In response to recent Moody’s ratings, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka issued the following statement.
We observe, with disappointment, the rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service and the recent release of an erroneous analysis by an international investment bank expressing concern s about Sri Lanka’s economic and financial strength and external debt service capacity.
This downgrade and the report failed to do justice to the ground reality of the ongoing rapid economic recovery backed by vastly improved business confidence arising from the return of political and policy stability after a lapse of five years. Such announcement is also unwarranted especially at a time when the new Government is about to announce its Budget for 2021, spelling out the policy framework proposed in the medium term.
While Sri Lanka too like many of its peers in the emerging market group, experienced initial capital outflows, exchange rate depreciation, slowdown in activity, and pressure on government finances, in response to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, unlike many of its peers, the country has been able to decisively deal with the domestic spread of the pandemic, for which Sri Lanka is hailed as one of the few countries to have been able to do so. The swiftness with which decisions were taken followed. by the landslide vi story of the Government, Sri Lanka is now moving along a recovery path towards growth and stability.
Merchandise exports have returned to pre-COVID monthly avers ges of US dollars 1 billion. With the curtailment of non- essential imports, the trade deficit has improved notably. Although inbound tourist movements are not yet allowed, other services exports, including IT services and shipping, remain robust. Workers’ remittances have recorded a sharp increase in spite of the initial expectation of a slowdown. Amidst the COVID response the Government also initiated reforms in State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and the Impact of such actions can be seen already with some SOE’s showing positive results.
Foreign Direct Investments, which slowed in the first half of the year, appear promising looking ahead, particularly with the expected inflows to the Port City project and for new manufacturing projects. The expected finalization of new legislation for the Port City within a month will result in the realization of investment by those who have already completed due diligence on such investment. Other expected investments include import alternative industries as well as investments by international financial institutions. With regard to portfolio flows, foreign inflows to the government securities market have already shown signs of resumption. The stock market indices have improved to pre-COVJD levels.
The tourism sector has been supported by the flourishing domestic tourism. With increased emphasis on domestic agriculture, agro-based industries and resource-based industries, domestic economic activity has seen a remarkable turnaround with more opportunities being created for entrepreneurs to flourish, and available economic indicators point towards a promis ing recovery in the second half of the year, following the setback in the first half.
Given these developments, the exchange rate has sharply appreciated since mid-April, and remains stable at appreciated levels allowing the Central Bank to accumulate reserves through market purchases of foreign exchange. In fact, official reserves of the Central Bank increased to US dollars 7.4 billion by end August 2020, and the Government has repeatedly expressed its ability and willingness to meet all its debt obligations falling due in the period ahead. The recently introduced measures to entice foreign investors to the government securities market and the real economy through an attractive foreign exchange swap arrangement are likely to help enhance foreign currency inflows, in addition to the support of friendly countries, such as the swap arrangement with the Reserve Bank of India in July 2020 and the expected disbursement of the 21 1<1 tr anche of the Foreign Currency Term Financing Facility proceeds from the China Development Bank in October 2020.
Sri Lanka’s policy environment remains facilitative of enabling high economic growth beyond the recovery phase while preserving macroeconomic stability. On the back of over 11 years of well anchored mid-single dig it levels of inflation, the Central Bank has pursued an increasingly accommodative monetary policy stance. Fiscal policy, while remaining focused on supporting the economy, will return to a path of consolidation as envisaged in the Government’s policy framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splend our”. Hence, both fiscal and monetary policies have prioritized supporting people, businesses and thereby the economy, without jeopardizing the ma croeconomic balance of the country.
Given these circumstances, the Government of Sri Lanka wishes to reaffirm to foreign investors that ha ve put faith in Sri Lanka continuously over the past several years that Sri Lanka remains willing and able to meet its debt obligations, as it has done impeccably in the past. In fact, Sri Lanka is one of the few countries to have recognized the external sector pressures and decisively curtailed all non- essential imports with a view to prioritize external debt service obligations.
Furthermore, the press release added that all payment transactions for the repayment of the International Sovereign Bond of US dollars 1 billion maturing on 04 October 2020 have already been lined up and funds will be credited to the paying agent’s account on 02 October 2020. It is puzzling that Moody’s has downgraded Sri Lanka on the eve of this repayment, which seems similar to the previous premature and reckless downgrades by rating agencies in the immediate aftermath of the en d of the internal conflict in 2009 and during the political impasse at end 2018.
Accordingly, foreign investors are invited not to be dissuaded by the recent unwarranted rating downgrade and the erroneous analysis published recklessly, but to be guided by improving economic conditions as outlined above. As in the past, any investor can approach the Ministry of Finance, the State Ministry of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, and the highest level officials of these entities remain committed to facilitate any one-on-one or roadshow d is cussions with investors.
