By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Sri Lanka will come out stronger with more resilience with an exuberant private sector that can withstand shocks, State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.
“Local investors and the business community have faith in a turnaround of the economy and in Sri Lanka’s fortunes, as the new government has already set these in motion. The government will implement in the future favourable measures and policies,” Cabraal told an investor forum titled, “Twenty 21 and Beyond”, organised by Softlogic Stockbrokers. The event was held at Movenpick Hotel on Tuesday.
Post-COVID-19, Cabraal said, exports have bounced back to near-normal, remittances were back on track and a lower oil bill was compensating for zero earnings from tourism. “I will say the external account today is not as bleak as it looked during COVID-19,” Cabraal said. “We have put and are putting in place the building blocks for high growth, despite challenges. We want the private sector to brace itself for a take-off, rather than losing hope, because there are plenty of positives of late, the state minister said.
Cabraal said the government is confident of high growth in the next five years, despite the challenges.
Cabraal said that between 2015 and 2019, the country suffered stagnant growth, rising unemployment, a dwindling rupee, low reserves with the export sector struggling and market capitalisation halving from $ 25 billion to $ 12.5 billion. “This wasn’t an aberration, but real, and everyone felt it,” he said. “These achievements are things which we couldn’t be proud of, but the resilience of the private sector, which is a hallmark, ensured Sri Lanka survived,” Cabraal said He said the previous government budget showed Rs. 2.2 trillion government revenue, but in reality the actual collection was Rs. 1.8 trillion, reflecting a Rs. 400 billion shortfall. “This was due to the downfall of the economy, and everyone felt it,” he opined.
Cabraal said that following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President in November 2019, the new administration set its sights on key priorities, including stabilising the rupee (which fell from Rs. 131 to the dollar to Rs. 185 between 2015 and 2019), reducing interest rates and taxes etc. This was critical, though Sri Lanka and the rest of the world was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. He said that post-COVID-19, the government had to take difficult steps and make a call whether to default on its sovereign debt, versus curbing forex guzzling jobs and lifestyle-impacting imports. “We opted for the latter, because we wanted to send a positive message to the rest of the world that we are a responsible government.
Union Assurance crowns excellence
Union Assurance PLC held the Annual Awards 2021 to honour its top achievers for their exemplary performance. The ceremony was held at the Monarch Imperial on 8th May 2022, under the theme ‘Crowning Excellence.’ This event, which crowned the champions, was graced by a distinguished leadership team that included Chairman of John Keells Holdings, Krishan Balendra , and Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes.
The awards ceremony recognised the exceptional performance of over 670 award winners, making it the highest number of annual award winners in the Company’s history, a feat driven by a record-breaking performance in 2021. The winners comprised advisors, agency leaders, regional managers, and zonal managers from the island-wide Agency network. The top achievers in the Agency channel (including Best Zone and Best Region) were honoured, while the Ultimate Champion Kalum Jayasinghe was rewarded with a flashy Mercedes-Benz car. Chanaka Appuhamy was also presented with a Mercedes-Benz for his Top of the Table Club achievement.
The CEO of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes lauded the winners for delivering outstanding results. He described their achievements as remarkable since 2021 was full of challenges arising from the pandemic.
Paduma Subasinghe appointed Director Human Resources at Heineken Lanka
Paduma Subasinghe has assumed duties as Director Human Resources of HEINEKEN Lanka Limited. He joins a distinguished panel of Management Team members at HEINEKEN Lanka headed by Managing Director Maud Meijboom-van Wel.
Prior to joining HEINEKEN Lanka, Paduma served as the Director Human Resources in one of the fastest growing export companies in Sri Lanka. His exposure in HR spans across large-scale conglomerates, telecommunication MNCs and consultancy with HR agility being at the core of his forte. Paduma’s versatility befits the transformational journey that HEINEKEN Lanka is on; setting bold ambitions that Challenge the Status Quo with the Courage to Dream and Pioneer whilst Caring for People and Planet to bring forth the joy of true togetherness.
A product of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (PIM), his postgraduate studies were focused on Human Resources, and he is a Senior Certified Professional of the International Public Management Association for HR, USA. Paduma is also a member of Rotary International and plays a pivotal role in community service through his active involvement in the organisation.
Richard Pieris Finance announces resilient performance for FY 2021/22
Richard Pieris Finance Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of the Richard Pieris Group, and the sole financing arm under the renowned Arpico brand, delivered solid financial performance for the Financial Year 2021/22, amidst a challenging economic backdrop. Supported by the Company’s committed workforce and prudent management strategies, Richard Pieris Finance’s profit before taxes (PBT) rose by a notable 283% to Rs. 444 Mn, compared to prior year. The company also saw revenues growing by 16% to Rs.2,441 Mn during the period. The Company’s deposit base and asset base too grew during the year to Rs.9,910 Mn and Rs.17,927 Mn respectively.
Discussing the achievements and milestones of the year, Lohika Fonseka, CEO at Richard Pieris Finance Limited said, “We are pleased to inform all our stakeholders that the management of Richard Pieris Finance Limited has successfully guided the Company through some of the most challenging times our nation has ever faced. We intend continuing this trajectory, building on our achievements. Supported by our digital drive, the company obtained the membership in CEFTS and JustPay during the year to further customer convenience. Also, we have introduced several new products including pawning to expand our portfolio. Furthermore, taking our plans to fruition, we have upgraded three outlets as fully-fledged branches during 2021/22 to provide a better service to our valuable customers. During the year, Richard Pieris Group infused Rs. 280 Mn of equity capital for strengthening the company’s Tier-1 capital base and the company successfully concluded a debt capital infusion of Rs. 1 Bn to improve the Tier-2 capital base, which positioned the company well above its peers in terms of capital adequacy. While maintaining stability and resilience, we look forward to continuing our business expansion as we pivot and position to tackle the challenges ahead, while always focusing on customer convenience.”
Underscoring the stability and strength of Richard Pieris Finance Limited, the Company has been assessed with the coveted AA-(RWN) from Fitch Ratings Lanka Limited, one of Sri Lanka’s premier credit rating agencies. The Company appointed Kithsiri Wanigasekara as the Chairman who is a veteran professional in the financial services industry together with Shantha Wijeweera, Kithsiri Wijeyaratne, Asoka Keppetipola and Kelum Senanayake to guide and support the Corporate Management team, to navigate the present turbulent economic environment skilfully and effectively. The corporate management team of Richard Pieris Finance Limited comprises of financial industry professionals in multiple disciplines including veteran bankers and legal professionals. Operating within a resilient corporate governance structure while maintaining robust internal controls relating to risk management, compliance and further supported by digital transformation, Richard Pieris Finance Limited is confident on maintaining its growth momentum in future.
Richard Pieris Finance Limited provides Sri Lankans with a full-range of financial products and services including fixed deposits, savings, leasing, Islamic finance, business loans, personal loans, pawning, furniture financing and digital finance solutions. The Richard Pieris Group is a diversified business conglomerate with a rich history spanning over 90 years, having its arms spread across multiple sectors including manufacturing, plantations, financial services, exports, FMCG, logistics and retail. Its flagship brand, “Arpico Supercentres” is one of the most powerful local household brands in Sri Lanka for over 50 years, serving the community with a diverse range of products. A melting pot of talent, home to a workforce of over 27,000 people, Richard Pieris and Company PLC is one of the largest employers in Sri Lanka’s private sector.
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