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ILO ready to work with CBSL to drive economy via MSE power

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) which has conceptualised and introduced a viable Value Chain Financing (VCF) model for the coconut and coir industry in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday that a similar working capital model can be applied to any micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector where buyers have a strong dependencye on producers for supplies.

Ms Simrin Singh, Country Director for ILO in Sri Lanka and the Maldives said, “This means lending for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) appears to be more feasible now which has often remained outside the target of the commercial banks. The ILO is willing to work with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to set guidelines and sound practices for Sri Lanka’s commercial banks to undertake value chain financing in a symbiotic relationship with the country’s MSE sector gaining advantages from each other.”

She made these comments at a virtual session organised by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka amid the prevailing situation in the country and its impacts on MSEs.

Speaking further as to how the ILO approached industry members who were willing to advance credit to their MSE raw-husk processing suppliers with the intention of providing inputs they need to continue their exports, she said:

“ILO has had had a number of years of exposure to the industry though collaboration with the Coconut Substrate Exporters Association of Sri Lanka. Four of Sri Lanka’s largest coir and coconut related product exporters partnered with the ILO to move forward with this initiative.The partnership guaranteed that the ILO would cost share an equal amount of any loan that the company would provide to the MSE supplier as a grant, to be used for improving occupational safety and health and working conditions, machinery acquisition or similar capital investment at the suppliers’ level. Accordingly, both MSEs and buyers would benefit from the resulting improved business conditions and quality of the products. Thus far, the ILO has engaged with 93 raw husk processing suppliers which has resulted in benefits to over 1,000 working people out of which approximately 50% are women.”

“The VCF intervention is part of an ILO-led initiative in Sri Lanka to facilitate the healthy socio-economic recovery of the MSE sector from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vulnerability of this sector should not lead to exploitation and indebtedness at the hands of micro lenders of the informal sector. A significant proportion of MSEs in Sri Lanka struggle to secure working capital through formal channels for a number of reasons, including a lack of credit history or a poor credit rating or an inability to offer collateral. In searching for effective measures to help MSEs re-start or continue their business operations, the ILO introduced value chain financing as an effective and pragmatic approach to providing business owners with access to sufficient working capital.”

“For example, if the small business in question is involved in the apparel value chain, a financial institute would offer credit to the business if a reputed buyer from the apparel industry having commercial transaction with the financial institute vouches for the business. In general, VCF is a tool used to increase returns for all stakeholders and growth and competitiveness along the supply chain. In view of this pragmatic approach, commercial banks of Sri Lanka could look at this lending tool in a more favourable manner as they can rely on a symbiotic relationship with MSEs,” ILO Country Director said.

 

 



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OPPO releases new OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka

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OPPO, the leading global smart device brand, announces the launch of OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka.

A54’s attention to design and great usability is evident in both its exquisite appearance and how it helps to capture great looking shots. This starts with the Material of the Rear Cover, which uses metallic material for its 3D panel, but contributes to a stronger and less bendable structure but also a comfortable in-hand feel. As a result, A54 weighs about 192g and is 8.4mm thin. To align the overall look and feel of the phone, close attention is paid to the Middle Frame Process.

“A Series is designed to enhance or complement our users’ lifestyles and OPPO A54 achieves just this with a phone that manages to balance a high-end performance with contemporary design. Its large 5000mAh battery and 18W Fast Charge makes sure you’re fully powered to get you through your day. With A54, you’ll also have enough storage and memory to make sure that you’ll enjoy your entertainment without the frustrations of an underperforming smartphone,” said Bob Li, CEO, XINDA Lanka (OPPO Sri Lanka).

The Rear Cameras itself feature a 13MP Main Camera, 2MP Macro Camera for close range shots, and 2MP Bokehfor brilliant bokeh shots that blur the background and highlight the subject of the photo. A54 enhances shots in all environments with Dazzle Color, balancing the saturation and brightness. A54 also supports filming videos including SLO-MO at 720P at 90FPS with the rear camera, and up to 10 video Filters including Original, Gentle, Noon, Subtle and more.

