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Thursday December 7th, 2023

Sri Lanka minister wants IMF bailout, hints at letting national carrier go

ECONOMYNEXT – Amid reports that cash-strapped Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition is split down the middle over an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, another cabinet minister on Wednesday (29) spoke in favour of IMF assistance, even going as far as to hint at the sale of the country’s national carrier.

“We will have to go to the IMF. There is nothing wrong with that… since we have no other option,” Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said speaking to reporters on Wednesday (29).

Amaraweera is a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is increasingly at odds with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana  Peramuna (SLPP). State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, the SLFP’s general secretary, had also recently advocated going to the IMF.

“Of course, we need to not accept every condition put forward by the IMF,” said Amaraweera.

“We have been informed that the central bank governor and the Treasury Secretary will be joining the cabinet meeting next Monday (03). I think we will be able to reach a final consensus then,” he added.

Co-cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma on December 21 told reporters that the cabinet had “exchanged views” on an IMF bailout for the second week in a row but no decision had been made.

Minister Amaraweera, meanwhile, also commented on SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier, and other under-performing state owned enterprises (SOEs).

“At this point, we may have to let go of certain institutes. For example, SriLankan suffers losses in the billions. These losses are borne by people who have never even touched [an aircraft],” he said.

A day before Sri Lanka raised fuel prices last week, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena told reporters that the IMF would ask to cut the bloated public sector, reduce the budget deficit, make state enterprises profitable, and raise fuel and electricity prices.

A few days earlier, State Minister Jayasekera said after last week’s cabinet meeting that the IMF imposes conditions such as making state enterprises profitable.

“It is a good thing to do that,” Jayasekera said.

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa had already said the state workers and state enterprises were a big burden on the economy.

Older IMF baiout programs typically involve cutting the deficit with tax hikes (revenue based), trimming expenses (spending based) expressed as a net domestic finance target, a foreign reserve target and a reserve money target.

However Sri Lanka’s last failed extended fund facility from IMF program where money was printed within the program to create forex shortages and worsen foreign debt, an inflation target was given and the budget target was defined as a primary deficit.

Instead of a measurable reserve money or ceiling on central bank credit an inflation target was given, allowing the trigger happy central bank to print money and trigger a currency crisis within the program.

Under revenue based fiscal consolidation, state spending soared and the currency collapsed from 151 to 183 under a so-called flexible exchange rate where the exchange flipped from pegged to floating rapidly and interventions were sterilized on top of it. (Colombo/Dec29/2021)

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COP28 sees new era for climate action with $57 bln pledge; Sri Lanka’s proposals need approval

ECONOMYNEXT – The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) has witnessed governments, businesses, investors, and philanthropies announcing support of over $57 billion across the climate agenda in just the first four days of the global event with eight pledges and declarations receiving historic support.

After a historic deal to operationalize a fund for climate impact response on the first day, announcements have poured in across the entire climate agenda, including on finance, health, food, nature, and energy.

On climate finance, the COP28 host United Arab Emirates launched a $30 billion catalytic fund, ALTÉRRA, with an emphasis on unlocking private finance across the Global South.

The host nation also has announced $200 million for SDRs and $150 million for water scarcity.

The World Bank has announced an increase of $9 billion annually to finance climate-related projects, while the first two days of COP28 saw $725 million in pledges after a historic response to loss and damage was operationalized.

Eight new declarations have been announced which are expected to help transform every major system of the global economy.

These include the first ever declarations on food systems transformation and health, plus declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emitting industries.

The eight declarations are:

  • The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge has been endorsed by 119 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food, & Climate has received endorsements from 137 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health has been endorsed by 125 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Relief, Recovery & Peace has been endorsed by 74 countries and 40 organizations.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Finance has been endorsed by 12 countries.
  • The Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (Champ) Pledge has been endorsed by 64 countries.
  • The Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter has been endorsed by 51 companies, representing 40 percent of global oil production.
  • The Industrial Transition Accelerator has been endorsed by 35 companies and six industry associations, including World Steel Association, International Aluminium Institute, Global Renewable Alliance, Global Cement and Concrete Association, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, International Air Transport Association.

Three additional declarations will be announced in the coming days on hydrogen, cooling, and gender. The number of countries supporting these declarations and pledges is growing and demonstrates an unprecedented level of inclusivity at this COP.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced three new proposals: Climate Justice Forum (CJF), Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI), and International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka.

However, the proposals are yet to get approval from the general UN body though the island nation’s authorities expect wide support for the moves.

“What we have done is to talk to countries about the initiatives and launch them. Next step is for them to be formally recognized by the main body,” Ruwan Wijewardena, the Senior Advisor to President Wickremesinghe on Climate change, told Economy Next.

Breakdown of financial pledges and contributions so far:

  • Loss and Damage: $725 million
  • Green Climate Fund: $3.5 billion (increasing second replenishment to $12.8 billion)
  • Renewable Energy: $2.5 billion
  • Technology: $568 million
  • Methane: $1.2 billion
  • Climate Finance: Over $30 billion from UAE (plus $200 million in Special Drawing Rights and an increase of $9 billion annually from the World Bank)
  • Food: $2.6 Billion
  • Nature: $2.6 Billion
  • Health: $2.7 billion
  • Water: $150 million
  • Relief, Recovery and Peace: $1.2 billion
  • Local Climate Action: $467 million (Dubai/Dec 6/2023)
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Sri Lanka to start international tourism branding campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will soon start a tourism international marketing campaign under the theme ‘You will come back for more,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.

“We have not had a branding campaign for 15 years,” Fernando told parliament. “A campaign has been developed by Ogilvy.

“It will help us reach the target of 2.3 million tourists next year.”

This year Sri Lanka is expecting a 1.5 million tourists with close to 1.3 million reached by November.

About 6,000 tourists are now coming each day, at the moment he said.

On December 10, three cruise ships are due. (Colombo/Nov06/2023)

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Sri Lanka 3-month Treasuries yields fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill yields eased across maturities with the tree month yield falling 19 basis points to 14.67 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

A total of 185 billion rupees in bills were sold, with sharply lower than offered volumes in 12-months sold.

The debt office offered 55 billion rupees of 3 -month bills and sold 87 billion.

92 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold after offering 60 billion at 14.38 percent down 14 basis points.

Only 5.2 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold after offering 70 billion rupees, at 12.88 percent, down 01 basis point. (Colombo/Dec06/2023)

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