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Wednesday June 7th, 2023

Sri Lanka rupee opens 312/318 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 312/318 to the US dollar Thursday and was quoted around 318/319 to the dollar in late morning trade in the spot market, dealers said.

The rupee closed around 317/319 to the US dollar on Wednesday.

Business was done as strong as 315 to the US dollar, in intra day trade, dealer said.

Cash deals (same day settlement) went for 312 dealers, said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee started to strengthen from around 360 to the US dollar after a surrender rule was relaxed and selling started amid negative private credit.

Since selling emerged, the central bank was the main buyer, with importers taking a back seat waiting the appreciation to end.

There is an upcoming Sri Lanka Development Bond maturity for which can reduce bank sales of dollars for a period.

As long as a central bank keeps mopping up liquidity generated from dollar purchase or part of the liquidity (effectively sells sterilization securities in to the banking system), without trying to operate an artificially low policy rate with liquidity injections, it can continue to collect reserves and maintain the credibility of the peg indefinitely as some East Asian and Middle Eastern nations do.

Sri Lanka has a multiple anchor conflicting monetary regime which lead to frequent currency collapses and analysts have warned that the violently conflicting policies are set to be lagalized in a new under an International Monetary Fund program.

ReadSri Lanka tables controversial draft monetary law with multiple anchors

The rupee was under upward pressure after private credit turned negative following tight monetary policy followed by Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and energy price reforms and tax hikes which reduced state credit demand.

Banks had also repaid some of the outstanding accounts which came from the money printing and sterilized forex sales period when policy rates were mis-targeted.

By January 2023 Sri Lanka had recorded a balance of payments surplus of 211 million US dollars.

On Tuesday about 101 million dollars was traded on the spot market, 8.20 on cash, 7.20 tom, dealer said.

As the rupee started to appreciate, banks sold down their open positions, remittance houses speeded up transfers and some dollar deposit holders also sold, dealers said, allowing the central bank to buy large volumes of dollars and make a market. (Colombo/Mar09/2023)

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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 amid weak credit and better inflows.

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.

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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SriLankan Airlines expects $50 mln profit in FY 2023/24 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s loss making national carrier is aiming to earn a profit of 50 million US dollars, its Chief Executive Officer said, after it incurred a loss of nearly 500 million US dollars in the previous financial year.

“I think the outlook for next year is even stronger,” Richard Nuttall, CEO at SriLankan said in an interview with Channel News Asia.

“Assuming that the world stays the same in the year ahead, we expect Sri Lanka’s economy to rebound and tourism to come back, we are forecasting $50 million profit next year,” he said.

‘The Airlines incurred a whopping loss of 168.6 billion Sri Lanka rupees in the financial year 2021/22 ended in March 31, 2022, compared to the loss of 49.7 billion rupees in the previous year, the Sri Lankan has said in the past.

SriLankan Airlines is one of the 52 loss making state enterprises that the International Monetary Fund had recommended for restructuring. President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has been considering absorbing the cumulative losses of more than $1 billion and privatizing the national career.

Nuttall said though the currency depreciation did not have any impact on the profitability last year, the country’s short supply of jet fuel hurt the airline.

“So if you look at the year we just had, the year started with the economic challenges in the country in Sri Lanka. We had travel advisories. and the country ran out of jet fuel in July and August. I have never worked for an airline which does not have jet fuel in its home country before,” he said.

“So everything had to stop in India. We lost payload.” (Colombo/June 07/2023)

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