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‘NSB posts steady results amidst woes’



The performance of the Bank over the year was characterized by strength and resilience. Despite the heightened uncertainty due to the impact of Covid-19 which has triggered a wide range of shocks on the Bank, employees, customers and economy, our continued focus on financial resilience enabled us to remain strong and achieve a solid performance,an NSB press release says.

The release adds – ‘As one of the biggest lenders in the housing market in Sri Lanka, the Bank facilitates the growth in national home ownership, opening a pathway towards economic security and mobility for hundreds of thousands of customers. Beyond contributing to the General Treasury by way of taxes, levies, fees and dividends, and being the second largest holder of government securities, the bank is one of the biggest lenders to the government and is an enthusiastic partner in the government’s long-term infrastructure and socioeconomic development projects.

‘Commenting on the performance, NSB chairperson, Keasila Jayawardena stated “While the figures demonstrate the solid performance of the Bank, a deeper dive into the numbers must consider the context of the year. During the first wave of COVID-19 infection in late March 2020, the banking service was declared an essential service during the Covid-19 and the ensuing lock-downs, all the Bank’s branches across the country were kept open to offer an uninterrupted service to our customers. The Bank also allocated 3 mobile units to provide its customers with service at their doorstep. The government have responded with necessary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Bank also took part in implementing government-led relief measures by providing the Debt moratorium scheme aimed at supporting Covid-19 affected businesses and individuals. Accordingly, the moratorium has been given to 90% of the retail loan portfolio at the concessionary rate of 7.0% and the payments were deferred until the end of the loan period.

‘NSB General Manager / CEO, Ajith Peiris said, “Total asset base of the bank grew by 17.8% to Rs. 1.4 Tn. as at 31 December 2020 from Rs. 1.2 Tn. as at 31 December 2019. The bank recorded its highest ever Profit Before Tax and Profit After Tax in 2020, both of which were aided by the government’s stimulus initiatives introduced in late 2019. Against the backdrop of Covid-19 impact on the economic activities, the bank’s Profit Before Tax was Rs. 15.6 Bn., a 49.5% increase from Rs. 10.5 Bn. in 2019 and the Bank’s Profit After Tax of Rs. 10.1 Bn. recorded a 58.4% increase from Rs. 6.4 Bn. in 2019. A dividend of Rs. 1.0 Bn. was paid for the financial year under review.

‘The bank reported a Gross Income of Rs. 127.5 Bn. for 2020, achieving a growth of 4.6% mainly driven by the 3.2% rise in Interest Income, the largest component, to Rs. 122.5 Bn. as well as Fee and Commission Income which has increased by 114.9% to Rs. 2.7 Bn. compared to last year. The increase in interest income along with decrease in interest expenses resulted in 21.0% surge in Net Interest Income, rising to Rs. 34.9 Bn. in 2020 over 2019. Consequently, Net Interest Margin improved to 2.77% during the year from 2.63% reported a year ago.

‘The bank’s profitability was further enhanced by removal of the Nation Building Tax (NBT) and Debt Repayment Levy (DRL) on financial services and favourable changes to the deposit mix with the savings deposits to total deposits ratio increasing to 22.6% in 2020 from 21.5% in 2019, providing the bank with a source of low-cost funding. The bank successfully improved its cost to income ratio (without taxes) to 39.1% in 2020 from the year 2019 through various cost savings strategies and initiatives. Nevertheless, the highest-ever profit was achieved after making an impairment provision of Rs. 4.9 Bn., a 761.8% increase over 2019 reflected the elevated risk in the loan and advances portfolio and tenuous state of asset quality in the banking sector.’ (NSB)


IMF Executive Board approves US$3 Billion under the Extended Fund Facility arrangement for Sri Lanka



• The IMF Board approved a 48-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility

(EFF) of SDR 2.286 billion (about US$3 billion) to support Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms.

• The objectives of the EFF-supported program are to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, safeguarding financial stability, and stepping up structural reforms to unlock Sri Lanka’s growth potential. All program measures are mindful of the need to protect the most vulnerable and improving governance.

• Close collaboration between Sri Lanka and all its creditors will be critical to expedite a debt treatment that will restore debt sustainability consistent with program parameters.

Washington, DC:

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 48-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with an amount of SDR 2.286 billion (395 percent of quota or about US$3 billion).

Sri Lanka has been hit hard by a catastrophic economic and humanitarian crisis. The economy is facing significant challenges stemming from pre-existing vulnerabilities and policy missteps in the lead up to the crisis, further aggravated by a series of external shocks.

The EFF-supported program aims to restore Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, mitigate the economic impact on the poor and vulnerable, safeguard financial sector stability, and strengthen governance and growth potential. The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement equivalent to SDR 254 million (about US$333 million) and catalyze financial support from other development partners.

Following the Executive Board discussion on Sri Lanka, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, issued the following statement:

“Sri Lanka has been facing tremendous economic and social challenges with a severe recession amid high inflation, depleted reserves, an unsustainable public debt, and heightened financial sector vulnerabilities. Institutions and governance frameworks require deep reforms. For Sri Lanka to overcome the crisis, swift and timely implementation of the EFF-supported program with strong ownership for the reforms is critical.

“Ambitious revenue-based fiscal consolidation is necessary for restoring fiscal and debt sustainability while protecting the poor and vulnerable. In this regard, the momentum of ongoing progressive tax reforms should be maintained, and social safety nets should be strengthened and better targeted to the poor. For the fiscal adjustments to be successful, sustained fiscal institutional reforms on tax administration, public financial and expenditure management, and energy pricing are critical.

