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SMEs and entities serving domestic and foreign markets worst hit in COVID-19 crisis

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By Lynn Ockersz

SMEs and businesses serving domestic and foreign markets were the worst-hit sectors at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey titled ‘An Initial Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Employers’, carried out by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) reveals.

‘While the hospitality and food service sector recorded the highest economic losses in terms of revenue, foreign exchange earnings and investment, exporters employing more than 250 employees lost all their earnings, the survey report goes on to disclose. Commenting on the latter finding, the assessment states that, ‘Since large scale companies account for about 95% of total export earnings, the impact on the balance of trade will be devastating.’

The survey report was presented to the media on July 30 at the EFC auditorium, Rajagiriya by a panel of experts headed by Director General EFC Kanishka Weerasinghe. The survey period was April-May 2020 and covered 100 firms, employing 125,000+ employees. Highlights of the report were presented by Advisor HR & Coordinator Research of the EFC Dinesh Ruwan Kumara. The EFC intends using the study findings to ‘inform policy makers about the interventions necessary to help companies to manage the crisis and grow out of it.’

In his opening remarks EFC DG Weerasinghe said, among other things, that the pandemic was ‘like shifting sands’ and that the world needs to ‘prepare for future pandemic waves’ and their aftermath. He added that the adverse fallout from the crisis on local companies was contained by the EFC-formulated Tripartite Agreement on Wages. The latter ensured that local livelihoods were retained and helped guard against ‘mass unemployment’. The EFC has submitted a 10 point policy to the government on issues growing out of the pandemic and their containment.

Some other crucial findings of the survey are:

* More than half of all responding companies were faced with serious cash flow problems in meeting day-to-day expenses. The cash flow of about 18% of the companies was sufficient only for one month while another 39% stated that they could survive for about three months.

* Subjective estimates of job losses by responding companies averaged at 7% and 9% for executive and non-executive staff respectively, across the sample. The highest job losses among non-executive staff were reported in the finance and insurance and manufacturing (15%) subsectors, followed by hospitality and food services (11%), agriculture (6%), and wholesale and retail trade (5%). Among executive staff, the highest job losses were reported in manufacturing(10%), finance and insurance (8.3%) and information and communication (7.5%).

*All responding companies identified workforce protection to be the most important coping strategy at organizational level, while Work from Home(WfH) was the second most important measure, particularly in sub-sectors dominated by office-type occupations in the service sector.

* Labour market-related policies were identified by respondents as the most important area that the government needs to address. Sri Lanka’s existing labour laws do not provide for pandemic-like situations, leaving a huge gap in institutional mechanisms to manage crises of this kind.

* Among monetary and fiscal policy remedial measures, employers suggested the reduction of interest rates, extension of debt moratoria and granting credit and other financial support for firms to re-start operations.

 



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Daraz donates Rs. 2 million to ITUKAMA COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund

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Daraz showcased their perseverance in combatting the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through their donation of Rs. 2 Million and the supply of PPE kits to the ITUKAMA COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund.

The donation was handed over to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha at the Temple Trees on 19th July 2021, in the presence of the Minister of Youth and Sports, and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development, Namal Rajapakse and State Minister of Provincial Council and Local Government, Minister Roshan Ranasinghe. Representing Daraz Sri Lanka were Managing Director, Rakhil Fernando, Chief Operations Officer, Darshika Attanayake and the Head of Administration, and Procurement, Malith Ranadewa.

The ITUKAMA project is a fund raising initiative for the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund established by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to support the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19. Initially established with a donation of Rs 100 million from the President’s Fund, the fund aims at securing the safety of those in the health sector and other essential service providers while facilitating the aid of those made vulnerable by COVID-19. It simultaneously supports the improvement of Sri Lanka’s long term vigilance and preparation for future health emergencies.

Daraz has played an active role in supporting the community through a series of CSR initiatives spearheaded under Daraz Cares, since the onset of the pandemic and will continue to do so by aiding the government of Sri Lanka.

(Daraz)

 

 

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Ceylinco Life opens latest Green branch on company land in Piliyandala

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(Above, from left) Ceylinco Life Chairman R. Renganathan, Managing Director Thushara Ranasinghe and directors Messrs Devaan Cooray, Palitha Jayawardena and Ranga Abeynayake at the opening of the company’s new Piliyandala branch.

