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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

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 President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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Sri Lanka to host foreign artistes, Sigiriya fashion show to promote tourism

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka plans to bring down international artistes, and hold water festivals to boost tourists, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“We will be hosting a few international artists in September to December,” Gajabahu told EconomyNext.

“We would also be having a fashion show in Sigiriya.”

Sri Lanka is targeting 2.3 million tourists in the year 2024 with expectations that it may go up to 2.5 million Gajabahu said.

Sri Lanka is also planning on having a water festival in coastal towns such as Trincomalee, Arugambay  and Kalpitiya in order to showcase Sri Lanka’s capacity for watersports, Gajabahu said. (Colombo/May22/2024)

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Sri Lanka opposition drops bombshell on Mannar wind power tender

ECONOMYNEXT – A tender for a 50 MegaWatt wind power plant by state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has been blocked to prevent sharply lower power purchase prices from competitive bidding being revealed to the public, opposition legislator Kabir Hashim charged in parliament.

A technical evaluation of three companies which had submitted bids had been completed according to information coming to him, Hashim told parliament Wednesday.

“The financial bids were due to be opened on May 17 based on information we are receiving,” Hashim said.

“But due to pressure from certain officials we are learning that there is an attempt to cancel the financial bid. I am asking why the bid was not opened on May 17.

“We learn that the Sustainable Energy Authority Chairman and officials have engaged in a big operation to stop this. I do not know who these people are representing.”

“This is something that is required for the country. We believe the wind power unit could be purchased at a price below 6.0 cents t under competitive tender.

“This tender has been blocked to stop this. So, blocking this is big problem.”

Hashim said he was demanding an answer.

“I do not know whether some corrupt officials are connected to some companies and acting on behalf of these companies (kade yanawader danney ne). I am asking the chairman of the Committee on Public Finance, Harsha de Silva, to summon the officials and ask them to open the bids.”

Hashim said he had urged Sri Lanka authorities in parliament itself on earlier occasions not to agree on a power purchase price for a 484MW plant by India’s Adani group which came without tender until competitive bids for the smaller Mannar plant were opened.

Related Sri Lanka to buy wind power from Adani for 8.26 US cents

The energy ministry said Adani would be paid 8.26 cents per unit for its Mannar and Pooneryn plant project for 484 MegaWatts.

India’s Adani project has come as a government-to-government project, by passing tender, officials said.

CEB’s own plant in Mannar, built before an economic crisis with Asian Development Bank funds, was estimated to have a levelized cost of only 4.2 US cents over its lifetime.

But at commercial rates of borrowing, a profitable project could be run at around 6.0 US cents, according to industry analysts.

Mannar in particular is an area with high winds.

The CEB’s old wind farm with a shorter height has experienced an actual plant factor of 44 percent last year, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. (Colombo/May22/2024)

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