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Strategic help from Germany for Sri Lankan exporters to win more European buyers

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF Sri Lanka) recently launched a timely initiative in Sri Lanka named ‘Sustainable supply chains as driver for global competitiveness’.This initiative will help Sri Lankan companies to have broader and easier market access to the EU by adhering to EU’s strictly documented compliance with certain sustainability standards related to social and environmental aspects.

The programme is designed to raise awareness of Sri Lankan exporters on the need for sustainability related documentation in order to increase global competitiveness of Sri Lankan products and services to gain broader market access to not only the EU but to the US market as well.The initiative will comprise a series of training sessions, assessments and certification especially targeting the sectors of apparel/textile, rubber, and food/agriculture.

The Consultancy of former Human Rights Commissioner of the German government Markus Loening will train representatives of the Sri Lankan companies on how to comply with global and EU related sustainability standards. In fact, many Sri Lankan companies already comply with these standards but are unaware of the requirement of formal documentation.

MAS Holdings COO Shirendra Lawrence, the keynote speaker of the event explained how absolute compliance with sustainability standards helped MAS become the largest apparel company in South Asia as well as a global leader.Ambassador Denis Chaibi- Head of EU Mission to Sri Lanka and the Maldives speaking at the event underlined the importance of the ongoing regulation process on sustainability standards in the EU and its member countries. He said that Sri Lankan exporters can export a wide range of products to the EU duty-free under the EU’s GSP+ trade facility, subject to its human rights, environment, labour, social and other stipulated standards.German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenroether said, “Through this programme, we want to support Sri Lankan exporters to obtain broader market access to EU. Today sustainability standards are a top priority in the minds of the consumers in the EU countries. Maybe they are partially politically driven, but they are also more and more customer and industry driven. Besides the existing official legally binding standards, European importers require more and more consumer driven standards like Fairtrade, Compliance +, Good Manufacturing Practices, etc.”Hubertus von Welck, Head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation Sri Lanka emphasised the need to restart the economy and overcome the adverse impacts of the pandemic.

“For this we will support Sri Lanka. We will support your export-driven entrepreneurship to strengthen their compliance standards set out in the ‘UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. This will help Sri Lankan products and services to be well- accepted in the markets of advanced economies and thereby increase Sri Lanka’s export earnings,” he said.

 

 



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Nations Trust Bank records steady performance in 1st half 2022 amidst challenging market conditions

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Nations Trust Bank PLC recorded steady performance at the end of 1H2022, achieving Operating Income of LKR 16.6Bn at a year-on-year growth rate of 50%. Despite increased impairments on loans and expected losses on Sovereign Debt Instruments, the Bank recorded a PBT of LKR 4.6Bn and a PAT of LKR 2.7Bn for the 6 months ending 30 June 2022.

Commenting on 1H2022 results, Hemantha D Gunetilleke, Director & Chief Executive Officer, stated, “Considering the challenging economic environment, our primary objective was to ensure we provide uninterrupted banking and service excellence to our customers across our Branch network. Our advanced digital banking solutions have proved to be extremely useful in our customer reach with digital transactions reaching 89% of all banking transactions.”

During 1H22, the Bank has also focussed on identifying and managing emerging risks while delivering its strategic objectives set out for the year. Nations Trust Bank also strengthened the deposit franchise to ensure the Bank remained highly liquid in terms of both LKR and Foreign Currency. The 1H22 results demonstrate a steady financial performance, sound credit quality and strong Capital Adequacy Ratios of Tier I Capital at 12.24% and Total Capital Adequacy at 14.58%, well above regulatory requirements.

Taking the external economic environment into consideration, Nations Trust Bank has increased impairment provisions on loans, advances and Sovereign Debt instruments, resulting in a 416% YoY increase in impairments. The Bank has also undertaken stringent cost management initiatives resulting in Cost/Income dropping from 42% to 31% YoY, despite external inflationary pressure.

“With PBT at LKR4.6Bn and PAT at LKR 2.7Bn at the end of 1H22, the Bank is continuing to strengthen reserves and Capital. Overall, we are very confident of overcoming the present external challenges and continuing to support the banking needs of our customers as they build for the future,” added Gunetilleke.

