Central Bank expects further reduction in lending rates by Finance and Leasing Companies
The Central Bank has been easing its monetary policy since the beginning of 2009 in view of the rapid deceleration in inflation, in order to provide a stimulus to economic activities. In response, money market interest rates have fallen gradually and Treasury bills yield rates have declined by over 900 basis points so far this year. Similar declines have been observed in other short-term interest rates as well. In line with such decline, banks’ deposit and lending rates too have reduced significantly. Deposit rates of registered finance companies and borrowing rates of specialized leasing companies too have reduced, and are expected to reduce even further, resulting in a substantial reduction in their costs of funds.
In that context, the Central Bank is of the view that there is now sufficient space for the registered finance companies and specialised leasing companies to reduce their lending rates, and accordingly the Central Bank expects those financial institutions to make a commensurate downward adjustment in lending rates, over the coming weeks. Such a reduction would benefit entrepreneurs in industry, services and agriculture sectors, in particular small and medium scale businesses. At the same time, the leasing, hire purchase and other lending volumes of registered finance companies and specialized leasing companies would increase as a result, thereby contributing to improve economic activities in the country.
Interest Rates in Government Securities Market Decline Further
The yield rates on Treasury bills declined further at the primary auction held on November 04, 2009. The yield rate on Treasury bills with a maturity of 91 days declined by 36 basis points to 8.14 per cent, the lowest since May 2005. This trend was reflected in the yield rates of Treasury bills with the maturities of 182 days and 364 days, too. With this reduction, primary market yield rates of the Treasury bills have declined by 906 – 938 basis points during the past 12 months period. The secondary market Treasury bill yield rates also continued on its decelerating path during this period.
The primary and secondary market yield rates of Treasury bonds also followed the same trend and declined by 843 – 1088 basis points during the past 12 months period. The extension of the yield curve up to the 6 year horizon was also witnessed during this period with the prudent
public debt management strategies.
The reduction in yield rates observed during the recent past is in line with the gradual easing of the monetary policy stance by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, increased foreign investor participation in the Government securities market, prevailing liquidity position in the market and positive view of the market on the deceleration of inflation rate.
Sri Lanka central bank to relax exchange controls
Nov 05, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s central bank is planning to relax exchange controls allowing up to 500,000 US dollars to be taken out for investment purposes without approval of the central bank, a media report said.
Under Sri Lanka’s tough exchange control laws, investments abroad has to be examined case by case by the Central Bank and approval also sought from the finance ministry.
“[T]he proposed measures would enable people to take upto 500,000 US dollars out of the country for investment purpose without obtaining the
approval of the Central Bank,” Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal was quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror newspaper.
“It is only if you are intending to take money beyond this amount, that you would need to have approval from the bank.”
Sri Lanka slapped draconian exchange controls in 1953 after a money printing central bank was created in 1950.
Current account transactions are now relaxed for areas such as trade. The capital account had been relaxed for some types of investments such
as into the stock market and bond markets for foreign parties.
But freedom for residents to investment abroad remains blocked.
The central bank is expected to announced series of foreign exchange relaxation measures on December 01.
The report said with foreign reserves nearing five billion US dollars there was space to relax exchange controls.
Foreign exchange ‘shortages’ and balance of payments crises develop when a central bank tries to defend a foreign exchange peg and prints
money at the same time.
Before the creation of the Central Bank in 1950, Sri Lanka had a currency board with an ultimate ‘hard peg’ with the Sterling pound, where domestic money was created only out of external flows and foreign reserves and the monetary base moved in step.
However due to money printing by the Bank of England there was a balance of payments problem between the so-called ‘sterling area’ and ’dollar’ area, requiring exchange controls at the periphery of the sterling area.
The sterling exchange controls were devised due to a political reluctance on the part of British authorities to devalue the sterling against gold, after printing money to fight the second world war. Gold convertibility was suspended at the time.