The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) and Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), a leading think tank in India, conducted a webinar with virtual participation of several experts from both countries on the themes ‘Regional and Geopolitical Environment’ and ‘Indo-Lanka Trade & Economic Relations’.
The two delegations were headed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation and Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director-Vivekananda International Foundation. Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Sanjay Chadha, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India addressed the subject of Indo-Lanka trade and economic relations, whilst Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage, Secretary-Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Anil Wadhwa, former Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs of India provided their personal perspectives on regional geopolitics.
During the session on trade and economic relations, given the dynamics of geopolitics in the Indian Ocean Region, the need for a rules-based framework following the principle of non-reciprocity in the interest of a smaller economies within an asymmetric system was brought forth. Increasing people-to-people contacts taking advantage of the island’s close proximity to South India and the number of favourable factors existing to build a good foundation for trade between the two countries was stressed on. The Indo Lanka Free Trade Agreement of 2000 was also discussed with its unrealized potential as well as impediments. Export, investment, training and technology transfer, creation of special economic zones, improvement in connectivity and logistics and electrical grid connectivity were pointed out as areas to focus on for enhancing economic relations between the two nations. It was noted that Indian investment in the island has increased considerably during the past few years, whilst Sri Lankan businesses too have begun operations in India. The Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA) that seeks to add to the existing free trade agreement between the two nations was noted as a positive venture for both parties after necessary refinement. The discussion that followed brought out concerns related to public mistrust of the free trade agreements in general and how to overcome this issue by increasing transparency. The fisheries issue in the Palk Strait area that adversely affect bilateral relations and economic interests of the island was considered as an issue that need to be resolved through determined action and negotiation.
The session on the regional geopolitical environment focused on how the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new world order where Sri Lanka, although a smaller nation, has been successful is meeting challenges. In an environment where the role of international organizations such as the WHO are questioned, two new specific areas have emerged – food security and medical security. In this respect, attention was drawn to the fact that India gifted large quantities of medical supplies, which has led to a novel phenomenon of ‘health diplomacy’. The Sri Lankan public’s tendency to mistrust its larger neighbour was considered as the principal obstacle to improving relations between the neighbouring countries.
The mistrust coupled with prevailing ignorance of each other has prevented better understanding between the populations of the two countries. The meeting also focused its attention on the importance of the Indian Ocean for global economic wellbeing and discussed aspects relating to militarization of the Indian Ocean.
Union Assurance crowns excellence
Union Assurance PLC held the Annual Awards 2021 to honour its top achievers for their exemplary performance. The ceremony was held at the Monarch Imperial on 8th May 2022, under the theme ‘Crowning Excellence.’ This event, which crowned the champions, was graced by a distinguished leadership team that included Chairman of John Keells Holdings, Krishan Balendra , and Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes.
The awards ceremony recognised the exceptional performance of over 670 award winners, making it the highest number of annual award winners in the Company’s history, a feat driven by a record-breaking performance in 2021. The winners comprised advisors, agency leaders, regional managers, and zonal managers from the island-wide Agency network. The top achievers in the Agency channel (including Best Zone and Best Region) were honoured, while the Ultimate Champion Kalum Jayasinghe was rewarded with a flashy Mercedes-Benz car. Chanaka Appuhamy was also presented with a Mercedes-Benz for his Top of the Table Club achievement.
The CEO of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes lauded the winners for delivering outstanding results. He described their achievements as remarkable since 2021 was full of challenges arising from the pandemic.
Paduma Subasinghe appointed Director Human Resources at Heineken Lanka
Paduma Subasinghe has assumed duties as Director Human Resources of HEINEKEN Lanka Limited. He joins a distinguished panel of Management Team members at HEINEKEN Lanka headed by Managing Director Maud Meijboom-van Wel.
