Despite the challenging business environment, the Bank continued its planned “K shaped” recovery strategy by increasing the loan portfolio by LKR 20 billion recording an increase of 10% during the quarter. Nations Trust Bank continued to provide working capital loans under the “Saubhagya” scheme introduced by the government to assist customers across all segments.
Understanding the importance of assisting the adversely impacted businesses for their revival and to rebuild of businesses and livelihoods, the bank contributed over LKR 19 billion new credit facilities under its own revival fund “Nations Diriya” scheme which is dedicated to extending financial support to key industries, enabling such businesses to recommence and rebuild their business operations.
Furthermore, the bank also offered special payment relief schemes and repayment plans for the existing borrowers in addition to the Central Bank mandated moratorium schemes with low interest rates and restructured repayment plans for some of the identified industries and businesses segments.
Nations Trust Bank raised $25 million from IFC during the quarter to support Sri Lankan SME businesses with improved access to critical working capital to continue operations and preserve lives and livelihoods. Over the years, IFC-NTB partnership has helped create a promising future for many small businesses across Sri Lanka, opening new markets and opportunities and creating new vistas.
Essential banking services continued to be provided despite some parts of the country being isolated to mitigate a third wave of COVID-19 post Sinhala and Tamil New Year. During these unprecedented times the investments made on digital platforms have assisted all key stakeholders to stay connected and conduct business while ensuring their safety in carrying out day to day banking activity by having access to the bank at their fingertips. In-person meetings were converted to organization-wide virtual meetings adhering to all safety protocols.
PCR and Antigen tests for identified staff were undertaken by the bank at regular intervals ensuring the safety of staff and customers. Special staff transportation at concessionary rates were arranged during the pandemic for staff to conveniently commute to work as an additional safety measure. The bank ensured all safety protocols are implemented in close consultation with the public health authorities, across the network.
Despite subdued economic conditions due to the pandemic, the group recorded a Profit Before Tax growth of 39% for the 3 months ended 31st March 2021 compared to previous year.
Net Interest Income continued to decline primarily due to the reduction in the market interest rates while interest rate ceilings introduced by the regulator impacted some business portfolios. Yields on loans reduced by 370bps in line with the fall in AWPLR by 350 bps supporting the loan growth and the economic recovery efforts. A reduction in yields in the FIS portfolio, after the profits taken on the high yielding securities, further aggravated the net interest income decline. However, the improvement of CASA ratio to 35% as at end March 2021 from 29% as at end March 2020 helped partially offset the decline in interest margins during the period.
Gains on trading FX increased as a result of FX funding swaps with a higher depreciation of the rupee during the current period in contrast to the depreciation during the same period last year. The bank also benefited with trading profits on its’ fixed income securities portfolio with the fall in market rates.
Suspension or refund of certain charges by the bank, considering the current difficulties faced by customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, negatively impacted the bank’s fee-based income. Cards income declined on account of a decrease in card spend due to changes in customer behavior patterns owing to the restrictions in mobility and overseas travel. A drop in discretionary spend was visible due to these phenomena. However, a positive trend could be seen in Trade Finance related income with the increase in some of the Trade Finance related activities. (NTB)
Hemas Hospitals launches ‘Deewara Diri Savi’ to support fishing community
The donation programme was coordinated with the support of the Rev. Fr. Ajith Kamal, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Palliyawatta, who spearheaded the coordination on behalf of the fishing community in the Palliyawatta, Dikowita and Awarakotuwa areas.
Hemas Hospitals launches the ‘Deewara Diri Savi’ mega donation drive to support and empower the fishing community along the Western Coast of the country, whose livelihoods were gravely impacted by the marine destruction caused by the X-Press Pearl ship disaster.
Under ‘Deewara Diri Savi’, Hemas Hospitals will oversee the donation of complete dry ration packs to 818 families in the Wattala fishing community, who have now lost their sole source of income for survival and is undergoing extreme distress due to the implications caused by COVID-19 pandemic together with the fishing ban imposed due to the X-Press Pearl disaster. Further, Hemas Hospitals Wattala is also offering free OPD consultation services to these families to ensure that their wellbeing and access to healthcare is secure and continued during this period.
“Our mission, values and corporate culture guide our actions as we strive hard to deliver on the promise of making healthful living happen to communities across the nation. ‘Deewara Diri Savi’ was founded upon this ethos as we care for, uplift and empower Sri Lanka’s fishing community struggling to make ends meet due to the mass implications and destruction caused to our marine resources with the X-Press Pearl disaster. As a responsible healthcare leader, we will continue to invest our resources and take swift action in supporting this community who add so much to our economy as they transition through this deeply difficult, critical time,” Hemas Hospitals and Laboratories Managing Director and President, Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Dr. Lakith Peiris stated.
Looming challenges contribute to subdued trading activity at CSE
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Share trading activity at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) was negative yesterday as investors were in a state of uncertainty due to the glaring economic woes of the country. The recent fuel price hike, the worries over possible deprivation of the European Union’s GSP Plus trade facility as well as declining foreign exchange reserves put the local and foreign investors in an indecisive mood, stock market analysts said.
The fuel price hike is likely to increase inflationary pressure especially in the manufacturing sector. This would adversely reflect on manufacturing sector counters in the stock market. Further the sovereign bond repayment amounting to US $ one billion in July 2021 with existing reserves just above US $ four billion could worsen the economic crisis to a great extent, stock market analysts said.
Reportedly the Central Bank has informed the Ministry of Finance that due to the Rs 600 billion in loans to the Petroleum Corporation there is risk to the entire banking system being destabilized and collapsing, In such a context, the banking sector counters did not perform positively yesterday, stock market analysts said. The CPC itself has about Rs 390 billion in accumulated losses.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. All Share Price Index was down by 28.02 points and S&P SL20 down by 11.43 points.Turnover stood at Rs 1.36 billion with a single crossing. The crossing took place in People’s Leasing, which crossed two million shares to the tune of Rs 26 million and its share price traded at Rs 13.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were LOLC Rs 156.8 million (406,000 shares traded), Royal Ceramic Rs 105 million Rs 105 million (2.78 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 104.1 million (4.56 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs 76.1 million (one million shares traded) and Hayleys Fabrics Rs 51.6 million (2.85 million shares traded).
With the fuel price hike, Lanka IOC share price positively reflected in the stock market. Its share appreciated by 12 percent or Rs 2.40. Lanka-IOC share price started trading at Rs 20.60 and at the end of the day it moved up to Rs 23. During the 68.98 million share volumes changed hands in 18263 transactions.
Standard Chartered helps fast-track COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Sri Lanka
Standard Chartered Sri Lanka has successfully financed the import of 4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation by facilitating a trade loan to the Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank, the Bank announced recently.
In efforts to expedite the nation’s vaccination programme during the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Standard Chartered worked closely with the two leading state-owned banks to facilitate prompt and efficient trade financing solutions to help accelerate the invoice processing and payments to purchase the vaccines.
“Across the globe, Standard Chartered has been in the forefront to help local communities to fight the coronavirus pandemic so that the world can look forward to a better tomorrow. When the first wave hit Sri Lanka last year, Standard Chartered made a much-needed donation of USD500,000 to the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to support emergency relief activities island-wide. This trade loan is a continuation of the Bank’s efforts to help the citizens of Sri Lanka overcome the pandemic and is a testament of Standard Chartered’s ‘here for good’ promise,” said Bingumal Thewarathanthri, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Sri Lanka.
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