The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) announce the launch of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) which now give average investors an opportunity to reap the benefits of real estate investment and the advantages associated with investing in publicly traded securities on the CSE. While investing in real estate appears to be a popular choice, the rising cost of property poses a significant challenge to individual investors who typically resort to bank loans to finance such investments. This timely introduction by the CSE and SEC provides greater access to all investor segments to commercial real estate projects and an opportunity to benefit from the recently observed spiraling property prices.
REITs were first introduced in the United States in 1960 creating a mechanism for individual investors’, especially middle-income earners, to generate income through investing in large commercial real estate. This product has made rapid progress within the Asian markets as well with its growing popularity especially in Thailand, Malaysia and India and is also viewed as a mechanism to broad base the real estate ownership within a country. A REIT is essentially a structure which typically owns and operates income-generating real estate. The income-generating real estate assets owned by a REIT may include office buildings, shopping malls, apartments, hotels, resorts, self-storage facilities and warehouses.
A REIT would enable unit holders to earn a portion of the income that is generated through renting, leasing or selling these properties which is required to be distributed directly to the unit holders of the REIT. The CSE and SEC have introduced a framework which mandates the distribution of 90% of the generated income to its investors.
This innovative introduction, which has been formulated specifically taking into consideration the local environment, would open up new horizons for real estate developers and owners to convert completed income generating projects into a REIT, have its units listed on the CSE following the mechanism now made available to them and have them publicly traded in the secondary market, similar to equity securities listed on the CSE.
The framework for REITs has been introduced by the SEC via rules made by the SEC in terms of section 53 and 13 of the SEC Act which came into effect from July 31, 2020 in the form of a gazette notification. The comprehensive formation of SEC rules will govern the overall mechanism of REITs in Sri Lanka. The CSE has also formulated listing rules for the listing of units of REITs. A REIT would enable investors to further diversify their portfolios by investing in this lucrative investment vehicle which would produce long-term returns. Investors would benefit from a stable stream of income, swift entry and exit route through the secondary market and also benefit from the returns of the overall real estate asset appreciation.
The economy at large would also benefit from the introduction of REITs with the anticipated creation of jobs, economic growth, increased tax revenues, liquidity through listing and would also attract foreign direct investments into the country. REITs would also require stronger corporate governance and increased transparency which would help the investor community and regulatory bodies to assess the viability and quality of projects.
Similar to any stock market investment, the investor is required to take into account his/her own financial status and also consult with an investment advisor prior to making an investment decision. A review can also be carried out on the REIT’s disclosure filings, including the annual and quarterly reports, prior to making a decision to invest in REITs.
The CSE and SEC will continue to focus on setting up a more conducive environment along with the regulatory authorities to facilitate greater company and investor participation.
New IPS report on ‘Elasticity Estimates for Cigarettes in Sri Lanka’
• New study finds that increasing taxes on cigarettes will have twin advantages of reducing cigarette consumption and increasing government revenue.
• Calculated tax and price elasticities of demand for cigarettes show that smokers are price sensitive: increasing cigarette taxes by 10 per cent will reduce consumption by 8 per cent.
• A simulation exercise shows that when cigarette taxes are raised in line with inflation and streamlined between 2020-2023, government excise tax revenue will increase by LKR 37 billion by 2023 and 140,000 premature deaths from cigarette consumption can be prevented in the future.
The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) has released a report which provides a comprehensive assessment of Sri Lanka’s historical and current tobacco tax policies to assess whether they are in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended best practices. The new report ‘Elasticity Estimates for Cigarettes in Sri Lanka’ is authored by Dr. Nisha Arunathilake, Harini Weerasekera and Chamini Thilanka, and is part of a series of IPS research focusing on health and education.
According to the WHO, significant increases in tobacco taxes are the best means of controlling tobacco consumption. High taxes are an incentive for quitting tobacco, reducing consumption, and for not initiating smoking. The report finds that although cigarette prices have gone up over time, cigarettes are still affordable for smokers as tax increases have not kept up with inflation and income increases. Further, the tax structure is not streamlined, and tax policy changes have been implemented in an ad-hoc manner.
The report provides an estimate of price and income elasticities of cigarettes, and uses these to assess the effectiveness of tax increases on smoking prevalence in the country by conducting a simulation analysis. The results show that increasing cigarette taxes by 10 per cent will reduce consumption by 8 per cent. Finally, the study used the estimated tax elasticities to model the health and fiscal benefits of moving to inflation-adjusted and uniform excise tax system over 4 years.
