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‘Farmers for a phased out transition from chemical to organic fertilizer; supplemented with advice’

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The farming community of Sri Lankan doesn’t want a haphazard rush towards full-scale organic fertilizer use. Instead, they prefer a properly phased out process supplemented with adequate advice, a new survey has revealed, Executive Director of Verité Research (Pvt.) Ltd. Dr. Nishan De Mel said.

“This was one of the key findings of the first survey of its kind carried out among farmers on the chemical fertilizer ban. It was carried out by Verité Research. The survey was conducted among farmers who cultivate paddy, fruits, vegetables, coconut, tea, minor export crops (spices) and cereal, De Mel said during an online media briefing last Wednesday, where Verité Research released results of an island wide farmer survey on the chemical fertilizer ban.

De Mel added: ‘President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa announced a ban on the import of chemical fertilizers to Sri Lanka. Verité Research conducted a “Farmers’ Pulse” telephone survey to elicit the views of farmers on this policy and its expected impact. This is the first time that the perception of Sri Lankan farmers on this policy is being presented, based on statistically representative island wide survey results.

‘Verité Research implemented this telephone survey in July 2021 among 1,042 farmers through Vanguard Survey, a specialized survey agency in Sri Lanka. The survey sample consisted of farmers who cultivated crops for commercial purposes and was distributed evenly among all nine provinces. Additionally, only farmers who cultivate more than half an acre and have engaged in farming for more than three years were selected for the survey.

‘The Verité Research survey said almost two-thirds of the farmers were supportive of the government’s vision to move Sri Lanka towards organic agriculture, but almost 80 percent of those who were supportive felt that it would require more than one year to do so.

‘Over 90 percent of farmers surveyed said they currently use chemical fertilizer and almost all of them or 85 percent expected huge reductions in their harvest (average expected reduction of 47 percent ) if they were not able to use chemical fertilizer.

‘The highest dependency on chemical fertilizer is among paddy farmers (94 percent), followed by tea and rubber (89 percent).

“There is a low level of confidence on the knowledge required for the transition. Only 20 percent of the farmers said they had adequate knowledge on suitable organic fertilizers and the proper application of it to their crops.

“The survey also revealed 44 per cent of the farmers experienced a decline this harvest and 85 per cent foresee a decline in the future.

“As per the survey, the three major requests that farmers make of the government are: (1) advice and instructions on organic fertilizer; (2) more time, so that it can be a gradual transition and (3) standardized supply of organic alternatives.

“This is the first time that the perception of Sri Lankan farmers on this policy is being presented based on statistically representative island wide survey results.”



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‘People’s Bank continues to maintain steadfast performance’

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People’s Bank today announced the results for its nine months period ended September 30, 2022, recording pre-tax profit of LKR 17.0 billion on a Bank solo and LKR 21.0 billion consolidated basis.

The total operating income rose by 41.3% to reach LKR 91.0 billion, whilst total operating expenses grew by only 9.6% to LKR 31.4 billion reflecting prudent cost management amidst a highly challenging macro-economic environment characterized by, amongst other, an 80.0% currency devaluation and primarily arising therefrom close to 70.0% inflationary pressure. The Bank’s cost to income ratio was 40.9% for 9 months period ended as compared with 52.3% during the same period 2021, reflecting both top line growth and controlled cost increases.

Net interest income grew by 12.7% to reach LKR 66.5 billion whilst interest expenses rose by 89.6% during the nine months 2022. As a result, net interest margins slipped to 3.12% from 3.27% in the same period 2021. Fees & commission income grew by 128.0% to reach LKR 12.8 billion as compared with LKR 5.6 billion in the same period 2021. Excluding extraordinary items, growth was close to 30.0%, reflecting the Bank’s ongoing effort to improve its non-funded sources of income, more so in a highly volatile interest rate environment.

Impairment charges rose significantly reflecting challenged macro level circumstances and the elevated level of risk across its key customer segments. Post tax profit was LKR 12.7 billion, dipping by 15.6% over the same period 2021.

Total deposits grew by 10.4% to reach LKR 2,286.3 billion whilst net loans amounted to LKR 1,811.0 billion, contracting by a marginal 1.3%. Total assets reached LKR 3,028.5 billion growing by 14.4% from end 2021.

The Bank’s Tier I and Total Capital Adequacy Ratio was 11.2% and 15.6%, respectively on a Bank solo basis (end 2021: 12.6% and 17.8%) whilst, on a consolidated basis, it was 12.4% and 16.3%, respectively (end 2021: 13.4% and 17.9%). The Bank’s solvency reflected its efforts to augment its regulatory capital since the roll out of Basel III on July 1, 2017 with further efforts in this connection ongoing.

