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Monday April 22nd, 2024

Sri Lanka banks say parate execution needed to protect depositors

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Banks’ Association says parate execution a provision to foreclose pledged assets of borrowers who are in default is required to recover loans and repay depositors.

If the recovery procedure is taken away, will have to reduce credit to only a few borrowers to safeguard depositors.

“If Parate Rights are taken away, banks will be compelled to be extremely selective in lending and the availability of finance will be to a narrowing segment of entrepreneurs, resulting in credit to the private sector shrinking, contrary to Government and regulatory policies,” the statement said.

The statement said bank have given a number of moratoriums and usually attempts to restructure loans before recovery processes.

The full statement is reproduced below:

Parate execution is the last resort to protect depositors’ funds – SLBA

Banks exercise their legally-enshrined right to Parate Execution as a last resort, and the overarching objective is the protection of depositors’ funds that have been lent to borrowers, the Sri Lanka Banks Association (SLBA) has said in a statement to the media.

Responding to what it termed as lobbying by a group of defaulting borrowers espousing the removal or weakening of the protection of depositors’ funds, the Association said the Parate Execution remedy is aimed at recovering mortgaged assets from wilful defaulters and businesses that are no longer viable.

The SLBA, which represents all the licensed banks in the country, emphasised that banks have extended moratoriums on debt repayment for a long period exceeding 48 months in some cases, and that in instances of wilful default by borrowers, the banks owe a duty to their depositors’ whose funds are at risk, to recover the debts overdue and minimize the losses on loans granted.

The Association pointed out that the funds used to grant loans are placed with the banks by their depositors and that depositors are paid interest out of the interest charged from loans granted to borrowers. “Banks are responsible to manage this intermediary role in a very careful manner to avoid deterioration of depositor confidence which can lead to many negative economic consequences,” the SLBA statement said.

“When borrowers face difficulties in repayment, the lending banks review the causes for the inability to repay interest and/or capital, and assess how the situation needs to be remedied to restore the borrower to being able to repay loans and carry on business/economic activity,” the SLBA said.

“In such instances it is common for the banks to exercise empathy as a “partner” and assist the borrowers to come out of their challenging financial situation, and it is common for the banks to consider extension of loans, provide moratoriums, consider interest concessions and restructure the loans to suit the future cash flows of the employment or the business. Banks take this course as the preferred alternative to liquidating the assets of the borrower under loan security arrangements.

This is because it is beneficial for the customer as well as the bank to revive a business to good financial health than to shut it down and take whatever residual value is left, which in majority of cases is less than the value of the amounts due to the bank and kills the economic activity that was being financed. The banks therefore take the option of a win-win for all and support the borrowers when they face difficulties.”

“When assessing the condition of the overdue loans and their ability to be revived, banks have to accept that certain cases are beyond revival and/or that the default is wilful and in fraud of the lender. In these limited circumstances banks as responsible financial intermediaries must necessarily invoke the remedies available under the law and this includes ‘Parate Execution’ which is a measure to protect the depositors’ funds from wilful defaulters.”

The Association explained that: “As a natural consequence of investing in a business, a businessman may encounter strains principally on his ability to repay loans that cannot be sustained by bank depositor’s funds i.e. bank financing alone. A decline in the economy as in Sri Lanka due to social and political disturbances, pandemic conditions and an overwhelming public debt burden can also cause businesses to fail.

There has been governmental and external institutional aid to tide over these difficult times but the main reliance has been on the banks that have extended moratoriums on debt repayment for a long period, exceeding 48 months in some cases. The banks provide concessions and interest waivers during these difficult times to borrowers while maintaining interest payments to depositors to maintain confidence.”

“All should acknowledge the fact that the banks, guided by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, extended their fullest support to weather a very challenging period from the Easter Sunday attacks to the pandemic, and the economic crisis that followed.”

“Parate Execution against assets securing bank debt (depositors’ funds) is the last resort. This is when all efforts at resolution of borrower’s insolvency are met with refusal to review/negotiate, usually by malicious abuse of judicial proceedings which is a common dilatory tactic.”

“It now appears that a group of defaulting borrowers in various sectors have engaged lobbyists of varying degrees of influence to espouse the removal/weakening of the protection of depositors’ funds from wilful value destruction by owners of non-viable businesses where repayment delays are deliberate.”

“Therefore, the banks wish to state the position in relation to reliefs claimed by the borrowers and the cost to the depositors who provide the funds, if recovery actions are taken away:

• Banks are always open to have one-on-one discussions with any borrower who has faced difficulties in meeting debt obligations to have alternative options for loan repayments. This is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

• If there is no source of repayment, postponing recovery action will not solve the issue and ultimately the depositors’ funds will not be returned to the banks.

• The Parate Execution remedy is aimed at recovering mortgaged assets from wilful defaulters/businesses that are no longer viable.

• The overarching objective is to protect depositors’ funds that have been lent to wilful defaulters/ borrowers.

• Depositors’ confidence is of paramount importance for economic growth which is much needed in the Sri Lankan context.

