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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

Sri Lanka predatory lenders abuse financial ignorance of people

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s unregulated financial institutions thrive on the financial ignorance of the people by exploiting vulnerable households, Ravi Abeysuriya, an investment professional, said.

“Many unregulated financial institutions operate in the country because they thrive on the financial ignorance of the people,” said Abeysuriya, Director of CFA Society Sri Lanka, the local chapter of Chartered Financial Analysts institute.

Financial literacy means a combination of financial knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to make sound financial decisions, based on economic and personal circumstances, to improve one’s financial well-being.

A recent joint study done by the Finance Ministry and Central Bank officials found that unregulated lenders have exploited and charged the borrowers as high as 200 percent interest, Abeysuriya said.

“Central Bank can only regulate deposit-taking institution but not very much lending,” Abeysuriya said at the Financial Literacy Public Lecture organized by the Centre for Banking Studies.

The lack of regulation of predatory lending and the financial ignorance of the people have resulted in many suicides in the country.

“Predatory lending is a financial crime,” Abeysuriya said, noting that aggressive lending and the recovery practises of these lenders have caused a lot of indebtedness among borrowers.

“It does not stop at this, sometimes they (lenders) go in to undesirable things such as exploiting the women because they borrowed in the objective of starting a small venture but in the end they had to sell themselves too,” said Abeysuriya.

“Ideal situation is we should have a ‘National Credit Act’ which South Africa has, so that lending can be regulated,” he said.
(COLOMBO, April 10, 2019)
 

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A new Sri Lanka monetary law may have prevented 2019 tax cuts?

ECONOMYNEXT – A new monetary law planned in 2019, if it had been enacted may have prevented the steep tax cuts made in that year which was followed by unprecedented money printing, ex-Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

The bill for the central bank law was ready in 2019 but the then administration ran out of parliamentary time to enact it, he said.

Economists backing the new administration slashed taxes in December 2019 and placed price controls on Treasuries auctions bought new and maturing securities, claiming that there was a ‘persistent output gap’.

Coomaraswamy said he keeps wondering whether “someone sitting in the Treasury would have implemented those tax cuts” if the law had been enacted.

“We would never know,” he told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The new law however will sill allow open market operations under a highly discretionary ‘flexible’ inflation targeting regime.

A reserve collecting central bank which injects money to push down interest rates as domestic credit recovers triggers forex shortages.

The currency is then depreciated to cover the policy error through what is known as a ‘flexible exchange rate’ which is neither a clean float nor a hard peg.

From 2015 to 2019 two currency crises were triggered mainly through open market operations amid public opposition to direct purchases of Treasury bills, analysts have shown.

Sri Lanka’s central bank generally triggers currency crises in the second or third year of the credit cycle by purchasing maturing bills from existing holders (monetizing the gross financing requirement) as private loan demand pick up and not necessarily to monetize current year deficits, critics have pointed out.

Past deficits can be monetized as long as open market operations are permitted through outright purchases of bill in the hands of banks and other holders.

In Latin America central banks trigger currency crises mainly by their failure to roll-over sterilization securities. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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Sri Lanka cabinet clears CEB re-structure proposal: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has cleared proposals by a committee to re-structure state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijeskera said.

“Cabinet approval was granted today to the recommendations proposed by the committee on Restructuring CEB,” he said in a twitter.com message.

“The Electricity Reforms Bill will be drafted within a month to begin the unbundling process of CEB & work on a rapid timeline to get the approval of the Parliament needed.”

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board finances had been hit by failure to operate cost reflective tariffs and there are capacity shortfalls due to failure to implement planned generators in time. (Colombo/Nov28/2022)

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Sri Lanka new CB law to cabinet soon as IMF prior action

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new central bank law will be submitted to the cabinet as a prior action of International Monetary Fund with clauses to improve governance and legalize ‘flexible’ inflation targeting, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

Under the new law members of the monetary board will be appointed by the country’s Constitutional Council replacing the current system of the Finance Minister making appointments.

“It will be a bipartisan approach,” Governor Weerasinghe told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, Colombo-based brokerage.

“The central bank’s ability to finance the budget deficit will be taken out. Thirdly the flexible inflation targeting regime will be recognized in the law as the framework.”

The law will also make macro-prudential surveillance formally under the bank.

There will be two governing boards, one for the management of the agency and one to conduct monetary policy.

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