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CB chief calls for laser light focus on competitiveness PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 November 2016 09:12
  • Kicks off 28th anniversary Convention of Association of Professional Bankers - Sri Lanka under the theme ‘Thriving in a digital world’ 
Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy last night called for laser light focus on competitiveness and productivity in grasping the opportunity the country had gotten after 50 years.

He made this appeal during his speech at the inauguration of the 28th anniversary Convention of the Association of Professional Bankers - Sri Lanka, themed ‘Thriving in a digital world’, at the Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo.

The Governor pointed out that the policy statement by the Government, the presentation of Budget 2017 and the IMF review being successful would hopefully recalculate how the private sector will risk their appetite and work with customers to drive the economy toward the next wave of growth.fgj

However, he cautioned that none of this would be possible if the country did not align education, training and skills with the needs of the emerging dynamic sectors of the economy. 

“The challenge is far more effective in terms of implementation. This requires us to be far more disciplined in order to break this vicious cycle we have had in the past,” Dr. Coomaraswamy pointed out.

He said that sustained growth included strengthening macroeconomic fundamentals, enacting structural reforms that improve the competitiveness of the economy and improving the business environment. He analysed the extent and character of the fiscal problem and emphasised that the reduction of the fiscal deficit was imperative.

This most urgent challenge, he argued, was not possible through the reduction of total expenditure, though some wasteful expenditure such as losses in State-owned enterprises were needed.  On the other hand, development expenditure had to be increased to enhance growth and the competitive capacity of the country through investment in high-quality education and improvements in health. 

He also emphasised the need to have the fiscal space to take care of our rapidly ageing population.

The Governor was hopeful of an improvement in the balance of payments and the foreign debt situation as there was no maturity of foreign loans in 2017 and 2018 and a surplus in the current account is expected this year. He described the next two years as “bonus years” that would enable an easing of the external debt burden.

Coomaraswamy said there was much misunderstanding about the role of the IMF. He pointed out that had the IMF not been there, we would still have had the problem and we would have had to undertake fiscal and other types of reform. The involvement of the IMF, he said, reduced the pain of the measures that were taken. The assistance of the IMF had been useful in building international confidence, easing external finances and providing breathing space to revive the economy.

Further emphasising the positive narrative, Dr. Coomaraswamy pointed out that there was a lot of effort being exerted to improve investment attraction, the ease of doing business, trade policy and trade facilitation.  

“Of course, we would like to do it a little faster, but the direction is positive.”

He cited the toxic combination of popular politics and a deeply-entrenched culture of entitlement on the part of the people as the reason for the country’s economy stagnating. 

Although it is a time when the global economy is experiencing sluggish growth coupled with low international trade, Dr. Coomaraswamy asserted that Sri Lanka’s favourable location and excellent international relations with many countries would triumph in the current global context.

 “The assets Sri Lanka has in terms of location are immense. All in all, we have an opportunity to create a new age for exporters in Sri Lanka,” he added.

‘Ride the wave of innovation’

Delivering the keynote address, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives Managing Director Brian Kealey said that looking at the “fourth industrial revolution” it was time for the banking industry, private sector, Government and education sector to choose whether to ride the next wave of innovation or be dumped by it.

“While many of these challenges are yet to be fully revealed, we do know due to its reach across all of these areas of life, banking continues to be at the forefront of this transition in our society.”

He said harmonising disruptive innovation possibilities with each organisation’s business strategies while maintaining client and sector trust was critical for the success of this transition. 

Although a lot of companies want to digitally transform there are so many options to choose from, hence identifying one system to suit the organisation has become very complex.

“I drew a system of intelligence which includes engaging customers and employees, optimising operations and transforming products. These are not new concepts but it becomes much clearer on the implementation of it under this scheme,” he added.

However, he pointed out that as the culture and leadership were still not ready, while there was no access to all of these innovative applications within organisations, it was challenging.

With the landscape shifting so fast and seemingly new technology emerging every other day, establishing a framework to navigate digital transformation and making mid- and long-term decisions for organisations can be daunting but for some of us it is an exciting opportunity, Kealey stressed.

The Annual Convention of APB is one of the country’s premier forums which brings together leading professionals and eminent academics to share, discuss and generate new ideas for the development of the industry while facilitating networking between professionals, Industry experts and eminent academics and attracting well over 300 professionals from the financial services industry.

The convention is the key learning and development activity organised by the APB and it is aimed at realising APB’s primary objectives of undertaking, promoting and facilitating studies in the field of banking and promoting fellowship and understanding among members, thus playing a vital role in equipping the bankers with the requisite knowledge and skills for the improvement of the banking system in the country.

Technical sessions

The theme for this year’s Convention ‘Thriving in a digital world’ is topical and reflects the role that bankers in Sri Lanka are expected to play going into the future.

The technical sessions of the APB Sri Lanka Convention will be held today.

Presentation 1 has been themed ‘Changing Tide’ and its presenter will be Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore Digital Banking Head T.G. Ramakrishnan.

Presentation 2 has been themed ‘Charting the course’ and its presenter will be Rajasekara V. Maiya, Associate Vice President and Head –Finacle Product Strategy, Infosys.

Following the first two presentations, Panel Discussion 1, which is themed ‘Through the looking glass – Debrief’ will be moderated by Sampath Bank Plc Director Deshal De Mel and its panellists will be the first two speakers, Ramakrishnan and Maiya.

Presentation 3 has been themed ‘Uncharted waters’ and the presenter will be Silverlake Digital Economy Chief Executive Officer David Brearley.

Presentation 4 has been themed ‘Sentinels’ and its presenter will be Ernest & Young LLP Partner Kartik Shinde.

Following the third and fourth presentations, Panel Discussion 2, which is themed ‘The adventure – Debrief’ will be moderated by Information & Communications Technology Agency of Sri Lanka Director Jayantha Fernando and the panel will include Sri Lanka CERT Chief Executive Lal Dias in addition to the two speakers Brearley and Shinde.

Presentation 5 has been themed ‘Man over the machine’ and the presenter will be The Boston Consultancy Group Partner & Director Prateek Roongta.

Presentation 6 has been themed ‘Clear skies or storms’ and the Presenter will be Rukula Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Reeza Zarook.

Panel Discussion 3, which is themed ‘Be agile, adjust and adapt – Debrief’ will be moderated by Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer S. Renganathan with the panel including Roongta and Zarook.

A novel feature of this year’s convention is the Chief Executive Discussion, which is themed ‘Reflections at the top’.  The Chief Executive discussion will be moderated by former Sampath Bank Plc Managing Director Aravinda Perera and will see the participation of State Enterprise and Development Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne, Hatton National Bank Plc Managing Director Jonathan Alles, Epic Technologies Group Chairman Dr. Nanaya Dehigama and Hayley’s Business Solutions Managing Director Dr. Arul Sivagananathan. 

Article from : Daily FT [ ] 
By Charumini de Silva  
-Pix by Ruwan Walpola 
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Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2016 09:19