ComBank conducts e-forum series to encourage citizens overseas to invest in Sri Lanka
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has stepped up efforts to encourage Sri Lankans living overseas to invest in Sri Lanka with the support of the country’s benchmark private bank.
The Bank has launched a series of e-forums designed to create awareness about local investment opportunities available to Sri Lankans living or working in other countries and on the numerous special products and services offered by the Bank to facilitate an inflow of foreign currency into the country. The forums are also a platform to share some insights with the expat community on the economic conditions created in the country by the Covid pandemic.
The Bank has already concluded two such virtual events that benefitted members of the Sri Lankan expat community, workers, and professionals living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. Two more are planned to be held for this segment in Oman and Qatar shortly, the Banks said.
Conducted by the Bank’s Senior Deputy General Manager – Treasury Prins Perera, these e-forums take place with the involvement of the Bank’s overseas remittance partners, staff of Sri Lankan diplomatic missions, the Bank’s overseas Business Promotion Officers, and members of its corporate management.
Besides providing a comprehensive picture of the Sri Lankan economy supported by statistics, these virtual forums are conducted to encourage foreign direct investments into Sri Lanka and to maintain the Bank’s relationship with all its stakeholders, the Bank said.
Participants are informed of the high-yield investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka and the special benefits that Commercial Bank provides to its investors and customers. They are also briefed on the Bank’s Special Deposit Accounts (SDAs) and other remittance accounts. Sri Lankan expatriate workers and potential investors are provided valuable insights into the Sri Lankan economy via these forums and learn about the products and services that enable them to invest money in foreign currency accounts and fixed deposits.
Commenting on the launch of the e-forums, Commercial Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr S. Renganathan said: “These virtual events were organised to enable us to directly connect with our partners and the Sri Lankan professional communities overseas at a time when Sri Lankan banks are vigorously attempting to bring in foreign currency to help mitigate the challenges currently facing the economy. As Sri Lanka’s largest private bank, we have earned the trust and confidence of the populace and are well positioned to play a significant role in this effort.”
The Bank provides all necessary facilities for expatriate investors who are interested to invest in Sri Lankan businesses by facilitating opening of Inward Investment Accounts, Offshore Accounts and providing all the support services associated with these accounts.
Commercial Bank also briefs participants on the personal finance products and services it offers to help them maximise returns on the foreign currency they earn. These include the Remittance Account which can be accessed through a RemitPlus Debit Card which is issued free-of-charge at the time of opening of the account. Sri Lankan citizens aged 18 years or above, who are beneficiaries or remitters of overseas remittances are eligible to open a Remittance Account without an initial deposit and existing accountholders who have received three or more remittances in the past six months can convert their existing accounts to RemitPlus Savings Accounts. This account helps meet emergency cash requirements of accountholders by way of a specially-designed cash advance facility of up to Rs 50,000.
Additionally, those who receive direct remittances via Commercial Bank receive Rs 2 over the prevailing rate of exchange on the conversion of every United States Dollar or the equivalent in the currency they receive.
Remitters and beneficiaries can also use the ComBank RemitPlus App to share the remittance PIN number securely between themselves and can track their remittance through the app’s Remittance Tracker option. In addition these features, the ComBank RemitPlus App can be used to find the Bank’s remittance-related information and services such as details of specially trained Business Promotion Officers stationed in Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Korea and Qatar as well as details of Sri Lankan diplomatic missions overseas and the Bank’s overseas remittance partners.
Sri Lanka’s first fully carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 931 automated machines in Sri Lanka. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
NSB Chairman hands over annual report to President
Dr. Harsha Cabral, Chairman of the National Savings Bank, formally presented the bank’s annual report for the year 2022 to Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (01).
The report, titled “Strengthening Our Strength,” provides an integrated overview of the bank’s performance within the economic framework and its engagements with the social and environmental sectors.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka relaxes its Monetary Policy stance
The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on 31 May 2023, decided to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 250 basis points to 13.00 per cent and 14.00 per cent, respectively.
The Board arrived at this decision with a view to easing monetary conditions in line with the faster than expected slowing of inflation, gradual dissipation of inflationary pressures and further anchoring of inflation expectations. The commencing of such monetary easing is expected to provide an impetus for the economy to rebound from the historic contraction of activity witnessed in 2022, while easing pressures in the financial markets.
‘Damro-revived Agalawatte Plantations in impressive start to 2023’
* Q1 Revenue grows 49.7% to Rs 1.489 billion
* Pre-tax profit up 44.6% to Rs 417.2 million
* Major investments in replanting of rubber and tea to continue in 2023
Agalawatte Plantations PLC (APL) has reported impressive revenue and profit growth in the first quarter of 2023, consolidating on the remarkable turnaround achieved subsequent to the acquisition of a majority stake in the Company by the Damro Group.
Revenue grew by 49.7% to Rs 1.489 billion for the three months ending 31st March 2023, with revenue from tea doubling to Rs 796.2 million over the first quarter of 2022, and revenue from oil palm up 57.5% to Rs 305.1 million. Rubber contributed Rs 216.9 million to the Company’s top line in the quarter reviewed.
Stable tea prices and an increased oil palm crop enabled APL to post pre-tax profit of Rs 417.2 million for the three months, reflecting growth of 44.6%. Total assets grew by 21.2% since end 2022 to Rs 6.448 billion as at 31st March 2023, and the Company’s net assets value per share improved by 23.5% to Rs 26.09.
Nalaka Gunathilake, Managing Director / CEO of Agalawatte Plantations described the growth achieved in the first quarter of 2023 as extremely encouraging in the context of the Company’s achievement of net profit of Rs 1.76 billion for the year ended 31st December 2022, the highest profit in its history.
Once debt-ridden and at risk of liquidation, Agalawatte Plantations became part of the Damro Group in 2017 when the latter acquired the majority stake in the Company and infused Rs 3.2 billion for the payment of unsettled dues and statutory obligations. Timely investments in replanting, factory modernisation, redefining strategic focus and leadership transformed the Company into the strong corporate it is today, Gunathilake said. Good management practices together with agricultural inputs and professional human resources management policies too played pivotal role in this turnaround.
APL produces around 2 million kgs of latex annually and the company has facilities to manufacture Latex Crepe, Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS) and Centrifuged latex depending on the demand in the market. The Company’s tea production is around 2 million kgs per year and this volume is expected to increase with the availability of chemical fertilizer and agrochemicals in the country. APL also produces more than 11 million kgs of oil palm crop annually, generating substantial returns for the Company.
With the Company’s acquisition by Damro Group a strategic management decision was taken to prioritise replanting across all estates under APL management. An extent of over 2,600 acres of aged and uneconomical rubber land has since been replanted with high yielding clones to ensure company’s productivity and sustainability in the years ahead.
The Company disclosed that a further extent of over 1,000 acres is to be replanted in 2023 and land preparation and preliminary work in these areas has already commenced. In order to support the company’s ambitious rubber replanting programme, Agalawatte Plantations has its own network of rubber nurseries and has established 400,000 seedlings in six regional nurseries to supply healthy and vigorous plants.
Between 2017-2022, an extent of over 263 acres of tea has also been replanted and the preliminary work on another 150 acres has been commenced in 2023. Five tea nurseries with 900,000 plants will supply the requirement of high yielding vigorous tea plants for the replanting programme.
APL said it is gearing up for a new phase of growth in the tea plantations by obtaining system and quality management certifications. The company has obtained the Rain Forest Alliance (RA) certification for its upcountry tea estates while all tea manufacturing facilities have obtained the ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System certification.
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