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Sunday March 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka SOE credit up in October, private credit moderate

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s private credit grew 26.5 billion rupees in October 2019 down from 53.7 billion rupees a month earlier and credit to state enterprises surged 33.5 billion rupees, the highest since 50 billion rupees was loaned in December 2018.

Central bank credit to government declined by 23.5 billion rupees to 349.5 billion rupees, while net foreign assets of the central bank grew 17.6 billion rupees to 869.3 billion rupees.

In the month of October the central bank bought 35 million US dollars from forex markets, with no upwardly disorderly adjustment but it also sold 17 million dollars.

Sri Lanka ended prudent monetary policy around July 2019, and started injecting liquidity amid a credit spike to target a call money rate.

The central bank also started buying bonds, abolishing a prudential rule established during the tenure of Governor A S Jayewardene, giving itself leeway to engage in ‘operation twists’ and distort rates deeper into the yield curve, analysts who study policy errors of the monetary authority have said.

The breaking of the prudential rule will also allow banks and speculators to dump long bonds on the central bank, critics say.

Sri Lanka’s central bank has busted the rupee from 4.70 to 182 to the US dollar, since its creation in 1951, through a variety of policy errors.

It is the worst performance among South Asian and Gulf monetary authorities, which all began at the same level (pegged or ‘dollarized’ with Indian rupees/Sterling) at independence.

Loans to central government , fell 2.9 billion rupees in October, helped by the contraction in central bank credit.

Credit to government from commercial banks have expanded 18.7 percent in the past 12-months, as tax revenues fell after a collapse of a highly unstable soft-pegged exchange regime called ‘flexible exchange rate’ operated with unrestrained liquidity injections and a delayed interventions.

Until the policy reversal around July there were no central bank re-financing of such borrowings.

Private credit on the other had grew 5.1 percent in the past 12-months, as credit slowed after the ‘flexible exchange’ rate collapse. (Colombo/Dec02/2019)

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Sri Lanka seeks to settle India ACU debt, credit lines over 5-years

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has requested India to settle payments due to the country under the Asian Clearing Union mechanism and credit lines given in 2022 over 5 years, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, an advisor the island’s government said.

Sri Lanka is negotiating with India to settle the money over a 5-year period, Coomaraswamy, a former central bank governor told an online forum hosted by the Central Bank.

“Our request from the Indians is to settle it over five years,” he said. “That I think is still in the early stages of negotiation. The same with the one billion line of credit.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank owed the ACU 2.0 billion US dollars to the Asian Clearing Union according to a year end debt statement, issued by the Finance Ministry.

Sri Lanka owned India, 1,621 million dollars according to ACU data by year end, excluding interest.

India has given a 1 billion US dollar credit line to Sri Lanka as well a credit line for petroleum.

Sri Lanka in March 2024 has paid 121 million US dollar out of a 331 million US dollar IMF tranche to settle an Indian credit line.

Indian credits were given after the country defaulted in April 2022 as budget support/import when most other bilateral lenders halted giving money. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices up 1.16-pct

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s coconut auction prices went up by 1.16 percent from a week ago at an auction on Thursday, data showed.

The average price for 1,000 nuts grew to 83,219.45 from 82,260.58 a week earlier at the weekly auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority on March 23.

The highest price was 92,500 rupees for 1,000 nuts up from the previous week’s 90,600 rupees, while the lowest was 76,500 also up from 70,000 rupees.

The auction offered 900,010 coconuts and 583,291 nuts were sold. (Colombo/Mar 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka in talks for billion dollar equivalent Indian rupee swap

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks with India for a billion US dollar equivalent Indian rupee central bank swap, to facilitate trade, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, ad advisor to the government said.

“The amount is still uncertain it could be up to the equivalent of a billion US dollars,” Coomaraswamy told an online forum hosted by Sri Lanka’s central bank.

The money will be used to facilate India Sri Lanka trade, he said.

India has been trying to popularize the use of Indian rupees for external trade and also encouraged Sri Lanka banks to set up Indian rupee VOSTRO accounts.

However the first step in popularizing a currency for external trade is to get domestic agents, especially exporters, to accept their own currency for trade, like in the case of the US or EU, analysts say.

India’s billion US dollar credit to Sri Lanka given during the 2022 crisis is settled in Indian rupees (transaction need).

However the Indian government itself has chosen to denominate it in US currency for debt purposes (future value).

In most South Asian nations, receivers of remittances are willing to accept domestic currencies, leading to active VOSTRO account transactions.

Sri Lanka is expected to repay a 400 million US dollar swap with the Reserve Bank of India next year under an International Monetary Fund backed program for external stability and debt re-structuring.

Central bank swap proceeds sold to banks, which are then sterilized with inflationary open market operations, can trigger forex shortages and currency crises, analysts warn.

Sri Lanka went to the International Monetary Fund after two years of inflationary monetary operations by the central bank’s issue department (money printed to suppress interest rates) triggered the biggest currency crisis in its history and external sovereign default.

Sri Lanka had gone to the IMF 16 times with similar external troubles except for the April 2003 extended fund facility under Central Bank Governor A S Jayewardene which was a purely reform-oriented program with the World Bank (PRGF/PRSP) program at a time when he was collecting reserves with deflationary monetary policy and perhaps the lowest inflation since the Bretton Woods collapsed. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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