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Wednesday June 19th, 2024

Money shortages may force Sri Lanka zoos to consider selling or releasing animals

ECONOMYNEXT – Fears of animal feed shortage has led crisis-hit Sri Lanka’s key zoological gardens to consider selling and releasing animals to downsize animal population to a manageable level, a top Zoological Department official said, amid the island nation’s worsening economic conditions.

Amid ongoing economic crisis, officials at Sri Lanka’s three main zoological gardens are preparing for possible feed shortages in the future because the sovereign debt-defaulted country does not have dollars to import such feeds.

The move comes as the South Indian island nation is expecting a possible food shortage among the country’s 22 million population in coming months, while lack of US dollars have limited President Gotabaya Rajapaksa government in importing both essential food for people and feed for animals.

“There is no feed shortage yet. There are some due payments for some feed suppliers and that is the issue we have at the moment,” a senior Zoological Department official told EconomyNext asking not to be named fearing possible consequences from the higher ups for reveling the real conditions.

“There are excess population of certain animals in the zoos including deers. And we are discussing with the Wildlife Department to see the possibilities to see whether we can release some of those animals back to the wild. In that way we can reduce some of the expense,” the official said.

“And also there are some domestic animals such as rabbits and birds. If there are excessive population in those animals, we will take actions to sell them. through this, we can reduce the number of animals and cost.”

On Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture and Wildlife, Mahinda Amaraweera said, concerns over finding required feed for the animals in zoological gardens in the country have been raised amid current worsening economic conditions.

Sri Lanka has around 5,000 animals under three zoological gardens in Dehiwala, Pinnawala, and Safari Park in Hambanthota.

The official said precautions are being taken to increase the income of the zoological gardens and reduce the costs at the moment including cultivating  short term crops to add to the feed supply and purchasing plant based feed from third parties have also been considered.

“We need to prepare for the worst situation, considering the economic situation of the country,”  the official said adding that introducing local substitutes for import feeds.

“We have to not kept any unnecessary excessive amount of food in our stores,” the official said.

The daily feed cost of Sri Lanka’s all zoological gardens is around 250,000 rupees.

The official said other innovative options are also being considered to prevent the starvations at zoo.

“One is foster care system. This was already there but not active. Since we already have inquiry from the interested parties, we will initiate the program in the next two days as a support for the system while letting the people interact with animals,” the official said.

“Also, we are open for donation. In special occasions people can do donations and the Department will issue a certificate for the donors, appreciating their contribution towards the wellbeing of the animals in the gardens. For the people who do not like to contribute in money, they can donate goods, foods  and medicine.”

“A medicine shortage is also there, but none of the essential medicines are in shortage yet. We are securing several suppliers for other medicines as well.” (Colombo/ June 2/2022)

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Central banks expect to increase gold reserves after buying 1,037 tonnes in 2023: Survey

ECONOMYNEXT – About 29 percent of central banks in the world intended to increase their gold reserves in 2023, up from 24 percent in 2023 and just 8 percent in 2019, a survey by the World Gold Council showed.

“The planned purchases are chiefly motivated by a desire to rebalance to a more preferred strategic level of gold holdings, domestic gold production, and financial market concerns including higher crisis risks and rising inflation,” the WGC said.

About 81 percent of 70 central banks that responded to the survey expected global central bank holdings of gold to go up, from 71 percent in 2023.

While in prior years, gold’s “historical position” was the top reason for central banks to hold gold, this factor dropped significantly to number five this year.

This year, the top reason for central banks to hold gold is “long-term store of value / inflation hedge” (88%), followed by “performance during times of crisis” (82%), “effective portfolio diversifier” (75%) and “no default risk” (72%).

Concerns about sanctions were listed as by 23 percent of emerging market central banks (0 advanced).

De-dollarization as a reason to hold gold gained ground, but was not among the main reasons.

About 13 percent of emerging market central banks listed de-dollarization as one of the reasons to buy gold up from 11 percent last year and 6 advanced nations said the same from zero last year.

