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HNB recognized as ‘Best Retail and SME Bank’ at International Finance Awards

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Sri Lanka’s most innovative private sector bank HNB PLC, once again consolidated on its reputation for banking excellence at the International Finance Awards 2021, bagging the Best Retail Bank and Best SME Bank awards in the banking category, a news release said last week.

Organized by the prestigious International Finance Magazine as a global platform for the recognition and celebration of the world’s most successful financial institutions, the awards highlight the accomplishments of corporates leading in innovation, infrastructure development and customer-centricity.

As the sector has evolved due to a raft of regulations, technology developments and market reforms, each applicant has been researched by dedicated experts with special consideration directed towards the strength of their applications, performance and past accomplishments, the release said.

“We are delighted to have once again emerged victorious as the Best Retail Bank and the Best SME Bank organized by the prestigious International Financial Magazine. This recognition is a testament to our employees’ hard work and dedication in the SME and Retail sectors, which have evolved continuously despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, to deliver unmatched products and excellent service contributing positively towards the growth of our clients. Moving forward, we pledge to continue enhancing our focus on transformative banking by leveraging the power of technology to provide innovative solutions and processes for all our clients,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

Catering to the needs of over 2.5 million Sri Lankans island-wide, Retail Banking is a flagship segment for HNB. The Bank has been a pioneer in leveraging digital banking products, services and channels to provide customers with convenient, comprehensive and secured options to transact remotely, the release added.

After the onset of the pandemic, HNB rapidly embedded its full suite of digital offerings into the contactless delivery mechanism advocated by the state, kept branches open during curfew periods as per the guidelines issued by the Central Bank and operated our dedicated Omni Channel engagement Centre on a 24*7 basis.

Subsequently, the bank extended substantial relief to clients in Debt Moratoriums and Working Capital loans at concessionary rates. Notably, HNB was also previously adjudged the Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka for the 11th time at the Asian Bankers Awards organised by the prestigious Asian Banker Magazine.

With 254 customer centres and more than 780 devices across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd. The Bank was also ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for five consecutive years. HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020.



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Business

Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets

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Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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