The Italian delegation in Sri Lanka recently to spur dialogue on tourismA bilateral dialogue on Tourism organised by the Italian Embassy in Colombo held recently brought together key stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sectors from Sri Lanka and Italy with the goal of exploring and leveraging on synergies and opportunities for collaboration between the two countries.Ambassador for Italy in Sri Lanka Rita Giuliana Mannella delved into the relationship between Sri Lanka and Italy, calling it a strong and abiding one. “While celebrating ancient links coupled with strong socio-political ties, we are excited about the possibilities for partnership and collaboration in the spheres of culture and tourism, which have the potential to deepen the dynamic and mutually rewarding relationship between our countries,” she said.A delegation comprising the Special Ambassador of the Bid Committee of Expo 2030 Rome Prof. Romeo Orlandi, Legal Advisor to the Councilor for Culture of the Municipality of Rome Miguel Gotor Lorenzo Bimbi and CEO & Founder of Mancini Worldwide Alessandro Mancini representing the largest collective of tour operators and agents in Italy directed the dialogue to reflect the modern day Italian traveler.Orlandi spoke of Rome’s candidature for World Expo 2030 and inherent benefits Sri Lanka would gain with its success, while Bimbi journeyed through what Italy has to offer the contemporary traveler. Through examples, Mancini showcased the quantifiable increase in visitor numbers if a destination is marketed with the correct branding and marketing.Adding to the discussions were Communication Manager of the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo Paolo Ferrarini and External Relations Manager of the ALMA School of Italian Cuisine Candida D’Elia, both of who were enthusiastic on leveraging collaborations in the culinary arts with stakeholders in Sri Lanka. In his closing remarks, Minister of Education Dr Susil Premajayantha stressed the importance of establishing long-standing partnerships in education and training to enrich Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector. “Sri Lanka’s vibrant tourism sector is helmed by innovative private enterprise and supported by professional vocational development institutions. They are eager to learn, grow, and adapt to the changing needs of tourists, in order to provide visitors with the best Sri Lanka has to offer.”BusinessNavigating amidst challenges, BoC strengthens its industry leadership positionPublished 9 hours agoon 2023/03/1The Bank has reported Rs. 32.0 billion Profit After Tax (PAT) for the year ended 31 December 2022 despite of many headwinds caused by the never experienced economic and operational environment prevailed during the year.Fund Based IncomeDespite of never experienced economic and operating environmental challenges prevailed, the net interest income grew by 13.6% to Rs. 126.3 billion contributing 71% to total operating income. The increase in interest rates in line with the upsurge in policy rates and materializing the volume growth resulted 61% growth in interest from loans and advances which denotes 68% of total interest income. Interest income from investments boomed up YoY to Rs. 146.0 billion and the major portion of it derived through Treasury Bills and Bonds.The upsurge in deposit rates increased the cost of funding, YoY interest expense hiked by 121% and as considerable portion of FDs are reprised by now, during the latter part of this year interest expense moved up by nearly threefold than previous year.Non- Fund Based IncomeAs rupee depreciation is around 81% for the period, net exchange gains derived through trading activities and currency conversion represents considerable portion in non-fund based income amounting to Rs. 32.9 billion. Similarly, net fee and commission income also contributed Rs. 16.4 billion with 15% growth as business operations are now normalized and increased number of retail transactions and trade financing activities caused in improvement in related fee income.As conducive environment was not prevailed in the Share market activities during the year the mark to market losses of Rs. 804.4 million was resulted from equity and unit trust portfolio. However, through trading of equity and Government security the Bank was able to gain Rs. 861.3 million.Impairment Charges for Loans and Advances and Other Financial InstrumentsFrom January 2022 onwards, impairment provision for loans and advances and investment were provided in compliance with CBSL Directions No.13 and 14 of 2021 on Classification, Recognition and Measurement of Credit Facilities and Financial Assets. Thus, the impairment provision for loans and advances and financial investments were calculated to capture the expected losses associated with the customers or the investment instruments based on the possible consequences in current economic