The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected local and global economies in 2021. In an effort tominimize health risks, countries around the world have continued to implement containment measures by imposing strict lockdowns and other mobility restrictions.
While these measures have succeeded in reducing the spread of the virus, they have also had unprecedented consequences on advanced and emerging economies alike.
In an attempt to prevent the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic from affecting future economic stability, countries worldwide have invested heavily in immunization programs. While the success of vaccination allowed most countries to gradually re-open their economies in 2021, the frequent mutation of the COVID-19 virus continues to pose a challenge to economies worldwide.
On a domestic level, the pandemic had a considerable impact on all key sectors of the Sri Lankan economy. In particular, the Country’s dependency on tourism continues to have a profound impact on the prospects of the local economy.
However, the Sri Lankan government has responded positively to the crisis by taking crucial steps to expedite the vaccination rollout to cover a large proportion of the population over a shorter period of time. By accelerating the island-wide vaccination rollout, the government was able to re-open domestic commercial activities during the third quarter of the year. Moreover, in a bid to enhance Sri Lanka’s fiscal sustainability, the government has taken steps to reopen its border during the 4th quarter of 2021 to foreign tourism. These measures have paved the way for the recovery of the economy in the short and medium term while establishing the foundations for long-term stability.
Sampath Bank extended its fullest co-operation towards government-led initiatives aimed at overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to implementing all government-led moratorium schemes for eligible customer segments affected by the pandemic, the Bank took its own steps to assist all its customers and employees to cope with the disruptions resulting from pandemic related difficulties.The Bank’s digitalization strategy has also continued to prove its worth during these trying times by securing a more accessible and safer banking experience for customers and enabling employees to switch seamlessly to a work from home environment during the periods of lockdown. The Bank also continues to uplift society through several activities including the tanks restoration program‘Wewata Jeewayak’.
As the pandemic raises its head from time to time, it islikely to continue to be a global challenge for the foreseeable future. The Bank has restructured its disaster recovery plans,so as to address the sudden shocks of the pandemic and has also enhanced its core digital infrastructure to deliver uninterrupted services to its valuable customers.
The country experienced further challenges during 2021 due to the decline in foreign currency reserves stemming from multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a challenging environment for both the national economy and businesses alike. Amidst this backdrop, the government has taken necessary action to increase foreign currency inflows into the country through mechanisms including SWAP agreements with other countries, incentives to increase remittances from Sri Lankans working abroad,reopening of the country for tourism, and sound import management.
The Bank has contributed towards efforts to boost the economy by taking necessary measures to secure foreign currency inflows from its customers in export-oriented businesses as well as by encouraging inward remittances from Sri Lankans working overseas.