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Tuesday September 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka seeks rice bailout from China after fertilizer ban

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has sought a million tonnes of rice as a gift from China government ministers says which is expected to make good an expected crop loss from during the main Maha cultivation season from a chemical fertilizer ban.

Sri Lanka had sought the million tonnes of rice as a gift as a way mark a 30 year long barter agreement between the People’s Republic and Ceylon which ran from 1953 to 1982.

Trade Minister Bandula Gunewardena said the donation was sought during an virtual meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Colombo with the 30 years being market on December 18, 2022.

“The response was very positive from China,” Minister Gunewardene told state-run ITN television.

“What we asked was for a gift of one million metric ton of rice as paying respect for the 3 decade agreement that went on without changing under various governments.”

A million tonnes of rice is worth between 350 to 500 million dollars at current market price for Indica rice grades.

Sri Lanka’s main Maha cultivation season that end around March produces about 2.5 million metric tonnes of paddy (rough rice) and up to 3 million tonnes in good years.

About 1.9 million tonnes of milled rice is produced from a good season, which is enough for over 9 months of use at around 195,000 metric tonnes a month. Output can fall to around one 1.5 million tonnes in drought years.

A million tonne gift from China will make good a crop loss of up to 50 percent. Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers also relaxed import controls to allow 300,000 metric tonnes of rice from India.

Finance Minister Rajapaksa said in January the government will buy paddy at 75 rupees a kilo to make good a 30 percent crop loss as part of 220 billion rupee ‘relief package’.

Sri Lanka’s farmgate price for rice was around 50 to 60 rupees. But millers said it had risen to around 95 rupees at the beginning of the current harvest season which is just beginning. Farmers are also complaining of steep harvest losses.


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President Rajapaksa said this week that the government will also give 95 rupees for a kilo of rough rice.

Sri Lanka retail rice prices for milled rice now range around 130 to 150 rupees, depending on the grade.

“We need to understand that if we buy one kg per 50 rupees, then the price of it in the market will be 100 rupees,” Minister Gunewardene said.

“If we bought it for 75 rupees the market price will be 150 rupees. By saying we need to strengthen the farmers and get rice at 200 rupees per one kg the price of it in the market will be 400 rupees.

Sri Lanka had earlier banned the import of rice to keep domestic prices high and also give profits to rice millers. Attempts to bring price controls failed and created shortages.

In an improvement of policy the government has ended price controls.

“Rice mills owners said they will bring one kg price to 300 rupees,” Minister Gunewardene said.

“At that moment I told the president and the cabinet that we will not let one kg of Samba to go above 130 rupees, nadu we will try to give below 100 rupees or under 105 rupees.”

Sri Lanka’s consumer prices surged to 12.1 percent in the 12-month ending December 2021, after two years of money printing and exchange rate trouble. The central bank on Tuesday raised interest rates by 50 basis points. (Colombo/Jan21/2021)

Comments (2)

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  1. Kumar says:

    Sri Lankans better get used to Chinese sticky rice. Sticky white rice is a part of the Chinese cuisine. However, we buy good Sri Lankan rice in the US, with no arsenic. I suppose Sri Lankan mill owners get good money by exporting rice.

  2. aswin says:

    The chinese rice has already arrived. All produced from high quality plastics. Next will be a gift of medicine to solve the stomach problems created by eating plastic.

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

  1. Kumar says:

    Sri Lankans better get used to Chinese sticky rice. Sticky white rice is a part of the Chinese cuisine. However, we buy good Sri Lankan rice in the US, with no arsenic. I suppose Sri Lankan mill owners get good money by exporting rice.

  2. aswin says:

    The chinese rice has already arrived. All produced from high quality plastics. Next will be a gift of medicine to solve the stomach problems created by eating plastic.

Sri Lanka to optimize investments in mineral resources

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is exploring the optimal utilization of its mineral resources to bolster the nation’s economic growth, and the potential for creating value-added products from these resources, a state minister said.

“Given our nation’s rich mineral resources, we have devised plans to expand investment opportunities,” State minister of Urban Development and Housing, Arundika Fernando said.

“We have taken the decision to extend investment prospects along our coastline, collaborating closely with agencies such as the Investment Promotion Board and the Ministry of Lands,” Fernando said.

The minster said they were considering the introduction of a specialized bank dedicated to the development of domestic industries and introducing new legislation.

“We are committed to introducing a new environmental protection and ocean protection bill in our country. This legislation will play a vital role in safeguarding our natural resources.”

“The Department of Coastal Conservation actively participates in initiatives aimed at enhancing the value of our mineral resources. These resources have the potential to yield significant value through the production of value-added goods.”

“Our primary focus must centre on pioneering innovative programs that contribute to our country’s economic recovery. Timely and effective resource management is crucial for initiating income-generating initiatives.