conditions, sector specific risk factors, new policy reforms, present negotiations in foreign and local debt settlements by the Government.Management overlays were applied to identify the risk elevated industries which results the significant increase in credit risk due to spillover of economic turmoil prevailing the country and exposures to those industries were assessed as underperforming to account for life time credit loss on prudent basis. Further, the Economic Factor Adjustment (EFA) which is used in calculating the expected losses for collectively assessed portfolios were enhanced by capturing the stressed economic condition prevailed at present. Nevertheless, the Individually Significant Customers (ISL customers) were also assessed critically given the high degree of uncertainty and extraordinary circumstances in the short-term and mid-term economic conditions mainly caused by the continuous disruptions to businesses and prudent level of ISL impairment provision were made. (BOC)BusinessInvestor sentiment in CSE slows over possible rate cutsPublished 9 hours agoon 2023/03/1By Hiiran H.SenewiratneThe CSE edged- up in mid-day trade yesterday on rather slow sentiments as investors adopted a- wait- and- see approach on possible rate cuts at the CBSL’s forthcoming monthly Monetary Policy Review, analysts said.“Investors are also waiting for clarity on the IMF loan facility and the market is going through cyclical behaviour after performing well in the recent past, an analyst added.Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 10.15 points and S and P SL20 declined by 5.1 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.4 billion with three crossings. Those crossings were reported in Lanka IOC, which crossed 703,000 shares to the tune of Rs 140 million; its shares traded at Rs 200, JKH 370,000 shares crossed for Rs 50 million and its shares traded at Rs 135 and Aitken Spence 289,000 shares crossed for Rs 40.3 million; its shares fetched Rs 139.In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contribute to the turnover were; HNB Rs 203 million (1.9 million shares traded), JKH Rs 97.5 million (543,000 shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 97.5 million (543,000 shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs 71.6 million (1.4 million shares traded), Softlogic Capital PLC Rs 53.51 million (4.9 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 52.5 million (266,000 shares traded), Union Bank Rs 49.1 million (5.2 million shares traded). During the day 50.4 million share volumes changed hands in 12000 share transactions.Bond yields were steady at open on Tuesday following a Treasury bond auction, while the interbank guidance peg of the Central Bank appreciated.A bond maturing on 01.02.2025 was quoted at 32.00/20 per cent on Tuesday, up from 31.70/32.10 per cent on Monday. A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 was quoted at 29.25/50 per cent, unchanged from yesterday’s close. A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 was quoted at 29.00/30, down from yesterday’s close at 29.20/30 per cent.Yesterday, the Central Bank’s US dollar buying rate was Rs 357.68 and the selling rate Rs 366.92.BusinessManaging Director of Nestlé LankaPublished 9 hours agoon 2023/03/1Bernhard StefanNestlé Lanka PLC appointed Bernhard Stefan as its Managing Director effective 1 March 2023, succeeding Jason Avanceña whose term ends 28 February 2023. Jason, who successfully led Nestlé’s operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives through unprecedented challenges during his tenure, will move on to a new role as the Managing Director of Nestlé Pakistan and Afghanistan with effect from 1 March 2023.Joining Nestlé Lanka with over 22 years of experience, Bernhard Stefan began his career with Nestlé Waters in France in the field of Merges and Acquisitions. In the years that followed, he took on various roles with increasing responsibility in Nestlé Waters in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland, eventually becoming Country Business Manager, Nestlé Waters Direct in Germany in 2007.A year later he moved to Australia to become Head of Route Sales and Operations for Nestlé Peters Ice Cream, a role he held for more than four years before moving to the Greater China Region in 2012 to lead Strategy and Business Development. In 2017, he returned to Switzerland as a Regional Manager for Zone Asia, Oceania, and Africa, supporting Greater China, South Asia Region and Nestlé Pakistan, and leading Marketing, Sales and eCommerce for the Zone and Ice Cream. When Nestlé created Zone Greater China a year ago, Bernhard joined the team as Zone Deputy.Bernhard’s breadth of experience and his extensive knowledge of the South Asia Region, its challenges, and opportunities, will no doubt help him to navigate successfully in his new role as the Managing Director of Nestlé Lanka PLC.