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Friday June 2nd, 2023

Ban-nomics: Sri Lanka to ban imports of handloom textiles, printed batiks

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will ban the import of printed batik and handloom textiles to eliminate competition from imports for domestic producers, State Minister for Batik, Handloom Fabric and Local Apparel Products, Dayasiri Jayasekera said.

He said young were no longer interested in joining the batik industry but the government would set up training centres for 10,000 individuals and pay them 5000 rupees at tax payer expense and train them.

Minister Jayasekera said printed batik cloth rolls will be banned through the applicable Customs HS Codes.

“Secondly, handloom textiles are brought into Sri Lanka in large numbers, so bringing in of handloom textiles is also stopped through a designated HS code,” he added.

Under the Harmonized System of customs codes, each country could specify sub codes to distinguish between individual products.

The availability to cheaper industrial cloth in the 1980s, which competed with kerosene smelling textiles made at state enterprises raised the living standards of the masses.

The trade liberalization also led to the closure of many handloom centres that were established during the closed economy of the 1970s.

However several Colombo based firms in particular helped make handlooms in to a high-end product, with craftsmen being encouraged making higher quality products with better dyes under their brands.

Several firms have also started an export market.

But Minister Jayasekera he will ban imports to limit competition and stop consumers from buying less expensive products. He hopes it will create a bigger market for batik products.

“When a saree is produced in Sri Lanka and given between 2500-3000 to rupees, it is brought from other countries for 800 or 900 or 1000,” he said.

He said that there are about 11,000 makers of batik in Sri Lanka.

It is not clear how many people who bought a batik saree for 800 will be able to by one for 2,500 to 3,000, or whether they will shift to some other type of saree.

But Minister Jayasekera said government will set up a training centre in every electorate from which a member of parliament is elected, to train 10,000 persons.

“Already five have been established,” he said. “We expect to complete 200 training centres within this year. Thirty persons will be trained in every batik centre for three months. They will not only be trained on production but we will teach them sewing too.”

He said not many people were entering the industry.

In order to attract people to the industry, the government is planning on providing 5000 as an incentive for people who sewing handloom textiles in Sri Lanka and that the cabinet paper will be presented in the future.

He said some raw materials needed were also not available.

Sri Lanka has controlled many imports after unprecedented money printing created forex shortages. The rupee has also depreciated. It is not clear whether the materials shortages are related to controls or due to some other issue.

“Next year, starting from the Matara district, we expect to gather all the batik manufacturers in the district and introduce them to the importers of dye and clothes in Sri Lanka and develop a process to address the shortage of these materials,” Minister Jayasekera said.

Jayasekera represents the Matara district. Sri Lanka has appointed a number of ministers for various sectors ranging from clay to handlooms who are required to do some state intervention in their area to show some results.

Minister Jayasekera said there was no plan to for a broad ban on textile imports and only items such as bed sheets and sarees will be banned.

Rulers have already banned a number of products in the expectation that creating a scarcity and driving up prices will bring prosperity to the people of Sri Lanka.

Prices of banned items such as turmeric, green gram, have shot up. Sri Lanka Navy is kept busy nabbing smuggled turmeric from India. Sri Lanka has also banned the import of ethanol to give profits to a loss making expropriated state enterprise.

Brown sugar is also taxed at higher level that while sugar to give profits to the loss making state enterprise. Palm oil is the latest item to be banned. (Colombo/April09/2021)

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Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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