DFCC Bank and AIA virtually recognise CEO Club award winners
Launched in 2018, the ‘CEO’s Club’ Awards organized annually by AIA Insurance for DFCC Bank staff, has since been held in grand style each quarter. The event is intended at recognizing and celebrating DFCC’s staff on their exceptional achievements in providing protection to the bank’s customers by introducing AIA’s insurance solutions.
Despite the limitations posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the management of both DFCC and AIA were determined to continue the tradition of much deserved recognition for the DFCC staff who have excelled in providing insurance solutions to customers. As the first ever virtual AIA-DFCC CEO’s Club Awards Night, the event was held on Microsoft Teams. This pioneering event connected fifteen locations simultaneously, taking digital adoption to a new level, to celebrate award winners.
AIA CEO Nikhil Advani congratulated the winners, while commenting on the long-standing partnership between AIA and DFCC; “AIA are pioneers in Bancassurance in Sri Lanka and DFCC is one of our most valuable partners. Together over the years we have created a strong bond, driven by the common goal of providing protection and financial security to our customers. We are constantly defying odds and challenging the status quo and that is why we were able to take digital to the next level and ensure that these merited recognitions and celebrations took place, uninterrupted.”
DFCC CEO Lakshman Silva also applauded the winners and commented; “DFCC Bank, one of the oldest development banks in the country and now a full-service commercial bank, has had many trail-blazing initiatives. We entered into a partnership with AIA with the objective of enhancing our customer value proposition- and over the years have complemented each other, bringing exceptional value to customers. It was great, that together we were able to overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and create an opportunity out of it, in creating a first of its kind digital event. This is what great partnerships do.”
Fifty-four CEO’s Club winners from across the island were recognized at the virtual Awards Night, for their achievements in 2019, with six others getting special recognition for their contribution as well. The top ten performers were Samitha Jayathilake ( Kottawa Branch) , Chamindu Anjana (Hikkaduwa Branch) , Dilini De Silva (Moratuwa Branch), Dinusha Jayathilaka (Anuradhapura Branch), Nuwan Abeywickrama (Kiribathgoda Branch), Anjalina Kumarihamy (Piliyandala Branch), Dilanka Jayawardena(Kaduwela Branch) , Lahiru Madushan(Central Sales Unit ) , Paskaranathan Ghengatharan (Kotahena Branch) and Lakshman Thambiraja (Batticaloa Branch ).
Tokyo Cement and Chevron Lubricants quarterly results boost market
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The CSE turned positive yesterday with the releasing of impressive second and third quarter results by two investor favourite counters, Tokyo Cement and Chevron Lubricants, stock market analysts said.
It is said that Tokyo Cement’s second quarter results recorded Rs. 2.1 billion profit, which was a 183 percent increase compared to the corresponding quarter for year 2019, while Chevron Lubricants recorded Rs. 803 million in profits, which was a 29 percent increase compared to the corresponding quarter the previous year. Therefore, Chevron Lubricants announced a dividend of Rs. 3.50 per share for its shareholders yesterday.
Tokyo Cement’s impressive growth plus Chevron Lubricant’s dividend announcement removed the negative sentiment from the share market, which witnessed negative sentiments as a result of the government’s announcement of the three day Covid 19 curfew from today, market analysts said.
Amid those developments, the market experienced a day full of fluctuations and both indices moved upwards, i.e., the All Share Price Index was up by 126. 39 points and S and P SL20 went up by 51.82 points Turnover stood at Rs. 1.64 billion with a single crossing reported in JKH. The latter’s 1.26 million shares crossed for Rs. 157 million and its share was traded at Rs. 130.50.
In the retail market top five contributors to the turnover were, Tokyo Cement (Non Voting) Rs. 234.7 million (4.4 million shares traded), Tokyo Cement (Voting) Rs. 176.6 million (2.8 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 162.6 million (9.1 million shares traded), Dip Products Rs. 117.9 million (382,000 shares traded) and Chevron Lubricants Rs. 78.2 million (900,000 shares traded). During the day 55.1 million share volumes changed hands in 16138 transactions.
Further, two finance companies are going to merge to meet the co-capital requirement of the Central Bank, which is, Rs. 2 billion; they are Nation Lanka Finance and Sinhaputhra Finance. With the merger the surviving entity would be Sinhaputhra Finance. At present both companies are struggling to meet co-capital requirements of the Central Bank. Once the merger happens they will be able to meet the requirement, stock market analysts said.
Sri Lanka rupee was quoted at 184.25/40 to the US dollar on Thursday while bond yields were largely unchanged, dealers said. The rupee closed at 184.25/35 against the greenback on Wednesday. Bond markets were dull with little activity, dealers said.
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