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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka stocks end a five day rally on banking sector concerns over domestic debt restructuring

Colombo Stock Exchabge

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks end five-day rally as banking sector pushes market lower on fear of domestic debt restructuring, following the IMF’s approval for the extended loan facility, brokers said.

“Market continued to dip, mainly on banking counters as the International Monetary Fund approval has triggered concerns over domestic debt restructuring” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed up 0.98 percent or 95.53 points to 9,604.43, the lowest in four days.

A report from IMF on Tuesday said, that Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector.

Sri Lanka has to re-structure debt to meet a ceiling on debt-rollovers and new deficits called the gross financing need from 2027, which has been set at 13 percent of GDP (from 30-pct in 2022).

Meanwhile the EFF-supported program aims to restore Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, mitigate the economic impact on the poor and vulnerable, safeguard financial sector stability, and strengthen governance and growth potential.

The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement equivalent to SDR 254 million (about US$333 million) and catalyze financial support from other development partners.

“The market has fell 500 points since September 01, which can be a partial reason as to why the market may have been on muted sentiments and on profit taking” Ranatunga said.

The market saw a net foreign inflow of 22 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.6 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.78 percent, or 50.90 points, down at 2,800.75

The market saw a turnover of 1.4 billion rupees on Tuesday, below this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

The market will witness dull moments and major picks up during this year as it is expected to be a period of recovery, mixed with reducing inflationary pressures, potential rate cuts and balance of payment stability, which may eventually take the index up to 12,000 psychological point, Ranatunga said.

The top losers were Sampath Bank, Expolanka and Vallible One. (Colombo/ March21/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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