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Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka may halt rice imports to maintain farmgate paddy prices: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will gradually reduce and halt imports of rice to maintain paddy (rough rice) prices amid complaints from farmers about lower than expected prices, Plantations Industries Minister Ramesh Pathirana said.

“Due to fears that there will be a reduction in food stocks we imported some rice in the past,” Minister Pathirana said referring to a discussion at the cabinet of ministers.

“We decided to progressively reduce it and halt imports.”

“We have got a reasonable harvest in Yala for season. We expect to receive fertilizer for the Maha season. Given that backdrop we do not think there will be a food scarcity in the country.”

Sri Lanka’s farmers are estimated to have grown 512,000 hectares of rice in the minor Yala cultivation season amid good rains and high paddy prices, which is a record.

However the yield at some farms may be lower than usual due to the use of organic fertilizer and not getting chemical fertilizer in time. As a result the harvest may not be a record.

Sri Lanka’s rice prices however are around double the previous year after the central bank printed money and the rupee collapsed from 182 to the 360 to the US dollar in a float failed by too low interest rates and a surrender requirement.

Though there is no shortage foods is not unaffordable to lower income segments with inflation outpacing the value of salaries.

Sri Lanka retail prices are now around 220 rupees which is higher than global prices.

Farmers were expecting around 120 rupees a kilogram after the state Paddy Marketing Board promised to buy paddy at the price.

“The farmer are complaining about the price,” Minister Pathirana said. “They are getting about 100 rupees per kilogram for paddy.

“They are expecting a higher price than that. If we continue to import from other countries they will not get a good price.”

Sri Lanka’s farmers do not grow internationally traded grades of rice unlike farmers in Pakistan and India. They have also been given years of import protection at the expense of the nutrition of the poorer sections of society.

After the currency collapse, farming costs shot up. This season tractor hire to prepare fields went up from around 12,000 rupees an acre in the last season to 22,000 to 24,000 rupees an acre with a steep rise in diesel prices.

Sri Lanka authorities promised farmers around 120 rupee a kilogram floor price through the state-run Paddy Marketing Board.

However the state agency has not been able to buy rice at all locations and the private sector is buying around 100 rupees, farmers have said.

The government is looking at boosting funds for the PMB, Minister Pathirana said.

“The Paddy Marketing Board PMB has asked for more credit from banks to buy rice. But there is a problem of credit limits at banks,” Minister Pathirana said.

“We will discuss this at the cabinet sub-committee on cost of living and find an early solution and solve the problems of farmers.”

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Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lanka debt, 15 years of debt restructuring

ECONOMYNEXT — The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis, India’s The Hindustan Times reported.

While the Paris Club has yet to formally reach out to India and China, Colombo has yet to initiate a formal dialogue with the Xi Jinping regime, the newspaper reported on Saturday December 03, inferring that the chances of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approving its 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility for Sri Lanka in December now ranges from very low to nonexistent.

“This means that Sri Lanka will have to wait for the March IMF meeting of the IMF before any aid is extended by the Bretton Woods institution,” the newspaper reported.

“Fact is that for Sri Lanka to revive, creditors will have to take a huge hair cut with Paris Club clearly hinting that global south should also take the same cut as global north notwithstanding the inequitable distribution of wealth. In the meantime, as Colombo is still to get its act together and initiate a dialogue and debt reconciliation with China, it will need bridge funding to sustain the next three month before the IMF executive board meeting in March 2023. Clearly, things will get much worse for Sri Lanka before they get any better—both economically and politically,” the report said. (Colombo/Dec04/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea prices up amid low volumes

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka tea prices picked up at the last auction in November amid low volumes, brokers said.

“Auction offerings continued to record a further decline and totalled 4.2 million Kilograms, of which Ex-Estate offerings comprised of 0.6 million Kilograms. There was good demand,” Forbes and Walker Tea brokers said.

“In the Ex-Estate catalogues, overall quality of teas showed no appreciable change. Here again, there was good demand in the backdrop of extremely low volumes.”

High Growns

BOP Best Westerns were firm to 50 rupees per kg dearer. Below best and plainer types were Rs.50/- per kg easier on last.

Nuwara Eliya’s were firm.

BOPF Best Westerns were firm to selectively dearer. Below best and plainer teas declined by 50 rupees per kg.

Uva/Uda Pussellawas’ were generally firm and price variances were often reflective of quality with the exception of Select Best Uva BOPF’s which were firm and up to 50 rupees per kilogram dearer.

CTC teas, in general, were mostly firm.

“Most regular buyers were active, with perhaps a slightly more forceful trend from the local trade,” brokers said.

Corresponding OP1’s met with improved demand. Well-made OP/OPA’s in general were fully firm, whilst the Below Best varieties and poorer sorts met with improved demand. PEK/PEK1’s, in general, were fully firm to selectively dearer.

In the Tippy catalogues, well-made FBOP/FF1’s sold around last levels, whilst the cleaner Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated. Balance too were dearer to a lesser extent.

In the Premium catalogues, very Tippy teas continued to attract good demand. Best were firm to selectively dearer, whilst the Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated

Low Growns

Low Growns comprised 1.8 million Kilograms. Market met with improved demand, in general.

In the Leafy & Semi Leafy catalogues, select Best BOP1/OP1’s were fully firm, whilst the Below Best/bolder BOP1’s were barely steady.

Low-grown teas, farmed mainly by smallholders and exported to the Middle East and Central Asia, are the most sought-after and expensive Ceylon Teas.

Low-grown CTC prices have gained this week to 982.80 per kilogram this week from 934.76 per kilogram last week.

Few Select best BOP1s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower. Poorer types maintained.

BOPF’s in general, firm market.

FBOPF/FBOPF1’s select best and best increased in value, whilst the below best and bottom held firm.

Selected best BOP1’s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower.Poorer types maintained.

OP1’s selects best together with best and below best were firm to dearer. Poorer sorts were fully firm.

Medium Growns

BOPF’s, select best gained by 50 rupees per kilogram. Others maintained.

BOP1’s select best dearer by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others moved up by 50 rupees per kg.

OP1: select best gained by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others dearer by 100 rupees per kg.

OP/OPA’s in general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg whilst the poorer sorts were firm.

PEK’s Select best gained by 50 rupees per kg whilst all others maintained. PEK1: In general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg. (Colombo/Dec 04/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka Ports Authority East Terminal contractor paid: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Authority had paid a deposit for a gantry crane and made the required payment for the contractor to complete building the East Container Terminal, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said.

The East Container Terminal, a part of which is already built is being completed as a fully SLPA owned terminal at a cost of 480 million dollars Ports and Shipping Minister de Silva said.

“ECT we are funding with money available in the ports authority,” he said.

“Up to now we have paid an advance for the gantry crane. And for the construction we have paid all the money agreed with the contractor. So that is going on well.”

Sri Lanka is undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s soft-pegged (flexible exchange rate) central bank which has created difficulties in funding the project.

“Every penny we collect as dollars we are keeping them separately and utilizing that for the Eastern Terminal work,” Minister de Silva said.

“We are confident that the ECT will be completed within the envisaged time. It is a difficult task in view of the dollar problem.

Banks were also not releasing the dollar deposits of the SLPA earlier but are now doing so, he said.

“Our deposits in banks they have utilized for urgent other national purposes,” he said.

“So they are releasing that money slowly. I am happy that they are releasing that money little by little. So with that we will be able to manage that.”

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