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Saturday June 15th, 2024

What now for 2020 cricket in Coronavirus? Four key questions

AFP – The coronavirus may have struck shortly before the English cricket season was due to start but it threatens to have major implications for the game worldwide.

English officials still believe they can fit a full international programme of three-Test series against both the West Indies and Pakistan, as well as one-day internationals with Australia and Ireland, into a season that won’t start until July 1 at the earliest.

But there is now an expectation matches will have to be played behind closed doors, in the short-term at least, as a way of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

That would, however, still allow the England and Wales Cricket Board to honour lucrative broadcast contracts and avoid the nightmare scenario of a completely wiped out season that could cost the organisation £380 million ($463 million).

Below AFP Sport looks at the key issues confronting cricket amid the pandemic.

Will teams go on tour?

— West Indies and Pakistan, two of crickets less well-off major teams, have both made encouraging noises about touring England, subject to health concerns and appear to ready to factor a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Britain, because of UK government regulations, into their planning.

Matches are set to be played at ‘bio-secure’ venues such as Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl or Old Trafford that have onsite hotels.

“We are trying to get to England early July so that we can get the quarantine done,” said Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan.

Australia were meant to play three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals in July but may delay their visit to later in the season after seeing how the West Indies and Pakistan series pan out.

“Obviously we won’t jeopardise the safety of the players,” Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

“But the best test of that is the West Indian and Pakistan tours of England before we’re due to tour. We hope they go off without a hitch.”

What will cricket look like?

— Even if a rescheduled series between England and the West Indies starts in July, the game itself will look very different.

Not only will there be no spectators but wicket celebrations such as ‘high fives’ are set to be banned according to International Cricket Council guidelines issued last week.

Umpires have also been instructed to wear gloves to minimise the risk of infection, with bowlers no longer handing their cap and sweater to officials for the same reason.

Another ‘interim’ measure, which still requires approval at a June vote, would see bowlers banned from using saliva to shine the ball to aid swing, although they will still be allowed to apply their own sweat.

Travel restrictions could see two umpires from a home nation stand in a Test for the first time since 1994 when the ICC started moving towards neutral officials to counter accusations of bias.

The ICC’s cricket committee also said last week each team should be awarded an additional DRS review per innings.

Meanwhile, Chris Broad, the only Englishman on the ICC’s elite panel of referees, may have to officiate in matches involving his son Stuart, the England fast bowler.
What will happen to the Twenty20 World Cup and IPL?

— An ICC board meeting on Thursday May 28, could see the men’s Twenty20 World Cup, due to held in Australia from October 18, postponed.

Problems over flying in 16 teams to Australia may be reason enough to delay the event by a year.

That would allow the already postponed franchise Indian Premier League, the world’s wealthiest T20 competition, to go ahead in its place.

Manoj Badale, a part-owner of the Rajasthan Royals, told the London Daily Telegraph last month: “No IPL (in 2020) would be a big $600 million loss for the global cricket economy.”

South African director of cricket Graeme Smith has called for India’s Sourav Ganguly, a fellow former Test captain, to become the next ICC chairman.

The Proteas, hard hit by the low value of South Africa’s rand, hope to host a three-match T20 series against India in August.
What does this mean for women’s cricket?

— The women’s game was riding the crest of a wave after a crowd of over 86,000 in Melbourne saw hosts Australia beat India in the final of the T20 World Cup in March, shortly before global sport went into lockdown.

But Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, has accepted her side of the game may have to be sacrificed completely in order for more lucrative men’s matches to go ahead this season.

But there are hopes a series with South Africa could still take place in September.

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Sri Lanka beats key IMF program targets for March 2024 amid rupee stability

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has exceeded key quantitative targets set in an International Monetary Fund program for March 2024, based on preliminary data the Washington based agency said in a report.

The March data are not performance criteria on which reviews are conducted but are indicative targets which shows the progress of the program and are a stepping stone for a September review based on June data.

