Global equity interest in emerging markets expected to trickle down to CSE
Despite global negativity, the CSE has emerged the best performing stock market in the world as of 19th January 2021 due to local positivity. Analysts expect global equity market growth to move away from the US to favour the rest of the world. The capital flow into Emerging Markets can also be expected to flow into Frontier Markets while SL has the potential to outperform other frontier equity markets during 2021 since it is trading at attractive valuations, as per the latest Economic & Market Outlook report of the Colombo-based Ceylon Asset Management (CAM).
Sri Lanka offers the highest negative correlation in Asia compared to India, United States and Japan while Malaysia is the 2nd highest in Asia compared to the same countries. It reveals that the CSE’s negative correlation to US, India and Japan stock markets during the past 5 years offer investment opportunities to global investors.
Frontier economies such as Sri Lanka are experiencing credit distress reflected by a series of country rating downgrades by the international rating agencies. As a result, Sri Lanka International Sovereign Bond (SLISB) yields spiked to an all-time high level in last year since the first issue during 2007. The 2030 SLISB yield of 9.1% before the pandemic (11 March) increased to 19.6% during May 2020. Currently, it has recovered marginally and trading at a yield of 15.5%. The 2030 ISB price declined by -37.8% during 2020. The 2022 ISB maturities still trade at yields above 30% reflecting global investor concerns over Sri Lanka’s ability to repay maturities next year given insufficient Reserves.
Despite the adverse economic environment, the research report published by Ceylon Asset Management (CAM) highlights a contrarian investment Opportunity in the Sri Lanka International Sovereign Bond Market. However, Global negativity towards SL is strong due to existing external debt obligations, weak debt sustainability, insufficient foreign reserves and hesitance to engage with the International Monetary Fund. As a result, all other “CCC” rated countries trade below 10% while Sri Lanka trades at 18.5% p.a.
The foreign analysts are negative on the external debt repayment ability of Government of Sri Lanka over the next five years due to mounting adverse economic conditions. The absence of a credible debt repayment strategy by the Government of Sri Lanka has diluted foreign investor confidence despite the statements provided on the willingness and ability to settle the upcoming debt obligations.
Despite the negative impact of the pandemic on Sri Lanka and exit of foreign investors from the CSE, analysts observe a contrarian behavior of local investors due to their confidence in the government policies and measures to reduce the trade deficit, a strengthening current account balance, arrangements of dollar SWAPs of USD 2.5Bn to strengthen FX reserves to overcome prevailing challenges. In addition to the dollar SWAPS, The Government of Sri Lanka expects committed FDIs of USD 2.5Bn during 2021.
CBSL and IFC launch National Financial Inclusion Strategy
Sri Lanka’s first National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) aunched recently, aims to make financial services more accessible, efficient, and affordable for all households and businesses in the country.
The NFIS is a joint effort led by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka—with technical and financial assistance from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group—under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program. The development of this strategy was a multi-stakeholder effort supported by the government of Sri Lanka.
“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy symbolizes our country’s commitment towards a better and inclusive Sri Lanka that will benefit all individuals and enterprises. I believe this strategy will complement the Government’s efforts to minimize the provincial income disparities, urban-rural inequalities, and to promote inclusive growth,” said Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
“More importantly, this strategy prioritizes future generations, having identified financial literacy as a key pillar. The proposal to strengthen the national curriculum in this area is a positive step. Investing in the education of our younger generation is the most significant investment we can make as a nation, as this will be a particularly helpful approach to the systematic correction of the financial habits of Sri Lankans,” the Prime Minister said.
HNB – Havelock City partnership offers exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility
HNB PLC has partnered with Havelock City mixed-use development project to offer prospective homeowners of state-ofthe-art luxury apartments in Stratford and Melford Towers (Phase 3 – COC certified) and Peterson and Edmonton Towers (Phase 4) with the exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility.
The partnership is set to offer customers the unprecedented opportunity to make a payment of only 20% and immediately occupy the limited units available in Phase 3 of the project or invest in apartments available in Phase 4, scheduled to be completed by May 2021. Further, Havelock City will take on the customer’s interest payment for one year.
“We have witnessed an increase in the demand for apartments and are aware that there is a limited stock of units available in the heart of Colombo. Therefore, we hope that this partnership with Havelock City will offer our customers looking to invest in a home of their own the facility to either move into an apartment immediately or invest in a home of their dreams,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama said.
Prospective homeowners can make use the bank’s flexible repayment options, such as the Step-up facility, which offers a repayment option in line with the customers evolving income. Customers can also obtain a maximum repayment period of 25 years for the loan facility for an attractive interest rate starting from just 7%.
DPL lends a hand to children in Monaragala Rubber Farming Communities
As part of its ongoing efforts to empower and uplift the livelihood of its farmer co-operative societies, Dipped Products PLC (DPL) distributed school bags to the children of 1,500 smallholder rubber farmers for the 10th consecutive year, under its flagship Firstlight CSR project.
This year’s distribution recorded the largest donation of school bags, which was nearly a two-fold increase from the previous year, bringing the total value of the distribution up to nearly Rs. 1 million.
Taking place at the Pinwatta Bodimalu Viharaya in Medagama, Monaragala, this latest distribution marks the Company’s continued efforts to support the smallholder rubber farming communities, by ensuring that their essential needs are looked after.
“Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, with the nation facing significant challenges and hardships, it is truly touching to see the positive impact which we continue to have on the underprivileged smallholder rubber farming communities. We believe that programmes like Firstlight hold the key to enhancing the livelihoods of our 1500-strong rubber farmers, providing them with an improved quality of life, whilst paving the way to open up new opportunities and a brighter future. This is why, with the enthusiastic response we have received over the years, we have now also expanded this school bag distribution to include the District of Kegalle,” Dipped Products Deputy Managing Director, Pushpika Janadheera said.
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