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Health crisis exacerbates downside risks to FLCs



‘Most of FLCs’ borrowers will not emerge unscathed from economic downturn’

The risk of a second coronavirus wave, together with weak borrower sentiment in an already fragile operating environment, would put further stress on Sri Lankan finance and leasing companies’ (FLCs) credit profiles, adding to existing pressures on asset quality and profitability, Fitch Ratings Sri Lanka said last week.

“These risks will test FLCs’ loss-absorbing capacity, but Fitch Ratings believes that the capital and profit buffers of most Fitch-rated standalone-driven FLCs’ (except for Bimputh, which will experience material capital erosion due to losses) will be adequate to cushion against moderate asset-quality shocks.

Fitch expects Sri Lanka’s real GDP to contract by 3.7% in 2020 due to the pandemic. The economic fallout has pressured the FLC sector’s asset quality with the six-months past due non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio spiking to 14.1% by end-June 2020 (1QFY21) (FYE20:11.4%). The sector’s return on assets turned negative to -2.3% in 1QFY21 (FYE20:1.9%) due to high credit costs.

“Sector’s growth challenges are worth watching. A prolonged restriction on vehicle importation and the resultant surge in second-hand vehicle prices are likely to hamper Sri Lankan FLCs’ medium-term growth prospects. The sector’s loans contracted by 0.2% yoy in 1QFY21 (CAGR of 12% FY15-FY20), and leasing and hire purchases accounted for 55% of the sector’s lending (FYE15:60%)”.

Referring to asset quality risk after moratorium, Fitch Ratings said, “We expect underlying asset-quality pressure that has been building up due to the pandemic to manifest from 3QFY21 and extend to FY22, as regulatory relief in the form of loan-repayment moratoriums has temporarily halted the recognition of credit impairments for much of this year. We believe that most of the FLCs’ borrowers will not emerge unscathed from the economic downturn because they are largely sub-prime”.

“Weak earnings due to rising credit costs and slow loan growth will weigh on FLCs’ internal capital generation. We view this risk as more acute for small FLCs which already have weak profitability buffers, with credit costs consuming more than 70% of their pre-impairment operating profits”.

“A deadline extension to meet capital requirements and lower loan growth will ease near-term capital pressures for some companies. Out of 38 licensed finance companies in the sector, nine were non-compliant with minimum capital requirements at end-September 2020 and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has granted an extension to rectify the non-compliance.

“Banks’ diminished appetite to lend to the FLC sector could hurt small-to mid-sized FLCs in particular, hampering their financial flexibility. Small entities tend to rely more on bank funding, while large FLCs’ better domestic franchises will underpin their liquidity profiles”, Fitch Ratings said.

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Cabinet approves rationalization of VAT exemptions and abolition of SVAT System




The Cabinet of Ministers granted concurrence to the resolution forwarded by the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to remove most of the releases from Value Added Tax (VAT), further retaining releases that ease the pressure on low – income families to secure the fundamental sectors of the economy as well as the releases for sectors such as education, health and agriculture, as well as to revise the provisions applicable for the Value Added Tax (VAT) act so that the Simplified Value Added Tax (SVAT) methodology can be canceled with effect from 01.01.2024 by introducing a more formal methodology for repaying the Value Added Tax (VAT) and to instruct the Legal Draftsman to prepare a draft bill for the purpose.

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Venora Lanka Power Panels to set up assembly plant in Australia



Sagara Gunawardene

By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka- based, export- oriented manufacturer, Venora Lanka Power Panels (Pvt) Ltd, with a state of the art electric panel factory at the Export Processing Zone, Biyagama, will set up an assembly plant in Australia.

“Once we set up the electric panel assembly plant in Australia, we will export all our panels from Sri Lanka and that plant will do 30 percent value addition to the product to supply that market, the company’s chairman/ Managing Director, engineer Sagara Gunawardena told The Island Financial Review.

Gunawardena said that the company is a value- addition assembly plant and he would be investing AUS $ 2 million for the project to be set up in Melbourne and hire 100 engineers and other professionals. He explained that the venture has enormous potential.

Venora Lanka provides power panels to mega projects in Sri Lanka and exports to Bangladesh, Maldives, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles and Myanmar. Panel assembling is strictly in compliance with IEC 61439 standards, it was explained.

Gunawardena added: ‘I firmly believe that, being a truly customer focused organization, every employee and every process in the organization has to be aligned behind delighting customers. Therefore, at a time when the country is facing a major dollar crisis, my company would be aiming at bringing dollars into the country, while providing employment for local professionals, especially engineers.

‘At Venora Lanka we do not try to change customers’ mindsets. Instead, we take time to understand what they really want and focus our brand on delivering that. Venora is values- driven first and cost- driven second – creating a unique brand proposition.

‘Since the US dollar rate has come down, it is our concern that importers and suppliers do not change their prices, which is really affecting the manufacturing sector.

Company sources added: ‘The company has several wings of operation, such as local and overseas projects, switch board assembling, telecommunication infrastructure installations, earthing, lighting and surge protection, incorporating world renowned brands.

‘Venora Lanka Power Panels is the first Sri Lankan company to receive the licence, in accordance with the UK Trade Mark Act 1994, to use the trade mark “Best Enterprise”. It won a global award at the event, ‘Golden Awards for Quality and Business Prestige’, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2015.

‘Within a short span of time, with the perfect blend of progressive thinking and expertise, Venora Group has expanded to consist of, Venora International Projects, Venora Telecom, Venora Industrial Solutions and Venora Lanka Power Panels (BOI approved). Further, Venora has established its overseas presence through Venora Engineering Kenya and Venora Engineering Myanmar.’

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Share market moves into positive territory; indices up



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading got off to a positive note yesterday but during the last session of the day the momentum slowed. However, the market is now moving towards positive territory following the Central Bank announcement of a downward trend in interest rates, market analysts said.

Amid those developments the market witnesses improvements in both indices and in the turnover.

The All- Share Price Index up by 12.8 points and S and P SL 20 rose by 6.97 points. Turnover stood at Rs 710 million with one crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH which crossed 430,000 shares to the tune of Rs 60.2 million; its shares traded at Rs 140.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; JKH Rs 212 million (1.5 million shares traded), Access Engineering Rs 44.7 million ( three million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 34.5 million (264,000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 28.6 million (5.3 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 23.8 million (4.7 million shares traded), Capital Alliance Rs 22.9 million (615,000 shares traded) and First Capital Holdings Rs 19.2 million (574,000 shares traded). During the day the 31.4 million shares volumes changed hands in 9000 transactions.

Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 285.16 and the selling rate Rs 298.85.

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