From a geographical standpoint, Sri Lanka occupies a strategically vital position in Asia.

India has been eyeing Trincomalee, the mineral resource rich district, for decades. A mineral sand deposit in its northern part contains Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Monazite, Garnet, Sillimanite, and other heavy minerals, Export Development Board (EDB) data shows.

Sri Lanka’s state-run Lanka Mineral Sands Limited is to export 60,000 metric tonnes of ilmenite to China this month after a shipment of 30,000 tonnes of Zircon mineral sands was shipped out of Trincomalee harbour earlier this month.

The EDB said it had identified the value-added mineral products sector as a potential sector to be developed and promoted in the international market, and met with members of the Chamber of Mineral Exporters (CME) to discuss growing the mineral-based industry in Sri Lanka.

CME members requested the government foster foreign investments and proposed that the state conduct a comprehensive ore reserves study to maintain transparency and informed decision-making within the industry.

They asked for government support in research and development, and a 300% tax rebate for research and development activities in collaboration with Sri Lankan educational institutions.

They also requested revising royalty systems grounded in pithead value, in line with international norms and pointed out the need for an equitable approach to royalty calculations to ease the financial burden on mining entities.

Securing international accreditation for the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau laboratory in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Standards Institution to enhance global credibility was also discussed.

CME pointed out the untapped potential of numerous pocket mines in Sri Lanka, and advocated for the development of support industries equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Members also urged the government to consider duty waivers for the import of new technology and pertinent spare parts to foster innovation and elevate the sector to international standards. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Inland revenue to give tax concessions to institutions for disabled children

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved a proposal to amend the Inland Revenue Act to allow tax concessions to registered institutions collaborating with the government to provide health and education services to disabled children.

The Inland Revenue Act No. 24 of 2017 is to be amended to give tax relief to legitimate charity establishments collaborating with the government health services/education system in providing health facilities to children with disabilities, and prioritising the wellbeing of differently abled children.

Government data shows around 4 percent of the island nation’s 22 million population has some disability. The government has increased allocations for the disabled to empower them.

A new Disability Bill, aimed at safeguarding the rights of the disabled community, will be presented to Parliament this year.

The bill also aims to reduce disabled people’s dependence on government support.

“The comprehensive legislation seeks to ensure the protection of the rights of disabled individuals and their empowerment within society. This includes providing access, education and technology to all members of the disabled community,” State Social Empowerment Minister Anupa Pasqual said. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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Future SJB govt to “refine” Sri Lanka’s agreement with IMF: Harsha de Silva

ECONOMYNEXT – A future government led by the incumbent main opposition party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) will “refine” Sri Lanka’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), SJB legislator Harsha de Silva said.

The MP tweeted Monday September 26 morning that a closed-door discussion between the SJB and an IMF team that’s currently in Sri Lanka to review the ongoing programme was productive and had focused on governance, transparency and equity in the reform process.

“It was a good discussion. We were quite frank,” said de Silva in a clip he shared of him speaking to the privately owned NewsFirst network.

“Yes, we said we agree as the SJB that we need to work with the IMF, and that we accept that large-scale economic reform will have to take place. That was the baseline.

“However, the leader of the opposition said that, under our government, certain modifications will have to happen,” said de Silva.

The MP, who also chairs the parliament’s Committee on Public Finance (COPF), said this is because the people “obviously see that there is inequity in the implementation of this agreement”.

News footage of the SJB’s latest round of talks with the IMF team showed that SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa along with de Silva and a handful of his colleagues in the party were joined by former Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MPs who were vocal supporters of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. MPs Nalaka Godahewa and G L Peiris also seen joining a group photo with the IMF and the SJB lawmakers.

The SJB was among the first to demand that the then government of ex-President Rajapaksa approach the IMF before Sri Lanka’s currency crashed in 2022. Over the months since incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s administration embarked on an IMF-prescribed reform agenda, the opposition party has adopted a more critical position on the international lender.

In May,  SJB MP Kabir Hashim speaking at a public event in Monaragala alluded to a unique vision his party possesses with regard to macroeconomic development that doesn’t necessarily include the IMF.


Sri Lanka’s SJB no longer enamoured of IMF, promises new govt in three moons

The SJB’s position with regard to the IMF programme, Sri Lanka’s 17th so far, has been less than consistent. The party, which was among the first to call for a deal with the iInternational lender at the onset of the island nation’s worst currency crisis in decades, abstained from voting for the agreement in a vote taken in parliament in April.

While the SJB hasn’t quite had a drastic departure from its original pro-IMF stance, the party has been increasingly vocal of late about the socioeconomic impact of the deal.

SJB leader Premadasa earlier this year reportedly said a future SJB government would not be obligated to honour deals made by the incumbent government headed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe. MP de Silva explained later that what his party leader had meant was that Sri Lanka must negotiate terms favourable to the country when dealing with the IMF. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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