Leading stockbroking firm Asia Securities (Pvt) Ltd., maintained that all signs point to a strong GDP growth trajectory in 2021. The latest Economic Outlook report titled Balancing the Priorities – The New Normal forecasts a GDP growth of 5.4% for 2021, driven by improved investor sentiment and consumer demand, an accommodative monetary policy environment, and a pickup in global demand.
Asia Securities’ report on 27 March 2020—the first such report to forecast the impact of COVID-19—forecasted the economy to contract by 13.0%—17.0% YoY in 2Q 2020. The report considered three probability-weighted scenarios combining a top-down and bottom-up analysis. The firm’s assessment was in-line with the 16.3% YoY contraction for 2Q 2020. While the outlook for 2021 remains largely positive due to improved policy certainty and a stable government, the firm notes that several challenges remain.
The 2021 budget emphasizes on a domestically driven recovery amidst fiscal support. With improving business and consumer confidence seen following the end of the first lockdown, a continued low interest rate environment bodes well for investments in the short-medium term. However, a negative real interest rate environment will likely continue in 2021.
Sri Lanka looks to head towards a negative real interest rate environment in 2021
Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) will take center stage in 2021 with the government’s focus on executing investment driven FDIs, particularly related to the Port City and Hambantota Port zone. The Asia Securities report notes that attracting long term non-debt related inflows is a key factor at this juncture of the Sri Lankan economy. Improving the FDI landscape can resolve two long-term issues: (i) the dependance on external financing and (ii) fiscal pressure. The report further highlights that there is potential for FDI to reach 4.0% – 5.0% of GDP in the long term if correct policy measures are in place.
One of the key challenges going into 2021 is the government’s debt obligations amidst a low credit profile. With a USD 4.5bn repayment schedule in place for 2021, the government would need to ensure that reserves are maintained at relatively healthy levels. We expect the government will continue to depend on domestic financing. However, with credit growth expected at ~8.0 – 10.0% YoY in 2021, Asia Securities expect interest rates to face upward pressure. While this may lead to higher debt rollover costs, it could be mitigated if non-debt related investments materialise in-line with expectations. In addition, Asia Securities forecast indicate that inflation will remain within the Central Bank’s threshold of 4.0% – 6.0% in 2021. While Asia Securities forecasts the fiscal deficit to weaken in 2021, the firm notes that an increase in the revenue base and higher growth can bring the overall deficit down by 2023.
Asia Securities is a leading investment firm in Sri Lanka providing Investment Banking, Research, Equities and Wealth Management services to local and international corporate, institutional and individual clients. Asia Securities’ clients can access the full research report titled Sri Lanka: 2021 Economic Outlook – Balancing the Priorities – The New Normal via the online Research portal or their investment adviser. To become a client of Asia Securities, reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEC, CSE and the CFA Society SL aim to strengthen ESG focus in the Sri Lankan capital market
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the CFA Society Sri Lanka (CFASSL) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further strengthen Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) focus in the Sri Lankan capital market.
The MoU will enable the institutions to jointly deliver initiatives focused on educating local investors on ESG and fostering effective ESG practices and communication by Listed Companies. Furthermore, the MoU will also pave the way for cooperation in improving ESG-related know-how of local market practitioners, encouraging the adoption of the CFA Institute’s Global ESG Disclosure Standards for Investment Products and the introduction of ESG-related new products, standards and regulations.
Commenting on the development, Chairman of the SEC Viraj Dayaratne PC stated “Strengthening ESG focus in regulation, policy-making and in our advocacy efforts among investors, issuers and other market stakeholders is vital in ensuring that the Sri Lankan capital market benefits from the considerable interest in ESG investing observed globally. While capturing the knowledge and expertise of the CFA Society Sri Lanka in our ESG agenda offers considerable value, the MoU also offers a new avenue through which the SEC and CSE could strengthen ties with an institution that represents financial analysts and investment practitioners – professionals who are central to the development of the Sri Lankan capital market.”
