An Echelon Media Company
Thursday December 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka cuts rates 25bp, reserve ratio 100 in emergency move over Coronavirus

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cut its policy rate corridor 25 basis points and also cut the statutory reserve ratio 100 basis points to 4.00 percent, as the domestic and external economy was hit by Coronavirus.

“The Board arrived at this decision in consideration of the urgent need to support economic activity with the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its possible further spread in Sri Lanka,” the central bank said.

“Sri Lanka’s economic growth, which has remained subdued for an extended period of time until end 2019, has begun to turnaround as a result of fiscal and monetary stimulus and the return of business confidence after the presidential election.

“However, it has increasingly become evident that domestic economic activity during the year 2020 would continue to be affected through various channels by the spread of the pandemic.”

Many central banks with floating exchange rate had cut rates. However Sri Lanka does not operate a free floating exchange rate.

The full statement is reproduced below

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka Eases Monetary Policy Further to Support Economic Activity amidst the Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at an urgent meeting to review its monetary policy stance on 16 March 2020, decided to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 25 basis points to 6.25 per cent and 7.25 per cent, respectively, with effect from 17 March 2020 and to reduce the Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) on all rupee deposit liabilities of licensed commercial banks (LCBs) by 1.00 percentage point to 4.00 per cent, with effect from the current reserve maintenance period.

The Board arrived at this decision in consideration of the urgent need to support economic activity with the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its possible further spread in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s economic growth, which has remained subdued for an extended period of time until end 2019, has begun to turnaround as a result of fiscal and monetary stimulus and the return of business confidence after the presidential election. However, it has increasingly become evident that domestic economic activity during the year 2020 would continue to be affected through various channels by the spread of the pandemic.

Prior to today’s decision, the Central Bank, during the year thus far, has taken a number of measures to support the revival of domestic economic activity, in the context of well anchored inflation expectations and the absence of demand driven pressures on inflation.

These include the reduction of policy interest rates of the Central Bank by 50 basis points effective 30 January 2020, facilitating the implementation of the credit support package for borrowers in both performing and non performing categories and the implementation of a credit guarantee scheme to revive non performing advances, while maintaining the dialogue with the financial market to ensure market lending rates continue to decline in line with the Monetary Law Act Order No. 02 of 2019.

The Central Bank also assured the financial market of the provision of liquidity as necessary to counter any impact arising from the evolving situation. Today’s decision will complement the above measures that are already in place.

The Central Bank reemphasises the need for all financial institutions led by licensed commercial banks to ensure the full benefit of the cumulative reduction of 75 basis points in policy interest rates thus far during the year as well as the reduced cost of funds through the reduction in SRR is reflected in market lending rates without further delay. In addition, the Central Bank requests financial institutions to refrain from engaging in speculative activity which could lead to panic in the financial market.

The Central Bank has put in place well tested business continuity arrangements, which will be triggered as and when required to prevent any disruption to cash and electronic transactions and ensure the timely settlement of liabilities of the government and the Central Bank.

The Central Bank is working closely with the government to ensure coordinated fiscal and monetary policy responses to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the Central Bank will work with the government to raise the required funding for the government smoothly to tackle the current exceptional situation.

The Central Bank will closely monitor global and domestic market developments and take further policy, regulatory and operational actions as necessary, while monitoring activities of each financial institution to ensure smooth functioning of the financial market and the transmission of the Central Bank action to the economy in order to ensure that those who are in need of urgent support receive the required timely assistance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka’s inflation eases to 61-pct in November

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s 12-month inflation in the capital Colombo fell to 61 percent in November 2022 from 66 percent in October as price stabilized after interest rates were allowed to go up and the exchange rate was pegged around 360 to the US dollar.

The widely watched Colombo Consumer Price Index fell absolutely 0.5 percent to 242.6 points in November after falling .04 percent in the October.

Food prices fell 1.5 percent after falling 2.0 percent a month earlier. The sub-index containing gas fell 0.5r percent and transport fell 3.6 percent.

But some services continued to go up, as relative prices adjusted to the steep fall in the currency after two years of money printing to suppress rates.

Health costs went up 5.7 percent. Furnishing and routine maintenance rose 0.4 percent.

Sri Lanka’s central bank hiked policy rates to 15.5 percent in April and pulled back on longer term money printing, allowing market rates to go to around 30 percent.

The exchange rater is pegged around 363 rupees with a surrender rule where banks are forced to sell dollars to the central bank for new liquidity.

The ongoing currency and inflation crisis is the worst in the history of the central bank.

Sri Lanka’s Latin America style central bank was set up in 1950 giving powers to the country’s macro-economists the power to mis-target rates, create currency crisis and high inflation. (Colombo/Nov30/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka shares close at one-month high

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares closed at one month high on Wednesday gaining for the fourth session on news that government is in talks with ADB and World Bank to get a 1.9 billion dollar loan facility, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed 3.3 percent or 276.02 points higher at 8,651.23, highest index gain in since November 01.

“Investor participation improved on the back of confirmed talks with multilateral and bilateral lenders including world banks and ADB for USD 1.9Bn after IMF board level agreement is reached,” First Capital Market Research said in it’s daily note.

Former Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said in a forum on Monday that the government is in discussion with ADB and World Bank to get loans of 1.9 billion US dollars after a reform program with International Monetary Fund is approved

A policy loan now being discussed with the World Bank may bring around 700 million US dollars, Coomaraswamy told a business forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The Asian Development Bank may also give around 1.2 billion US dollars most of which will be budget support, he said.

The market witnessed a turnover of 3.3 billion rupees, higher than this year’s daily average turnover of 2.9 billion rupees. This is the highest turnover generated since October 04.

In the last few sessions market gained after Central bank governor said market rates should eventually ease despite the fears of a domestic debt restructuring as inflation falls, increased liquidity in dollar markets, and the inter-bank liquidity improves.

In the past sessions, the index continued to fall on the speculation of a local debt restructuring although no proper decision has been taken so far.

The market saw a foreign inflow of 39 million rupees. The total net foreign inflow stood at 18.33 billion rupees so far for this year.

The more liquid index S&P SL20 closed 3.4 percent or 89.78 points higher at 2,730.08.

The ASPI has fallen 0.5 percent in November after losing 13.4 percent in October.

It has lost 29.2 percent year-to-date after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Sampath Bank pushed the index up to close at 10.9 percent to 36.6 rupees.

Other top gainers were Browns Investment gained 15.4 percent to close at 7.5 rupees and LOLC gained 9.4 percent to close at 411.3 rupees.(Colombo/Nov30/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka bonds, T-bills ease, overall market dull

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bonds eased and T-bill yields fell on the speculation on talks with ADB and World Bank to obtain financial aid but the over all market was dull on Wednesday while the Central Bank’s guidance peg remained unchanged, dealers said.

“During the day, secondary market witnessed some buying interest on the back of speculations on yields easing while talks about financial aid from ADB and World Bank further strengthened interest,” First Capital Market Research said in it’s daily note.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 32.00/60 percent on Wednesday, down from 32.30/90 percent on Tuesday.

A bond maturing on 07.07.2025 bond closed at 30.80/31.30 percent up from 30.30/31.25 percent on Tuesday.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 31.00/30 percent down from 31.10/31.30 percent on Tuesday.

The three-month T-bills closed at 32.30/33.25 percent, down from 32.60/33.00 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged at 363.19 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.79 and 372.10 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.79 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Nov 30/2022)

Continue Reading