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CBSL maintains policy interest rates at current levels

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Extracts of Monetary Policy Review: No.07 – Oct. 2021

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on 13 October 2021, decided to maintain the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank at their current levels of 5.00 per cent and 6.00 per cent, respectively. The Board arrived at this decision after carefully considering the macroeconomic conditions and expected developments on the domestic and global fronts. The Board reiterated its commitment to maintaining inflation at the targeted levels over the medium term with appropriate measures, while supporting the economy to reach its potential in the period ahead.

The global economic recovery is expected to continue despite large disparities across countries. As per the World Economic Outlook (WEO) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released on 12 October 2021, the global economy is projected to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2021 and 4.9 per cent in 2022. Economic prospects remain divergent across countries, mainly due to disparities in access to COVID-19 vaccines and policy support. Consumer price inflation in most countries increased significantly, reflecting the impact of pandemic related supply-demand mismatches and the surge in commodity prices, compared to their low base from a year ago.

The Sri Lankan economy is making headway, despite the pandemic related disruptions As per the estimates of the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), the Sri Lankan economy witnessed a strong recovery during the second quarter of 2021, recording a real growth of 12.3 per cent, year-on-year, following the growth of 4.3 per cent, year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2021. With the gradual return to normalcy after phasing out the COVID-19 related lockdown measures, alongside the successful rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and growth supportive policy measures, the momentum of economic activity is expected to sustain in the period ahead. Available indicators and projections suggest that the real economy would grow by around 5 per cent in 2021, and gradually traverse to a high and sustained growth trajectory over the medium term, following near-term stabilisation measures that are being put in place by the Government and the Central Bank. The planned coordinated efforts by the Government and the Central Bank are expected to strengthen the external sector in the period ahead Earnings from exports marked a notable improvement and recorded over US dollars 1 billion for the third consecutive month in August 2021. Expenditure on imports has also increased, partly reflecting the surge in global commodity prices, resulting in an expansion in the trade deficit during the eight months ending August 2021, over the corresponding period of last year. Outlook for tourism improved

with the easing of travel restrictions globally and the successful vaccination drive domestically. Despite the moderation of workers’ remittances observed in recent months, a rebound is expected in the period ahead with the improved growth outlook for major foreign employment source countries and greater stability in the domestic foreign exchange market. The realisation of foreign investments in the real sector and the timely adoption of remedial measures by the Central Bank as enunciated in ‘The Six-month Road Map for Ensuring Macroeconomic and Financial System Stability’ are gradually easing pressures in the domestic foreign exchange market. Furthermore, the Central Bank continued to intervene in the foreign exchange market to provide liquidity for essential imports, including fuel. The depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar is recorded at 6.8 per cent thus far in 2021. The Sri Lankan rupee remains largely undervalued as reflected by the real effective exchange rate (REER) indices. In the meantime, gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 2.6 billion by end September 2021. This, however, does not include the bilateral currency swap facility with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) of CNY 10 billion (equivalent to approximately US dollars 1.5 billion). Gross official reserves are expected to improve with the measures that are being pursued by the Government and the Central Bank to attract fresh foreign exchange inflows, as outlined in the Six-month Road Map, thereby reinforcing the stability of the external sector in the period ahead. Market interest rates have adjusted upwards in response to the tightening of monetary and liquidity conditions, while credit and monetary expansion remained elevated In response to the tightening of monetary policy in August 2021, most market deposit and lending rates have adjusted upwards. Further, yields on government securities witnessed a sharp upward adjustment with the removal of maximum yield rates for acceptance at primary auctions. Following these upward adjustments, greater stability is expected in market interest rates in the period ahead. Reflecting the increased demand for credit amidst the low interest rate environment, credit extended to the private sector expanded as envisaged during the eight months ending August 2021. The momentum of credit expansion is expected to continue during the remainder of the year, with the recovery in economic activity and continued efforts to channel credit flows to productive and needy sectors of the economy.

Meanwhile, credit obtained by the public sector from the banking system, particularly net credit to the Government, also increased notably during the eight months ending August 2021. With increased domestic credit, the growth of broad money (M2b) continued to remain elevated. Some inflationary pressures are observed, particularly due to emerging global price developments Inflation accelerated in recent months due to high food inflation and some acceleration in non-food inflation. The surge in global commodity prices prompted the Government to remove maximum retail prices on several essential commodities. Along with resultant upward adjustments in other market prices, this is likely to cause headline inflation to deviate somewhat from the targeted levels in the near term. While such supply side developments in the near term do not warrant monetary policy tightening, measures already taken by the Central Bank in relation to interest rates and market liquidity would help stabilise demand pressures over the medium term.



