by Sanath Nanayakkare
Sri Lanka should avoid any unnecessary damage to the commercial and economic interests of any other WTO party including the EU, Frank Hess, Head of Cooperation Section at EU Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.
He said so while addressing a media briefing online, following the final project steering committee meeting of the EU – Sri Lanka Trade Assistance Project at Taj Samudra Colombo recently.
“Some policy makers openly talk about protectionist aims. I ask: Is this what the country needs for economic growth? Is this what is fair to the EU? Sri Lanka enjoys a positive trade balance with the EU, and I would like to underline that no modern economy can operate in isolation.
“We raised this issue at the WTO meetings end of last year and the WTO Market Access Committee in January. We remain concerned by measures some of which have been implemented in a WTO incompatible manner”, he said.
Elaborating on his views he said:
“The European Union believes that global problems such as the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, can only be solved through global cooperation. We can help ourselves only by working together.
“Sri Lanka should pay due regard, in carrying out its domestic policies, to the need for maintaining or restoring equilibrium in its Balance of Payment on a sound and lasting basis, by adopting measures which increase instead of decreasing international trade.
“Recently the European Commission set out its trade strategy for the coming years. Reflecting the concept of open strategic autonomy, the strategy builds on the openness to contribute to the economic recovery through support for the green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable.
“For the recovery of the Sri Lankan and global economy, open and rules-based trade is essential as it gives confidence to businesses to invest, and re-start exchanges that bring in employment and revenues.
“We understand the government is keen to pursue a trade model aiming at export growth and FDI growth, attracting foreign investment also from the EU. But which investor will come here if he or she is forbidden or face obstacles when importing from other countries? To increase GSP+ utilization, you will need to have a balanced approach and not close doors. Trade is about mutual benefits. I fully expect that doing business with Sri Lankan enterprises will not only open new markets in the EU and regionally to you, but will enable EU SMEs to link with local businesses and grow together as well.
“If companies and the Government want to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lanka, the best way is to open up the economy, invest in research and development, provide skills to workers, nurture entrepreneurs, provide decent jobs and most importantly create a business conducive environment which supports both exporters and importers.”
“The EU has also helped SrI Lanka through giving it GSP+ status. With GSP+, the EU has unilaterally opened its market and granted duty free access on 66% of the EU tariff lines representing about 6000 products.
“About €3 billion worth of goods were exported to the EU from Sri Lanka in 2019 using the GSP+ preferences. This resulted in a positive trade balance for Sri Lanka of 1.5 billion euro in
2019 alone. Even without the UK, this balance is still 1 billion euro in the favor of Sri Lanka.”
Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –
Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges
Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.
The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.
The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.
Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.
The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)
SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways
SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.
Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.
As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.
Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.
Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.
To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.
Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024
The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.
The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.
Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.
HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.
OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.
BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.
30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals
01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists
23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner
Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/
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