Increase in import expenditure outpaces rise in export earnings
Extracts of CBSL External Sector Performance – August 2021
Increased financial inflows bolstered Gross Official Reserves (GOR) during the month of August 2021, while merchandise exports exceeded US dollars 1.0 billion for the third consecutive month. However, the increase of import expenditure outpaced the increase of export earnings, resulting in an expansion of the trade deficit, compared to a year earlier. Tourist arrivals gathered some momentum in August 2021, recording a notable increase over the previous month, although the numbers remained low.
A moderation of workers’ remittances was observed in August 2021. Sri Lanka received the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the general SDR allocation in 2021. Further, initial disbursements under the bilateral currency swap arrangement between the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Bangladesh Bank were received during August 2021. The average spot exchange rate in the interbank market remained broadly stable in August 2021, while pressures on the exchange rate were observed towards the end of the month, prompting the Central Bank to intervene in the foreign exchange market to stabilise the rupee.
Trade Balance and Terms of Trade
Trade Balance: The deficit in the trade account widened on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis to US dollars 586 million in August 2021, compared to the deficit of US dollars 342 million recorded in August 2020. The cumulative deficit in the trade account from January to August 2021 also widened to US dollars 5,509 million from US dollars 3,812 million in the corresponding period of 2020. The major contributory factors that contributed to the widening of the trade deficit are shown in Figure 1.
Terms of Trade: Terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 19.2 per cent in August 2021, compared to August 2020, as the increase in import prices surpassed the increase in export prices.
Performance of Merchandise Exports1
Overall exports: Earnings from exports in August 2021 grew by 16.2 per cent over August 2020 to reach US dollars 1,100 million, reaching the highest level of exports recorded in a month of August. Earnings from exports were marginally higher at US dollars 1,104 million in July 2021. Cumulative export earnings increased by 22.6 per cent during January-August 2021, amounting to US dollars 7,903 million, compared to US dollars 6,445 million recorded in the corresponding period in 2020. However, the recent gap of around US dollars 345 million per month, on average, between the merchandise outflow and the financial inflow related to such exports has been a matter of concern.
Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods increased by 17.5 per cent in August 2021, compared to August 2020. This increase was due to a broad-based increase in earnings from most of the industrial products led by textiles and garments; petroleum products; rubber products; food, beverages and tobacco; and machinery and mechanical appliances. Export of garments to all major markets increased. Earnings from the export of petroleum products increased with the increase in prices of aviation and bunker fuel and the increase in volumes of bunker fuel exports. Increase in earnings from tyres and gloves led to higher earnings from rubber products.
Healthcare, Consumer and Agri propel Sunshine Holdings’ strong FY23 performance
Diversified Sri Lankan conglomerate Sunshine Holdings (CSE: SUN) recorded resilient revenue growth in a challenging macroeconomic environment, reporting notable top-line growth during the year ended 31 March 2023. Group’s Healthcare and Consumer sectors led growth while healthcare segment remained the major contributor to total Group revenue in FY23.
Sunshine recorded a consolidated Group revenue of Rs.51.9 billion for the year ended 31 March 2023, an increase of 61.3% over last year. Profit after tax (PAT) for the period in review was contracted by 28.0% to Rs. 3.6 billion. The gross profit improved by Rs.3.3 billion, up 31.9% YoY, compared to the previous year, driven by revenue growth. Gross profit margin for the period stood at 26.0%, a contraction of 580 basis points against the corresponding period last year.
The Group’s Healthcare business emerged as the largest contributor to Sunshine’s revenue, accounting for 46.1% of the total, while Consumer Goods and Agri Business sectors of the group contributed 36.6% and 16.9% respectively of the total Group revenue. The Group EBIT closed at Rs. 7 billion, an increase of 23.0% YoY.
Commenting on the results, Amal Cabraal, Chairman of Sunshine Holdings said, “The Group had to face and overcome tough economic factors and adverse market conditions which persisted throughout the year. These headwinds impacted some of the core sectors, and are expected to continue to do so in the short to medium term.”
However, Cabraal highlighted the Group’s commendable response to these challenges, adding, “Through robust cost management initiatives and process reengineering efforts, supported by the integration of digital technologies, Sunshine has delivered a strong performance in FY23. Despite the difficulties, the Group has displayed resilience, and takes an optimistic outlook on fortifying operations to further strengthen overall performance.”
Cabraal further emphasized that “Every possible measure has been taken to ensure business sustainability and continuity in the upcoming months.”
Healthcare sector recorded a revenue of Rs. 23.9 billion during FY23, a significant increase of 36.7% YoY backed by the improved performance in Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices and Manufacturing segments. EBIT for the sector was Rs. 3.0 billion with PAT of the sector increased by 13% YoY. Lina Manufacturing, the pharma manufacturing business, commenced commercial operations in the Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI) plant in July 2022, which was a significant milestone for the business.