Chairman at CSE Dilshan Wirasekara commenting on the MoU said “CSE has over the years maintained a strong commitment to creating ESG related awareness and to encourage the greater adoption of ESG practices and communication by listed companies as it not only creates opportunities for the market, but also creates a positive impact to the environment and society at-large. This MoU offers CSE the opportunity to benefit from the strategic direction and guidance of the industry regulator the SEC and tap into the technical know-how and expertise of CFASSL and its international network during the process of delivering multiple progressive ESG related objectives. The CSE looks forward to creating positive ESG related outcomes for investors, listed issuers and our stakeholders as a result of this collaboration.”
Dinesh Warusavitharana CFA, the President of CFASSL said “The local member society of CFA Institute, which is a global organization that provides education for investment professionals are pleased to collaborate with the SEC and CSE to educate capital market participants on ESG. As sustainable finance has grown rapidly in recent years, a growing number of institutional investors and funds now incorporate various ESG investing approaches to create better long-term financial value. We believe this tripartite collaboration will facilitate knowledge enhancement of the key participants on ESG to prepare them to access global funds dedicated for ESG investing.”
Fuel crisis combines with profit-takings to drag down share market
Hiran H. Senewiratne
Sri Lanka’s shares fell over 1.7 per cent within the first hour of trading, dragged down by weak investor sentiment amid the continuing fuel shortage. These developments combined with month-end profit takings to negatively affect the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
“It is said that last week we saw the market gaining in four straight sessions solely on the news that a fuel shipment was due to arrive on June 24. However, now the country is unsure when it will receive its next fuel shipment, a top market analyst said.
“Therefore, unless there is confirmation on the fuel supply, I feel the market will continue to fall or move sideways. There are no other factors in the market for it to move up either. Further, the government’s previous night’s announcement on providing fuel to essential services created some issues as the government failed to define the phrase ‘essential services’ clearly. What sectors are being classified as essential? stock market analysts asked. “However, they have mentioned several sectors, such as public transport and health, but not clearly mentioned food supply, market analysts said.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 139.25 points and S and P SL20 declined by 36.76 points. Turnover stood at Rs 815.3 million with one crossing. The crossing was reported in Commercial Bank, which crossed 446,000 shares to the tune of Rs 22.3 million, its shares traded at Rs 50.
In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Rs 182.8 million (1.1 million shares traded), HNB Rs 81.9 million (one million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 72.5 million (1.1 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 69.9 million (9.5 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs 63.1 million (2.1 million shares traded) Commercial Bank Rs 43.3 million (464,000 shares traded) and LOLC Finance Rs 21.4 million (3.3 million shares traded). During the day 43.9 million share volumes changed hands in 11643 share transactions.
Recommendations made by the Advisory Committee for Revival of Failed Licensed Finance Companies
The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (Monetary Board) established the Advisory Committee for Revival of Failed Finance Companies (Committee) in October 2021 to examine possible revival options for five (5) failed finance companies, i.e., Central Investments & Finance Ltd., ETI Finance Ltd., TKS Finance Ltd., The Finance Company PLC and The Standard Credit Finance Ltd, of which licenses have been either cancelled or suspended. The Monetary Board has vested the Committee with the responsibility of recommending possible revival options or recommending liquidation for aforementioned five failed finance companies if such revival options do not seem feasible.
The Committee submitted its final report to the Monetary Board on 31.05.2022, after careful consideration of several proposals submitted by different parties for revival of four (4) of the above- mentioned companies.
The Monetary Board, having considered the Report of the Committee on the said five failed finance companies, noted that the proposals received for perusal of the said Committee were not viable and entailed a number of policy and legal implications, which did not appear to be workable within the existing regulatory framework. Further, given the present economic conditions, the said Committee does not expect any viable proposals to be received from prospective investors. Under these circumstances, the only option concerning the five (05) failed finance companies would be to continue with liquidation proceedings/filing for liquidation. In the light of the above, the Committee in its report has recommended to wind up the Committee. Based on the recommendation of the Committee the Monetary Board decided to dissolve the Committee.
Consequently, actions will be taken to liquidate the aforementioned five failed finance companies in accordance with applicable legal provisions.
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