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Central Bank’s policy rates decision to be driven by two options

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank will be reviewing its monetary policy stance on November 26. In this context, First Capital Research has put forward strong arguments both for and against an interest rate cut, in its Pre-Policy Analysis.

Making their argument against further relaxation in monetary policy First Capital said, “As a response to the measures taken by the government, private sector credit has improved to Rs. 87.4Bn in September while market liquidity reached Rs. 140 bn by 13th Nov indicating that there is surplus liquidity in the system. Moreover, the unemployment rate, which was at 5.7% in the 1Q2020 has declined to 5.4% in the second quarter. These indicators suggest that economic activity has remained steady without much deterioration in the 2Q. Except the GDP growth numbers, where the 2Q2020 figures are yet to be seen, other indicators are signifying a recovery, inquiring the need of further policy easing at the upcoming review”.

“In response to previous monetary easing measures implemented by CBSL, to bring down costs of borrowing of businesses and households, both market deposit and lending rates adjusted notably so far during the year. AWPR declined to historic lows in recent weeks, while banks’ lending rates also witnessed a downward adjustment in line with CBSL’s expectations. We believe that considering the recovery in the private credit and historic low levels in AWPR, there is no vital requirement for CBSL to provide a rate cut and to further bring down the market lending rates drastically”.

Their arguments for further relaxation in monetary policy was: “A thrust for development is the need of the current government. We estimate that Sri Lanka’s GDP would see its steepest contraction in history of -5.8% in 2020 following the unexpected contraction in 1Q GDP growth of -1.6% while 2Q GDP figures are yet to be seen. However, the government’s key drive is the development oriented economic growth which was spelt out through the budget 2021 as well. Accordingly, the government plans to reach 6% and above GDP growth during the next 5 years commencing from 2021. As we believe, a development-oriented budget coupled with further low interest rate environment can support the government’s medium-term goals. Therefore, the need to accelerate the GDP growth can be considered as a major factor favouring further policy easing at the upcoming review.”

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First registered undergraduate of BCI Campus inducted by President

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President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa paid a special visit to BCI Campus, Negombo (Benedict XVI Catholic Institute) on Jan.15 on the invitation of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo.

The event was conducted under strict health protocols and was attended by a limited audience among which were the Archbishop of Colombo , Rector of BCI ; Rev. Fr. Quintus Fernando ,Professor G L Peiris, Minister of Education , Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Tourism,(Dr.) Nalaka Godahewa, State Minister – Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal, and Public Sanitation, Dr Sudharshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Nimal Lanza, State Minister – Rural Roads and other Infrastructure Development, Chief Air Marshal Roshan Gunatileke, Governor of the Western Province, Prof Kapila Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof Sampath Amaratunga, chairman of the University Grants Commission and Prof Sudantha Liyanage, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri, chairman/Director – Board of Management, Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) and member of BCI Academic Council along with several other dignitaries.

Welcoming the gathering Rev. Father Quintus Fernando; Rector of BCI, said ‘BCI Campus was established 6 years ago with a holistic and unique approach to higher education. Our emphasis is not limited to developing graduates that are industry ready, armed with knowledge and skill, but we aspire to make BCI Campus a breeding ground for well-disciplined, humanely nurtured, and responsible citizens. We ‘Aspire to Inspire’ our students to become professionals who possess academic knowledge and skill sets, whilst also mentoring them to assert their dignity and integrity as true human beings”. The reverend father also drew special attention to the invaluable support President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has rendered to BCI, over the years. Special mention was made to President is involvement in expediting the reconstruction and renovation work of BCI in 2015 as the campus prepared to welcome Pope Francis who visited BCI during his visit to Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the event, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who drew attention to the innumerable efforts of the Catholic Church to provide a sound Education to children and youth the world over, stated that ‘education today is not just a matter of mastering science and technology only, but also, and much more, a matter of assisting a young person to master life itself. So, Institutes of higher learning should not be so much profit making as much as academies of moral and spiritual formation for the youth’.

