As Sri Lanka’s premier commercial bank with national duty at its core, People’s Bank this year celebrates 60 years of yeoman service of providing financial stability, growth, profitability and leading the way in empowering the lives and livelihoods of Sri Lankan citizens.
Being a State-owned bank, People’s Bank, as its name depicts, is a people-centric financial institution that sets goals to be an exemplary corporate citizen. Despite challenging operating conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a watershed year for People’s Bank as the bank turned a new chapter in its six-decade old history, passing the Rs.2.2 trillion mark in assets and achieving a loan book of Rs.1.6 trillion, as the bank’s loans and advances grew over Rs.300 billion in 2020.
While growing its profile and financial strength as aforementioned, People’s Bank played and is continuing to play a special role in assisting the national economy, the government and the people to overcome the challenges brought in by the pandemic. Aptly displaying that national duty precedes everything else, People’s Bank was in the forefront of the efforts to assist the people and businesses beset by the pandemic, while duly extending its assistance to the government as a major State-owned bank.
In fact, the exceptional services of People’s Bank’s director board, senior management and the staff to the nation building process during the COVID-19 pandemic was acknowledged and appreciated by Dr.P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary to His Excellence the President during the Colombo Development Symposium held recently.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, in order to soften the impact on the overall economy, the Bank swiftly implemented a range of relief packages including moratoriums mandated by the government and provided relief to over 480,000 customers, which is the highest number provided by a bank in Sri Lanka. Also, the Bank offered Rs.13.7 billion worth of loans under the Saubagya COVID-19 Renaissance Facility, while offering over Rs.10 billion in direct and indirect loans to the country’s agriculture sector, realizing the importance of food security during a global pandemic. Further, the Bank provided Rs.14.2 billion worth of financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and Rs.286 million in loans to women entrepreneurs during 2020.People’s Bank is currently in negotiation with the China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) for a US $ 75 million-US $ 100 million loan to be o-lent to COVID-19 hit local SMEs.
Understanding its wider societal role, the Bank also assisted teachers, actors, musicians and other artists by giving loans worth over Rs.330 million while assisting university students lending over Rs.170 million to continue with their education, which included loans to purchase laptops. Further, as the bank of the people, People’s Bank extended over Rs.6.1 billion in loans to retired/disabled officers of armed forces as at December 31, 2020. The Bank has over one million senior citizen account holders, to whom a preferential rate of interest is being paid.
Meanwhile, People’s Bank extend Rs.240 billion in local currency and further Rs.80 billion in foreign currency to the Government of Sri Lanka to manage liquidity shortfalls during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also the Bank purchased Rs.358 billion worth of Treasury Bills and Bonds from the primary auction in 2020, enabling the National Treasury and the Central Bank to maintain the rupee interest rates at the desired levels. As one of the largest contributors to the revenue of the exchequer, the Bank also remitted Rs.14.4 billion in taxes/dividends to the Government of Sri Lanka in the last financial year.
“The year 2020 brought in unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic, but People’ Bank was able to wade through them largely unscathed thanks to the commitment and the dedication of the Bank’s senior management and each and every member of the staff. They all understood their national duty and were completely up for the task at hand. While being at the forefront of the government’s financial relief programme to support COVID-19 affected individuals and businesses by way of providing moratoria and low interest loans, we provided unhindered services to our customers keeping over 70% of our branches open even during the height of the lockdowns, and through our advanced digital platform,” Chairman of People’s Bank, Mr.Sujeewa Rajapakse said.
“At the get go, we realized that top and bottom lines wouldn’t define the year 2020. A lot more was asked from us by the people, the government and our customers, and I believe we were able to deliver that successfully to all our stakeholders. It was heartening to see People’s Bank’s efforts being publicly recognized by Dr.P.B. Jayasundara, Secretary to his Excellence the President, at the recently concluded Colombo Development Symposium,”Rajapakse added.
Commenting on the Bank’s performance in 2020 financial year and the challenges ahead, People’s Bank CEO/General Manager Ranjith Kodituwakku said: “Despite the extraordinary challenges we had to face, the key financial indicators of the Bank remained in-tact during 2020, bearing testament to its robustness, prudent risk management, astute Asset & Liability management and most importantly the timely decisions taken by the management with nation’s best interest at heart.”
“However, the challenges are in no way over and the road ahead for banks this year could be choppier. But with its innate ability to overcome challenges, innovate and adapt will help People’s Bank to ride the post-pandemic era and emerge triumphant,” Kodituwakku added.
While satisfying the banking needs of its 14 million-customer base, and delivering its national duty diligently, People’s Bank continues to be at the receiving end of number of prestigious national awards and international accolades. People’s Bank was bestowed with the accolades of being recognized among the Top 1,000 Banks by the Banker Magazine, UK; The Best Digitised Bank in Sri Lanka 2020 at the Asia Money Best Bank Awards Sri Lanka; Best Consumer Digital Bank in Sri Lanka 2020 by World Finance Digital Banking Awards; Best Mobile Banking App by World Finance Digital Banking App and Best Digital Bank Awards in Sri Lanka by International Business Magazine Awards 2020.
Meanwhile, a preference survey conducted by AC Nielsen in association with the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing among consumers of financial services through nationwide selected People’s Bank as the ‘People’s Banking Service Provider of the Year’ award for the 15th consecutive year, at the recently-concluded ‘SLIM Nielsen People’s Awards 2020’.
The International Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ICCSL) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) also ranked People’s Bank among the Top 10 Most Admired Companies in Sri Lanka. People’s Bank, with a brand value of Rs.44.75 billion, is also recognized as one of the country’s top three brands by world acclaimed Brand Finance in 2020.
Further, Sri Lanka based K-Seeds ranked People’s Bank at the top most position among all licensed and specialized banks in the country in their latest ranking report for the year 2020 based on the Bank’s solid key performance indicators such as cost to income ratio, return on equity, return on assets, gross NPL, loan growth, CASA etc.
With 60 years of serving the nation proudly stamped on its report card, People’s Bank sets sights on a positive future with courage and optimism to better serve the mother Sri Lanka and its people for many years to come.