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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

China-run Hambantota port in Sri Lanka links with Thailand’s Ranong

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s China managed Hambantota Port has inked a deal with Thailand’s Ranong port with a view to developing shipping routes in the region, the company said.

A joint working group will be established to develop coastal shipping in the Bay of Bengal between the two ports.

Ranong Port had recently signed an agreement with India’s Krishnapatnam port.

Hambantota International Port says it will support Thailand’s policy of boosting trade with India and Sri Lanka under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Thailand is currently following a policy to boost trade with India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka under the framework of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

“We are very happy to be a part of this initiative as it is looking at developing the BIMSTEC region to the benefit of all its partners,” Ray Ren, CEO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said in a statement.

“With HIP now coming strongly into this play, we can see it becoming an important nodal which will facilitate the movement of cargo not only in the region but also countries to the west of Sri Lanka.”

Hambantota is already transshipping Indian cars to Africa and the elsehwere. Thailand is also a key auto manufacturing hub.

HIPG says there are also potential in an industrial zone by the side of the Hambantota port.

“The industrial zone, which will be situated adjacent to the docks in the bonded area of the Hambantota Port is a totally new offering for the region,” Ren said.

“It will also make HIP the gateway port for the southern region of Sri Lanka.”

China has also revived the idea of building a canal across Thailand, which will reduce shipping times to China and Japan, and help by pass a choke point of the Malacca straits. (Colombo/Sept16/2019)

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A new Sri Lanka monetary law may have prevented 2019 tax cuts?

ECONOMYNEXT – A new monetary law planned in 2019, if it had been enacted may have prevented the steep tax cuts made in that year which was followed by unprecedented money printing, ex-Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

The bill for the central bank law was ready in 2019 but the then administration ran out of parliamentary time to enact it, he said.

Economists backing the new administration slashed taxes in December 2019 and placed price controls on Treasuries auctions bought new and maturing securities, claiming that there was a ‘persistent output gap’.

Coomaraswamy said he keeps wondering whether “someone sitting in the Treasury would have implemented those tax cuts” if the law had been enacted.

“We would never know,” he told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The new law however will sill allow open market operations under a highly discretionary ‘flexible’ inflation targeting regime.

A reserve collecting central bank which injects money to push down interest rates as domestic credit recovers triggers forex shortages.

The currency is then depreciated to cover the policy error through what is known as a ‘flexible exchange rate’ which is neither a clean float nor a hard peg.

From 2015 to 2019 two currency crises were triggered mainly through open market operations amid public opposition to direct purchases of Treasury bills, analysts have shown.

Sri Lanka’s central bank generally triggers currency crises in the second or third year of the credit cycle by purchasing maturing bills from existing holders (monetizing the gross financing requirement) as private loan demand pick up and not necessarily to monetize current year deficits, critics have pointed out.

Past deficits can be monetized as long as open market operations are permitted through outright purchases of bill in the hands of banks and other holders.

In Latin America central banks trigger currency crises mainly by their failure to roll-over sterilization securities. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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Sri Lanka cabinet clears CEB re-structure proposal: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has cleared proposals by a committee to re-structure state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijeskera said.

“Cabinet approval was granted today to the recommendations proposed by the committee on Restructuring CEB,” he said in a twitter.com message.

“The Electricity Reforms Bill will be drafted within a month to begin the unbundling process of CEB & work on a rapid timeline to get the approval of the Parliament needed.”

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board finances had been hit by failure to operate cost reflective tariffs and there are capacity shortfalls due to failure to implement planned generators in time. (Colombo/Nov28/2022)

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Sri Lanka new CB law to cabinet soon as IMF prior action

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new central bank law will be submitted to the cabinet as a prior action of International Monetary Fund with clauses to improve governance and legalize ‘flexible’ inflation targeting, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

Under the new law members of the monetary board will be appointed by the country’s Constitutional Council replacing the current system of the Finance Minister making appointments.

“It will be a bipartisan approach,” Governor Weerasinghe told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, Colombo-based brokerage.

“The central bank’s ability to finance the budget deficit will be taken out. Thirdly the flexible inflation targeting regime will be recognized in the law as the framework.”

The law will also make macro-prudential surveillance formally under the bank.

There will be two governing boards, one for the management of the agency and one to conduct monetary policy.

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