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Sunday March 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka tea farms to get billion rupees a year for re-planting: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will give one billion rupees a year to tea farms from a levy charged on exports, to fund help fund old tea bushes with new ones, Plantations Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake said.

"We assume that in upcoming years we will be able to provide at least one billion rupees for the replanting process" Minister Dissanayaka said in Colombo July 24 at a ceremony to give award for higher performers in the industry.

Sri Lanka charges cess tax on exports to which goes to a fund to be used for replanting and marketing.

Yields of old tea bushes fall over time.

"As we all know the required replanting which is 2.0 percent is not happening in Sri Lanka due to lack of funds.

"Because of that I present a paper to the cabinet about two weeks ago, saying that the Rs. 3 that we get from the tea levy should be distributed equally for marketing and replanting.

"This will help us to increase the tea production per hectare in the future."

Dissanayake said he had fought with then finance minister Ravi Karunanayake who tried to take the cess funds to fund the budget.

Wijeratne Devagedera, Chairman Sri Lanka Tea Smallholdings Authority said average yield in Sri Lanka has increased to 1,850 kilogram per hectare a year in 2018 from 1,600 kilograms in 2015.

Sri Lanka’s smallholders grow 132,000 hectares of tea or 59.7 percent of the total, produce about 74 percent of the 340,000 metric tonnes of tea produced a year.

Therefore, we have a great responsibility to increase the production capacity, to protect the quality and prices of the tea

We have increased it to 1850kg per hectare from 1600kg per hectare. We have to look at these things in a positive way.

Yields of small holder farms are higher than the national average.

Sri Lanka’s tea board has said that it costs about 1.5 million rupees to replant a hectare of tea. (Colombo/July25/2019)

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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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