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Message From President

Home Message From President

Mr. B A H S Preena

Association Of Professional Bankers
Sri Lanka

Speech as the 34th President

31st March 2023

Good Evening!


Members of the APB council, Advisory Council members, Fund Management Committee
members, my dearest colleagues from the banking fraternity, and Ladies and gentlemen,


It gives me immense pleasure and pride to stand before you today as the 34th President of the
Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka. First of all, I would like to thank you for placing
confidence in me to hold the Presidency of APB which has been the most representative
organization of banking professionals in the country.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the new members who were elected to the Committee
today and also thank the previous committee under the leadership of Mr. Jeremy De Zilva . In
fact the outgoing committee performed exceptionally well carrying out many activities under
very challenging circumstances.


As we know APB was formed in 1988 by a group of dedicated senior bankers , just 1 year after
I became a banker. The first President was Mr Rienzie Wijethillake, highly respected former
Managing Director of HNB. Upto now we have had 33 Presidents representing many leading
banks . I consider this as a honor to me personally as well as to my great banking institution –
Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC.


If I am to say a few words about my journey so far with APB, I became a member of APB way
back in early 1990s. In early part of year 2016, Mr Sanath Manatunge- Managing Director of
Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC who had then been serving in the APB council requested me to
join the next committee for year 2016/17 as he decided to step down due to many official
commitments . As a result I was elected as a member of the APB council in 2016 under the
presidency of Ms Sashi Kandambi Jassim. I take this opportunity to thank Mr Manatunge for
placing trust and confidence in me. I believe I have made justice to your choice of nominating
me to continue from where you left and to be elected as the President today. Also I must thank
Ms Sashi Kandambi Jassim for warmly welcoming me to the committee as a fresher and giving
me her fullest support to continue my journey. Also to my bank for giving me the opportunity
and freedom to get involved with the APB activities in addition to my official responsibilities. I
started as a Council member and held positions of chairman of Membership and Special Events
sub committees, Treasurer, Vice President and Senior Vice President in my journey so far. I take
this opportunity to thank all Presidents and council, Advisory council members and Fund
Management Committee members who supported me in carrying out my duties as a Council


During the last 34 years, APB has come a long way as a professional body along the lines of its
principle objectives such as promoting and facilitating studies in the field of banking, organizing
training programs, knowledge management, promote and safeguard the common interest of
the profession and promote fellowship among the members.


Activities of APB are mainly carried out through sub committees under Membership and Social
, Continuous Professional Development , Publication and Special Events . the entire gamut of
APB activities to achieve its principle objectives are captured under these sub committees. The
Membership and Social Committee is mainly responsible for expanding the membership and
carryout activities to promote fellowship among members. As of date we have a membership of
approx 2600 and we will work towards increasing this further. Special emphasis will be paid to
enrole members from banks where the representation is low and also to get young and
upcoming bankers involved with the APB activities. We have a system of appointing Bank
Coordinators from all commercial and Licensed Specialized banks . Since we cannot
accommodate all banks operating to represent the Council, we use the Bank Coordinators as
the bridge to communicate the APB activities to the membership. Our ability to reach out to the
members outside Colombo was restricted due to the pandemic out break followed with
economic and issues. However, with things gradually returning to normalcy this year we will
plan for events focusing more on connecting with the membership at the regional level.


CPDC was very active last year. Despite many obstacles we were able to conduct many
programs covering a range of interesting topics. This year too we are determined to line up
CPDC sessions which will be of importance to bankers. In doing so, we will take into
consideration the fast changing landscape in banking and our future CPDC events will be more
geared towards bringing up topics which are more relevant in today’s context such as
Digitalization and Sustainability. A major issue faced by the Banking industry today is the Brain
drain and Talent drain with staff members at different levels migrating seeking greener
pastures. This is creating a big vacuum in the industry . The New committee will look into the
possibility of conducting programs in Schools and Universities to drive the attractiveness of the
Industry and provide an idea of how the Banking Industry works so that the school and
university leavers will be attracted to starting a Banking career. Also, in addition to our own
CPDC programmes, we will consider conducting joint programmes with other professional
bodies such as CIMA, IBSL, OPA, various chambers etc., K Sivagananathan memorial Lecture too
is an important event in the CPDC calendar. Also, we need to promote training and knowledge
sharing through the social media such as our website, FB, Youtube etc., This year too we are
planning to conduct the Junior Bankers Career Development and Mentoring program taking
into consideration the feedback and response received for the first program which was
successfully concluded last week.


Publication Committee is entrusted with periodical publication of the E journal, publication of
articles in Daily FT , conducting and encouraging research in Banking and allied fields and
publishing the Annual convention volume. Unfortunately what we observed and experienced
was a lack of enthusiasm among upcoming bankers to contribute in this area. Therefore, we
need to encourage more and more bankers to share their knowledge, views and experience
through our publications and the new Publication Committee I am sure will work on this. In
addition, as part of the objectives of APB, we will assist conducting research on key areas
relevant to banking industry and share our findings with Policymakers and Regulators
facilitating them to make informed decisions on key issues.


In addition to the above activities, we are planning to organize social events such as talent
shows, Sports events and Quiz competitions to foster fellowship and networking among our


Corporate Social Responsibilty too is on top our agenda. At the last Convention meeting we
launched a CSR project to provide equipments to a school in Kurunegala area. We will continue
to identify such projects in the ensuing year as well to extend our activities towards community


Annual Convention is the flagship event in our calendar. Next year too we will plan to hold the
Annual convention to discuss and deliberate the challenges and opportunities on Banking


Yet another milestone awaiting of the journey of APB is to incorporate it through a parliament
Act. Work started many years back and we have come a long way by now. The first reading of
The act was presented to the parliament and is now been referred to Treasury dept. One of the
main task of the new Council will be to get this passed. I wish to place on record of my sincere
appreciation for all those who tirelessly worked to make this a reality and fervently hope we
will succeed in incorporating APB this year.


So my dear friends, we have a very ambitious plan to role out various activities in the year
ahead of us and I am sure with the support of my council, Advisory Council, Fund Management
Committee, Banks, well wishers and the membership we will achieve desirous results.
We are holding this AGM at a time when our country is starting to recover from a worst
passage of time since independence. We are a resilient nation and I am sure the situation will
gradually improve. As Bankers we have a major role to play in this rebuilding exercise. Put
together APB is a strong force with a collection of professional bankers who represent various
levels from CEOs to junior officers. We as Association of Professional Bankers Sri Lanka will
provide our fullest support to resuscitate our economy.


I take this opportunity to thank all of you for taking time to be present today amidst your busy

Thank you and God bless you!!


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