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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Changyong Rhee to retire from IMF to head Bank of Korea after Sri Lanka visit

ECONOMYNEXT – Changyong Rhee, Director of the International Monetary Fund’s Asia and Pacific Department, who visited Sri Lanka recently, will retire following his nomination as the Governor of South Korea’s central bank.

“His vast knowledge of Asian economies and politics—as well as his wide network—have helped to forge trust with our members,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

“Changyong’s great strength is in seeing both sides of an issue. At the same time, he has driven consensus on policy priorities, earning him tremendous respect and admiration throughout the Fund and across policymakers from the region.”

Rhee was in Sri Lanka in March to advise President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the country’s economic problems driven by an unusual bout of money printing after cutting taxes for stimulus.

The IMF warned that unless fixed quickly with higher policy rates and new taxes, Sri Lanka may see monetary instability and an economic implosion.

Korea was a country that saw severe monetary instability from a similar central bank.

From 1950 the Bank of Korea was set up under a modified draft law prepared by Arthur Bloomfield, a colleague of John Exter who set up Sri Lanka’s Latin America style central bank.

The money printed by the central bank led to severe monetary instability in the form of food shortages, emergency monetary measures – including the birth and death of a currency called the Hwan, and the eventual collapse of Korea’s First Republic paving the way to military rule.

The monetary collapse was driven in part by money printed for war finance and the central bank funding of Korea Development Bank.

A development bank set up in Japan (the Fukkin Bank) in part by Keynesian experts from the US Economic Co-operation Administration led to a collapse of the Yen.

A collapse of Japan was averted by a US banker Joseph Dodge who had worked with German Ordoliberals on Deutsche Mark reforms. Dodge closed the development bank, fixed the yen at 360 to the US dollar ending parallel exchange rates and 700 percent inflation and also fixed the budget.

Central banks set up by Fed experts, modelled on Argentina’s central bank led economic collapses in a number of Latin American countries, some of which continue to this day.

Analysts have called for changes in Sri Lanka’s central bank law to curb its domestic operations and warned that spontaneous dollarization may result if monetary instability worsens. (Colombo/Mar24/2022)

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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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