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Notable hike in workers’ remittances

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External sector performance – September 2020

Sri Lanka’s external sector recovered further in September 2020, supported by the continued improvement in the trade deficit, a notable increase in workers’ remittances and the resultant stability in the domestic foreign exchange market.

The trade deficit improved in September 2020, compared to a year earlier, with a more than expected rebound in merchandise exports and a reduction in merchandise imports during the month. In September 2020, workers’ remittances, recorded the highest year-on-year growth since end 2011. In the financial account, the government securities market recorded a marginal foreign investment inflow during the month, while the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded outflows. Net inflows to the domestic foreign exchange market eased the pressure on the exchange rate and enabled the Central Bank to absorb foreign exchange, on a net basis, to build up gross official reserves. Reflecting these developments, the Sri Lankan rupee appreciated during the month of September 2020.

Trade Balance

A deficit of US dollars 525 million was recorded in the trade account in September 2020, which was significantly lower than the deficit of US dollars 757 million recorded in September 2019. The improvement in the trade deficit during the month was due to lower level of imports and higher level of exports in September 2020, compared to September 2019.

The cumulative deficit in the trade account from January to September 2020 narrowed to US dollars 4,337 million from the deficit of US dollars 5,612 million recorded in the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 1.1 per cent in September 2020, compared to September 2019, due to export prices declining at a higher pace than the decline in import prices.

Exhibiting the resilience of the export sector in the midst of the current global market conditions and its V-shaped recovery since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, earnings from merchandise exports in September 2020 increased, both on a year-on-year basis as well as on a month-on-month basis. Merchandise exports of US dollars 1,000 million in September 2020 were higher by 4.8 per cent than the exports of US dollars 954 million in September 2019. This was also 5.6 per cent higher than the exports of US dollars 947 million recorded in August 2020. The increase in exports of most agricultural goods and some industrial product categories, which surpassed the decline in other industrial exports and mineral exports, contributed to the overall increase in exports.

Export earnings from agricultural goods increased by 10.4 per cent in September 2020 on a year-on-year basis, led by coconut exports (both kernel and non-kernel), spices (mainly cinnamon), tea, minor agricultural products (mainly betel leaves) and seafood. Increased earnings from tea exports (3.3 per cent) were supported by higher prices (6.3 per cent), as export volumes declined (2.8 per cent).

 

 



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HNB partners Hayleys Agri for offers on Kubota, Agrotech, Farmtrac agriculture machinery

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(from left) Hayleys Agriculture Sales Manager Sunil Gamini, Hayleys Agriculture General Manager Sumith Herath, Hayleys Agriculture Director Lushan Abesekara, Hayleys Agriculture Director Amjad Rajap and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena with HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Head of Micro Finance Vinodh Fernando, HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama, HNB Head of Leasing Niluka Amarasinghe, HNB Assistant Manager- Leasing Roshan de Silva and HNB Business Development Executive- HNB Leasing Mahesh Ratnayake.
 
HNB PLC, renewed its partnership with leading agricultural machinery and equipment supplier Hayleys Agriculture, to offer customers convenient leasing solutions and attractive benefits for Kubota, Agrotech and Farmtrac range of machinery.
 
 The partnership which offers HNB customers special rates on tractors, transplanters and harvesters was inked at a ceremony held at Hayleys Head Office. HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena graced the ceremony as guests of honor.
 
 “Last year was especially challenging for us all. However, we have continued to work tirelessly to provide our customers with the best possible deals available in the market. As such, we hope that entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry will make use of this offer to strengthen and expand their businesses,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama said.

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Virtusa sponsors first virtual IEEE Sri Lanka robotics workshop

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The Arduino compatible ZUMO 32U4 robot interfaced using ROS during the workshop

Virtusa Corporation (NASDAQ GS: VRTU), a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering, and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, sponsored the first in a series of ‘Workshop’ branded events organized by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) Sri Lanka Section Chapter in partnership with IEEE Sri Lanka Section.
 
