Supported by timely policy measures undertaken by the government and the Central Bank, the external sector battled strong headwinds in 2020, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said last week releasing its Annual Report for the Year 2020.
“The slump in merchandise exports due to the mobility restrictions and lockdown measures was swiftly overcome, demonstrating the resilience of Sri Lankan
exporters.Accordingly, export earnings rebounded within a relatively short span of time to reach pre-pandemic levels. Measures to curtail non-essential imports, together with the significantly low global petroleum prices, helped reduce the import expenditure in 2020, resulting in a notable improvement in the trade deficit. The
tourism sector was severely affected by global travel restrictions. Foreign inflows, in terms of trade in servicesrelating to the Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT/BPO) sector, recorded a significant improvement,
supported by the surge in novel work arrangements amidst the pandemic,” the report said.
“The complex challenges encountered by the Sri Lankan economy in 2020 were efficaciously addressed through extraordinary policy interventions by the Government and the Central Bank.These interventions were essential to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the spillovers of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant scarring of households and enterprises. Such interventions were also required to uphold the confidence in the economy, thereby averting acute stresses on macroeconomicand financial system stability.”
“Alongside the global economic downturn induced by the pandemic, the Sri
Lankan economy contracted by 3.6 per cent in real terms in 2020, recording the deepest recession since independence. Mobility restrictions and other containment measures imposed locally and internationally, with a view to preventing the spread
of COVID-19, hampered real economic activity across all sectors. The sharp contraction observed in Industry activities during the year was driven by the
significant slowdown in construction and manufacturing activities. Services activities also registered a notable contraction due to the pandemic driven deceleration in transportation, other personal services, and accommodation, food and beverage services.”
“The Agriculture sector, too, registered a contraction during the year as the impact of the pandemic outweighed the positive effects of timely policy support and favourable weather conditions. Investment expenditure contracted in
2020, reflecting subdued investor sentiments, while consumption expenditure displayed a marginal growth.”
“The contraction of investment expenditure exceeded the reduction in national savings, resulting in a decline in the savings-investment differential in 2020.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose above 5 per cent for the first time since 2009, with a decline in the labour force participation rate, in the wake of uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. Reflecting the combined effect of the contraction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current market prices and the depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar, GDP per capita declined to US dollars 3,682 in 2020 from US dollars 3,852 in the previous year,” the Central Bank annual report said.
OPPO releases new OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka
OPPO, the leading global smart device brand, announces the launch of OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka.
A54’s attention to design and great usability is evident in both its exquisite appearance and how it helps to capture great looking shots. This starts with the Material of the Rear Cover, which uses metallic material for its 3D panel, but contributes to a stronger and less bendable structure but also a comfortable in-hand feel. As a result, A54 weighs about 192g and is 8.4mm thin. To align the overall look and feel of the phone, close attention is paid to the Middle Frame Process.
“A Series is designed to enhance or complement our users’ lifestyles and OPPO A54 achieves just this with a phone that manages to balance a high-end performance with contemporary design. Its large 5000mAh battery and 18W Fast Charge makes sure you’re fully powered to get you through your day. With A54, you’ll also have enough storage and memory to make sure that you’ll enjoy your entertainment without the frustrations of an underperforming smartphone,” said Bob Li, CEO, XINDA Lanka (OPPO Sri Lanka).
The Rear Cameras itself feature a 13MP Main Camera, 2MP Macro Camera for close range shots, and 2MP Bokehfor brilliant bokeh shots that blur the background and highlight the subject of the photo. A54 enhances shots in all environments with Dazzle Color, balancing the saturation and brightness. A54 also supports filming videos including SLO-MO at 720P at 90FPS with the rear camera, and up to 10 video Filters including Original, Gentle, Noon, Subtle and more.
Pan Asia Bank records best-ever Q1 results in challenging times – Profit After Tax soars by 81% to post Rs. 750 mn.
Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reported the best-ever first quarter financial results during the quarter ended 31st March 2021 to report a Pre-Tax Profit of Rs. 986 Mn and a Post-Tax Profit of Rs. 750 Mn after recording impressive growth rates of 51% and 81% respectively, demonstrating the resilience amidst challenging macro economic conditions. The Bank’s performance was characterised by strength and resilience, despite the heightened uncertainty due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 impact on the Sri Lankan economy, the Bank’s Operating Profits before VAT on Financial Services reached Rs. 1,197 Mn with an increase of 47%, reflecting excellence in core banking performance and the success of cost containment measures evidenced by improvement in all key matrices which now rank among the industry bests. This feat was achieved even after setting aside provisions for probable loan losses amounting to Rs. 638 Mn. The Bank increased the provision buffers for probable deterioration in credit quality through management overlays, experience adjustments and adjustments for the exposures in the elevated risk industries during the quarter. As a result, total impairment charges for the quarter increased by 21% on YoY basis.
The Bank’s Net Interest Income for the period witnessed an increase of 17% due to significant reduction in financial cost of funds at a rate faster than the drop in interest yields of interest bearing assets. Consequently, the Bank’s Net Interest Margin for the quarter improved to 5.07% from 4.41% reported three months ago. In the meantime, the Bank’s Net Fee and Commission Income recorded a growth of 28% with the rebound in demand for credit due to revival of economic activity amidst the low interest rate regime. The volatility in foreign exchange rates enabled the Bank to increase its Foreign Exchange Income substantially as reflected in Other Operating Income.
The Bank is committed to revenue maximisation and cost management despite sector vulnerabilities that prevailed since last year. The Bank’s Cost-to-Income Ratio improved from 45.66% to 38.08% within a three months period owing to the excellence in core banking performance which is reflected in the noteworthy overall growth in key revenue lines and various strategies and measures taken to contain overhead costs. In fact, the Bank managed to bring down its Other Operating Expenses by 9% in 2021 Q1 compared to 2020 Q1. Meanwhile, increased allocations for performance bonuses, development of human capital and staff welfare led to an increase in personnel costs during the reporting period compared to 2020 Q1.
The Bank’s Post-Tax Profits for the reporting quarter also gained to an extent due to application of lower corporate income tax rate of 24% for tax provisioning in accordance with the guideline issued by CA Sri Lanka on 23rd April 2021.
The Bank continues to report solid Key Profitability Indicators which rank among the highest in the industry. The Bank’s Pre-Tax Return on Assets also improved to 2.24% from 1.70%. Further, the Bank reported a stunning Return on Equity (ROE) of 19.27% during the quarter under review which stands among the industry best. The ROE is the most important performance indicator to gauge the attractiveness of the Banking sector and Pan Asia Bank during its last few years has consistently remained an outlier in the industry.
SLIIT nurtures school children at ‘Soft Skills + 2021’
The SLIIT Business School (SBS) organised ‘Soft Skills+ 2021’ concluded on an extremely successful note recently helping students engage, cooperate and thrive in building their talents towards personal development and career progression.
SLIIT Soft Skills+ event is an annual flagship CSR Project of the SLIIT Business School organized with the primary objective of developing secondary school students’ soft skills in positive thinking, creativity, analytical thinking, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and teamwork.
Over the years, the programme has garnered much popularity among schools and participants. Due to its tremendous success achieved in previous programmes, Soft Skills+ 2021 followed an upgraded structure. For the first time in the Soft Skills+ programme history, the event was held via online platforms, including a Soft Skills-based online quiz and an online workshop for students and teachers.
During the Grand Finale, Prof. Samantha Thelijjagoda, Dean of SLIIT Business School welcomed the participants and distinguished guests. Prof. Lalith Gamage, Vice Chancellor, SLIIT also addressed the gathering.
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