Consumer Goods sector reported a 135.6% YoY increase in revenue to close at Rs. 19 billion in FY23. The revenue increase was predominantly driven by the addition of export business. The consumer brands Zesta, Watawala, Ran Kahata and Daintee continued to grow market shares, despite challenging consumer sentiment.
Agribusiness sector revenue increased by 35.4% YoY during FY21/22 to Rs. 8.8 billion, driven by the increase in palm oil NSA. PAT of the Agri sector closed at Rs. 2.3 billion for FY21/22, down by 33.6%.
ADB budget support loan doesn’t elicit positive response from bourse
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The CSE did not react positively yesterday to the Asian Development Bank’s approval of a US$ 350 million loan as budget support, as part of Sri Lanka’s economic stabilization program, together with the rupee’s appreciation against the dollar, market analysts said.
“The ABD is supporting a series of policy reforms which are required to stabilize the economy and to spur growth. Budget support loans ease cash flows of the government and do not involve imports of goods. This has created some limbo for investors, market analysts said.
Consequently, shares edged- down in mid- day trade and ended on a negative note. The main All- Share Price Index was down by 118.97 points, while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was also down by 41.3 points.
Turnover stood at Rs 516 million without any crossings. In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Dialog Axiata Rs 73.7 million (7.2 million shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 54.42 million (426,000 shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 51.7 million (382,000 shares traded), Prime Lands Residencies Rs 25.1 million (3.11 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 21.3 million (4.3 million shares traded), Hemas Holdings Rs 18.8 million (298,000 shares traded) and Elpitiya Plantations Rs 16.2 million (164,000 shares traded). During the day 38.3 million share volumes changed hands in 11000 transactions.
The rupee opened at Rs 296.50 /297.50 against the US dollar in the spot market yesterday, while bond yields were up, dealers said. The rupee closed at Rs 296.00 /297.50 to the US dollar on Friday after opening at around Rs 302.80/303.10.
Sri Lanka’s rupee is appreciating amid negative private credit which has reduced outflows after the central bank hiked rates and stopped printing money.
In the first year of an IMF program, a pegged central bank usually collects reserves and mops up liquidity generated from the purchases or there is a balance of payments surplus.
HNB reopens Student Savings Unit at St. Joseph’s College
Reaffirming its commitment to fostering financial literacy among students, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank HNB PLC, announced the reopening of its Student Savings unit at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo.
The reopening comes as part of the bank’s continued efforts to instil the habit of saving among young minds. The event was graced by the esteemed presence of St. Joseph’s College Rector, Rev. Fr. Ranjith Andradi, and the Managing Director/CEO of HNB, Jonathan Alles, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Dilshan Rodrigo who are distinguished past pupils of the College, along with Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, Assistant General Manager, Network Management and Business Development Supun Dias and Head Office Branch Chief Manager, Dilanka De Silva.
During the ceremony HNB Managing Director/CEO, Jonathan Alles expressed his delight, stating, “We are extremely pleased to be a part of this momentous occasion, celebrating the reopening of the Student Savings Unit at St. Joseph’s College. Through this Unit, we aim to empower students with a deeper understanding of saving and the value of living within their means. By developing this essential life skill, students will be well prepared to fund their higher education and make other important investments in the future.”
The Unit will mainly offer student access to the wide range of savings products and investment plans available for minors. Moreover, the bank aims to create a digital payment ecosystem for the school also offering members of the staff and the Old Boys Association with exceptional services and benefits.
St. Joseph’s College Rector Rev. Fr. Ranjith Andradi, expressing his pride in the partnership, stated: “We are proud to be associated with HNB in reopening the Student Savings Unit. This initiative not only imparts valuable lessons in investing and saving but also instils a strong sense of financial management in our students. We believe this partnership will contribute to their progress and success.”
The Student Savings Unit, introduced by HNB in 1994, has played a pivotal role in promoting financial literacy among students. With 162 units established across Sri Lanka, HNB actively engages students in managing mini-banks within their schools, fostering leadership and financial responsibility. Each year, HNB provides comprehensive training to over 1,000 students, empowering them to become financially savvy individuals.
HNB is rated A (lka) by Fitch Ratings and was awarded the esteemed title of ‘Sri Lanka’s Best Corporate Citizen’ for 2022 by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Other major accolades include being ranked among the Top 1,000 Banks in the World for six consecutive years by the acclaimed UK based “The Banker Magazine”, being adjudged the ‘Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka’ for the 13th occasion by the Asian Banker, as well as securing a Top 5 position on Business Today’s Top 40 rankings for 2022.
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