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Monday April 15th, 2024

Sri Lanka shares slip as government eases import restrictions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares slipped at the close on Thursday as selling pressure increased following the government’s decision to relax import restrictions imposed two years ago, an analyst said.

The government plans to lift import controls on 100 items that were banned during forex shortages in the past two years, which had been hurting small and medium-sized industries, State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said.

“Stocks went down due to selling pressures resulting from relaxed import restrictions, which are expected to reduce the monopolistic powers held by domestic retailers,” an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was down 0.48 percent or 42.45 points at 8,712.72, while the most liquid index, S&P SL20, was down 0.27 percent or 6.73 points at 2,493.82.

The main reason for the market’s negative sentiment is the loss of monopoly as import restrictions ease, an analyst said.

The top losers during trading were Vallibel, Expolanka, and DFCC Bank.

“Vallibel One was bringing the market down due to its tile holdings, which are affecting the entire market,” an analyst said.

Sri Lanka’s central bank has terminated the cash margin requirement on import letters of credit that was imposed over the previous 12 months to limit imports, as liquidity injection triggered forex shortages and a currency collapse.

In an order issued under the monetary law, the central bank imposed a 100 percent cash deposit margin on 843 imports on May 19, 2022, and February 16, 2023, to discourage imports.

Sri Lanka had controlled imports of 3,000 items denoted by HS codes out of a total of 8,000 during the past two years.

The controls were then brought down to 1,000 as they were hurting small and medium-sized industries that depended on inputs.

“By the beginning of next month, we will be able to lift controls on another 100 items,” Minister Semasinghe told parliament.

The market generated revenue of 893 million rupees, while the daily average turnover was 1.2 billion rupees.

The market generated a foreign inflow of 507 million rupees, the highest inflow since February 08. The net foreign inflow was 494 million rupees.(Colombo/May 25, 2023)

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Sri Lanka to discuss two contentious points with bondholders: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and sovereign bondholders are to discuss two matters in the near future which the two sides failed to reach agreement at March talks in London, a media report quoting a top aide to President Wickremesinghe as saying.

Sri Lanka and bondholders had discussed four matters on restructuring international sovereign bonds in late March and agreement had been reached on two, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was quoted as saying on state-run ITN television.

A restructuring proposal by bondholders was not in line with IMF requirements, and Sri Lanka had sent a counter proposal, he said.

The matters will be discussed at round of talks in the near future.

Sri Lanka was optimistic of reaching an agreement with the bondholders before June, officials have said.

According to matters already in the public domain, sovereign bond holders are keen to get a bond tied to dollar gross domestic product, as they feel IMF growth projections are too low.

In past re-structuring so-called value recovery instruments, a type of warrant, gave their owners extra payments if a country did better than expected and were tied to items like oil prices.

Bondholders had initially proposed bond which would have a lower hair cut initially, and it will have additional hair cuts if growth is low (about 3.1 percent) as projected in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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BIMSTEC Secretary General visits Sri Lanka, discusses regional cooperation

ECONOMYNEXT – The Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), discussed measures to enhance regional cooperation, during his visit to the island last week.

Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Secretary General of BIMSTEC visited Sri Lanka from 07 – 12 April 2024, following his assumption of office as Secretary General of BIMSTEC in January this year.

The Secretary General “met with senior officials of relevant Ministries/Agencies to discuss measures to enhance regional cooperation under various BIMSTEC initiatives,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Several BIMSTEC countries have bilateral trade agreements, such as Sri Lanka and India, Thailand and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, but no collective regional agreement to enable intra-regional leverage.

During the visit, Secretary General Pandey held discussions with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and paid courtesy calls on the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Secretary General Pandey participated at an event on “Regional Cooperation through BIMSTEC” organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on 9 April. (Colombo/April15/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 299.00/10 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 299.00/10 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Monday, from 298.50/55 on Wednesday, dealers said, while bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed stable at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent up from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.20/40 percent. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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