Out of the house

Feb 07 (LBO) – The State Mortgage and Investment Bank (SMIB) plans to change their governing act to get more freedom to lend and change its name as part of a complete make-over, a top official said. SMIB Chairman Chandima Weerakkody said proposed amendments have been submitted to the subject minister Wijedasa Rajapakse, who is seeking Cabinet approval.

“At the moment our lending is limited to three areas; housing, industry and agriculture,” Weerakkody said.

“The amendments to the act will allow us to lend towards any commercial activity. We would even be able to lend to areas like information technology.”

The bank would also be re-christened, with Sri Lanka Investment Bank being the likely new name.

Last month Fitch Ratings Lanka downgraded SMIB’s credit rating by one notch, from A+ (sri) to A (sri), saying the bank was losing market share in its core business of housing mortgages.

Weerakkody says the bank is already taking steps to improve customer service, by overhauling the process of issuing a housing loan.

Earlier customers had to go from department to department, some of which were located on different floors, to get approval.

“We have decided to introduce