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Sarvodaya laptop micro-loans for disadvantaged rural and suburban kids



Sarvodaya Development Finance, a licensed Finance Company approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, launched “Nena Diriya” Micro Leasing Loan with the aim of uplifting the education of children in suburban and rural parts of Sri Lanka by providing them access to purchase laptops at concessionary rates, a Sarvodaya press release said.

The launch ceremony, attended by Sarvodaya Development Finance Chairman Channa de Silva and CEO Nilantha Jayanetti, was held at the Kamburupitiya Branch recently.

“With the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown imposed islandwide in March, children’s education was significantly disrupted as they were unable to attend school or tuition classes. As a result, a number of schools shifted to conducting classes using online tools. While a minority of the student population living mostly in the urban areas had easy access to computers and laptops for their online education, a majority of the population from suburban and rural areas were left out due to financial difficulties in purchasing laptops,” the release said.

“As a responsible organisation that believes that all segments of society are cared for and given every opportunity to grow, Sarvodaya Development Finance stepped forward to provide these students the means to acquire their own laptop by launching the “Nena Diriya” Micro Leasing Loan. Nena Diriya offers low interest rates and attractive benefits for students of any age group to acquire a laptop for their studies.”

Channa de Silva – Chairman of Sarvodaya Development Finance commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great hardships in Sri Lanka and across the world. One of the most vital aspects for the future of the country is to ensure that children are able to continue their studies without falling behind. The inequalities of society mean that a large majority of the student population do not have access to modern technology such as laptops. Therefore, in order to give them a helping hand, we at Sarvodaya Development Finance stepped forward by launching the ‘Nena Diriya’ Micro Leasing Loan. We are confident that this latest product by the Company will enhance the educational opportunities for thousands of students across all parts of the island.”

Sarvodaya Development Finance is the development finance arm of the Sarvodaya Movement, one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most respected not-for-profit organisations. Sarvodaya is a leading people’s organisation in Sri Lanka with a history of 60 years’ operating in more than 5,000 villages currently in the country.

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SLT and Epic Technology Group launch ‘Helaviru Digital Economic Center’



Sri Lanka Telecom – the national ICT service provider and Epic Technology Group – one of the leading digital technology solution providers in the region, proudly launched the Helaviru Digital Economic Center online platform for the first time in South Asia on the July 31.

Helaviru Agro-produce & Commodities Trading Platform is a cloud-based digital marketplace that facilitates trading activities (buying & selling) of agriculture and farm produce and Commodities among diverse stakeholders on a seamlessly connected supply chain.

The Helaviru platform will create an ecosystem of digitally connected agro-producers (farmers & growers), small scale collectors, wholesalers, retailers, large consumers (super markets, food processing industries, hotels, etc.) and agro-produce exporters, and provide an easy and secure channel to carry out their trading activities. In addition, diverse service providers such as Transport & delivery service providers, fertilizer suppliers, plants & seeds suppliers, auxiliary products and services suppliers, agro-insurance providers, banks and government institutes too will be connected to facilitate the main stakeholders and their commercial transactions on the platform, thus will revolutionize the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka.

SLT as a partner will join Epic to operationalize the Helaviru Digital Economic Center, while facilitating to host the platform in its state of the art SLT iDC ensuring reliability and security backed by professional support. Also, users can experience SMS and e-mail facilities along with IVR facilities and call center support. Through this project, SLT will actively endeavor to realize the national objectives of the government of Sri Lanka in uplifting the livelihood of the agriculture sector stakeholders in Sri Lanka. (SLT)


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CCPI-based inflation increases in July 2020



Headline inflation as measured by the year-on-year (Y-o-Y) change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI, 2013*100)1 increased to 4.2 per cent in July 2020 from 3.9 per cent in June 2020.

This was mainly driven by monthly increase of prices of items in Non-food category along with the statistical effect of the low base prevailed in July 2019. Food inflation (Y-o-Y) increased to 10.9 per cent in July 2020 from 10.0 per cent in June 2020. Further, Non-food inflation

(Y-o-Y) also increased marginally to 1.5 per cent in July 2020 from 1.4 per cent in June 2020.

