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National development the aim:

BoC to mobilize Sri Lankan Diaspora

Bank of Ceylon head office

Addressing the Sri Lankan Diaspora in Germany during a recent expansion mission, the Chairman, Bank of Ceylon (BoC), Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe stressed that the Bank intends enabling the mobilization of the Diaspora to leverage their contributions towards national development through remittances. Dr. Wickramasinghe said that a resolute end to the conflict would create a huge impetus for business in foreign countries where the Sri Lankan Diaspora is concentrated in. A special focus area would be the European region.

Highlighting the macroeconomic importance of worker remittances, Dr. Wickramasinghe said that approximately 70 percent of Sri Lanka's trade deficit was financed by remittances during 2007. Currently, the remittance inflow to Sri Lanka from the European Union amounts to approximately 18.0 percent with other European countries contributing around 4.4 percent.

Formidable position

Speaking on BoC's formidable position in the Sri Lankan banking industry, Dr. Wickramasinghe examined its financial and operational fortes. "BoC recorded its highest ever pre-tax profit of Rs. 5.2 billion in 2008, an increase of 16 percent relative to year 2007. The Bank possesses an extensive network of over 700 service points in Sri Lanka including 452 local branches. The Bank also has three overseas branches located in London, Male and Chennai. Collectively all three overseas branches reported enhanced profits over the year." The Bank of Ceylon also has the largest asset base in the local industry at Rs. 484 Billion.

Dr. Wickramasinghe encouraged the entire Sri Lankan expatriate community to open tax-free Non-Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) Accounts which facilitate the receipt and retention of remittances in foreign currencies. He said that the need to enhance Sri Lanka's foreign reserves is immediate, in the face of the global slowdown and significant burden on the economy due to the conflict and its after effects. He said that "aspects such as resettlement, upgrading and repair of economic infrastructure and revitalizing of industries, and other such necessary rebuilding activities in the Northern and Eastern provinces would require sizable foreign resources. The Sri Lankan Diaspora should contribute in whatever way they can in the interest of our motherland."

NRFC account opening

Applications for NRFC account opening can be downloaded from the Bank's website www.boc.lk. Scanned copies of the duly filled application along with a copy of the passport can be forwarded to any BoC branch in Sri Lanka for account opening. Remittances can be made to BoC NRFC accounts through any bank in Germany, in particular through the many correspondent banks of BoC located there. A list of the Bank's correspondent banking partners is set out in the annual report which is also downloadable from the website. Quoting the relevant SWIFT number when remitting provides for time efficient transfers.

Attractive benefits

Attractive tax free interest rates are offered by the BoC relative to Banks in Germany. In addition, opening BoC tax free NRFC accounts would accrue benefits including free life insurance cover up to Rs. one million, insurance cover for loss of baggage when engaged in travel, housing loan facilities, cash withdrawal access through ATMs and zero commission for inward remittances at the receiving end. Dr. Wickramasinghe said that BoC is the only Sri Lankan commercial bank with the security of Government ownership rated AA(lka)/ Stable Outlook by Fitch Ratings.

Dr. Gamini Wickramasinghe's address was followed by a insightful interaction with the Sri Lankan community and several German nationals.

Dr. Wickramasinghe expressed special thanks to the Consul General, Buddhi Athauda for facilitating a productive visit.



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