Around 49 percent of central banks expected gold reserves to be moderately lower five year from now in the 2024 survey, against 49 percent in 2023 and 38 percent in 2022.

About 13 percent of central banks surveyed said US dollar reserves would be significantly lower in the 2024 survey, up from 5 percent in 2023 and 4 percent in 2022. (Colombo/June18/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 304.75/305.40 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed weaker at 304.75/305.40 to the US dollar Tuesday, down from 304.15 to the US dollar Friday, dealer said, while some bond yields edged up.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has weakened amid unsterilized excess liquidity from earlier dollar purchases.

Excess liquidity fell from as high as 200 billion rupees, helped by some sales of maturing bills and also allowing some term contracts to run out.

However the central bank has started to inject liquidity again below its policy rate to suppress interest rates.

On Tuesday 30 billion rupees was printed overnight at an average yield of only 8.73 percent.

Separately another 25 billion rupees was printed till June 25 at 8.09 percent to 9.05 percent, which was still below overnight the policy rate of 9.5 percent.

Nobody has so far taken the central bank to court for printing money beyond overnight at rates lower than the overnight rate.

Sri Lanka operates an ad hoc exchange rate regime called ‘flexible exchange rate’ which triggers panic among market participants, as the central bank stays away when spikes in credit either creates import demand or unsterilized credit is used up.

“If large volumes of unsterilized liquidity is left, the exchange rate has to be closely defended to prevent speculation involving early covering of import bills and late selling of exports proceeds,” EN’s economic columnist Bellwether says.

“Just as an appreciating or stable exchange rate leads to late covering of import bills, a falling rates leads to immediate covering of import bills.

“Keeping exchange rates stable is a relatively simple exercise but it is difficult to do so if short term rates are also closely targeted with printed money, as liquidity runs out, as if the country had a free float and no reserve target.”

“When there is a large volume of excess liquidity remaining (except those voluntary deposited for long periods by risk averse banks) the the interest rates structure is under-stated compared to the reported reserves.

“Interest rates would be a little higher than seen in the market if the liquidity was mopped up and domestic credit and imports were blocked to prevent the reserves from being used up.”

In East Asia there is greater knowledge of central bank operational frameworks, though International Monetary Fund driven flawed doctrine are also threatening the monetary stability of those countries, critics say.

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Vietnam selling SBV bills to stabilize the Dong, as Sri Lanka rupee also weakens

Sri Lanka’s rupee started to collapse steeply after the IMF’s Second Amendment in 1978 along with many other countries as flawed operational frameworks gained ground without a credible anchor.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.10/30 percent up from 10.05/30 percent Friday.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2027 closed at 10.60/57 flat from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.15/35 percent, up from 11.05/20 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 11.80/90 percent unchanged.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2030 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A maturing on 10.12.2031 closed at 11.95/12.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed at down at 11.95/12.10 percent, down from 12.00/10 percent. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber links up with Gujarat Chamber

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) to increase trade cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.

The MOU was signed by CCC CEO Buwanekabahu Perera, SGCCI President Ramesh Vaghasia, in the presence of Dr Valsan Vethody, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India.

“With the signing of the MoU, … the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and SGCCI aim to facilitate trade between the two countries via initiatives such as trade fairs and delegations, business networking events, training programmes,” the Ceylon Chamber said in a statement.

“This partnership will open doors for Sri Lankan businesses to explore opportunities in Surat’s dynamic market and enable the sharing of expertise and resources between the two regions.”

Established in 1940, SGCCI engages with over 12,000 members and indirect ties with more than 2,00,000 members via 150 associations. It promotes trade, commerce, and industry in South Gujarat.

The region’s commercial and economic centre Surat has risen to prominence as the global epicenter for diamond cutting and as India’s textile hub, and is ranked the world’s 4th fastest growing city with a GDP growth rate of 11.5%

Surat’s economic landscape is vibrant and diverse. As India’s 8th largest and Gujarat’s 2nd largest city, it boasts the highest average annual household income in the country.

The nearby Hazira Industrial Area hosts major corporations like Reliance, ESSAR, SHELL, and L&T. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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