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Pan Asia Bank records best-ever Q1 results in challenging times – Profit After Tax soars by 81% to post Rs. 750 mn.

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Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reported the best-ever first quarter financial results during the quarter ended 31st March 2021 to report a Pre-Tax Profit of Rs. 986 Mn and a Post-Tax Profit of Rs. 750 Mn after recording impressive growth rates of 51% and 81% respectively, demonstrating the resilience amidst challenging macro economic conditions. The Bank’s performance was characterised by strength and resilience, despite the heightened uncertainty due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 impact on the Sri Lankan economy, the Bank’s Operating Profits before VAT on Financial Services reached Rs. 1,197 Mn with an increase of 47%, reflecting excellence in core banking performance and the success of cost containment measures evidenced by improvement in all key matrices which now rank among the industry bests. This feat was achieved even after setting aside provisions for probable loan losses amounting to Rs. 638 Mn. The Bank increased the provision buffers for probable deterioration in credit quality through management overlays, experience adjustments and adjustments for the exposures in the elevated risk industries during the quarter. As a result, total impairment charges for the quarter increased by 21% on YoY basis.

The Bank’s Net Interest Income for the period witnessed an increase of 17% due to significant reduction in financial cost of funds at a rate faster than the drop in interest yields of interest bearing assets. Consequently, the Bank’s Net Interest Margin for the quarter improved to 5.07% from 4.41% reported three months ago. In the meantime, the Bank’s Net Fee and Commission Income recorded a growth of 28% with the rebound in demand for credit due to revival of economic activity amidst the low interest rate regime. The volatility in foreign exchange rates enabled the Bank to increase its Foreign Exchange Income substantially as reflected in Other Operating Income.

The Bank is committed to revenue maximisation and cost management despite sector vulnerabilities that prevailed since last year. The Bank’s Cost-to-Income Ratio improved from 45.66% to 38.08% within a three months period owing to the excellence in core banking performance which is reflected in the noteworthy overall growth in key revenue lines and various strategies and measures taken to contain overhead costs. In fact, the Bank managed to bring down its Other Operating Expenses by 9% in 2021 Q1 compared to 2020 Q1. Meanwhile, increased allocations for performance bonuses, development of human capital and staff welfare led to an increase in personnel costs during the reporting period compared to 2020 Q1.

The Bank’s Post-Tax Profits for the reporting quarter also gained to an extent due to application of lower corporate income tax rate of 24% for tax provisioning in accordance with the guideline issued by CA Sri Lanka on 23rd April 2021.

The Bank continues to report solid Key Profitability Indicators which rank among the highest in the industry. The Bank’s Pre-Tax Return on Assets also improved to 2.24% from 1.70%. Further, the Bank reported a stunning Return on Equity (ROE) of 19.27% during the quarter under review which stands among the industry best. The ROE is the most important performance indicator to gauge the attractiveness of the Banking sector and Pan Asia Bank during its last few years has consistently remained an outlier in the industry.

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SLIIT nurtures school children at ‘Soft Skills + 2021’

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The SLIIT Business School (SBS) organised ‘Soft Skills+ 2021’ concluded on an extremely successful note recently helping students engage, cooperate and thrive in building their talents towards personal development and career progression.

SLIIT Soft Skills+ event is an annual flagship CSR Project of the SLIIT Business School organized with the primary objective of developing secondary school students’ soft skills in positive thinking, creativity, analytical thinking, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and teamwork.

Over the years, the programme has garnered much popularity among schools and participants. Due to its tremendous success achieved in previous programmes, Soft Skills+ 2021 followed an upgraded structure. For the first time in the Soft Skills+ programme history, the event was held via online platforms, including a Soft Skills-based online quiz and an online workshop for students and teachers.

During the Grand Finale, Prof. Samantha Thelijjagoda, Dean of SLIIT Business School welcomed the participants and distinguished guests. Prof. Lalith Gamage, Vice Chancellor, SLIIT also addressed the gathering.

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