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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

Sri Lanka rupee allowed to fall, expects Rs230 to dollar rate: Central Bank

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s central bank said it is abandoning a 200 to the US dollar peg after printing money though multiple means which were making outflows greater than inflows, creating forex shortages and parallel exchange rates.

The central bank said “greater flexibility in the exchange rate will be allowed to the markets with immediate effect.”

“The Central Bank is also of the view that forex transactions would take place at levels which are not more than Rs. 230 per US dollar.”

The rupee is trading in the kerb market around 249 to the US dollar. Exporters have been selling unofficially around 245 to the US dollar.

It is not clear whether the 230 rate will be controlled or it will be a allowed to free float.

Devaluations are hit or miss affairs, analysts say, unlike a clean float which is followed by a steep rate hike to curb domestic credit which succeeds every time.

The current statement came after a 100bp rate hike, which is still far below inflation of 15.1 percent with the budget deficit also around 10 percent of gross domestic product.

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The earlier 200 to the dollar non-credible peg was only partially defended through ‘reserves for imports’ leading to forex shortages.

The central bank has surrender requirements, which can undermined the exchange rate, analysts say.

The central bank has lost reserves after record money printing to keep interest rates artificially low and the ability to defend the currency peg.

The full statement is reproduced below:

Policy package to support greater macroeconomic stability: Allowing flexibility in the exchange rate

Considering the severity of the external shocks and recent developments in the domestic front, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka announced a comprehensive policy package on 04 March 2022 with the view to counter such economic headwinds.

The Central Bank also indicated that it will continue to closely monitor the emerging macroeconomic and financial market developments, both globally and domestically, and will stand ready to take further measures as appropriate, with the aim of achieving stability in the fronts of inflation, the external sector, the financial sector, and real economic activity.

In that context, greater flexibility in the exchange rate will be allowed to the markets with immediate effect. The Central Bank is also of the view that forex transactions would take place at levels which are not more than Rs. 230 per US dollar.

The Central Bank will continue to closely monitor the developments in the domestic foreign exchange market and make appropriate policy adjustments accordingly.

Comments (3)

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  1. K.wijesuriya says:

    Central bank has no any other option .
    But we are sure this will not be the end.
    If the government stop unnecessary 600 items of imports
    definitely crisis will end.This step should be taken without delay
    In the meantime even for other imports Forex controlling system should be applied.

    by the government.
    Otherwise central bank will face the same problem again and again.

  2. Dickie bird says:

    ” The rupee is trading in the kerb market around 249 to the US dollar”
    If so knowingly the CB has been shitting on their brains.
    Why not bring in greater flexibility by fixing it at 250 per $$
    In the current circumstances a further surge is inevitable.

  3. Lal de Silva says:

    Decision to devalue the rupee was long over due. Even now it is not clear whether this a free float. If the correct decision was taken sometime back the country could have saved lot of foreign exchange.

View all comments (3)

Comments (3)

Cancel reply

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

  1. K.wijesuriya says:

    Central bank has no any other option .
    But we are sure this will not be the end.
    If the government stop unnecessary 600 items of imports
    definitely crisis will end.This step should be taken without delay
    In the meantime even for other imports Forex controlling system should be applied.

    by the government.
    Otherwise central bank will face the same problem again and again.

  2. Dickie bird says:

    ” The rupee is trading in the kerb market around 249 to the US dollar”
    If so knowingly the CB has been shitting on their brains.
    Why not bring in greater flexibility by fixing it at 250 per $$
    In the current circumstances a further surge is inevitable.

  3. Lal de Silva says:

    Decision to devalue the rupee was long over due. Even now it is not clear whether this a free float. If the correct decision was taken sometime back the country could have saved lot of foreign exchange.

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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