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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka policy rate hiked 700bp to 14.5-pct amid rupee fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankas central bank under its newly appointed Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe has raised its policy rate at which money is printed by 700 basis points to 14.50 percent to slow the economy, reduce imports and stabilize the currency.

Sri Lanka had low interest rates, including rates below the the interbank dollar yield as shown by swap discounts.

The higher rates will encourage the sale of dollars.

The hike is the highest since a 300 basis point increase by then-Governor A S Jayewardene on 18.01.2001 before a float of the currency.

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on 08 April 2022, decided to increase the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 700 basis points to 13.50 per cent and 14.50 per cent, respectively, effective from the close of business on 08 April 2022.

The Board, having noted the inflationary pressures that could further intensify in the period ahead, driven by the build-up of aggregate demand, domestic supply disruptions, exchange rate depreciation and the elevated prices of commodities globally, was of the view that a substantial policy response is imperative to arrest the buildup of added demand driven inflationary pressures in the economy and preempt the escalation of adverse inflationary expectations, to provide the required impetus to stabilise the exchange rate and also to correct anomalies observed in the market interest rate structure.

Comments (1)

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  1. Shantha Balasuriya, says:

    Exchange depreciation by 60% is not adequate enough to control the demand and in that context rate increase of 7.50 %wont be sufficient to control demand for imports. I think country should take some additional tough measures to control unwanted imports to facilitate positive BOP.
    These type of rate increases would badly impact the SME sector in particular and all other productive and employment creating sectors.
    Pushing the cost up add fuel to the already high inflationary fears.
    60% currency depreciation coupled with doubling interest cost would only support the high inflation which people can’t afford.
    Only solution central bank,customs aNd import control to control the non essential imports to achieve some dollar flows to central bank.
    If you can achieve more supply than demand forcefully black market also can disaappear.

    If not high inflation would support the burden on people and as a result social unrest..

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

  1. Shantha Balasuriya, says:

    Exchange depreciation by 60% is not adequate enough to control the demand and in that context rate increase of 7.50 %wont be sufficient to control demand for imports. I think country should take some additional tough measures to control unwanted imports to facilitate positive BOP.
    These type of rate increases would badly impact the SME sector in particular and all other productive and employment creating sectors.
    Pushing the cost up add fuel to the already high inflationary fears.
    60% currency depreciation coupled with doubling interest cost would only support the high inflation which people can’t afford.
    Only solution central bank,customs aNd import control to control the non essential imports to achieve some dollar flows to central bank.
    If you can achieve more supply than demand forcefully black market also can disaappear.

    If not high inflation would support the burden on people and as a result social unrest..

Sri Lanka president slams power regulator chief after conflicting with minister

ECONOMYNET – The powers to change the electricity tariff in Sri Lanka is vested with the Minister of Power and not the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL), President Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Parliament.

The minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekara has requested an upward price revision to be implemented in two phases both in January and July next year, saying the recent tariff hike was not enough for the state-run utility provider Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to continue uninterrupted power supply.

However, Jaynaka Ratnayake, the Chairman of the PUCSL had said  the recent tariff hike is enough for the CEB to cover the cost of production and it will not allow another price hike. However, he has said a twice a year price revision is necessary though it should be in April and October instead of January and July.

President Wickremesinghe said the PUCSL chief was opposing the tariff hike due to his personal reasons.

“The power is vested with the Minister and me. I am the one who made the PUCSL act and I know what is in it,” Wickremesinghe told the parliament on Thursday. quoting a letter from the Attorney General which mentioned provisions in the island nation’s Electricity Act.

Accordingly the Act, the PUCSL would be statutorily obliged to give effect to such policy. It is observed that neither the Act nor the PUCSL Act contains any provisions that empowers the PUCSL to change or act invariant of such policy guidelines.

“The Chairman of the PUCSL is misguiding the general public. I have to meet him and see,” Wickremesinghe said.

WIckremesinghe said the Chairman does not want the tariff hike because he owns one of the highest electricity consuming companies.

