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Huge untapped potential in SL-Viet Nam ties underscored

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Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet (R) conferring with Sri Lankan ambassador to Viet Nam Prof. A. Saj U. Mendis.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Viet Nam in charge of multilateral affairs as well as South-East Asia, East Asia and South Asia, Do Hung Viet, had an expansive bilateral meeting with the ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ha Noi, Prof. A. Saj U. Mendis and a delegation from Sri Lanka at the Head Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was a meeting scheduled between the Deputy Foreign Minister and ambassador in order to schedule a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam to discuss a Work Plan and measures to elevate bilateral relations between the two countries since the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka met with him on the margins of the 3rd Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) in Beijing.

A Sri Lankan embassy in Viet Nam press release said: ‘The aforementioned meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister lasted nearly 40-minutes, during which a number of key and seminal issues were broached and addressed. The Deputy Foreign Minister accentuated and underlined the fact that the two countries have exceeding potential to elevate and deepen the bilateral relations ranging from trade, tourism, economic and commercial activity, culture to investments, which are yet to be unleashed and fructified.

‘During the congenial and highly focused bilateral meeting, Deputy Minister Viet stated that the regional connectivity was significant in the context of ASEAN, IOR, BIMSTEC and NAM, among others. He added it was most timely and opportune to translate and transform the existing traditional and conventional political, diplomatic and commercial relations between Viet Nam and Sri Lanka into robust economic cooperation and collaboration, in all spheres. Deputy Minister further added that the bilateral trade between the two countries still hovers around USD 300 million, whereas the factual potential and capacity would be well over twice this figure.

‘Ambassador Mendis stated that Viet Nam had imported goods and services worth in excess of USD 350 billion in 2022 and if Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and corporates could capture not 1% but only 0.1%, it would translate to USD 350 million worth of Sri Lankan exports to Viet Nam. Whilst both the Minister and envoy agreed of the potential which was yet to be unleashed, Mendis stated that the tourism from Viet Nam to Sri Lanka too was very modest due to the lack of connectivity or any direct flights. Deputy Minister agreed to address this issue as well as he stated that nearly 15 million Vietnamese tourists and travelers have travelled out of the country before the COVID, mostly to ASEAN countries, neighboring countries such as China and Japan and Europe. Envoy Mendis added if Sri Lanka could attract only 0.2% of these Vietnamese travelers of upper-middle income category, it would translate to close to 30,000 Vietnamese travelers travelling to Sri Lanka, thus patently boosting the province of tourism.

‘Deputy Minister was eager as much as the delegation of Sri Lanka to have the 5th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations in the second quarter of 2024 in Colombo as well as the 4th Joint Commission Meeting in the latter part of the year 2024 in Sri Lanka. Deputy Minister emphasized that these meetings and engagement would pave the way for very high level visits between the two countries, thus further strengthening, deepening and aggrandizing the bilateral relations in all realms.

‘Envoy Mendis expressed deep appreciation to the Deputy Minister for the unstinting and unconditional support and allegiance extended to Sri Lanka with regard to Human Rights Council (HRC) since Viet Nam is a member of the HRC. Also, Sri Lanka was elected to the UNESCO Executive Board and expressed gratitude to the delegation of Viet Nam for supporting Sri Lanka. Mendis further stated that Sri Lanka has been, consistently, supporting the positions and elections of Viet Nam given the most affable relations the two countries maintain. On a separate note, both the Deputy Minister and Envoy discussed the eagerness of Sri Lanka to become a member of the 15-member RCEP, which is the largest trading bloc consisting of 34% of global trade. Both the Deputy Minister and envoy recognized the untapped potential of Sri Lanka given its strategic location, human resource base and natural endowments, which were most fitting and felicitous for manufacturing, outsourcing and investments, particularly, ensuring the smooth and efficacious functioning of the regional and global logistic and supply chain.’



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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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