Cabraal says he wished the country held more foreign exchange reserves
Says talk about the collapse of the economy would end up in the trash
by Sanath Nanayakkare
I wish there were more foreign exchange reserves in the country so that we would have been able to utilise it as and when the need arose, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms said in Colombo yesterday.
He said so while speaking at an online media briefing organised by the Department of Government Information yesterday on the topic ‘Will the economy collapse? Will GSP+ be withdrawn?’ — moderated by journalist Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta of our sister newspaper.
When asked whether Sri Lanka’s current foreign reserves standing at or a little under US$ 4 billion was not a cause for concern for him, the state minister replied,” I wish there were more foreign reserves so that we would have been able to utilise it as and when the need arose. When Mahinda Rajapaksa administration handed over the government to Yahapalanaya Administration (YA) in 2015, the foreign reserves stood at US$ 8.2 billion. And the YA issued international sovereign bonds (ISBs) to the tune of US$ 12 billion in 5 years. If they had maintained the foreign reserves prudently from that period onwards, today we would have had US$ 8 billion +US$ 12 billion making it US$ 20 billion, and we would have been able to do anything with that.”
“However, we won’t run away from the current challenge. Restructuring existing debt with the IMF won’t be as meaningful as they claim, but ensuring the inflow of non-debt creating inflows to the country is the sustainable way to deal with debt repayment and other dollar-denominated expenditure. For this we have introduced new methodologies and innovative investment arms to attract foreign inflows to the country. For example, the taxes imposed on the gem industry were removed and foreign direct investments will soon flow into the Port City Colombo. The positive outcomes of such strategies and our economic management will become evident before long,” he said.
“The talk that economy is going to collapse soon is being heard all over the place is not a new concern. From the first day this government came to power, the detractors have claimed that the economy would collapse. Even back in 2006 they made the same claim when global oil prices rose and also during the global financial crisis in 2007-2008. They used to claim on a daily basis that the government would fall but it didn’t happen. This is being said again with political motivations and interests and not with real economic interests at heart. What is unfathomable is some economic analysts also pick such views and make the same claim. But none of them offer solutions to the issues they highlight. And when a particular issue or issues were fixed without rocking the boat, those who expressed those unfavourable opinions would vanish into thin air. This shows that they don’t say these things with honest intentions and their fervent wish has been to see the fall of the government.”
“Of course, challenges lie ahead of us. We know about them better than they do and we have taken action to address them and will take more policy measures in the next 2-3 weeks to further strengthen the foundation we have built for resolving the impending problems. By means of these measures, we will ensure the stability of the economy and the government and this talk about the collapse of the economy would end up in the trash.”
Responding to a question whether restructuring of debt with the IMF would be sensible, he said,” Different proponents express different arguments. The thing is they are only half-truths. They want us to go to the IMF because they know what happened to them when they did so. They had to comply with the IMF formula and they want us to go through it too. We had a growth rate of 7.4% in 2014 and they brought it down to 2.1% by 2019 – as a result of their international transactions. So we will find other alternatives rather than going to the IMF because the IMF requires us to follow conditions that are more related to our sovereignty than the economic conditions of the country,” he said.
Share investors worried over Wealth and Heritage tax
By Hiran H Senewiratne
CSE trading kicked off on a positive note yesterday but the momentum could not be sustained for long owing to investor worries that the government is planning domestic debt restructuring involving the imposition of a wealth and heritage tax on citizens, market sources said.
Amid those developments both indices moved downwards. The All -Share Price Index went down by 131 points and S and P SL-20 declined by 46.8 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3.4 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Agalawattte Plantations, which crossed 45.3 million shares to the tune of Rs 1.5 billion, its shares traded at Rs 35, CTC 420,000 shares crossed for Rs 269 million and its shares traded at Rs 640, Cargills 100,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 24.5 million; its shares traded at Rs 245 and Hayleys 300,000 shares crossed for Rs 24 million; its shares traded at Rs 80.
In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, SLT Rs 234 million (two million shares traded), Hayleys RS 121 million (1.5 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 106 million (115,000 shares traded), Softlogic Capital Rs 69 million (5.6 million shares traded), CTC Rs 65.3 million (101,000 shares traded), Sampath Bank RS 54.7 million (one million shares traded) and Commercial Bank RS 52.5 million (801,000 shares traded).During the day 164 million share volumes changed hands in 20000 transactions.
Brandix ‘RightToRead’ initiative gains momentum enriching Sri Lanka students and transforming learning
Inspired by the challenge to provide Sri Lankan children with better access to learning materials and the transformative power to read and comprehend English, Brandix launched the ‘RightToRead’ project in 2018 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
Accordingly, Brandix introduced the ‘ReadToMe’ English learning tool, created by English Helper – India, to improve reading and comprehension skills of Sri Lankan students. Last Monday, Julie Chung, the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, visited Susamayawardhana Vidyalaya in Borella, to observe progress of the project and experience how children and educators in Sri Lanka engage with educational technology.
Brandix Lanka Limited, Director, Ajit Johnpillai, said: “Education is the most powerful tool to enrich communities and futures, and Brandix is committed to build a strong foundation for transformational learning for students across Sri Lanka. The progress we have made with RiteToRead over the past two years is promising, and the potential for change in the education sector harnessing such digital technologies is immeasurable. Brandix will continue its commitment to deliver Inspired Solutions for the people of Sri Lanka.”
Dialog TV Boosts Resilience and Capacity with Norsat Satellite Earth Station
Hytera, a leading global provider of professional communications technologies and solutions, is proud to announce the successful deployment of a new backup satellite station for Dialog TV, Sri Lanka’s No.1 satellite Pay TV service provider. The project was fulfilled in 2022 by Hytera and its subsidiary specialized in Satellite Communications (SatCom), Norsat International Inc. The new station enhances the resilience and capacity of Dialog TV’s existing system and ensures continuity of service in the event of damage due to natural disasters.
Dialog TV provides coverage over the entirety of Sri Lanka through the Intelsat 38 Ku-band satellite. As the business expanded, it opted for a backup solution to support its existing satellite station and to strengthen the network’s disaster tolerance.
Hytera and Norsat provided an end-to-end satellite earth station solution that includes the installation, integration, and setup of satellite antennas, a transmission and receiving system, a new network management system (NMS), and a carrier monitoring system (CMS). The NMS makes routine work easier and simpler for on-duty staff, as equipment status, parameter monitoring and configuration, and remote control of the devices can be viewed and accomplished via a single interface. The CMS monitors the carrier spectrum status of satellite signals in real-time and ensures stable signal transmission and receiving.
“We are excited to have been able to work with Dialog TV on this important project,” said Kevin Sun, Sales Director for Hytera South Asia, “Our ability to seamlessly integrate our new equipment and software with Dialog TV’s existing systems has helped to ensure a stable and reliable service for their millions of customers across Sri Lanka.”
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