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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka shipbuilder battered in currency storm

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Colombo Dockyard Plc, a unit of Japan’s Onomichi Dockyard Company has posted a loss of 6.7 billion rupees in the September 2023 quarter, after taking write downs to account for a battering the firm got during a 2022 currency crisis.

Colombo Dockyard reported losses of 94 rupees per share for the quarter, and 137 rupees loss for the nine months on total loses of 9.8 billion rupees in interim accounts filed with the Colombo Stock Exchange.

In the September quarter revenues fell 13.3 percent to 6.89 billion rupees, cost of sales went up 30 percent to 9.7 billion rupees and there was a gross loss of 2.88 billion rupees.

The firm took a write down of 1.8 billion rupees on expected future losses.

Dockyard told shareholders it had moved to high end vessels targeting European customers and won an order for six 5,000 dead weight tonne hybrid bulk carriers for Misje Eco Bulk AS – Norway and a cable laying ship for FT Marine SAS of France.

To penetrate the market, it had quoted prices with low margins.

“This was considered a sensible decision at the time as part of its long-term development strategy and well within its financial capabilities,” Dockyard told shareholders in interim accounts.

It was first hit by the Covid pandemic. In the currency crisis that the firm was hit by fuel shortages, migration of skilled workers and the difficulty in importing material with global price rises also contributing.

“This led to delays in the deliveries of vessels which forced the Company to pay Liquidated Damages as well as to cancel two number of shipbuilding contracts with the payment of compensations,” the firm said.

After the sovereign default, foreign customers did not accept back guarantees from Sri Lankan banks.

“This forced CDPLC to obtain bank guarantees from international banks after keeping 100 percent deposits with these banks as they were not willing to accept any exposure to Sri Lanka at the time,” the firm said.

“CDPLC at the same time was forced to build these vessels out of borrowed funds.

“At the peak of this crisis CDPLC had to deposit over Euro 45 million in international banks earning almost 0% interest, while was forced to borrow in Sri Lanka for rates as high as 29 percent for LKR borrowings and 12 percent for USD borrowings per annum.”

In the nine months to September the Dockyard said it was hit by 2.6 billion rupees of net interest cost and 1,4 billion exchange loss.

Dockyard said it was able to deliver 4 (3 to Norway and 1 to France) of these vessels “to the full satisfaction of its European customers.”

“With the improving country situation and proactive actions taken by the management, the shipbuilding division is expected to be able to better manage its challenges and deliver their vessels on time and on cost in future,” Dockyard said.

“Further, the ship repair business is expected to provide a steady cash inflow, and the management hopes to grow this line of business in the immediate future.

“On the shipbuilding side, the Company continues to build hybrid bulk carrier vessels while aiming for new European business at higher price points, leveraging the reputation built up in these markets.”

Meanwhile Dockyard had revalued its freehold land by 8.7 billion rupees, allowing the firm to end the year with net assets of 6.9 billion rupees. (Colombo/Nov23/2023)

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Sri Lanka single borrower limits cut to 25-pct of bank capital, SOEs also included

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s central bank has issued directions limiting loans to a singe borrower or a group of connected customers to 25 percent of Tier I capital, with state enterprises which turned out to be the biggest borrowers, also included.

In a 2007 direction, banks were allowed to give loans up to 30 percent of capital for a single customer and 33 percent for a group but the rules were widely violated in the case of state enterprises, which were used as off-budget vehicles to give energy and other subsidies.

Banks will have to limit exposures to 25 percent starting from January 2026.

According to transitional provisions published in the direction seems to indicate that some banks may have single borrower exposures of 85 percent or more.

They will be required to bring exposures down to 60 percent by 2027 and 25 percent by 2028.

Download the direction from here Sri-Lanka-single-borrow-limit-direction-2024

Energy utilities were made to borrow from state banks to run off-budget subsidies under plan avoid a price formula during the Rajapaksa regimes.