“He is the Chairman of the Trillium corporation. It is the firm that takes up the most energy”, he said.

The Trillium group is managed by Janaka Ratnayake and he also holds positions as the chairman and CEO of Trillium Property Management & Services Ltd., City Housing and Real Estate PLC, Trillium Residencies Ltd., Computer Care (Pvt) Ltd., and Rent a Comp Services (Pvt) Ltd., and JR Management Consultants (Pvt) Ltd.

“It means when the electricity bill increases, his expenses increase as well”

He said the CEB still has a loss of 300 billion rupees since 2013 and it needs to be covered.

The CEB issue can be solved only in three ways, either printing more money, increasing value added tax or increasing the tariffm, he said. (Colombo/Dec08/2022)

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Sri Lanka President bemoans over inconsistent LNG deals

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe bemoaned over successive governments’ liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal that has brought in all the world powers into the discussion.

Wickremesinghe’s center-right United National Party (UNP) had discussions with India and Japan between 2002-2004 for an LNG project.

“Following dialogues with India and Japan, the UNP government could come to agreements to get two LNG power plants. After we were defeated the successor government, without cancelling those agreements granted it to New Fortress company in USA,” Wickremesinghe told the parliament.

“Thereafter, as they did not like New Fortress, they gave it back to Pakistan and China. So within the same premises, there were China, Pakistan, India, USA, Japan and only Russia was not there.”

“It was wonderful that a world war did not ignited there as there were five main powers in the world.”

“Now there is no LNG or anything here and now they ask me to solve this issue.”

Wickremesighe’s outburst comes as his government is forced to raise tariffs on power prices after successive governments failed to implement cheap and renewable power generation projects.

He said a total loss for the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board since 2013 was 300 billion rupees and a possible drought next year could increase the 2023 electricity cost to 420 billion rupees.

“If it rained, we need Rs. 352 billion while Rs. 295 is required if rained so much to have floods. How are we going to find this money? We would have to print money, but Rupee would depreciate. We would have to increase VAT but it would increase the price of all commodities or to charge it direct.” (Colombo/Dec08/2022)

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Air quality drop forces Sri Lanka to close schools; public warned

ECONOMYNEXT – A rapid drop in air quality in Sri Lanka has forced the Colombo government to close all schools across the country after a deep depression over Southeast Bay of Bengal, officials said.

The Education Ministry, issuing a special notice on Thursday said, it has decided to close all government schools for Friday, after discussing with the officials in Meteorology Department and Disaster Management Center.

An official said the drop was due to the deep depression over Southeast Bay of Bengal carrying the air from India.

Due to the depression over South east Bay of Bengal (370 km east of Trincomalee) has concentrated into a cyclonic storm “Mandous” by Wednesday night.

“Cyclone in the Bay of Bengal that is the prime reason for the increase in the pollution load as we receive more wind from India,” H.D.S.Premasiri, Senior Scientist, Coordinator-Air Quality, noise and vibrations at National Building Research Organization (NBRO) told EconomyNext on Thursday.

Officials said there is a likelihood of the cyclone moving west-northwestwards and further intensify into a severe cyclonic storm tonight and cross North Tamil-Nadu, Puducherry and South Andhra Pradesh coast around midnight of 09 th December and the maximum wind speeds will be 70-90 km per hour and can increase up to 90 in sea areas.

“Hopefully, today we can expect normalization in the environment and the effects of the fog will disappear”.

According to the NBRO’s real time Air Quality Index Indicator, the quality of air in northwestern coastal district of Puttalam has dropped drastically and indicated a particular matter (PM) 132, while Kegalle (85) and Mannar (84) were the districts which had next worst air quality.

According to NBRO, Battaramulla, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Kegalle, Mannar and Puttalam indicate a poor quality of air due to higher PM.

“The fog will lead to lung and breathing issues,” Premasiri said.

“So the public is warned to wear a mask when they travel outside. The pollution highly prevails in city areas and has a less impact on the other parts of the areas.” (Colombo/ Dec08/2022)

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