The Year 2020 proved to be one of unprecedented economic change across the globe and in Sri Lanka, presenting significant challenges in all industries, particularly impacting the banking and financial services sector.
Alongside the government and Central Bank-led economic revival measures mandated industry-wide on account of COVID-19, including credit moratoriums and policy rate reductions, SDB bank maintained a strong focus on digital transformation which helped them overcome the pandemic’s negative impact rapidly. The bank placed equal emphasis on non-performing advances management and streamlining processes to enhance efficiencies.
Identified by the bank as essential parameters in resuscitating the nationally critical SME sector, as it single-handedly accounts for 52% of total GDP, the bank transformed rapidly and went on to record a Profit of LKR 835 Million in 2020, amounting to a massive 229% increase in annual profit from 2019.
Their strong performance was impacted heavily by numerous SDB bank-led initiatives in SME and co-operative development, including the partnership with The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) to provide free, one-on-one expert mentorship and technical knowledge to SMEs through a team of fully-qualified accountants, with SDB performing the key role of funding partner. The bank’s partnerships with MILCO in supporting dairy farmers and DIMO to extend support to agri-farmers through leasing promotions to secure agricultural equipment and machinery, represent programs of equal importance as part of their SME focus.
Active financial support of this nature offered to SMEs in far-flung areas, in addition to strengthening their entrepreneurial efforts plus helping them overcome the economic challenges experienced in 2020, assisted the bank in maintaining a Gross Non-Performing Advances Ratio of 4.54% in 2020, considerably lower than the industry figures for the period. This positive impact on financial performance has helped them maintain their SME-focused initiatives, thereby boosting the national economy considerably.
Govt urged to unlock true potential of Sri Lanka’s Blue Economy
=Take initiatives to reap maximum benefit from our seafood resource
=Fisheries sector can quickly generate employment and export earnings
=Modernizing fisheries sector is a collective responsibility of the government
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Championing the Blue Economy is a relatively easy way out for Sri Lanka to generate employment and export earnings as Sri Lanka can hardly become an industrialized nation, Shiran Fernando, President- Canned Fish Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka. (CFMASL) told the media last week.
“Concerted efforts need to be made to reap long-term benefits of the sustainable use of marine resources to promote economic growth and come out of the current economic crisis. Facilitating extensive fish farming, proper handling/storage, keeping the catch quite fresh for processing would be key in achieving this goal. The whole government should spearhead this endeavor without leaving the task to the Ministry of Fisheries alone. The fisheries ministry is hard put to find funds despite its willingness to help the private sector to take the industry to the next level. There is a role for the government to play in this exercise which the private investors can’t,” he said.
The outspoken entrepreneur said that the fisheries sector is not getting the attention it deserves from the government although the Minister of Fisheries and the Ministry Secretary are passionate about the industry and are supportive of the private sector investors.
“What we say is; it’s the duty of the government to modernize the practices of this industry by helping the fisher folk to completely transform their way of catching fish by enforcing regulations for responsible fishing, guiding them on protecting the marine ecosystem and providing them with modern fishing vessels with refrigeration technology. They still go out to see on old boats and can’t carry enough ice for fish preservation, therefore, a lot of fish is found to be less than perfect and is diverted for making dried fish. The government should invest in and encourage key innovations in fisheries such as modern boats, nets and cooling systems through appropriate financial arrangements or cluster schemes to fully utilize the catch. You may not be able to get everyone on board such projects, so get as many fisher folk as possible to join such schemes and get them to engage in the industry in a sustainable way with a long-term view. As canned fish manufacturers, we have fulfilled the pledge we made a few years ago that we would manufacture enough canned fish to meet the nation’s requirement. Currently 250,000 canned fish are consumed per day in the country. Now 5 factories of our Association produce 300,000 units of canned fish per day exceeding the daily requirement. Although the consumption had dropped in September-October last year, now it has stabilized with prices coming down. We thank the ministry for increasing the Special Commodity levy (SCL) by Rs. 100 on imported canned fish. We don’t ask the government to stop canned fish imports. Let the Sri Lankan consumers eat imported canned fish if they want to pay more. However, when you import the product that can lead to unemployment and underutilization of our seafood resource,” he said.
Fernando insisted on monitoring and regulating of canned fish companies that don’t carry SLS standards to create awareness in consumers and encourage them to buy local canned fish made in compliance with standards.
He said that his company’s (TESS Group of Companies) operations at currently inoperative Oluvil Harbour would begin soon.
“Our operation there will commence with over Rs 20 million spent on refurbishing the cold storage and factory that TESS Group built there long ago. Since this harbor has not been used for 12 years now, the harbor mouth needs re-dredging. If the government intervenes and does the needful, the area will be more viable for commercial fisheries and will create sustainable livelihoods opportunities for people in the area.”
He noted that if the government supports their Association for value added re-exports of canned fish, they can import raw fish and repack it as fillet fish Flounder (used in fish and chip recipes), Salmon fillet, Anchovy fillets etc., and thus supply to the high-end segment of the global market and increase the country’s export earnings.
“Sri Lanka is doing certain things right in the fisheries sector. We are on the right path, but we urge the authorities to pay more attention and adopt strategies to maximize the use of its vast oceanic resources,” he said.
ComBank upgrades Q+ Payment App to introduce ‘Send Money’ fund transfers facility
The Q+ Payment App, another state-of-the-art product of Commercial Bank of Ceylon, which uses a cutting-edge technology, has scaled new heights in technology-enabled convenience with the addition of several new features that enable different methods of fund transfers and flexible payment scheduling options similar to standing orders.
Customers who have linked their Commercial Bank cards to the Q+ Payment App can now send money to another locally-issued Visa and Mastercard Debit, Credit or Prepaid card, to a Commercial Bank or other local bank account or to any Payment Exchange Name (PEN) through any LankaPay-registered mobile number, directly from their registered cards in the App.
Notably, the Card-to-Card funds transfer feature is the first of its kind to be implemented via a payment application in Sri Lanka and is operated via the ‘Visa Direct’ and ‘Mastercard Send’ card-based fund transfer facilities. This user-friendly, two-step fund transfer method can be executed simply by keying in the card number of the recipient and the desired amount, the Bank said. Similarly, the Card-to-Account feature is equally convenient as the sender is require to select the recipient’s bank and then type the account number and amount to conclude the fund transfer. Q+ Payment App has also enabled a favourites tab to store recipient card and account particulars to perform future transactions even more conveniently.
Quickee shines as Online Brand of the Year at SLIM Brand Excellence 2022
Quickee, Sri Lanka’s favourite digital marketplace, was awarded Gold in the Online Brand of the Year category at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2022 held recently. This win is attributable to the way the brand transformed itself through Covid-19 amidst many challenges faced to offer an unmatched online shopping experience alongside its own delivery fulfillment service.
Quickee integrates a range of unparalleled products and services that are usually not offered by any other digital commerce platform in Sri Lanka. It has been able to maintain a strong execution capability of its brand promise, with top delivery speeds even during late evenings and after-hours serving any household across the country. Quickee promises a wide array of products and services with the fastest speed for a Sri Lankan online marketplace that delivers until 3 a.m.
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