Sri Lanka’s state banks ended up with large debts to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation partly due to flexible inflation targeting (printing money to cut rates as soon as inflation fall triggering forex shortages) even when fuel was market priced in 2018, analysts have shown.

When rates were cut with inflationary open market operations, triggering forex shortages, CPC was barred from buying dollars and forced to get suppliers’ credit denominated in dollars.

The suppliers’ credits were later converted to dollar loans from state bank loans, usually after the currency collapsed from the inflationary rate cuts or inflationary open market operations to sterilize interventions or both, analysts have shown.

The CPC loans have since been taken over by the government.

Banks have also funded roads and other state projects.

“Licensed banks shall gradually reduce the exposures to Public Corporations to meet the maximum limit,” by December 2030 according to the direction.

“Public corporation shall mean any corporation, board or other body which was or is established by or under any written law other than the Companies Act, with funds or capital wholly or partly provided by the Government.”

Many of the newer state enterprises however have been suddenly set up under the Companies Act, unlike earlier where a specific act was passed by the parliament to set up corporation or a statutory authority.

Borrowings of CPC and CEB eventually hit the financial stability of state banks while actual bad loans were under-reported. Now the bad loans are being covered with a state capital injection.

Under an International Monetary Fund and World Bank backed program, the so-called ‘sovereign bank nexus’ is being severed to protect the banking system.

Government securities, central bank sterilization securities, loans guaranteed by multilateral lenders or high rated foreign banks are excluded. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka exceeds tax revenue target by 6% in first quarter

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s revenue collecting bodies have outperformed and exceeded tax revenue target by 6 percent for the first quarter ended on March 31, State Revenue Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

“After many years of difficult challenges, it has been possible to exceed the expected state revenue in the first quarter of 2024,” he said in a statement.

The government expects a revenue collection of 4,106 billion rupees in 2024.

“The reason for the economic crisis in the past period was the reduction in the level of government revenue. Considering the achievement of higher than the target in the first quarter of this year and the revenue pattern, the 2024 will become a year in which the revenue targets can be achieved,” he said.

The three tax revenue collecting bodies – Sri Lankan Customs, Excise Department, and Inland Revenue Department have collected 834 billion Sri Lanka rupees in the first quarter.

“It is a 6% higher than the expected revenue target of 787 billion rupees,” Siyambalapitiya said.

He said the Inland Revenue Department exceeded its target by 13 percent to 430 billion rupees compared to the target of 381 billion rupees in the first quarter of 2024.

He also said Customs Department has managed to reach the target of 353 billion rupees and the Excise Department has also achieved 96% of the revenue requests and earned 51 billion rupees in the first quarter.

The island nation has raised Value Added Tax (VAT), imposed new taxes, and increased personal income taxes to boost the revenue under an International Monetary Fund-backed reforms in return of a $3 billion External Fund Facility.

People have started to grumble over the government’s higher taxes without reducing some of the state expenditures. The government has been in the process to privatize some key state-owned enterprises. However, that process faced delays amid gradually rising protests against the move. (Colombo/April 22/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 300.50/301.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 300.50/301.00 to the US dollar with the spot market becoming active in the second half of Monday, dealers said.

The rupee closed at 302.00/50 to the US dollar on Friday amid moral suasion.

On Monday a foreign bank sold dollars to the central bank around 302 levels, following by more sales, dealers said after trading started without proper spot market quotes.

On Friday a 302 level was indicated by some dollar sales, dealers said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee came under pressure over the last week, despite broadly deflationary policy, after the central bank collected large volumes of dollars in March.

Bond yields were flat as buyers awaited the next development in sovereign bond re-structuring, market participants said. There were both positive and negative sentiments among bond investors, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed flat at 11.30/40 percent

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed flat at 11.95/05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed flat at 12.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed marginally higher at 12.25/35 percent from 12.30/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 also closed flat at 12.40.50 percent. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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