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Thursday June 8th, 2023

Sri Lanka may have to pay up to 4-pct interest, extra surcharges, on IMF loan: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka may have to pay interest of 4 percent and additional surcharges on an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan from the International Monetary Fund, State Minister of Finance, Ranjith Siyamabalapitiya has said.

“This is a loan approval, that we have gotten for the eighth time and we may even have to pay interest of 4 percent for this loan we have taken,” Minister Siyambalapitiya told parliament.

Sri Lanka is getting an EFF loan of 2.9 billion US dollar or 2.286 billion Special Drawing Rights. It is 395 percent of Sri Lanka’s SDR quota with the IMF.

The basic EFF facility comes with SDR interest rate plus 100 basis points.

At the moment the SDR interest rate which is a composite of US dollar, Sterling, Euro, Yen and Yuan is high at 3.363 percent after economist printed money and drove inflation to high levels.

If the loan disbursements exceed 187.5 percent of quota, an additional 2 percent will be charged, Siyambalapitiya said.

If Fund credit outstanding remains above 187.5 percent of quota for over 3 years, the surcharge rises to 3 percent.

“Surcharges are designed to discourage large and prolonged use of IMF resources,” according to the IMF.

Sri Lanka already has unpaid IMF loans taken after the central bank printed money in 2015 and trigged balance of payments troubles in the course of trying to target inflation despite being a reserve collecting central bank, critics have said.

In early 2015, 12 month inflation was near zero in 2015 due to base effects of the 2012 currency crisis inflation waning and Yellen quantity tightening in 2014 which was pushing commodity prices down, analysts say.

At the beginning of 2015, the central bank was already running inflationary open market operations by terminating term repo deals to artificially stop rates market rising amid a strong credit recovery, and losing forex reserves.

As of December 2022, Sri Lanka had loans of 798 million SDR or 138 percent of the country’s quota, according to IMF program documents.

Fund credit outstanding is expected to peak at 3.6 percent of GDP and 27 percent of gross reserves.

Repayments and interest would peak in 2031 at 3.5 percent of gross reserves, according to IMF documents.

Loans are also charged a commitment fee levied at the beginning of each 12-month period on amounts that could be drawn in the period. The fee is 15 basis points for committed amounts up to 115 percent of quota, 30 basis points on committed amounts above 115 percent and up to 575 percent of quota 60 basis points after that. (Colombo/Mar24/2023)

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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 as deflationary policy and weak credit reduced ‘above the line’ outflows.

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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