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HIP supports SME Development Conference 2020 in view of sector’s pressing challenges

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Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, president CMA Sri Lanka and coordinator presenting the proposals on taxation and incentives to develop the SME sector in both the domestic and export sector, to the Prime Minister at the SME Development Conference held recently.

Hambantota International Port was the venue sponsor of the SME Development Conference 2020, held under the auspices of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who was Chief Guest at the event, and special dignitaries Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa and State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

The aim of the conference was to help small and medium-scale enterprises meet challenges faced in financial management, entrepreneurial leadership and bank funding in the country’s post-Covid economy. This was the first regional SME conference organised by CMA with the expectation of gaining government attention on the SME sector. There were two panel discussions where several pressing issues faced by the SME sector were discussed. The panel discussion on “Management and Entrepreneurship development in the New Normal” had HIPG participation where representatives fielded questions on how the SME sector can benefit from port related activities and future business opportunities HIP would pursue.

Speaking on how the Port adds value to the SME sector in a post COVID environment, Nishantha Gamage, Marketing Manager of HIPG says the port continued to operate during the lockdown and even found other opportunities such as crew-changes that were handled via the port. He added that as more vessels with various service requirements such as ship supplies begin calling at the port, SMEs could operate as suppliers by upgrading their offerings to cater to them. As advice to SMEs on how to operate under the new normal Nishantha Gamage says, “SMEs should definitely look into digital technology to develop their business. For example, develop an online platform for ship supply services which can cater to international vessels calling at HIP.” He added that the port will soon begin containerisation business to support the free zone, paving the way for more efficient and streamlined container imports and exports via HIP, which would be advantageous to SMEs.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event the COO of HIPG, Tissa Wickramasinghe said, “We are committed to the development of Hambantota and we see smaller medium-scale enterprises as an important component in this endeavour. As much as Hambantota International Port is looking outwards towards developing the port, we also are looking inwards to develop HIP as a gateway port and for this the industrial development of Hambantota is a must.”

The conference committee comprised nearly 50 members from professional bodies, chambers of commerce & industry, commercial banks and industry experts who had met since April 2020 to find solutions to the problems experienced by the SME sector. Around 250 SME customers of Hambantota commercial banks took part in the event where varied challenges faced by the SME sector and future development opportunities were taken up. Going forward, CMA Sri Lanka plans to hold similar conferences in other districts across Sri Lanka.



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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