Nations Trust Bank PLC serves a diverse range of customers across Consumer, Commercial and Corporate segments through an island wide network of 96 branches. The bank is focused on digital empowerment through cutting-edge digital banking technologies, and pioneered FriMi, Sri Lanka’s leading digital banking experience. Nations Trust Bank PLC is an issuer and sole acquirer of American Express Cards in Sri Lanka with market leadership in the premium segments.

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Versatile business and people’s professional Ken Vijayakumar elected president CIPM SL

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Ken Vijayakumar, a versatile business, and People’s professional, currently holding the position of Deputy General Manager – Human Resources, Administration, Purchasing and Sustainability at A. Baur & Company (Pvt.) Ltd was elected as President of CIPM Sri Lanka, the Nation’s leader in human resource management, at its Annual General Meeting held recently.

Prior to his appointment as the President of CIPM Sri Lanka, he held office as the Vice President in the preceding year and serving for 7 years in the CIPM Executive Council including as the Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer in his tenure at CIPM, making him the ideal choice to navigate CIPM in these challenging times.

Vijayakumar counts over 30 years of experience in the field of human resource management and general management with prestigious appointments at Lankem (Ceylon) Ltd, Watawala Plantations, MAS Holdings, Keells Plantations, Lanka Equities, Brandix, WNS/AVIA, Delmege Forsyth, and Waters Edge Ltd. where he held managerial and senior managerial positions. He also held the position of Regional Head of HR for Malaysia at Good Hope Asia (Holdings), a diversified conglomerate.

“Developing HR professionals to be resilient to face any type of crises and challenges, spreading CIPM’s much acclaimed education courses to the neighboring countries and thereby opening a new avenue to infuse USD/foreign currency to the country, making representation to the Government of Sri Lanka to amend the labor laws to take advantage of the gig economy such as part time employment, multiple employment contracts, flexible work arrangements, and positioning HR professionals as partners for business while ensuring more C-suite/Boardroom representation are some of the key areas that I will be working on during my tenure” said Ken Vijayakumar – President CIPM Sri Lanka.

His expertise spans multiple industries with exposure to Plantations, Apparel Manufacturing, Business Process Outsourcing/Knowledge Process Outsourcing, Palm Oil Refineries, Hospitality and FMCG.

Vijayakumar is also a Senior faculty member of CIPM Sri Lanka since 2008. He has a Bachelor of Arts qualification from the University of Peradeniya and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Post Graduate Institute of Management (PIM) of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and holds membership in CIPM Sri Lanka and the Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management (MIHRM).

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AI 2021 successfully concludes with winners showcasing innovative solutions for sustainable living

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The Hack:AI 2021 Hackathon, powered by SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, successfully concluded recently with the winners showcasing ground-breaking innovative solutions for sustainable living.

In the Schools category, Team ‘Calori’ from Gateway College, Colombo emerged the winner, while Team ‘Prostasia’ representing the University of Colombo was adjudged the winner in the University category.

Prabhath Dahanayake, Chief Marketing Officer, SLT said, “The challenge of the Hack:AI 2021 Hackathon was to unveil sustainable solutions while addressing real-world problems. As the national ICT solutions provider, SLT-MOBITEL believes this competition has inspired solutions to improve people’s lives and promote a healthy planet. We are proud of all the participants and diverse teams who have sparked new ideas through machine learning and artificial intelligence. All the teams deserve special recognition and our sincere thanks for their hard work and contribution.”

Prabhath Mannapperuma, Director, STEMUP Educational Foundation added, “Through the Hack:AI competition we sought to inspire both university and school students to use technologies such as AI and Machine Learning to solve real world problems. The competition will also enable future generations to gain an understanding on the importance in driving sustainability and building start-ups and technology innovations around it.”

Hack:AI 2021, provided participating youth, a platform to design ground-breaking innovative solutions to solve real world problems using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.

The participating categories – Schools and University, were provided similar problem statements under Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) goals such as Good Health and well-being, Quality Education, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Responsible Consumption and Production. The competition offered a forum for the young innovators to build solutions using data science and machine learning technologies, tackling some of the challenges related to the selected SGDs, solving related issues and driving social impact.

The Hack:AI 2021 Hackathon was organised by STEMUP Educational Foundation, a not-for-profit association driven to engage students in STEM careers and skills, together with the Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka.

SLT-MOBITEL as the platinum sponsor of the competition is proud of its role to harness talent, while supporting innovation and advancement of ICT in the country.

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