Prior to joining HEINEKEN Lanka, Paduma served as the Director Human Resources in one of the fastest growing export companies in Sri Lanka. His exposure in HR spans across large-scale conglomerates, telecommunication MNCs and consultancy with HR agility being at the core of his forte. Paduma’s versatility befits the transformational journey that HEINEKEN Lanka is on; setting bold ambitions that Challenge the Status Quo with the Courage to Dream and Pioneer whilst Caring for People and Planet to bring forth the joy of true togetherness.
A product of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (PIM), his postgraduate studies were focused on Human Resources, and he is a Senior Certified Professional of the International Public Management Association for HR, USA. Paduma is also a member of Rotary International and plays a pivotal role in community service through his active involvement in the organisation.
Richard Pieris Finance announces resilient performance for FY 2021/22
Richard Pieris Finance Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of the Richard Pieris Group, and the sole financing arm under the renowned Arpico brand, delivered solid financial performance for the Financial Year 2021/22, amidst a challenging economic backdrop. Supported by the Company’s committed workforce and prudent management strategies, Richard Pieris Finance’s profit before taxes (PBT) rose by a notable 283% to Rs. 444 Mn, compared to prior year. The company also saw revenues growing by 16% to Rs.2,441 Mn during the period. The Company’s deposit base and asset base too grew during the year to Rs.9,910 Mn and Rs.17,927 Mn respectively.
Discussing the achievements and milestones of the year, Lohika Fonseka, CEO at Richard Pieris Finance Limited said, “We are pleased to inform all our stakeholders that the management of Richard Pieris Finance Limited has successfully guided the Company through some of the most challenging times our nation has ever faced. We intend continuing this trajectory, building on our achievements. Supported by our digital drive, the company obtained the membership in CEFTS and JustPay during the year to further customer convenience. Also, we have introduced several new products including pawning to expand our portfolio. Furthermore, taking our plans to fruition, we have upgraded three outlets as fully-fledged branches during 2021/22 to provide a better service to our valuable customers. During the year, Richard Pieris Group infused Rs. 280 Mn of equity capital for strengthening the company’s Tier-1 capital base and the company successfully concluded a debt capital infusion of Rs. 1 Bn to improve the Tier-2 capital base, which positioned the company well above its peers in terms of capital adequacy. While maintaining stability and resilience, we look forward to continuing our business expansion as we pivot and position to tackle the challenges ahead, while always focusing on customer convenience.”
Underscoring the stability and strength of Richard Pieris Finance Limited, the Company has been assessed with the coveted AA-(RWN) from Fitch Ratings Lanka Limited, one of Sri Lanka’s premier credit rating agencies. The Company appointed Kithsiri Wanigasekara as the Chairman who is a veteran professional in the financial services industry together with Shantha Wijeweera, Kithsiri Wijeyaratne, Asoka Keppetipola and Kelum Senanayake to guide and support the Corporate Management team, to navigate the present turbulent economic environment skilfully and effectively. The corporate management team of Richard Pieris Finance Limited comprises of financial industry professionals in multiple disciplines including veteran bankers and legal professionals. Operating within a resilient corporate governance structure while maintaining robust internal controls relating to risk management, compliance and further supported by digital transformation, Richard Pieris Finance Limited is confident on maintaining its growth momentum in future.
Richard Pieris Finance Limited provides Sri Lankans with a full-range of financial products and services including fixed deposits, savings, leasing, Islamic finance, business loans, personal loans, pawning, furniture financing and digital finance solutions. The Richard Pieris Group is a diversified business conglomerate with a rich history spanning over 90 years, having its arms spread across multiple sectors including manufacturing, plantations, financial services, exports, FMCG, logistics and retail. Its flagship brand, “Arpico Supercentres” is one of the most powerful local household brands in Sri Lanka for over 50 years, serving the community with a diverse range of products. A melting pot of talent, home to a workforce of over 27,000 people, Richard Pieris and Company PLC is one of the largest employers in Sri Lanka’s private sector.
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