 

Ceylinco Life has placed another Green pin on its branch map with the opening of its latest eco-friendly branch in Piliyandala in a purpose-designed building constructed to the environment-friendly specifications adopted for all new branches on company-owned land.

Intended to reduce the Company’s carbon footprint while improving the customer and employee experience, the latest branch is located at No. 192, Horana Road, Piliyandala, on three floors that provide 5,683 square feet of space.

An investment of Rs 54 million, the Piliyandala branch completed in 11 months is designed for optimal use of natural light, is powered entirely by a 20kW solar power system that results in zero consumption of electricity from the national grid, and has its own waste-water recycling system. It is also equipped with the latest energy-efficient artificial lighting and air conditioning systems, has a rainwater harvesting facility and uses minimum amounts of pipe-borne water.

While the construction was designed to require minimum quantities of timber, trees planted in the premises upon completion of the building, further contribute to the Company’s Green agenda.

The building will function as an office for the Ceylinco Life branches in the Piliyandala area. With ample dedicated parking bays for visitors, it is designed to enhance customer convenience. In the same vein, the branch features private discussion rooms to ensure customer privacy within the premises and to deliver specialised customer handling processes by a team of well-trained and experienced employees, the Company said.

A cash deposit machine is deployed at the branch to enable deposits of policy premiums even during non-office hours and on holidays.

Ceylinco Life has been protecting the lives of the residents of Piliyandala and its suburbs via a dedicated branch since 1992. The newest branch is the seventh in the Colombo district to operate in a Ceylinco Life owned building and is the 43rd building owned by the company.

Ceylinco Life is in the process of constructing another Green building for its branch in Ja-Ela. The Company currently owns the buildings housing its offices in Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Kandy, Kalutara, Kurunegala, Gampaha, Galle, Matara, Tissamaharama, Negombo, Ratnapura, Kotahena, Mount Lavinia, and Wellawatte, many of which have already been converted to solar energy. New branch buildings purpose-built to the company’s sustainable energy model are those at Horana, Panadura, Wennappuwa, Bandarawela, Chilaw, Kadawatha, Jaffna, Malabe, Divulapitiya, Negombo, and now Piliyandala.

Ceylinco Life operates the largest network of 272 branches in Sri Lanka’s life insurance industry, giving it a physical presence in 142 cities, towns, and villages in every one of the island’s 25 districts.

Ranked the ‘Most Valuable Life Insurance Brand’ in Sri Lanka by Brand Finance and voted the ‘Peoples Life Insurance Service Provider of the Year’ for a record 15th consecutive year in 2021, Ceylinco Life has been Sri Lanka’s leading life insurer for more than half of the 33 years it has been in existence. In 2020, the Company was certified as a ‘Great Workplace’ in Sri Lanka by Great Place to Work®, was named the ‘Best Life Insurer in Sri Lanka’ for the seventh consecutive year by World Finance, and accorded an ‘Honourable Mention’ as one of the ‘Most Admired Companies in Sri Lanka’ by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK.

Ceylinco Life has close to a million lives covered by active policies and is acknowledged as a benchmark in the local insurance sector for innovation, product research and development, customer service, professional development, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.

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IRD and SLPA payments via Pan Asia internet banking

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Aligned to its strategy to extend the highest convenience and superior customer experience, Pan Asia Bank is the first bank in Sri Lanka to integrate with the LankaPay Online Payment Platform Common Interface, through which its customers can make payments to the Inland Revenue Department and Sri Lanka Ports Authority via Pan Asia Internet Banking.  

Customers wishing to pay taxes will no longer need to go through the hassle of depositing cheques for tax payments by visiting other bank branches. Instead, by simply logging into the Pan Asia Internet banking facility, they can now make their tax payments at a nominal and fixed transactional fee of Rs. 50/- irrespective of the value of the tax payment. The system supports tax payments up to Rs. 10 billion in value via a single transaction. This innovation offers a convenient, cost-effective and efficient option for taxpayers. 

Facilitated via LankaPay Common Electronic Fund Transfer Switch (CEFTS), these payments will be credited real-time 24X7 x 365. The system provides its participants with the required payment confirmation details on a real-time basis.

LankaClear launched LankaPay Online Payment Platform in 2017 under the direction of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, with the objective of digitally empowering government agencies by enabling large value transactions to be accepted via digital means.

Pan Asia Bank has been on digital transformation journey and this digital enhancement further strengthens its position as The Truly Sri Lankan Bank that puts customer convenience at the heart of its operations.

 

(Pan Asia Bank)

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