 Anchored to an alliance that goes back a number of years, Virtusa and the IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Section Chapter moved away from the traditional ‘Meetup’ to host a full day virtual workshop, offering a unique opportunity for participants to engage with robotics and automation experts on a virtual platform. An introduction to Robot Operating System (ROS) – the workshop explored the fundamentals of ROS including robot theory, perception, navigation and manipulation, followed by hands-on sessions on ROS basics, as well as moving and manipulating robots online.
 
 “Moving away from the physical auditorium set-up to a virtual platform, we were extremely thrilled with the participation we saw during the full-day workshop,” commented Dr. Peshala Jayasekara, Senior Lecturer – Department of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering, University of Moratuwa, lead presenter at the workshop. “Over 120 students, undergraduates, postgraduates, academia and industry stakeholders enthusiastically engaged and invested their day to successfully complete the workshop with an IEEE Technical Sponsorship, one of the highest recognitions in the world.”
 
The significance of robotics and automation largely depends on the broader collaboration between researchers and end-users of various domains – market potential that Virtusa continues to explore. Servicing multiple industries with intelligent engineering automation among a growing solutions portfolio, Virtusa promotes robotics research and application to generate greater impact by developing solutions to end-user driven challenges.
 
 “Robotics, particularly intelligent automation is rapidly changing the new norm of the IT industry,” Misnad Haque, Director – Technology at Virtusa elaborated. “From automated IT quality assurance to autonomous spaceflight, the opportunities to develop and nurture these bots are limitless. Events like this bring together like-minded humans – and perhaps robots too in the future –facilitating innovation through knowledge-sharing as well as experiential platforms that organizations like Virtusa can provide.”
 
 “Our aim is to host an IEEE Sri Lanka Robotics Workshop each year among other events, so that we can work together with expert resource personnel who are on par with global robotics trends and insights,” stated Prof. Chandima Pathirana, chairman of IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Chapter. “With Virtusa’s continued sponsorship and support, we are proud to say that this session delivered on the promised level of exposure and knowledge on robotics, and we look forward to inspiring the growing group of robotics enthusiasts in Sri Lanka.”
 

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Hyundai hands over ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life to John Keells Properties

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Cinnamon Life Engineering Manager Yasindu Wijayawickrama, JKP COO Inoke Perera, HKN Senior Project Manager J.C. Wook, JKP Head of Sales Nadeem Shums, JKP CFO Ravi Wijewantha, JKP CMO Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, JKH Leisure Group President Suresh Rajendra, JKH chairman Krishan Balendra, HKN Project Director T.H Kim, JKH Property Group Sector Head Nayana Mawilmada, JKH Property Group Head of Asset Management Theekshana Jayarathna, HKN Senior Project Manager J.H Kim, HKN Resident Director Seo Seong-Soo
 
 
Cinnamon Life, John Keells Properties’ iconic mixed-development project, is ever closer to redefining Colombo’s skyline with the completion of its plush residential tower ‘The Suites’ at Cinnamon Life and the state-of-the-art office tower, ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life.
 
 With its construction now complete, the 196-unit apartment building and the 30 storey office tower were ceremonially handed over to John Keells Holdings (JKH) chairman Krishan Balendra by T.H. Kim – Project Director of the contractor HKN (a joint venture between Hyundai, Keangnam and Nawaloka).
 
 Speaking at the event, Balendra said the completion of ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life heralds a new beginning for the city of Colombo.
 
 Noting that the apartment buildings and the offices are a key feature in its mammoth integrated development project, the JKH chairman said, once completed, Cinnamon Life will rival anything that the South Asian region has to offer.
 
 “John Keells Holdings first conceptualized Cinnamon Life in 2010. Operating Cinnamon Grand and Cinnamon Lakeside, two large five star hotels, we knew that Colombo didn’t have the facilities to host large regional events. Cinnamon Life with its 800 roomed hotel, multiple banqueting and conferencing spaces and retail space is now positioned to host some of the biggest events in the region, particularly in South Asia,” he said.
 
 “It’s the largest private investment in Sri Lanka to date, and with its completion in the next year, we expect that Cinnamon Life will position Colombo as the leisure, entertainment and retail epicentre of the South Asian region,” he added.
 
 Balendra further added “These are challenging times, not just for us but for the world as a whole. With the right attitude, however, no challenge is insurmountable and as we, together with HKN, have ably demonstrated with the completion of these two towers.”

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