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Integrated solid waste management initiative coupled with tree plantation launched at Hambantota Port

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The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

 Hambantota International Port launched its first integrated solid waste management initiative on Monday 11th on the Company Day of China Merchants Group (CMG), the parent company of CM Port. The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.

 “The idea is to collect all biodegradable material including garbage from vessels calling at the port that can be converted into compost, and process it.  The processed product will be used as manure for trees that will be planted within the Port and Industrial zone,” says Jeevan M. Premasara, Senior General Manager HR & Admin at HIP.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

The launch of the sustainability drive under the theme ‘Healing the Environment’ coinciding with CMG’s company day, was done under the leadership of CEO Johnson Liu. The program also includes the planting of 500 trees of different varieties, recommended by the Hambantota dry zone Botanical gardens. Twenty-five trees were planted as part of phase 1 of the project, and the port plans to grow and nurture endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

“As we launch the first phase of this tree planting and waste management/recycling projects, we will take into consideration planting different types of endemic plants that will thrive in the sandy soil of the Hambantota area in the next phases of the project.  Apart from that, we understand the importance of proper waste management systems and hope to partner with the district’s main waste recycling projects in the future.  As we expand into various industries in the zone, we hope to make our surroundings greener and environmentally friendly, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming an entirely green port,” added the Senior General Manager HR & Admin.

 HIP’s global partner CMPort’s parent company, CMG’s company day commemorated 149 years of sustainable operations this year.  CMG, which is involved in numerous projects to protect and sustain the environment, spreads its sustainability mission across all its members, partners and associate organisations. The ‘Healing the Environment’ project undertaken by HIP is an extension of their international partner’s sustainability drive.

 The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

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Douglas & Sons Great Place to Work® Certified

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Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd (DSL) announced that it is certified as a Great Place to Work® by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. DSL earned this distinction based on extensive ratings received by its employees in an anonymous survey that was conducted by Great Place to Work®.

Commenting on the certification Saroj Perera, Chairman/Managing Director of Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd said, “We are extremely proud to receive this certification, as it comes amidst a challenging time for businesses in general, when there is a considerable amount of pressure put on both employees and employers to perform at very high levels. We believe that our employees are our strongest asset, and this certification further reconfirms that we are certainly an employer of choice, enabling our employees to reach their full potential, whilst contribution to the growth of the company.”

“We applaud DSL for seeking employees’ feedback and the opportunity to certify itself,” said Kshanika Ratnayake, CEO of Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with DSL should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to the Great Place to Work® study, 92% percent of (total number of employees 372) employees say we are a great workplace,” said, Rohan Ariyawansa, Senior General Manager – Human Resources. “345 of our employees completed surveys, resulting in a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 5.”

Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd was established in 1986 with a vision to deliver excellence across the board and has today grown into a strong, diversified conglomerate with a passion for innovation that cares for the environment in the markets in which it operates. Its diversity and close ties with stakeholders in all key aspects of the economy forms the bedrock of its success in the country. Its access to key global players enables it to display and market Internationally reputed auto parts, tires, batteries and agricultural implements funnelled through its island-wide network of dealers.

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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“DFCC Bank’s new ‘Auto Loan’ scheme provides affordable avenues for purchasing your dream vehicle”

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In its latest step to drive economic and social value creation, DFCC Bank, the pioneer in commercial banking, announced the launch of the ‘DFCC Auto Loan’ facility, an innovative vehicle loan scheme that enables greater affordability for consumers interested in purchasing automobiles.

The new DFCC Auto loan initiative introduces loan facilities of up to LKR 10 Mn, with an extended payment period. The facility provides the borrower with leverage to afford a vehicle of their choice, through a structured repayment plan, inclusive of a residual value. It also includes an embedded rollover option that enables the client to continue the loan for an extra few years without settling the residual at the end of the loan period subject to a maximum overall tenure of 8 years. The borrower thereby receives the option of settling the residual by disposing the current vehicle and obtaining a fresh loan for a new vehicle, instead. The prime goal of the loan scheme is to enable customers to buy their dream vehicle, through an affordable monthly instalment plan with reduced risk and an increased loan period.

The loan facility will be applicable only for all cars, vans, SUVs and double cabs that customers choose to purchase.

DFCC Bank firmly believes that it is of paramount importance to enhance the affordability of vehicles as a path towards uplifting the standard of living, while securing economic growth and the financial stability of its customers. The lack of access to affordable customer-centric loan facilities, and severely restricted cash flows due to stagnant economic conditions in light of the pandemic, have proved to be a significant hurdle in the path of economic development. Having noted the existing economic issues faced by customers, DFCC Bank’s ‘Auto Loan’ scheme, which extends to a significant portion of society, stands to have notable positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

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