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Union Bank records ‘resilient performance’ despite challenging environment in 3Q

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Union Bank continued to focus on its prudent cost and portfolio management strategy to remain resilient amidst a volatile macro-economic landscape that prevailed through the third quarter of the year, a bank press release said.

It adds – ‘The Covid-19 outbreak weakened the country outlook substantially and affected the overall business landscape of the country. Amidst a challenging economic landscape, the Average Prime Lending Rate (AWPLR) dropped by approximately 400bps YoY while the Treasury Bill rates continued on a downward trend during the period under review. In line with directives of the Central Bank, Union Bank implemented a downward revision of interest rates on its various lending products including credit cards. The Bank took measures to provide loans at concessionary rates for Working Capital requirements of SMEs and exporters by participating in the CBSL credit schemes including the Saubhagya Covid-19 Renaissance Facility.

‘In a backdrop where the negative impacts of Covid-19 on the economy, businesses and consumers continued to weigh down on the banking industry, the Bank focused on continuing the Covid-19 related benefits schemes granted to its customers in a bid to support their financial recovery while focusing on maintaining business operations in compliance with health safety guidelines set by health officials to ensure safety of staff, customers and other stakeholders.

‘Amidst mounting challenges, Union Bank increased its liquidity buffers on a prudent basis and has been able to maintain a strong excess liquidity position. During the period under review average fixed deposits remained stable whereas average CASA ended at Rs.23,805 Mn, with an increase of 18% over the comparative period.

As a consequence of the Bank’s policy to support its customers during these tough times and a decline in interest rates, its Net Interest Margin (NIM) declined from 3.8% to 3.3% over the comparative period.

Late payment fee and other fee waivers provided in line with the CBSL guidelines aimed at supporting the customers affected by the pandemic, alongside a decline in economic activity, caused a reduction of the overall fee income by 25% over the comparative period.

‘The Treasury performed notably within the period under review, recording impressive trading profit/capital gains with a significant YoY increase of 108%. Other Operating Income of the Bank increased on the back of exchange rate deflation during the said period.

‘Amidst the challenging environment, the Operating Income of the Bank for the quarter was Rs. 1,692 Mn, and reduced by 3% over the comparative quarter. The Total Operating Expenses were prudently managed through bank-wide cost management initiatives and reduced by 5% QoQ to Rs. 941 Mn.

‘Consequently, Pre-impairment profits of the Bank were Rs. 751 Mn for the quarter and was similar to that of the comparative quarter. While the Bank’s actual credit losses were low, the Bank recorded significant provisions through management overlays to account for the deteriorating environment, leading to a 31% QoQ increase in impairment charges. The entire day one loss on account of Covid-19 moratoriums was recorded under the impairment charge as per the non-substantial modification method which is in line with the Sri Lanka Accounting Standard – 9 (SLFRS 9).’



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges

Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.

The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.

The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.

Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.

The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.

Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.

As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.

Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.

Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.

To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.

The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.

Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to tharakam@ips.lk on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.

HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.

OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.

BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.

Important Dates

30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals

01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists

23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner

Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/

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