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Report called over Rs. 68 mn. loss at State Mortgage & Investment Bank

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A report is also called for regarding the settlement of the loss incurred by the bank by submitting false documents and taking a loan of 68 million rupees and legal action taken.

Instructions to expedite the establishment of a new core banking system.

Instructions to submit the delayed 2021/2022 annual reports before the end of next January.

The State Mortgage and Investment Bank (SMIB) was summoned before the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) which met on Oct. 10 under the Chairmanship of MP – Prof. Ranjith Bandara.

The audit reports of the State Mortgage and Investment Bank for the years 2020, 2021 were examined and the current performance was investigated at the Committee meeting held. Officials representing the Ministry of Finance and the Chairman and General Manager of the State Mortgage and Investment Bank were also present at this Committee meeting held. Special attention was paid to the following points.

Delay in establishing a new core banking system

Attention was drawn towards the delay in establishing a new core banking system as per the recommendations given in the previous Committee meeting. Officials assured that these works have already started and will be completed by July 2024.

The need to start operations as a competitive bank

The Committee emphasized the need to improve the operations of the commercial level in order to increase the assets of the bank and reach an advanced level.

The COPE chair pointed out the importance of being close to the public as a competitive bank without completely deviating from the bank’s core objectives. 

Accordingly, the need to establish the bank’s brand among the public in an innovative and attractive manner (rebranding) was emphasized.

The 68-million-rupee loss due to submission of false documents

In 2017, due to the fact that some people obtained loans by submitting false documents, attention was paid to the related activities to cover the loss of 68 million rupees to the bank. 

It was also revealed that this fraud has taken place by giving the relevant loan amount to 49 loan applicants with the help of some officials of the bank. 

Officials stated that 8 million rupees have already been received aligned with legal proceedings and legal measures have been taken to obtain the remaining amount. 

Although 6 years have passed since this incident, officials were punished and the delay in recovering this money was given special attention. 

Accordingly, the COPE Chair ordered the officials to give a report on this within two weeks.

High non-performing loan ratio of the bank

Attention was drawn to the fact that 10 branches have recorded a high non-performing loan rate, exceeding the average value of the non-performing loan rate of the bank. 

The officers pointed out that since the majority of the customers of this bank are middle- and low-income earners, they had to be given grace periods to pay their debts due to the prevailing economic situation. 

Special attention was paid to this and instructions were given to take necessary steps.

State Minister – Janaka Wakkumbura, Members of Parliament – Eran Wickramaratne, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Major Sudarshana Denipitiya, Madhura Withanage, Prof. Charitha Herath, were present at the Committee meeting held.

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New SL ambassador to China assumes duties

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The Ambassador-designate of Sri Lanka to the People’s Republic of China – Majintha Jayesinghe had assumed duties yesterday (May 20).

The post of the Sri Lankan ambassador to China was vacant for several months after the tenure of Dr. Palitha Kohona ended.

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Heavy showers today as well

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The Department of Meteorology says the Southwest monsoon conditions are gradually establishing over the island and hence, the prevailing showery and windy conditions will continue. 

Cloudy skies can be expected over most parts of the island.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts.

Heavy showers above 100mm are likely at some places in Western, Sabaragamuwa and North-western provinces and in Galle, Matara, Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya districts.

Several spells of showers will also occur in the Northern and North-central provinces, it said.

Strong winds of about 40-50 kmph can be expected at times over the island.

General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by temporary localized strong winds and lightning during thundershowers.

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SL – Indonesia pledge stronger bilateral ties

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In a significant bilateral meeting during the 10th World Water Summit, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between their nations. The discussions, which covered a wide range of regional and international issues, underscored the importance of collaboration in addressing global challenges.

President Wickremesinghe, in his opening remarks, highlighted the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, dating back to their joint participation in the 1956 Bandung Conference. He expressed appreciation for President Widodo’s leadership in regional, international, and bilateral matters, noting the importance of such summits in fostering global cooperation.

A major topic of discussion was the critical issue of water management. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of the World Water Summit and expressed Sri Lanka’s willingness to participate in the Global Blended Financial Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing common financial challenges faced by countries in managing water resources. He commended Indonesia for establishing a Secretariat for the Alliance, recognizing its significance for Sri Lanka.

President Widodo, in his remarks, focused on the economic cooperation between the two countries. He stressed the need to finalize the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the first quarter of 2025 to enhance economic ties. Additionally, he highlighted Indonesia’s interest in entering the Sri Lankan vaccine market through Indonesian pharmaceutical companies, and called for the lifting of import restrictions on Indonesian palm oil and related products.

The Indonesian President also showcased Indonesia’s advancements in renewable energy, specifically the country’s largest floating solar power project. He emphasized the importance of hydro diplomacy and political leadership in achieving sustainable water management and development goals. Furthermore, he welcomed Sri Lanka’s leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and its aspirations to become a sectoral dialogue partner.

President Wickremesinghe reiterated the importance of completing the PTA by early 2025, noting Sri Lanka’s existing free trade agreements with India, Singapore, and ongoing negotiations with Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. He emphasized the potential benefits of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), suggesting that Sri Lanka’s inclusion could encourage other South Asian countries to follow suit. 

He also mentioned the ongoing removal of import restrictions and assured that Sri Lankan health authorities would address the entry of Indonesian pharmaceuticals into the market.

The discussion also touched upon regional security and economic cooperation in the Indian Ocean. President Wickremesinghe supported ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook and stressed the need for closer bilateral and regional cooperation regarding Indian Ocean affairs. He proposed more frequent meetings between heads of government and a specific bilateral agreement with Indonesia to enhance commercial collaboration in the region.

President Widodo thanked Sri Lanka for co-sponsoring the Global Blended Financial Alliance, emphasizing its role in achieving sustainable development goals. He called for continued collaboration between relevant ministries from both countries to support this initiative. Looking ahead, President Widodo mentioned the upcoming presidential transition in Indonesia and expressed hope that the new administration would continue to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe expressed his eagerness to work with Indonesia’s new leadership and extended a personal invitation to President Widodo to visit Sri Lanka after his term ends in October. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and addressing shared global challenges through continued cooperation.

(President’s Media Division)

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