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Govt commits to boosting investments in people, joins the WB’s Human Capital Project

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The Lankan Government of Sri Lanka committed to accelerate more and better investments in human capital – health, education, and social protection – becoming the 82nd country to join the World Bank’s Human Capital Project.

At a high-level Human Capital Summit held Wednesday, at least 12 Ministers and State Ministers, Secretaries and State Secretaries, and several high-ranking officials including the Director General of the Ministry of Finance came together in person to discuss priorities to accelerate investments in human capital for increased future productivity and economic growth, and enable green, resilient, and inclusive development. The event also attracted around 200 virtual observers connecting from around the world and based in Sri Lanka.

Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa said: “Investing in people is at the center of our government strategy, and is key to ensure a successful post COVID-19 recovery. We will continue to prioritize investments in human capital, to improve early childhood education, achieve universal primary and secondary education, increase access to and quality of higher education, as well as technical and vocational education, enhance quality of the health care system to face future health care challenges, and support vulnerable individuals and families through Samurdhi and other safety nets and employment programs.”

Sri Lanka’s solid human development outcomes are reflected in the country’s relatively high pre-COVID-19 Human Capital Index score, which is higher than the South Asia region and global averages. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on human capital accumulation in Sri Lanka, including job losses, a devastating learning crisis, and worsening malnutrition. This has led to increased poverty and vulnerability, especially among those groups who lack coping mechanisms and were already disadvantaged.

The World Bank is supporting the Government of Sri Lanka to address its human capital challenges through targeted engagements across health, education, and social protection, aligning with the Government’s National Policy Framework of Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.

World Bank Vice President for South Asia Hartwig Schafer said: “Protecting and investing in people will be key to Sri Lanka’s recovery from the pandemic and boosting future productivity and economic growth. Sri Lanka’s membership in the Human Capital Project is timely for the country to protect its hard-won gains. The World Bank stands ready to support Sri Lanka to accelerate human capital development and pave the way for more inclusive, resilient growth.”

The Human Capital Project is a global effort to accelerate investments in people for inclusive economic growth. It makes the case for investment in the human capital of the next generation; provides access to a program of measurement, research, and analysis that helps to invest in and protect human capital; and supports peer-learning for countries as they develop and implement accelerated priorities for human capital development.

Committing to the cause of accelerating investments in people, the Ministers participating at this event made statements as follows:

Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena said: “Investments in education are central to reach higher levels of human capital outcomes for Sri Lanka. Our Ministry has made every effort to provide inclusive early childhood education and school education to all children. The opportunities to receive quality higher education and vocational training help to increase productivity, resilience, and enhance labor market outcomes. We look forward to working with the World Bank to invest in children and youth to realize their potential to contribute to the economy.”

Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella said: “A healthy population is the bedrock for the enhancement of a nation’s human capital. Prioritizing investments in nutrition at every stage of a human being’s life and ensuring a responsive, robust healthcare system are paramount. At the same time, leveraging technology will further enhance the efficiency, quality, and governance of healthcare service delivery.”

Minister of Labour Nimal Siripala De Silva said: “Securing and restoring jobs and incomes will be central to Sri Lanka’s recovery from the pandemic. We need more ambitious policies and programs to tackle these challenges, along with effective social protection strategies and social insurance programs. Sri Lanka can benefit fully from investments in human capital by improving labor market programs, especially for migrant workers. We look forward to working with the World Bank to improve Sri Lanka’s labor market programs, social protection and labor policies to realize full potential of all Sri Lankans.”



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

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)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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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.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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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 tharakam@ips.lk 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.

Important Dates

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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