“Having obtained specific and credible financing assurances from major official bilateral creditors, it is now important for the authorities and creditors to make swift progress towards restoring debt sustainability consistent with the IMF-supported program. The authorities’ commitments to transparently achieve a debt resolution, consistent with the program parameters and equitable burden sharing among creditors in a timely fashion, are welcome.

“Sri Lanka should stay committed to the multi-pronged disinflation strategy to safeguard the credibility of its inflation targeting regime. As the market regains confidence, the authorities’ recent introduction of greater exchange rate flexibility will help to rebuild the reserve buffer.

“Maintaining a sound and adequately capitalized banking system is important. Implementing a bank recapitalization plan and strengthening financial supervision and crisis management framework are crucial to ensure financial sector stability.

“The ongoing efforts to tackle corruption should continue, including revamping anti-corruption legislation. A more comprehensive anti-corruption reform agenda should be guided by the ongoing IMF governance diagnostic mission that conducts an assessment of Sri Lanka’s anticorruption and governance framework. The authorities should step up growth-enhancing structural reforms with technical assistance support from development partners.”

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SLT and Lanka Hospitals share prices in sharp appreciation following divestment approval



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals PLC were attracting investors yesterday as a disclosure was put out stating that the Cabinet of Ministers had approved the divestment of the stake held by the Secretary to the Treasury in SLT, stock market sources said.

The divestment is to be implemented by the State Owned Enterprises Restructuring Unit under the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies. Following the statement, share prices of both companies appreciated significantly. Sri Lanka Telecom shares appreciated by Rs 10.70 or 13 per cent. Its share price shot up to Rs 95.30 from Rs 84.60 and Lanka Hospitals shares appreciated by Rs 8.50 or eight per cent; its share price shot up to Rs 120 from Rs 111.50.

Amid these developments the CSE started on a positive note. Later it indicated a negative trend following marginal profit- takings and also mainly due to the IMF statement on tax reforms that created a panic situation among the corporate sector and investors, stock market analysts said .

“The market is down and dull, because as expected Sri Lanka got the IMF bailout and now investors are pushing to sell off their shares and attempting to make a profit, stock market analysts added.

The All- Share Price Index was down 95.53 points, while the most liquid S&P SL20 was down 57.82 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.47 billion sans any crossings. In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; SLT Rs 236 million (2.5 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 123 million (17.9 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 119 million (868,000 shares traded), Distilleries Rs 77.3 million (3.6 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs 54.9 million (674,000 shares traded), Softlogic Capital Rs 51.7 million (4.2 million shares traded) and Capital Alliance Rs 47.8 million (1.5 million shares traded). During the day 78.9 million share volumes changed hands in 22000 transactions.

It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Hemas Holdings, Hayleys and JKH. Mixed interest was observed in Access Engineering, Expolanka Holdings and Sri Lanka Telecom, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, LOLC Finance and Union Bank.

The Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to Hemas Holdings, JKH, Hayleys and Access Engineering), while the sector index edged up by 0.08 per cent. The share price of Hemas Holdings decreased by Rs. 2.60 to Rs. 65.40. The share price of JKH moved up by one rupee to Rs. 145. The share price of Hayleys closed flat at Rs. 81. The share price of Access Engineering appreciated by 90 cents (6 per cent) to Rs. 15.90.

The Food, Beverage & Tobacco sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Browns Investments), while the sector index increased by 1.83 per cent. The share price of Browns Investments gained 50 cents (7.81per cent) to Rs. 6.90.

According to analysts, with the IMF agreement being finalized, market analysts expect inflation to get on to a path of deflation, balance of payments to be stabilized and interest rates to be pushed downwards.

Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 316.84 and the selling rate Rs 334.93.

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‘Sew Desatama Dialog’ initiative commissions new tower in Gonapathirawa, Anuradhapura



Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s widest network, recently commissioned the Gonapathirawa tower in the Anuradhapura district, as part of its commitment to expanding connectivity to villages and deep rural communities across the country via its “Sew Desatama Dialog” initiative.

 The commissioning of towers under Sew Desatama Dialog has improved overall connectivity in the country and as a result it facilitates better communication, accessible educational resources while improving the quality of lives in Sri Lanka. In addition to the Gonapathirawa tower, additional towers were also built in Sangattewa and Labunoruwa in the Anuradhapura district along with towers in Habarana Galoya, Habarana Minneriya, and Magulpokuna in the Polonnaruwa district.

Dialog has connected over 180 Grama Niladhari divisions and surpassed 4,700 mobile 4G sites in its network by the end of 2022, the highest ever tower count recorded in Sri Lanka, as a result of its ongoing efforts to expand coverage and support customers during these unprecedented times. Dialog has also achieved 95% 4G Data population coverage, using Green Field towers to rapidly expand its coverage to deep rural communities and Lamp Pole solutions to meet urgent capacity requirements in dense areas.

 Dialog’s dedication to expanding its coverage footprint has been recognized by global network testing leaders, coveting the titles of ‘Best 4G coverage experience’ and ‘Fastest upload and download Speed experience’ from Open Signal.

Representatives of Dialog at the site of the newly commissioned tower under the ‘Sew Desatama Dialog’ initiative in Gonapathirawa, Anuradhapura

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