• If Parate Rights are taken away, banks will be compelled to be extremely selective in lending and the availability of finance will be to a narrowing segment of entrepreneurs, resulting in credit to the private sector shrinking, contrary to Government and regulatory policies.

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IMF official: Sri Lanka’s road ahead is challenging, critical to keep up with reform momentum

ECONOMYNEXT –International Monetary Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said Sri Lanka’s future with many reforms are challenging, but it is critical to keep up with the reform momentum.

Gopinath stated this after meeting the island nation’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington.

“I commended them on hard-won economic gains in the past year. The road ahead is challenging and it’s critical to keep up with the reform momentum,” Gopinath wrote on her X platform.

Under IMF programme, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has implemented a raft of hard reforms including higher taxes.

Sri Lanka agreed to the IMF programme after it declared bankruptcy with sovereign debt default in April 2022.

Semasinghe after the meeting tanks Gopinath for acknowledging Sri Lanka’s economic progress.

“Our discussion was insightful and productive, and we appreciate the opportunity to delve into the challenges and opportunities ahead,” the State Finance minister said in his X platform.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our reform agenda and eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with the IMF to advance our shared goals.”

Sri Lanka was compelled to go for IMF after the unprecedented economic crisis which was followed by a political crisis that ousted former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government who were legitimately elected.

The IMF programme has included reforms in state-owned enterprises, fiscal sector and financial sectors to ensure debt sustainability.

The global lender also has pledged its support to speed up the island nation’s lingering debt restructuring process with private creditors including sovereign bond holders. (Colombo/April 22/2021)

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Sri Lanka motor racing crash claims 7 lives, 4 critical

ECONOMYNEXT – A deadly accident at motor Race Sri Lanka’s hill country town of Diyathalawa has claimed at least 7 lives police said, after a racing vehicle, in the seasonal Fox Hill Super Cross ploughed in to spectators after running off the track.

Another 21 spectators were injured Sunday, and hospitalized and at least four were critical, police said.

Thousands of people come to watch the Fox Hill Super Cross race, which is usually held in April, as large numbers of people head to the cooler climes in the hills.

According to footage taken by spectators one car overturned on the side of the track.

Sri Lanka’s Newsfirst television said Marshalls were waving flags to caution other vehicles, when another car went off the track and crashed into spectators. (Colombo/April21/2024)

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Widespread support for Sri Lanka debt workout, reform progress at IMF/WB meet: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – There was widespread support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring and acknowledgement of progress made under an International Monetary Fund program, at meeting of the fund and World Bank, State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said.

“The strides made in our economic recovery and financial stability have been acknowledged as significant advancements towards our country’s prosperity by our stakeholders and international partners,” Minister Semasinghe said in an x.com (twitter) post after attending the meetings.

“Further, it was heartening to note the widespread appreciation and support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to reaching the restructuring targets and confident of smooth progress in the continued good-faith engagements for a speedy debt resolution that will ensure debt sustainability and comparability of debt treatment.”

Sri Lanka ended a first round of talks with sovereign bondholders in March without striking a deal but some agreement on the basis for a deal.

An initial deal with bilateral creditors have been reached, but they may be awaiting a deal with private creditors to sign formal agreements.

International partners have appreciated reforms made under President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister Semasinghe said.

“It was great to engage in productive bilateral discussions with all of whom appreciated the recent economic developments, progress in debt restructuring, strengthening of tax administration, and ongoing governance reforms,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has been allowed to re-appreciate by the central bank amid deflationary monetary policy, bringing tangible benefits to people in the form of lower energy and food prices, unlike in past IMF programs.

Electricity prices were cut as a strengthening currency helped reduce the cost of coal imports.

Related Sri Lanka central bank mainly responsible for electricity price cut

The currency appreciation has also allowed losses to the Employment Provident Fund imposed to be partially recouped, helping old workers near retirement, as well as raising disposable incomes of current wage earners on fixed salaries.

Related Sri Lanka EPF gets US$1.85bn in value back as central bank strengthens rupee

The IMF, which was set up after World War II to end devaluations seen in the 1930s after the Fed’s policy rate infected other key central banks, started to actively encourage depreciation after a change to its founding articles in 1978 (the Second Amendment).

The usefulness of money as a store of value, or a denominator of current and future values then decline, leading to loss of real savings, real wages and increases in social unrest.

Before that, members who devalued more than 10 percent after printing money for growth or any other reason, faced the threat of suspension from the organization as punishment.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has appreciated to around 300 to the US dollar now from 370 after a surrender rule was lifted in March 2023.

But there is no transparency on the basis that economic bureaucrats are allowing the currency to gain against the US dollar (the intervention currency of the central bank).

The rupee is currently under pressure, despite broadly prudent monetary policy, due to an ‘oversold position’ in the market after recent appreciation made importers and banks to run negative open positions as the usefulness of the currency as a denominator of future value declined with sudden strenghtening. (Colombo/Apr21/2024)

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