The Credit Information Bureau of Sri Lanka brought the stakeholders of the banking and finance industry together in a landmark event seeking to build a better credit regime in the country with special emphasis on accurate credit reporting. The ground-breaking symposium billed to be an annual event was held at Hilton Hotel and included credit specialists from the region who shared the experience of their own countries in building a better bridge with lending institutions and borrowers.
Expert panelists engaged the forum in an exhaustive deliberation of the current credit regime and its most compelling issues before presenting a series of far-reaching solutions. Compliance officers representing all licensed banks and finance companies received a comprehensive understanding of management aspects pivotal to accurate reporting. Accurate maintenance of individual credit reports which depict the borrowing and servicing history of borrowers was identified as the key to creating an efficient and reliable credit reporting system. Lending institutions rely heavily on credit reports before disbursement of loans, making accuracy of such reports the cornerstone of progress.
"This symposium constitutes a major milestone in educating officials on how best to interpret and apply credit information in a fair manner," said Gamini Karunaratne, General Manager-CRIB. "Our vision is to achieve an increasingly disciplined and systematic approach to servicing lending decisions and compliance officers have been made to understand their role in making this a reality," he said.
CRIB’s ambitious pursuance of its mandate in creating a responsible and credit-worthy society manifested in its latest publication, a comprehensive operational guide which was launched at the annual symposium. Billed by its publishers as an A-Z of Bureau Operations and a Bible for compliance officers, the new credit almanac was presented to CRIB’s outgoing Chairman and Deputy Governor of Central Bank, Priyantha Fer
CRIB currently maintains a credit database of over four million people and is a depository of information relating to credit application and repayment records. Its key objective is to improve the accuracy of the credit information disseminated in the form of Credit Reports to its shareholding lending institutions and simultaneously to borrowers and prospective borrowers.
A common theme of speakers was the removal of barriers to a wide range of financial services in order to unleash private enterprise productivity. It was observed that the asset-based lending industry has grown rapidly with emerging markets like Sri Lanka still dependent on immovable assets as collateral greatly inhibiting growth among SMEs. The banking and finance industry were appraised of the impending benefits to the country as a whole with the introduction of a Secured Transactions Register expected to throw open the gates of development.
Eminent speakers at the innovative event included Gamini Karunaratne, General Manager-CRIB, Priyantha Fernando, Chairman-CRIB and Deputy Governor-Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Arun Thukral, Managing Director-Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd, Colin Raymond, Credit Bureau and Risk Management Advisor-International Finance Corporation, Miguel L. Llenas, Senior Vice President-Dun & Bradstreet South Asia and Middle East, Srinivas Peddada, Chief Information Officer-Dun & Bradstreet South Asia and Middle East and V. Narasimhan, Moderator and Chief Operating Officer-Dun & Bradstreet South Asia and Middle East who enlightened the audience by speaking within their chosen fields of expertise. The vote of thanks to wrap up proceedings was provided by Janaka Lakmal, Deputy General Manager-CRIB.
CRIB has developed into an increasingly important link in the country’s financial infrastructure and CRIB members have now expanded to over 90 banks, registered finance companies and specialized leasing companies. On average, more than 5,000 Credit Reports are supplied daily. The gathering was therefore an excellent opportunity for compliance officers to listen to reputed speakers and experts on the subject, as well as the value-added services CRIB may offer in the future to further improve the access to finance of the broader business community.
A sound financial infrastructure includes payments and settlement infrastructure, remittances infrastructure, inter-bank lending, credit information reporting, a Secured Transactions Register and Central Bank support. With Sri Lanka’s per-capita income expected to double rapidly over the next five years, there will be a huge challenge for the financial sector to meet credit needs in order to support the growth in income. In this context, the industry was briefed; the innovation of new credit schemes, as well as the role of CRIB will become increasingly important.