BOC President optimistic about noticeable economic growth in 2022 – The Island

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Bank of Ceylon Chairman Kanchana Ratwatte expects growth to rebound in 2022 with three main elements driving the economy going forward.

Sri Lanka is forecast to see a notable rebound in revenues from tourism, SME sector businesses and foreign remittances.

Speaking at an event held at its headquarters in Colombo yesterday with a multi-religious ceremony to invoke blessings on the staff of the bank, all of its customers and all Sri Lankans in general, Ratwatte said, “I see a rainbow on the horizon. Sri Lanka is expected to experience a significant rebound in the tourism sector, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector and the country’s foreign remittance base in the first half of the year. The Bank of Ceylan has been a stunt during the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years, supporting keeping the national economy in place, and will continue to do so unabated until the country returns to normal, ”he said.

Here are some excerpts from his speech.

“Today means an important day in my life. Two years ago, I assumed the role of president of this giant organization which includes a family that is strongly connected to each other. I consider that I can serve for BOC as a great one. fortune in my life.

“Over the past two years, despite the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, BOC has been able to give promotions to its employees in accordance with due process. Also, we absorbed the trainees who had successfully completed their training in our permanent carder. We were able to promote promotions from junior executives to the CEO level in the midst of the pandemic chaos in recognition of their dedication and loyalty to the bank. “

“In particular, we were able to complete the official process of signing the collective agreement with the bank’s unions, laying the foundations for good relations between management and employees.

“That said, our happy workforce is not only due to these motivations, but also because of the positive work environment that encourages collaboration and communication; which is a unique feature of the BOC family.

“BOC’s improved strategies to counter the pandemic have resulted in significant resilience of its overseas remittance base. In 2019, remittances amounted to $ 2.5 billion for BOC. In 2020, we managed to reach $ 2.8 billion. Despite persistent external challenges, this year we passed the $ 3.5 billion mark in remittances. “

“We thought the vulnerable conditions of the pandemic would be an opportune time to launch and implement the BOC Export Circle to help the SME sector revive struggling businesses and help survivors take it to the next level. Last year, BOC placed special emphasis on relaunching businesses through Export Circle. A recovery unit has therefore been set up to relaunch businesses hit by the pandemic. I am proud to say that many of these companies stayed afloat and the BOC was able to overturn almost Rs. 35 billion in assets through this exercise. I see a few smiley faces here that have been served by the BOC’s wake-up unit.

“BOC has been successful in overcoming most of the problems that the pandemic has presented to us out of the blue by ensuring seamless online banking services for our customers. However, most employees said they are making efforts to minimize the impact of the pandemic on them. “

BOC President Kanchana Ratwatte, KED Managing Director / CEO Sumanasiri and CFO Russel Fonseka yesterday inaugurated the BOC SME Circle at BOC Headquarters in Colombo.

Speaking of the challenges of the external sector, he said, “A 20ft container of a particular item from Shanghai via Singapore for $ 900 in 2019 costs $ 8,000 today. Wheat and oil prices have jumped among other commodities. Today, a liter of oil in India is worth 104 Indian rupees. This is around LKR 270. The state still subsidizes petroleum products. Has consumption declined at current prices? No, this is not the case. Despite the closures, oil consumption has increased. Letters of credit (LC) opened by the BOC for oil imports rose 20% despite coronavirus lockdowns. These must be taken into account in the current situation.

Speaking of tourism revenues, he said: “Until 2019, before the Easter Sunday attacks, tourism generated at least $ 4.5 billion. Due to the pandemic, the tourism sector had to be taken over by other sectors. It was a double whammy for the economy. On the other hand, I now see a bright side emerging as more than 200,000 tourists arrived in the country last year. “

“The livelihoods of Sri Lankan migrant workers came to a standstill for two years due to travel restrictions imposed around the world. Now we are seeing the encouraging trend of them returning to their overseas jobs as well as the students going abroad for higher education. Every day, the BOC receives requests from clients to donate amounts ranging from $ 2,500 to $ 20,000 for their children’s higher education needs. We oblige this segment of customers, regardless of which bank they initially did banking with. “

“BOC reached one trillion rupees in its asset base in 2012 – the equivalent of a business worth $ 5 billion when converting from currency to LKR 200 to one US dollar. In 2018, it hit $ 2 trillion, making it a $ 10 billion company. In March 2021, we hit the $ 3 trillion mark, making it a $ 15 billion business. I am proud to say that each year we will add $ 5 billion to BOC’s asset base. By next year, we should be a $ 20 billion company. It is the strength on which we continue to serve our customers and the nation as a whole. Dear customers, let me tell you that BOC is tough and strong enough to keep the economy going until the country gets back to normal, ”he said.

Stressing the importance of encouraging Sri Lankan SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs, the Bank also launched the BOC SME Circle yesterday.

In addition to this, the Bank launched the BOC fuel card. The BOC fuel refill card is designed to be of benefit to customers who are struggling with managing their fuel expenses. The card is available to legal entities, fleet operators and individuals to facilitate their day-to-day operations.

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