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‘India leads from the front’

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the all-India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 via video conferencing.  Considered to be the world’s largest vaccination program, it covers 30 million health care and frontline programme workers across India in the first phase. The endeavor is to cover 300 million in the second phase. Elderly population and those with serious illness would be the focus groups in this phase.

A total of 3006 session sites were virtually connected during the launch with around 100 beneficiaries being vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day. The massive vaccination programme is powered by Co-WIN, an indigenously developed online digital platform, which will facilitate real time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries. A dedicated 24×7 call centre  has also been established to deal with all issues pertaining to administration of the vaccines.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Modi highlighted various steps undertaken by government of India in combating COVD-19. India released its first COVID-19 advisory on January 17, 2020 and was among the first countries to start screening passengers at its airports. Specifically on vaccines, he said that Indian vaccines were built on tried and tested technology in India and added that these vaccines will give a decisive victory to India in fighting the pandemic.

(Indian HC)

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Hayleys Group drives bullish market

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

CSE activities were positive and bullish  throughout the day and they were mainly  driven by the Hayleys Group headed by Dhammika Perera, which saw a subdivision of all 14 listed Hayleys companies’ shares to enhance the Group’s market capitalisation, stock market analysts said.  

It is said that Hayleys share prices appreciated by 32 percent or  Rs. 187.50. Its shares started trading at Rs. 577.50 and at the end of the day they moved to Rs. 764. Dipped Products’ shares moved up by 31 percent or Rs. 138. Its shares started trading at Rs. 441 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 579. This sub division would not increase the stated capital of any company, but would increase the liquidity of the shares as the number of existing shares increases. Confirming this, all these companies recorded huge price increases yesterday.

LOLC share prices appreciated by 24 percent or Rs. 56. Its shares started trading at Rs. 232 and at the end of the day they moved to Rs. 282.

Amid those developments both indices moved upwards. All Share Price Index went up by 246.60 points and S and P SL20 went up by 100.38 points. It is said that the All Share Price Index surpassed 8000 points for the first time in history, which closed at 8.184 points at the end of trading. Meanwhile, the S&P SL20 index, which includes the 20 largest and most liquid stocks also increased by 100.38 points (3.24%) to close at 3,196.73.

Turnover stood at Rs. 14.2 billion with ten crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, which crossed 3.1 million shares to the tune of Rs. 526 million and its shares traded at Rs. 170, HNB (Non Voting) 1.4 million shares crossed for Rs. 172 million its shares traded at Rs. 118, Dipped Products 292,000 shares crossed for Rs. 160.7 million and its shares traded at Rs. 550, CIC two million shares crossed for Rs. 137 million, its shares traded at Rs. 68. Meanwhile, DFCC’s 825,000 shares crossed for Rs. 61 million, its shares trading at Rs. 74, JKH 300,000 shares crossed for Rs. 35 million, its shares traded at Rs. 160, Aitken Spence 500,000 shares crossed for Rs. 35 million, its shares fetching Rs. 70, Tokyo (Non Voting) 3.56 million shares crossed for Rs. 27.3 million, its shares traded at Rs. 76.80, HNB Assurance 400,000 shares crossed for Rs. 24 million, its shares traded at Rs. 60 and Vallibel One 420,000 shares crossed for Rs. 20 million, its shares trading at Rs. 48.

In the retail market top five contributors to the turnover were, Dipped Products Rs. 1.8 billion (3.2 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 1.3 billion (1.8 million shares traded), Vallibel One Rs. 856 million (15.3 million shares traded), LOLC Rs. 797 million (three million shares traded) and JKH Rs.0.7 million (3.7 million shares traded). During the day 377.7 million share volumes changed hands in 66574 transactions.

Sri Lanka’s rupee was quoted around 197.50/198.50 to the US dollar in the one-month forwards market on Thursday while bond yields were steady, dealers said. Rupee last closed around 196.00/198.00 in the spot-next market on Wednesday against the greenback. The Central Bank’s indicative spot rate was 194.7980 on January 19, up from 193.6458.

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