Commercial Bank launches Green Development Loans to support country’s sustainability agenda

Monday, 9 November 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Offers 7-year loans of up to Rs. 25 million at concessionary interest for initiatives that will make businesses more eco-friendly

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has announced the launch of Green Development Loans, throwing its weight behind efforts by businesses in Sri Lanka to make their operations more eco-friendly.

The country’s largest private bank said loans of up to Rs. 25 million are now available at concessionary interest for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs that wish to invest in energy saving, energy efficiency or off-grid renewable energy projects including investments in solar power.

Commercial Bank Green Development Loans will also be available to organisations that need to comply with national environmental standards by improving their waste management systems or by installing waste water treatment plants, air pollution control systems, solid waste recycling/treatment plants or sound pollution control systems.

Repayable in seven years with a grace period of one year, these loans will be offered at concessionary interest rates.

“Making our own operations eco-friendly, and helping our customers make their businesses sustainable is one of our principal thrust areas,” Commercial Bank Deputy General Manager – Personal Banking Sandra Walgama said. “As the leader in SME sector financing in Sri Lanka, the bank already plays a huge role in helping business grow and evolve. Commercial Bank is therefore ideally positioned to be a catalyst in the transformation of the way businesses operate vis-à-vis the environment.”

For the purpose of the new Green Development Loans scheme, Commercial Bank has identified as eligible, projects which seek to save a minimum of 10% of energy consumption over the present usage; expenditure incurred to comply with the national environmental regulations; directly identifiable expenditure relating to energy saving measures such as solar power, solar net metering systems, LED lighting systems or specialised units designed for energy saving, and investments relating to improvement of waste management systems.

One of the few banks to have participated in every refinance lending scheme which has been operating in Sri Lankafor the SME sector since SMI-1 in 1979, Commercial Bank was also an active lender under the ‘E-Friends I’, ‘E-Friends II’ and ‘E-Friends I (Rev)’ schemes funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC),  the bank said.

As part of its own Green operations agenda, Commercial Bank has developed a new eco-friendly model for branches in buildings owned by the bank, actively promoted initiatives to migrate customers from traditional banking channels to digital platforms such as mobile and online banking, and is investing in automations that minimise the use of paper. These efforts include an Automated Banking Centre (ABC) at the bank’s Ward Place branch with facilities to deposit cash and cheques, withdraw cash, open savings accounts, apply for retail loans and carry out online banking transactions; and the launch of a new generation of automated cash deposit terminals, creating a Green Banking Channel (GBC) that eliminates the use of paper for depositing cash.

These initiatives were recently acknowledged internationally with the award for ‘Best Sustainability – Green Initiative’ at the 2015 Asian Customer Engagement Forum (ACEF) Awards in Mumbai.

The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for five consecutive years, Commercial Bank operates a network of 246 branches and 618 ATMs in Sri Lanka. The Bank was ranked the most valuable private sector brand in Sri Lanka in 2014 and has also won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s best bank from several international publications over several years. The bank was adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and 2014.

Commercial Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the bank operates 18 branches and Myanmar, where it has a Representative Office in Yangon. In September 2015, the bank received regulatory approval for the establishment of a fully-fledged Tier I Bank in the Maldives.