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Retailers concerned about future of their sector

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Members of the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA) continue to raise growing concerns about the plight of the local economy and the impacts of the current economic conditions on the retail industry. They addressed their concerns and questions to a panel of experts at the recently concluded SLRA Members’ Forum. The SLRA Members’ Forum is an exclusive networking forum designed to bring together leaders in the retail industry with stakeholders in both private and public sectors of retail in Sri Lanka.

The event was organized by the Executive Committee of the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association, and attended by Chief Guest Dr. Roshan Perera, an Economist, Public Policy Specialist and Senior Research Fellow at the Advocata Institute, and Guest of Honor Mr. Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Murali Prakash, President of the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association, addressed the attendees on the SLRA’s strategies implemented to create a better understanding of the retail sector, its challenges, and the necessity for special support among the authorities. “We at SLRA strive to keep member interest at the forefront. Our strategy was to engage the authorities on multiple levels, to bring about an understanding of retail trade, thereby enacting retail-friendly action. While we’ve had some success on the way, given the current externalities and issues faced by the sector, we would collectively and individually continue to push for a greater understanding of the sector with policymakers. Retail is an ecosystem that spreads throughout the length and breadth of the country cutting across social strata and should be preserved for the greater good of the nation and its future”, he said.

Chief Guest Dr. Roshan Perera then addressed the audience about the economic challenges brought about by the prevailing economic crisis in Sri Lanka and how best to navigate through them. She highlighted the features of the crisis such as high inflation rates, unsustainable fiscal deficits, external sector pressures and more, which need to be immediately addressed in order to stabilize the economy. Dr. Perera also highlighted the path of economic recovery that the government has put forward and the targets they have set in the medium term.

“Over the past year, we have seen an unprecedented level of inflation. This is due to monetary supply, domestic shock due to agriculture, external shocks such as the depreciation of the currency, the war in Ukraine which impacted food and energy prices, tax increases and more. However, it is forecasted that the inflation rate will gradually reduce in the near and thus it was announced that the current level of inflation is to be maintained. Such has to be deemed a priority, as any gains from economic growth will dissipate due to the high living costs”, she said.

Mr. Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, also addressed many of the key issues brought about by the prevailing economic conditions, such as the increase in tariffs, tax changes and more. “The pandemic shed a spotlight on many countries like Sri Lanka who have had fiscal and current account deficits and are currently enduring similar economic struggles. It is important that we endure and overcome the current crisis for the betterment of the country. We have pushed reforms such as State-Owned Enterprise Reform, Land or Labor Reform and more. We need to hold our policymakers accountable for the process so that these reforms are taken forward”, he stated.



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges

Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.

The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.

The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.

Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.

The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.

Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.

As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.

Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.

Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.

To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.

The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.

Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to tharakam@ips.lk on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.

HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.

OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.

BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.

Important Dates

30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals

01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists

23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner

Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/

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