The Company’s Life Insurance Fund stands at Rs 23.1 Bn at the end of Q3 of 2022. Contributing to this momentum HNBA’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) stood at 283%”.
HNBA is the only insurance company to be listed amongst the Top 70 Best
Workplaces in Asia whilst also being recognised amongst the Top 50 Best Workplaces in Sri Lanka. The Company was also awarded as the best Digital Marketing Brand in the Insurance Industry and was recognised as the best Bancassurance team for two consecutive years by Global Banking and Finance Review. Wimalaratne also extended his sincere appreciation to the Agency and Partnership Channels, Support service teams and the HNB Management for their contribution to deliver these impressive results.
Commenting on these results, Chief Executive Officer of HNBGI Sithumina Jayasundara ssid that “the company was able to maintain a sustainable financial growth in 2022 compared to 2021 and that he is confident with the solid business strategies in place, the business will continue to grow to greater heights. Appreciating the dedication and efforts of both Strategic Business Units, Support Services and Operations Units, Mr. Jayasundara also stated that the business delivered a great performance during Q3 2022 recording a GWP of Rs. 4.8 Bn. Further reviewing the performance of the business, HNBGI recorded PAT of Rs. 417.6 Mn compared to Rs. 372.2 Mn last year. The Company’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) stood at 266% well above the regulatory requirement”.
New IFC Country Manager to focus on spurring resilient private sector-led growth
IFC has appointed Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa as the new Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. Based in Colombo, Alvarez de la Campa will lead IFC’s strategy in building a diversified portfolio and increasing impact in both countries, while helping strengthen sustainable private sector development to promote inclusive growth, an IFC news release said.
A Spanish national, Alvarez de la Campa joined IFC in 2004, and has extensive experience working across the World Bank Group. Prior to this appointment, he was the Manager leading IFC’s Creating Markets Advisory teams in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, in charge of strategic engagements with governments and private sector partners to improve the investment climate across regions and industries.
Alvarez de la Campa was also a Practice Manager for Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) and Finance and Markets (F&M) in Africa in the joint World Bank-IFC Global Practice group, the release said.His appointment comes at a significant time for Sri Lanka when the country needs to spur private sector-led growth to navigate the ongoing economic fallout, it said.
“With Sri Lanka’s economy expected to contract by 9.2 percent this year and a further 4.2 percent in 2023, it’s vital to work to spur the financial resources and expertise of the private sector to help the country on the long road to recovery,” said Hector Gomez Ang, IFC Regional Director for South Asia. “With the right reforms in place, IFC in Sri Lanka under the leadership of Alvarez de la Campa is determined to play its part in helping spur investments and create jobs.”
Bringing years of experience leading teams who supported policy implementation and reforms for private-sector-led development, Alvarez de la Campa’s top priority will be to strategically lead IFC’s investment and advisory engagements in Sri Lanka, pushing for stronger, progressive steps towards improving private sector-led growth to create jobs and opportunities for people.
“As the Country Manager for IFC in Sri Lanka and Maldives, I am looking forward to continuing and scaling up IFC’s impact in Sri Lanka while also strengthening our engagements with the private sector, government and development partners,” said Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa. “We know from our experience, a stronger private sector leads to increased economic opportunities, and IFC is well positioned to support Sri Lanka through these critical times.”
“I believe that no crisis is the same, and that out of crises can emerge opportunities which cannot be wasted,” he said. “One of the greatest assets of Sri Lanka is the resilience of its people. Despite economic and political headwinds over the years, Sri Lankans have always shown their strength in building back better. We are well aware of that and IFC will continue to support the country, building new partnerships to pave the way for a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive future.”
Alvarez de la Campa holds a Law Degree (JD) from the University of Seville and an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris.
With over 50 years of operations in Sri Lanka, IFC has played a significant role in the country’s growth story by supporting small businesses, tourism, women, including women entrepreneurs, infrastructure, trade finance, and agribusiness. In Sri Lanka, IFC has invested over $1.9 billion across sectors including infrastructure, telecom, tourism, energy, and health, while providing cutting-edge solutions and expertise to diverse clients across the country.
Ceylon Spice Company: In partnership with Sri Lankan Spice Industry
With internationally-acclaimed Dilmah already producing what the company claims to be Ceylon’s Finest Single Origin Teas, “The Ceylon Spice Company (Pvt) Ltd” a subsidiary of MJF Group – was founded to support the spice industry in local value addition.
“CSC’s mission is to become the service provider of choice offering state of the art technologies under one roof, accredited laboratory facilities, expert raw material handling and customer care to all local spice exporters and enhance Sri Lanka’s image as a global spice sourcing destination of choice for safe and quality herbs and spices. CSC believes that the mutual benefits gained in terms of wider customer base and premium prices for exporters will create a sustainable business model going forward,” a news release said.
“CSC works closely with local spice exporters, farmers and entrepreneurs offering milling facilities with cooling to minimize volatile oil losses during grinding and European patented Steam Sterilization technology SAFESTERIL® which consist of Spirajoule® (an electrical heating system which could be used for sterilization, drying, roasting, toasting and pre-cooking), and UPX® a patented flash cooler from ETIA France, in addition to providing bulk and value packing options to their customers all under one roof.
“The process of continuous steam sterilization used at CSC is the safest internationally approved method to reduce microbe counts to safe levels, yielding consistent results using an electrically heated screw along with saturated steam, superheated dry steam, or no steam at all – depending on the degree of contamination. The Sterilization unit provides a homogenous, efficient and effective treatment via excellent product mixing mechanisms and use quick product cooling chambers ensuring minimum process & volatile oil losses with minimum organoleptic changes in products.
“The CSC handles a wide range of granular and whole forms of spices, herbs and botanicals including dried fruit and seeds, black & green teas, cereals, herbs and spices, dried vegetables, botanicals, nuts and desiccated coconut, among others,” it added.
In addition to Steam Sterilization of all the powdered, granular and whole spices & herbs listed above, CSC also provides further treatments. This includes blanching and roasting of the products, fine grinding facilities including powdering ‘super-fine’ grade products such as Green Matcha, fine Cinnamon Powder and all leaf-type spices, as well as the processing of ground Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Ginger, Turmeric, among other spices. Additionally, CSC offers pre-cutting facilities (size range 2mm – 15mm) and currently supplies 100% Dilmah’s requirements and bulk and value packing options with material supplied by the customer, the release further said.
“SAFESTERIL system offers an environmentally friendly and cost-effective decontamination solution with all equipment being externally validated by multiple external laboratories.”
The Ceylon Spice Company is backed by the accredited laboratory facilities at Dilmah and expert Food Technologists who screens all raw material and finished product’s organoleptic and microbial parameters accompanied by comprehensive reports for each batch. CSC’s highly experienced and trained team has successfully processed over 1,000 metric tons of assorted spices with the help of their state-of-the-art facilities,” the release concluded.
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