An indicative target for the primary balance (roughly overall deficit minus interest costs), was assessed at 316 billion rupees more than four times the 70 billion rupee target set in the program.

Primary balance can be a big surplus if the interest bill is high and capital expenditure is cut and is a type of crisis management tool after a central bank triggers a currency crisis by cutting rates with inflationary liquidity tools.

However, Sri Lanka’s Treasury has also kept a lid on most current spending. A state salary hike is however due after the currency collapse made life difficult for everyone.

Meanwhile more taxes have been collected from the people to finance the island’s bloated state.

A 750 billion rupees central government tax revenue floor has been exceeded to reach 837 billion rupees.

Central bank credit to government (outstanding stock) has been reduced to 2,691 billion rupees in March compared to a target of 2,800 billion rupees. In December the CB credit was calculated 2,742 billion rupees.

Net international reserves of the central bank were brought up to a negative 1,268 million US dollars exceeding the target of a negative 2,035 by almost 700 million dollars.

In order to collect foreign reserves, which is a type of appropriation of domestic savings of the people by the central bank (taking in deposits) and exporting it to the US and other countries to finance their deficits or by other agency debt in reserve currencies.

In order to collect such ‘deposits’ the central bank has to prevent them from being invested domestically.

It is achieved with deflationary policy through sell-downs of down its Treasuries holding to domestic banks or others, at a market rate, collecting interest from the government or repayments of re-finance credits, subject to any nominal changes in reserve money at a given exchange rate.

In 2024 the central bank allowed the exchange rate to appreciate, which can also reduce prices of traded goods boost real and nominal savings and make it easier to collect foreign reserves.

When domestic credit is weak it is easier to collect reserves. Reduced domestic credit and collection of reserves, including by private banks which then cannot be invested domestically, can push the external current account into surplus.

The central bank also met a 5 percent 12-month inflation target, with an achievement of 4.3 percent.

Sri Lanka’s economy grew 5.3 percent despite reserve collections, amid the stability provided by the central bank.

There were no central bank purchases of Treasuries from the primary market.

However the central bank injected overnight and term money to banks (not on a net basis) showing how easy it is for a rate-obsessed monetary authority to get around the requirement and create external instability again as soon as private credit recovered.

The central bank also allowed excess liquidity from dollar purchase to remain unsterilized for an extended period under its ad hoc pegging arrangement, getting a short term falls in rates, but triggering pressure on the rupee as a result in May and June.

It is not possible to collect reserves with a free floating exchange rate. (Colombo/June15/2024)

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Sri Lanka GDP grows 5.3-pct in first quarter of 2024 amid monetary stability

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product grew 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2024 data from the state statistics office showed as the central bank continued to refrain from generating monetary instability.

Instead of printing money to cut rates under ‘flexible inflation targeting’ and printing money to boost growth by taking into account ‘potential output’ as permitted by its new monetary law, the central bank ran deflationary policy and also allowed the rupee to appreciate.

“The Sri Lanka economy experienced a more favorable economic condition[s] in the first quarter 2024, when compared to the first quarter in the year 2023,” the Department of Census and Statistics said.

“The high inflation had prevailed in the first quarter of year 2023, gradually reduced to a lower level by the first quarter of 2024 and this low inflation incentivized the economy by providing inputs at [a] much lower price.

The agriculture sector grew 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2024, after also growing 1.6 percent last year.

Industry grew 11.8 percent in the first quarter, against a 24.3 percent last year.

The economy grew amid falling prices, the statistics office said in sharp contrast to the Anglophone macroeconomic claim that inflation is needed to boost growth, on which Sri Lanka has 5-7 inflation target has apparently been set.

Related Sri Lanka central bank pushing for high inflation target to boost growth

“Among ‘Industrial activities’, coinciding with the decline in input prices, the ‘Construction industry’ grew by 14.2 percent, parallel to this, the ‘Mining and quarrying’ industry too expanded by 18.3 percent during this quarter,” the Statistics Department said.

