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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

Decathlon closes Sri Lanka store after import ban

ECONOMYNEXT – Decathlon, a France-based a sportswear brand said it is closing stories in Sri Lanka after an import ban imposed amid a currency crisis, made it impossible for the firm to operate in the country.

“Decathlon will indefinitely suspend all retail operations in Sri Lanka (store and eCommerce) from 30th October 2022, the company said in a statement.

“Due to the ongoing situation in the country it has become impossible for us to resupply our product ranges.”

The company hopes to continue production activities in the island.

“We sincerely hope to restart our retail activities in Sri Lanka when circumstances permit,” the firm said.

“DECATHLON’s production activities in Sri Lanka will continue to operate as normal.”

Decathlon had operated a retail store in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka since 2018, while also operating an e-commerce website. Another store in Union Place was closed in July 31, 2022, the company said.

The company based in France is currently operating in 60 countries with 1,747 stores.

Sri Lanka imposed an import ban on over 300 items in August, amid the worst currency crisis triggered in the history of the island’s soft-pegged central bank.

Forex shortages are a problem associated with soft-pegged regimes, and are absent in clean floats and hard pegs and is linked to money and credit.

Import bans have no effect as long as credit fired by printed money continues.

The lastest import ban however came amid a steep correction in the balance of payments after the central bank allowed rates to go up, reducing private credit and investments.

The banned items include dairy products, cosmetics, electrical goods, watercraft, ships, aircraft, electrical and electronic goods and building material.

Some industrial machinery including metalworking machinery, packing machines and ball bearings have also been halted. Many small and medium industries have said they are facing difficulties.
(Colombo/ Sep 10/2022)

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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 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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