The change in the CCPI measured on an annual average basis also increased marginally to 4.8 per cent in July 2020 from 4.7 per cent in June 2020.

Monthly change of CCPI recorded at 0.1 per cent was mainly due to net effect of price changes observed in the items of the Non-food category. Meanwhile, prices of items in the Food category also recorded marginal increases in July 2020. The core inflation (Y-o-Y), which reflects the underlying inflation in the economy, increased marginally to 3.2 per cent in July 2020 from 3.1 per cent in June 2020. However, annual average core inflation declined further to its sixteen months low of 4.0 per cent in July 2020 from 4.2 per cent in June 2020.


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SEC introduces framework for Real Estate Investment Trusts



From left to right Rajeeva Bandaranaike CEO CSE, Dr. Harshana Suriyapperuma, Director Corporate Affairs SEC, Chinthaka Mendis DG SEC, Viraj Dayaratne chairman SEC, Dumith Fernando, chairman CSE and Ms. Ayanthi Abeywickrema, Director-Legal and Enforcement SEC


In Sri Lanka, owing to spiraling property prices it is a challenge for average citizens to finance real estate investments. Therefore, a significant proportion of the population of Sri Lanka is unable to benefit from the value appreciation of property and infrastructure development.

The issue can be resolved by introducing a mechanism where capital is pooled by people who are willing to invest in prime commercial and residential property and they will benefit from property related income and value appreciation in the long term. Such pooled funds could be used to acquire prime residential and commercial property and income and wealth derived from such property is then shared with the unit holders of the fund.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have been available for some time and are developing rapidly in Asia and are popular particularly in Thailand, Malaysia and India. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) along with the other stakeholders have been contemplating the introduction of REITs framework in Sri Lanka for quite some time although no finality had been reached. The SEC has now facilitated the introduction of a REIT framework and the proposed initiative provides real estate developers and owners to convert fully completed properties into a REIT which will provide an avenue for the general public of Sri Lanka to make an investment and thereby benefit from any property value increases. Corporate Bonds were introduced to the capital market in Sri Lanka in 1997 and it is approximately, after 23 years that a new product by way of REITs is being introduced.

The Sri Lankan REITs structure has considered the local environment in which it is expected to operate and the SEC has brought in a regulatory framework that is best suited to our market. The rules that have been introduced by the SEC will be an extension of the current Unit Trust Code and the new rules, which came into effect from July 31 is in the form of a Gazette Notification published by the SEC. These rules which are comprehensive, will govern the setting up of and the conduct of a Sri Lankan REIT. Specific provisions have been included for the verification of title and valuation of property that will form part of the assets of the REIT.

Among the requirements is the mandatory distribution of approximately 90% of income to the unit holders, which is currently not a requirement for any of the listed entities. Further, due to the availability of the tax pass through mechanism to Unit Trusts, REITs also could benefit to be a viable business concept to Sri Lanka that will open new horizons for entrepreneurs to take the real estate industry to greater heights.

This property backed alternative platform offers unique benefits to the investing public and to the nation as a whole.

Benefits to investors include:

* High dividend – since requirement to pay at least 90% of their income as a dividend

*Relatively stable income stream due to long leases

* Investor protection ensured since regulated by SEC

* Swift entry and exit opportunities

* Opportunity for portfolio diversification

* Professional investment management at a relatively low transaction and management cost

* An effective hedge against inflation due to real estate asset backing

Benefits to the country include:

* Optimize land usage due to vertical high-rise building complexes and mixed developments

* A catalyst for foreign investment

* liquidity added to market through listing

* Improved investor confidence through increased transparency created through the disclosure requirements

* Increased tax revenue

*Facilitation of planned urbanization with controlled congestion

* Environmental benefits

* Employment creation

* Contribution to the country’s capital formation

* GDP growth

* Optimize capital allocation

Many real estate owners/developers can immediately benefit from the Unit Trust based REITs framework, which is now enabled under the capital market framework of the SEC. In order to promote transparency and to distribute ownership among people of Sri Lanka, REITs are only allowed as listed REITs on the Colombo Stock Exchange. (SEC)


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