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Hambantota International Port broke new ground in 2021

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2021 was a watershed year for HIP with the port’s activities spreading in several new directions, which has created a unique ecosystem for economic prosperity for Sri Lanka.  The port worked to provide opportunities for maritime trade and investment on the East-West routes of the Indian ocean. HIP which is slated to become a topnotch multipurpose port is uniquely positioned to be a catalyst for the industrial development of the south of Sri Lanka through its industrial park situated within the port and adjacent development activities earmarked by the government of Sri Lanka.

The port is rapidly building capacity in the areas of port services and operations, investment, industrial zone, and bonded facilities, marking several notable milestones throughout the past year.

HIP Speed

A lot of the port’s recent successes can be attributed to its agility formula ‘HIP Speed’ introduced by the Hambantota International Port Group CEO Johnson Liu.  It is the blueprint to spur development in every direction of the port’s activities, and specially designed to clear bottlenecks and build processes that do not stand in the way of implementing projects on time. With HIP Speed, the port has much tighter deadlines to complete projects, which has helped considerably in bringing desirable investment to the port.

CEO Johnson Liu says, “HIP Speed has brought a new dimension to investment in port operations and allied industries. We put this formula in place taking into consideration the opportunities that will emerge in the coming years, when supply and demand structures will change and trade routes will be reinvented. HIP speed is an essential ingredient and catalyst to drive the dynamic needs of the supply chain industry under the new normal.”

On the heels of the HIP Speed initiative, came support from the state sector, with agencies like the Board of Investment (BOI) and Industrial Development Board (IDB), setting up offices in the port’s main administration building.

Cargo Handling

 

Although challenges posed by the pandemic continued, HIP achieved an overall throughput of 2.3 million metric tonnes of cargo, with a remarkable 38% increase in RORO operations.  The introduction of effective new strategies and partnerships with new RORO lines for transshipment cargo, helped HIP achieve the landmark 535,000 units of small and large vehicles handled in 2021. The transshipped vehicles, mainly manufactured in India, Thailand, Japan and Korea are destined for Africa, the Middle East, Far East and South America.

The port also saw a significant 59 percent increase in bulk cargo handled, exceeding the 1 million MT mark of dry bulk handled in a single year.

Bunkering Operation

The wholesale supply of Marine Bunker fuels kicked off by HIP and strategic partner Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Limited, during the previous year, saw a sharp increase in bunkering by end 2021.  With the port’s 14 tank oil storage network, oil jetties and ancillary infrastructure fully operational, HIP is now geared to provide VLSFO and MGO fuel bunkering services for vessels plying the principal sea routes in the Indian Ocean.  With the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) pushing the maritime industry to reduce emissions, the port is geared to offer the best quality low sulphur fuels to the market, underlining its goal of positioning as a bunkering hub in South Asia. Towards this end, the port also established a marine oil testing laboratory at the oil tank facility, in collaboration with a renowned international partner. Thus, enabling the provision of international standards of quality at the supply source.

Port Investment

HIP has engaged in developing its industrial zone, which is well set to become a catalyst for industrial development in the island’s south.  The past year saw a number of new investment agreements signed with local and global partners to bring valuable industries to the country.

Amongst the top players setting up operations within the port are the Xinji Shenzhen Group, Ceylon Tire Manufacturing Company, SeaHorse Yachts, and Lanwa Cement.   The Xinji Group’s plug and play, park in park facility, which kicked off within 20 days of signing the agreement is nearing completion and work is well underway for the 300 million US $ tire manufacturing project. Amongst projects in the pipeline are a bonded warehousing network and a container terminal which will add to the port’s multi purpose services.

COVID 19 Response

The port provided funding to establish a fully-fledged PCR testing laboratory at the Hambantota District General Hospital last year.  Part of the funding for the PCR testing facility comes from China Merchants Foundation (CMF), the philanthropic arm of Hambantota International Port Group’s (HIPG) main shareholder, CMPort. Many donations of personal protection equipment were also made to government institutions in Hambantota.

HIP’s own response to managing the spread internally has been exemplary.  The management adapted a two pronged strategy i.e. a people first approach and an initiative to manage workplace protocols. This was very strategically done, and the port was able to keep infection rates far below the nationwide average, creating a safe work environment for staff.

People Planet

HIP continued its CSR programmes, throughout 2021 keeping to its long-term vision of caring for People and Planet while achieving business objectives.  Completing over 14 CSR projects during the year, they closed 2021 with a pledge to set up a fund that will manage the human elephant conflict that has long troubled the Hambantota district.  The project is a partnership with the Hambantota District Secretariat, who will collaborate with the Department of Wildlife to take mitigatory action for which HIPG will provide the funding.

As CEO Johnson Liu said, the port fully supports the endeavour which is a sustainable approach to end the conflict and declare peace between humans and elephants.

Another important sustainability project launched by the Port was its first integrated solid waste management initiative under the theme ‘Healing the Environment.’  The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.  ‘Healing the Environment’ also included growing and nurturing endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

Apart from the above key projects, the port has worked on building better relationships with adjacent communities, hospitals, All religious establishments and fostering Buddhism with the exchange of relics from China etc.  HIP’s ongoing Hope Village project has also played a vital role in uplifting community lives.

Building win win relationships

2021 saw a number of local and international dignitaries visiting the port.  The CEO and the management team hosted the Prime Minister and his delegation in the latter part of the year, while several  high officials from Ministries, Embassies, State and International Institutions also toured the port during different intervals.

HIP also signed TSA’s with several international shipping lines enhancing stakeholder cooperation and working towards increasing volumes shipped via HIP.

While HIP Speed helped to re-energize all aspects of port activities, achieving set goals brought HIP staff together in more ways than one.  It was a year of bonding for management and staff who were rewarded for their work ethic.  A number of incentives and awards schemes were introduced, with ‘CEO Awards’ and ‘CMPort Awards’ to recognise excellence, key amongst them.

HIP is the only port in Sri Lanka, to receive the ISO Integrated Management System standards certificate for its quality, environmental consciousness and adherence to health and safety protocols, which follow international benchmarks set by the port operator’s parent company CMPort.



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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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