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Economic managers aiming at 1 per cent growth rate for SL

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Local economic managers are trying their level best to keep the GDP growth rate at one percent but during the first quarter of the year the economy contracted by 1.6 percent due to external and internal factors, including the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We expect economic growth to be at least one percent for the entire year but the first quarter growth was minus 1.6 percent, as stated by the Department of Census and Statistics, which has several issues when calculating the growth rate. Therefore, we will be rectifying those issues in the future, working together with the Census and Statistics Department, Central Bank Governor Professor W.D Lakshman told the media yesterday.

‘As per the available indicators, the adverse impact of COVID-19 on economic activity during the second quarter of 2020 is likely to be substantial, Lakshman said at the monthly monetary policy review forum at the Central Bank Head Office in Colombo.

The Governor said, given the current and expected developments in the domestic economy and the financial market, the CBSL Monetary Board recognized the necessity to continue with its accommodative monetary policy stance.

Accordingly, the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank will remain at 4.50 percent and 5.50 percent, respectively.

“The Board recognized the necessity to continue the accommodative monetary policy stance, particularly as market lending rates are yet to reflect the full pass-through of policy easing measures implemented thus far, he said.

The CBSL Governor added – ‘The Board has decided to adopt targeted measures to reduce specific interest rates that it considered to be excessive, which would help marginal borrowers.

‘The Board anticipates a further reduction in overall market lending rates, thereby encouraging borrowing for productive economic activity and reinforcing support for COVID-19 hit businesses as well as the broader economy, given the conditions of subdued inflation.

“The Bank expects domestic economic activities, which were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to recover in the second half of 2020.

‘However, the external sector continued to demonstrate resilience, reflecting the impact of prudent measures implemented amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The trade deficit has narrowed during the first half of 2020 and inflation is remaining at mid-single digits.

‘In spite of short term fluctuations, inflation is expected to remain broadly within the desired 4-6 per cent range in the near to medium term, with appropriate policy measures.

‘Growth of credit extended to the private sector by commercial banks decelerated in June 2020, for the second consecutive month. However, a gradual recovery in credit extended to the private sector is expected in the period ahead.

‘The Central Bank will continue to monitor domestic and global macroeconomic and financial market developments and take further measures to support the economy to return to a higher growth path without delay, given subdued levels of inflation.’

 

 



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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