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Monday April 15th, 2024

Sri Lanka to change privatization agreement of firms that do not raise salaries

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will change the privatization agreements of plantations companies that do not raise salaries to 1,000 rupees a day, Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

The companies were privatized in the 1990s as they were mismanaged after expropriating from foreign and local investors resulting in monthly losses to the Treasury.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa claimed that plantations firms contributed about 25 percent of production while small holders have expanded.

“Under these circumstances, steps will have to be taken to encourage plantation companies that have become more successful and to review the privatization agreements of unsatisfactory plantation companies and to setup alternative investments that can be commercially developed,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said in a budget for 2021.

“I also propose to increase the daily wage of plantation workers to Rs. 1,000 from January 2021.

“I intend to present to Parliament in January a legal framework that will change the management agreements of plantation companies that are unable to pay this salary and provide opportunities for companies with successful business plans.

He said smallholders were producing more.

However, plantations companies have said smallholders are giving productivity base wages of 30 rupees a kilo where workers were plucking over 30 to 40 kilos a day, while plantations workers were doing about 22 due to daily wages which are imposed mostly with government interference.

Two firms that are still in state hands have EPF in arears and are still bailed out by tax payers.

Related

Sri Lanka tax-payers fork out Rs600mn for state plantations

Sri Lanka has a history of expropriation which has hurt private investment and kept economic growth down.

Undermining private property rights is a form of the economic barrier killing business confidence which economists call ‘regime uncertainty’, where government policy is uncertain or threatens property rights.

“Such attenuations can arise from many sources, ranging from simple tax-rate increases to the imposition of new kinds of taxes to outright confiscation of private property, explains Economist Robert Higgs.

“Many intermediate threats can arise from various sorts of regulation, for instance, of securities markets, labour markets, and product markets.

“In any event, the security of private property rights rests not so much on the letter of the law as on the character of the government that enforces, or threatens presumptive rights.” (Colombo/Nov17/2020-sb)

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Sri Lanka to discuss two contentious points with bondholders: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and sovereign bondholders are to discuss two matters in the near future which the two sides failed to reach agreement at March talks in London, a media report quoting a top aide to President Wickremesinghe as saying.

Sri Lanka and bondholders had discussed four matters on restructuring international sovereign bonds in late March and agreement had been reached on two, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was quoted as saying on state-run ITN television.

A restructuring proposal by bondholders was not in line with IMF requirements, and Sri Lanka had sent a counter proposal, he said.

The matters will be discussed at round of talks in the near future.

Sri Lanka was optimistic of reaching an agreement with the bondholders before June, officials have said.

According to matters already in the public domain, sovereign bond holders are keen to get a bond tied to dollar gross domestic product, as they feel IMF growth projections are too low.

In past re-structuring so-called value recovery instruments, a type of warrant, gave their owners extra payments if a country did better than expected and were tied to items like oil prices.

Bondholders had initially proposed bond which would have a lower hair cut initially, and it will have additional hair cuts if growth is low (about 3.1 percent) as projected in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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BIMSTEC Secretary General visits Sri Lanka, discusses regional cooperation

ECONOMYNEXT – The Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), discussed measures to enhance regional cooperation, during his visit to the island last week.

Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Secretary General of BIMSTEC visited Sri Lanka from 07 – 12 April 2024, following his assumption of office as Secretary General of BIMSTEC in January this year.

The Secretary General “met with senior officials of relevant Ministries/Agencies to discuss measures to enhance regional cooperation under various BIMSTEC initiatives,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Several BIMSTEC countries have bilateral trade agreements, such as Sri Lanka and India, Thailand and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, but no collective regional agreement to enable intra-regional leverage.

During the visit, Secretary General Pandey held discussions with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and paid courtesy calls on the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Secretary General Pandey participated at an event on “Regional Cooperation through BIMSTEC” organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on 9 April. (Colombo/April15/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 299.00/10 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 299.00/10 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Monday, from 298.50/55 on Wednesday, dealers said, while bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed stable at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent up from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.20/40 percent. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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