Commenting on the results, the Chairman of People’s Bank, Sujeewa Rajapakse, stated that: “All factors and circumstances considered, we are pleased with the Bank’s results. Irrespective of sector or nature of business, 2022 is not a year where performance is measured by top or bottom line but one of resilience, prudence, solvency without any regulatory forbearance and, more importantly, customer centricity in their time of dire need. During the last several years, People’s Bank has played a pivotal role by putting country first by supporting the internal eco system function without any disruption to the best of its abilities and has facilitated, amongst many other, bulk of the country’s imports relating to crude oil, coal, fertilizer, and essential medicine. We remain committed to serving the nation and are already in the process of implementing several additional measures to better equip the Bank meet the increasing needs of its various stakeholders”

The Chief Executive Officer/ General Manager of People’s Bank, Ranjith Kodituwakku, stated that: “With the economy set to contract this year, excluding the impact of the currency devaluation, most balance sheets are likely to contract. Whilst profitability is not the focal point, bolstering liquidity, strengthening capital, and bringing about productivity and efficiency enhancements in these difficult times through digital and other means are the key focus areas. Needless to say, whilst the process of recovery will be a long and arduous one and one which hinges on many moving parts, we remain optimistic that we are currently on the right path to recover. In all probability, the changes which have taken place, those currently taking place and, more importantly, those likely to take place will shape the country’s future for the better.

People’s Bank is the country’s Premiere Licensed Commercial Bank with Sri Lanka’s largest banking footprint composed of 743 branches and service centers. With a history spanning 61 years, the Bank benefits from a staff strength close to 7,500 who tirelessly and diligently serve over 14.5 million customers and over 19.0 million account relationships, which is by far the largest for any financial services provider in the country.

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Sharp pick-up in share trading; CSE turnover hits Rs. 3.35 billion

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The CSE yesterday saw a sharp pick-up in trade, in terms of turnover and volume, with indices staying positive following Foreign Minister Ali Sabry hinting on the IMF agreement, which is likely to be signed in early January. Assurances are likely to be given by main creditors, China India and Japan, for restructuring of debt, stock market analysts said.

Shares rose over 3 per cent within the first hour of trade, pushed up by strong positive sentiments, following last week’s Expolanka expansion news and speculation on interest rates to be eased in line with inflation, market analysts said.

“Since last week the market is moving on strong positive sentiments on Expolanka and interest rates to fall in line with inflation; this has also brought in some bargain hunting, analysts opined.

Central bank Governor Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe also said market rates should eventually ease despite fears over domestic debt restructuring, as inflation falls, liquidity increases in dollar markets and inter-bank liquidity improves.

Prices in blue-chip counters also showed significant gains and both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index was up by 276 points and S and P SL20 rose by 81.2 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3.35 billion with five crossings.

Those five crossings reported in Overseas Realty, where 98.5 million shares crossed to the tune of Rs 276 million, its shares traded at Rs 14, Lanka IOC 250,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 47.5 million and its shares traded at Rs 190, Kelani Tyre 728,000 shares crossed for Rs 40.1 million, its shares traded at Rs 55, hZenid Business Solutions two million shares crossed for Rs 34 million and its shares traded at Rs 17 and CT Holdings 114,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 20 million, its shares traded at Rs 175.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Browns Investments Rs 554 million (76.7 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 425 million (2.2 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 197 million (one million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 158 million (21.2 million shares traded), First Capital Holdings Rs 150 million (5.9 million shares traded), Capital Alliance Rs 143 million (6.7 million shares traded) and First Capital Treasuries Rs 122 million (5.2 million shares traded).During the day 281 million share volumes changed hands in 28000 transactions.

It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Melstacorp and Ceylon Cold Stores. Mixed interest was observed in Expolanka Holdings, Lanka IOC and ACL Cables, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, First Capital Holdings and First Capital Treasuries.

The Transportation sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to Expolanka Holdings), while the sector index gained 3.97 per cent. The share price of Expolanka Holdings increased by Rs. 7.25 (3.98 per cent) to close at Rs. 189.50.

The Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Browns Investments and Melstacorp), while the sector index increased by 2 per cent. The share price of Browns Investments moved up by 40 cents (6.56 per cent) to close at Rs. 6.50. The share price of Melstacorp appreciated by Rs. 2 (4.38 per cent) to close at Rs. 47.70.

Yesterday, the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 361.24 and the selling rate Rs 371.72. The Colombo Consumer Price Index showed some decline of 61 per cent in November, while in October it was 66 per cent. Therefore, the inflation has indicated some decline.

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Pan Asia Bank facilitates much-needed banking facilities for thousands of tourists from The Mein Schiff 5 cruise ship

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The Mein Schiff 5, one of the most popular super luxury cruises, docked in the port of Colombo on Tuesday (29/11/2022) morning with 2,000 tourists, mostly European, to discover Sri Lanka. This ship has a record number of passengers onboard and is one of the first luxury passenger ships to visit Sri Lanka after the pandemic, officially commencing the winter season for cruise calls. This visit creates a new opportunity for the country to generate foreign exchange and bolster its foreign exchange inflow. Visits by these prominent cruise ships boost the image of Sri Lanka as a safe, hospitable and diverse destination for tourists around the world.

As the Truly Sri Lankan Bank, Pan Asia Bank stepped forward to assist the cruise passengers to conduct their banking requirements through its state of the art mobile banking facility. Pan Asia Bank’s mobile banking unit was available during this period to help tourists with many different needs such as ATM facilities, foreign currency exchanges etc. to make their stay smooth. The Truly Sri Lankan Bank is committed to take part in these kinds of nationally relevant initiatives which will uplift the legendary hospitality and warmth of the Truly Sri Lankan brand.

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