Sr Lanka’s services sector grew 2.6 percent, against a decline of 4.6 percent recorded last year.

The International Monetary Fund has also urged the central bank to give priority to stability.

Sri Lanka dropped the stability mandate in the earlier monetary law which was violated after the end of a civil war to push the country into serial currency crises especially after the International Monetary Fund gave technical assistance to calculate potential output.

Related Sri Lanka has a corrupted inflation targeting, output gap targeting not in line with monetary law: Wijewardena

Sri Lanka survived a 30-year civil war by giving priority to a stability mandate despite shortcomings in its operational framework but defaulted in peacetime amid activist monetary policy which denied monetary stability to the people. (Colombo/June12/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s NPP notes five-point crisis for economic growth sans details

Former JVP MP Sunil Handunneththi

ECONOMYNEXT — The leftist National People’s Power (NPP) has identified five crises that need resolving for Sri Lanka’s economy to progress, much of which emphasise a production economy targeting export growth though sparse on the detail on resource allocation.

NPP spokesman and former parliamentarian Sunil Handunneththi speaking at an event in Mulaitivu on Thursday June 13 said Sri Lanka is grappling with firstly, a collapse of the production economy, second, a budget deficit, third, a balance of payment crisis which has, fourthly, created a debt crisis, and finally, a resultant gap between haves and have-nots.

“We must first understand the crisis. We reocgnise five main crises that have the same impact irrespective of differences between the north and south.

“The first is the collapse of the production economy. We can see this historically. Agriculture that used to be some 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) has now fallen to 8 percent. Essential food is imported. We cannot produce the rice needed for the small population here. Things that can be made here are also imported.

“Second is the income crisis. For the people, their expenses are twice their income. The budget deficit is two or three-fold every day. Banks cannot give loans to businesses and industries because the government takes funds to address the budget deficit. The government takes most of the people’s savings for this,” he said.

The balance of payment crisis Sri Lanka is facing the third crisis, according to Handunneththi, which has triggered a debt crisis, in turn leading to a crisis of income disparity among the people.

“Third is the balance of payments crisis. Imports are two or three fold export income. The government has to take 11 to 12 billion US dollars in loans from foreign countries. When GDP is 80 billion US dollars, debt has gone over 100.”

“All this creates a massive gap between haves and have-nots. Without finding solutions to these crisis, there is no point distributing goods,” he said.

Handunnethi’s remarks appear to be departure from the NPP’s anti-corruption rhetoric which had centred its economic development policy agenda primarily on fighting corruption.

‘Fighting corruption’ and ‘recovering stolen assets’ have been popular slogans since the Aragalaya protests in Sri Lanka and the NPP has made it its central theme in its bid for power. The leftist outfit had also adopted a position that’s cautiously critical of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the reforms the international lender has prescribed for Sri Lanka in exchange for a 2.9 billion-dollar bailout.

However, NPP leadership had recently acknowledged the need to continue the IMF programme since the agreement has already been signed.

The Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, which controls the NPP, though it was never in government barring a brief stint in an Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)-led coalition in the early 2000s, has been instrumental in driving popular support against privatisation.

Three key policy pillars articulated by the JVP from 2001-2004 and embraced by mainstream politician Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration in 2005 onward have been highlighted by experts.

From 2005, Sri Lanka halted privatisation, started recruiting tens of thousands of unemployed graduates into the public service every year with lifetime pensions, expanding an already bloated public sector and denying any benefit of a peace dividend to the country.

Sri Lanka also abandoned a price formula for fuel that had helped keep the rupee stable and inflation low from 2001 to 2003 even as global commodity prices went up from the ‘mother of all liquidity bubbles’ fired by the Federal Reserve from 2001.

From 2001 to 2003, state workers fell from 1.164 million to 1.043 million. By 2020, the public sector cadre has grown to 1.58 million with another batch of 53,000 unemployed graduates being paid tax money. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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