The Central Bank of Sri Lanka released its report on “Recent Economic Developments: Highlights of 2020 and Prospects for 2021”. The Report can be downloaded from the website of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in all three languages. In addition to the regular update on economic developments, the report also presents an update to the medium term macroeconomic projections published by the Central Bank in April 2020, taking into account the information available up to mid-October 2020.
The publication of the report this year comes at a crucial juncture as the economy continues to navigate through multipronged socio-economic challenges and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, the Sri Lankan economy, experienced below potential growth in recent years, encountered renewed challenges amidst the outbreak of COVID-19. Reflecting the combined effects of the spread of COVID-19 locally and the introduction of lockdown measures, the slowdown in global economic activity, and the adverse weather conditions in the country, the economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, year-on-year, as per the provisional estimates of the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS). GDP estimates for the second quarter have not yet been released by the DCS citing difficulties in capturing the true nature of disruptions and new activities as well as novel ways of working that emerged this year with the onset of the pandemic. Nevertheless, high frequency data point towards a strong recovery in many areas of economic activity in more recent months prior to the resurgence of COVID-19 infections and resultant containment measures in October 2020.
The recovery of activity was facilitated by the concerted efforts of the government and the Central Bank. Relief measures and large scale policy stimuli were introduced to help businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic. The Central Bank initiated a series of monetary easing measures, including multiple reductions of the policy rates and the Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR), thereby injecting ample liquidity into the market and lowering borrowing costs significantly, given the unprecedented circumstances caused by the pandemic.
The adverse effects of the pandemic also prompted the introduction of concessional credit schemes to fulfil the needs of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), alongside debt moratoria for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic. Responding to these measures, credit to the private sector showed a significant improvement in August and September 2020, reversing the slowdown observed in previous months.
HNB joins CBSL to promote ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign in Kandy
HNB PLC once again joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to promote the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign to raise awareness and encourage the public in the Kandy district towards a cashless payment ecosystem.
HNB, together with other financial institutions and telecommunication partners, participated in the day-long event held at the Kandy City Center. The bank raised awareness regarding its LANKAQR integrated HNB SOLO payment app while onboarding merchants during the promotional campaign.
“During the early stages of the pandemic we witnessed many of our customers and members of the public seamlessly adopt our cashless and contactless payment app HNB SOLO. With COVID and the subsequent launch of the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign the number of users of these types of systems have increased exponentially.
“Given that the mutual vision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and HNB is for a financially and technologically empowered Sri Lanka, HNB is proud to serve as an enthusiastic partner to roll out LANKAQR island-wide. The fact that we now have merchants in the cultural capital of Sri Lanka making this shift is another major milestone in this digitalization journey,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.
ComBank’s ATM network sets new records for cash dispensed during festive season
The automated teller machine (ATM) network of Commercial Bank of Ceylon dispensed a record Rs 8.818 billion on 9th and 10th April 2021, shattering the previous records for the highest and second highest cash disbursements for a 24-hour period, as Sri Lanka’s leading private bank facilitated the celebration of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The disbursements of Rs 4.498 billion on April 9 and Rs 4.320 billion on the following day represented a substantial increase over the single-day values recorded in previous years.
In total, Commercial Bank dispensed Rs 41.748 billion via its ATM network between 1st and 15th April 2021 at an average of Rs 2.783 billion per day, reaffirming the indispensable role it plays in the lives of Sri Lankans, as well as the reliability and robustness of the network. On seven of these 15 days the network dispensed more than Rs 2 billion a day, and on five days disbursements exceeded Rs 3 billion a day, the Bank said.
Comprising of 890 ATMs, the network processed 2.434 million transactions over the 15 days at an average of 168,988 transactions a day, while on 9th April, the number of transactions processed totalled 233,990 at an average of 9,749 transactions per hour or 162 transactions per minute.
The first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 10 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches in Sri Lanka. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
‘Ceylinco VIP Cyber Tharu’ to showcase Sri Lankan talent
Ceylinco General Insurance has announced an online competition with a novel concept to showcase Sri Lankan talent by providing a platform for them with the opportunity to win handsome cash prizes.
“This time, our effort is to organize an online competition that provides an opportunity for Sri Lankan people to display their talent and also to identify hidden talents whilst rewarding them. There will be five overall winners whose prize money will be over Rs. 1 million and each category winner will get Rs 100,000/-. Ten randomly picked voters too will receive handsome cash awards,” said Patrick Alwis, chairman CEO of Ceylinco General Insurance.
The guidelines and the criteria of the competition were announced recently through a dedicated website and other social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, twitter, You Tube as well as LinkedIn. Contestants can perform under five categories, namely, singing, dancing, instrumental performances, fashion modelling and funny videos / Standup comedy. Individuals over 18 years could perform under the individual category whilst the group category will have no age limit.
Under the group category either families or a group of friends could take part. Each entry will have to be specially recorded for this competition. Prior to recording the performance, they should download the image of the logo and have it displayed prominently in the background. Performances could be recorded using a smart phone or a video cam.
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