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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Sri Lanka allocates 3.8 bn for organic fertilizer purchase, set to import nutrients 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has allocated 3.8 billion rupees to purchase organic fertilizer from local producers during the next Maha cultivation season, co-cabinet spokesman Ramesh Pathirana said on Tuesday (24).

Pathirana, however, said the government will also be importing some “organically derived” nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to enrich organic fertilizers.

“The amount of money allocated for the local purchase of this organic fertilizer would be 3.8 billion Sri Lankan rupees,” Pathirana told the weekly cabinet briefing.

“We took another decision a few weeks ago in relation to the import of certain nutrients that are organically derived – namely nitrogen, prosperous, and potassium.”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has completely banned the use of chemical fertilizers from the next cultivation season.

The government, which was spending around 400 million dollars to import mainly chemical fertilizers, has justified its decision saying that such chemicals have resulted in more Sri Lankans with non-communicable disease like chronic kidney disease and cancer.

The government has also acknowledged that they have very low amounts of foreign exchange left for imports.

Rajapaksa in the run-up to the November 2019 presidential election promised to provide fertilizer free of charge instead of a 50 kg fertilizer bag at a subsidized price of 350 rupees.

Farmers and well as experts have asked the government to phase out the “organic only” policy.

The Rajapaksa administration stubbornly refused to compromise on the decision despite pockets of protests by farmers who demanded chemical fertilizers in the last Yala cultivation season.

“Our priority is to procure whatever organic fertilizer required locally. That is the aim of the government.” Pathirana said.

“But until we sufficiently produce that quantity in Sri Lanka, we might have to import a certain quantity of organic fertilizer nutrient enrichment from other countries,” he said. (Colombo/Aug24/2021)

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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