In addition, the Government will commence regular roadshows to strengthen investor relations following the announcement of the National Budget in November 2020, which will provide further clarity on the Government’s medium term fiscal and financing plans.
Newly developed Sathosa Motors Service Complex to service all vehicle brands
Sathosa Motors PLC and its new state-of-the-art vehicle service complex, is now serving not just Isuzu but also any brand of vehicle.
Pioneering automotive specialist, Sathosa Motors is the sole authorized agent for the world-renowned Isuzu brand, but the newly developed service complex will now undertake all kinds of services required for any brand of vehicle.
The internationally trained specialists are ready to serve you at the Sathosa Motors Service Complex now on weekdays from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and on Saturday from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm at No 25, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 02.
Sathosa Motors PLC guarantees its customers reliable and convenient service and will undertake vehicle inspections, periodic maintenance, body and under carriage washing, interior cleaning and beautification, engine tuning, error diagnosis, accident repairs, air condition repairs, and many more at a highly affordable rate.
In addition, genuine spare parts, as well as lubricants and industrial services are available at discounted prices at the Service Complex.
Sathosa Motors PLC aims to provide high quality services at all times and all services are carried out strictly under health guidelines due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Sathosa Motors announces that it has decided to keep all branches of the Sathosa Motors service network open to continue to serve its customers.
CSE trading bullish despite rupee hitting historic low against dollar
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE trading activities were bullish despite Sri Lanka’s rupee registering a historic slump against the US dollar at 202/205 to the one month dollar in mid morning trade yesterday, after opening at around 200/203.The stock market moved up, though, anticipating March quarterly results to be exceptional. This is expected to be particularly true of the Hayleys Group and Expolanka. Accordingly, investors seem to be re-entering the market after January, stock market analysts said.
Further, approval of the US $ 500 million Chinese loan and the fact that the Port City Bill has been tabled in parliament have lifted investor sentiment in a significant direction of the stock market, market analysts said. Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards, especially the All Share Price Index went up by 1.22 percent. The All Share Price Index rose by 92.35 points and S and P SL20 went up by 19.21 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 4.72 billion with four crossings.
Those crossings were reported in JKH, which crossed 922,000 shares to the tune of Rs. 137.8 million, its shares traded at Rs. 149.25, Commercial Bank 950,000 shares crossed for Rs. 82.7 million, its shares traded at Rs. 87, HNB 155,000 shares crossed for Rs. 26.5 million, its shares traded at Rs. 132 and Ceylon Cold Stores 33,500 shares crossed for Rs. 20.1 million, its shares fetching Rs. 600.
In the retail market, five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Browns Investments Rs. 793.6 million (123.1 million shares traded), LOLC Rs. 463.4 million (1.32 million shares traded), Royal Ceramic Rs. 442 million (1.2 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 442 million (five million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 372.3 million (6.2 million shares traded). During the day 197.3 million share volumes changed hands in 30480 transactions.
The market was quite bullish from the beginning and LOLC Group companies led the market. It is said that LOLC contributed 25.5 points to the All Share Price Index. Browns Investments 9.8 points and Vallibel One contributed 8 points to the All Share Price Price Index while Commercial Leasing contributed six points.
‘Embark on that long-awaited getaway with Emirates and enjoy special fares’
Emirates is launching seasonal fares that enable aspiring globetrotters to plan exciting adventures around the world as well as for students preparing to travel overseas. With Emirates’ generous booking policies, customers have the option to lock in these special fares and extend ticket validity for up to three years, enjoying greater flexibility and confidence when planning travel during unprecedented times.
Travellers in Sri Lanka can look forward to flight deals on all routes in Emirates’ global network, with return fares starting at only Rs 68,700 in Economy Class or Rs 257,500 in Business Class. These special seasonal fares are available for bookings made from 13 to 26 April 2021, and are valid for travel between 16 April and 30 September 2021*.
Featured destinations and starting Economy Class fares include: US$ 342 (about Rs 68,700 at current exchange rates) to Dubai, US$ 654 (about Rs 131,300) to Milan, US$ 644 (about Rs 129,300) to Paris, US$ 1,117 (about Rs 224,200) to New York, US$ 1,303 (about Rs 261,500) to Toronto and US$ 966 (about Rs 193,900) to Nairobi.
Special Business Class fares start at US$ 1,283 (approximately Rs 257,500) to Dubai, from US$ 3,127 (about Rs 627,600) to Milan, US$ 2,860 (about Rs 574,000) to Paris, US$ 3,618 (about Rs 726,100) to New York, US$ 3,654 (about Rs 733,300) to Toronto and US$ 2,179 (about Rs 437,300) to Nairobi. All fares in Rupees are subject to the rate of exchange on the day of purchase.
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