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Wednesday June 7th, 2023

Sri Lanka hosts Ashara Mubaraka for 21,000 Dawoodi Bohras

COMMUNITY CONVENTION: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena with Dawoodi Bohra community leader Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s is hosting an annual gathering of the global Dawoodi Bohra community, which was started with a ceremony at a mosque in Colombo attended by President Maithripala Sirisena.

“The Bohra community in Sri Lanka is small but they are regarded with respect and affection,” President Sirisena said.

“They are a peaceful community. They are very friendly with all communities in the country. I believe Bohras around the world are like that.”

President Sirisena said Sri Lanka was shocked at recent attacks on several churches and hotels by extremists where many Christians and a number of tourists had died. It had led to a sharp fall in the tourism sector.

Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq and head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, in his sermon had encouraged the community to help people of all communities and love their country.

He had asked the community to follow the laws of the land and work towards the betterment of humanity, during his sermon at the Husaini Masjid at Colombo 04. Imam Husain was the grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

Ashara Mubaraka is a 10 day gathering to mark his death during a battle in Karbala, in what is present day Iraq region in the year 680.

Members of Sri Lanka’s Bohra community are among top entrepreneurs and exporters, who have helped expand the island’s gross domestic product, sometimes using links with members of the community in other countries.

Dawoodi Bohra community has been present in Sri Lanka for around 150 years. The late Jafferjee Esajee, had come from Kutch, Gujarat in 1830.

There are around 2,500 Dawoodi Bohras in Sri Lanka. Bohra Masjids are in Jaffna, Galle, Pettah and Colombo 04.

Colombo has seen six Ashara commemorations in the past. The last was in 2008, where the current Syenda’s father, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin delivered the sermon. (Colombo/Sept04/2019 – corrected)

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Sri Lanka’s shares slip on profit taking and selling pressure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed lower on Wednesday after four consecutive gains in previous sessions spiraled into selling interest and profit taking, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was down 0.28 percent or 24.39 points to 8,722.06, this is the lowest the index has been since May 02, while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was down 0.40 percent or 9.92 points to 2,468.44.

“The market was gaining in the previous sessions and there is selling and profit taking present today, due to continuously being on green,” an analyst said.

In the previous sessions the market was seeing gains, due to lowered policy rates and low inflation stimulating buying interest and driving the sentiment up, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

“There are gradual improvements in the market sentiment, with positive sentiments coming in from lowered policy rates and inflation,” an analyst said.

The market generated foreign inflows of 12 million rupees and received a net foreign inflow of 18 million rupees, due to low share prices and discounted shares followed by a dividend announcement.

The market generated a revenue of 554 million rupees, this is the lowest the turnover has been since May 10, while the daily turnover average was 1 billion rupees. From the total generated revenue, the banking sector contributed 120 million rupees, Diversified Banks contributed 115 million rupees and the Capital Goods Industry generated 78 million rupees.

Top losers during trade were Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and Aitken Spence. (Colombo/June06/2023)

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Sri Lanka Treasuries yields plunge, 12-month down 318bp

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields plunged across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 12-month yield falling 318 basis points, in one of the biggest one day falls, data from the state debt office showed.

The 3-month yield fell 244 basis points to 23.21 percent.

The 6-mont yield fell 339 basis points to 21.90 percent, along with the 12 months to 19.10 percent.

The short-term yield curve is inverted.

The central bank last week cut its policy rate 250 basis points in a signaling move but is not printing money to enforce the rate cut.

The debt office sold all 140 billion rupees of offered securities. (Colombo/June07/2023)

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Sri Lanka forex reserves rise US$722mn in May 2023

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves grew 722 million US dollars to 3,483 million US dollars in May 2023 from 2,761 million US dollars in April, official data showed amid weak credit and better inflows.

Sri Lanka lost almost all its reserve in over two years as the central bank sold reserves and printed money to keep rates down (sterilized reserves sales) including borrowed dollars from India.

Gross official reserves fell to a low of 1,705 million US dollars in September 2022.

Sri Lanka’s central bank hiked rates in April 2022 to slow credit and also stopped printing money after it ran out of borrowed Asian Clearing Union dollars from India.

Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves are made up of both monetary reserves of the central bank and any balances of the Treasury account from loans or grants it gets.

The central bank’s net foreign reserves are still negative after busting up borrowed reserves to suppress rates. By April (before the collection of reserves in May) the central bank’s net reserves were negative by 3.7 billion US dollars.

In May alone 662 million US dollars were bought from the market, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.


No pre-determined level to stop Sri Lanka rupee appreciation: CB Governor

Borrowing dollars through swaps and busting them up, was invented by the US Federal Reserve as it was printing money and breaking the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s.

Sri Lanka received a 350 million US dollar tranche from the Asian Development Bank and 331 million US dollars from the IMF to the Treasury for budget support.

The loans can be sold to the central bank by the government to generate rupees and spend. However, since credit is weak, not all the inflows go out of the country particularly as the central bank is conducting deflationary open market operations on a net basis.

By allowing the rupee to appreciate unlike in previous episodes of recovery in an IMF program, after a bout of money printing, the central bank is bringing down inflation – in some cases absolute prices – and restoring confidence and easing the ‘pain’ of ‘monetary policy’ or stimulus.


Why is Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciating?

Though exports are falling, tourism revenues are also picking up.

The budget support loans, tourism receipts less the reserve collected will widen the trade deficit. Building foreign reserves involves lending money to the US or other western nations and is similar to repaying foreign debt. (Colombo/June07/2023)

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