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Weak demand for consumer electronics expected to continue for another 12-18 months



‘Consumer income has yet to adjust to the higher cost of living’

‘Increase in taxes in early 2023 has weakened purchasing power’

by Sanath Nanayakkare

The electronic products sales market in Sri Lanka is expected to show sustained weakness in the next 12-18 months due to prolonged weak demand, according to a report from Fitch Ratings.

Fitch expects Sri Lanka’s GDP to contract by 1.4% in 2023 (2022: 7.8% decline), before growing modestly by 3.3% in 2024, indicating only a gradual recovery in economic activity.

“Consumer income has yet to adjust to the higher cost of living while the increase in taxes in early 2023 weakened purchasing power”, Fitch states.

The ratings agency expects sales volumes of Singer Sri Lanka, the foremost consumer durables retailer in the country, to rise in the low single digits in the financial year 2024.

The report titled, ‘Fitch Downgrades Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC to ‘A(lka)’; Outlook Stable’, the agency points out that the downgrade reflects the sustained deterioration in Singer’s financial profile such that Fitch-forecasted EBITDAR fixed-charge cover will fall to 0.7x in the financial year ending 31 March 2024 (FY24), compared with 1.1x in FY23.

“The Stable Outlook reflects Singer’s adequate liquidity supported by its access to domestic banks. We expect that the company’s EBITDA will recover gradually in the next two years supported by a slow improvement in demand amid falling interest rates and the removal of the ban on consumer durable imports since October 2023,” Fitch says.

However, Fitch doesn’t expect Singer Sri Lanka’s fixed charge cover to improve to above 1.2x – the level commensurate with a higher rating – until after FY25.

“We forecast Singer’s sales volumes to grow by double digits in FY25, due to a gradual recovery in income supported by a revival in the agriculture sector, which accounts for 30% of the population, salary increments across the public and private sectors, and a full year’s impact of pent-up demand after the removal of a ban on consumer-durables imports in October 2023. Hire-purchase (HP) and credit sales should also rise with interest rates almost halving from the highs in FY23, and we expect Singer will selectively grow its HP book, which shrank in the last few years, to cater to this demand. We expect Singer’s EBITDAR margin to improve to around 9% in FY25, from 3.3% in 1HFY24, benefitting from revenue growth, prudent inventory management, and a shift towards high-margin product categories.

“We estimate Singer’s cash interest to reduce by 35% in FY24 as interest rates fall. Market interest rates have fallen to 13% by November 2023, from 30% a year ago. Given most of Singer’s debt is short-term, the company should be able reprice faster at favourable rates. However, we do not believe Singer’s EBITDAR generation in FY24 will be sufficient to cover the reduced interest cost,” Fitch says.

According to the report, Singer’s rating is not notched for support from its stronger parent, Hayleys PLC, as they believe Hayleys has limited incentive to provide support according to their Parent and Subsidiary Linkage Rating Criteria.

“The ‘Low’ legal incentive stems from the absence of corporate guarantees from Hayleys on Singer’s debt, and the lack of cross-default clauses between the two entities. Hayleys is a highly diversified group, resulting in limited operational synergies with Singer. Furthermore, Singer has an independent management team and its brand is separate from that of Hayleys. Therefore, the operational incentive to support is also regarded as ‘Low’, Fitch says.

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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –



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



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

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024



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 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:

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