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CBSL further relaxes its monetary policy stance

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The Monetary Policy Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on 23 November 2023, decided to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 100 basis points (bps) to 9.00 per cent and 10.00 per cent, respectively.

Making the announcement, the CBSL further states :

The Board arrived at this decision following a careful analysis of the current and expected developments in the domestic and global economy, with the aim of achieving and maintaining inflation at the targeted level of 5 per cent over the medium term, while enabling the economy to reach and stabilise at the potential level.

The Board took note of possible upside risks to inflation projections in the near term due to supply-side factors stemming from the expected developments domestically and globally. However, the Board viewed that such near-term risks would not materially change the medium-term inflation outlook, as inflation expectations of the public remain anchored and economic activity is projected to remain below par in the near to medium term.

Further, the Board viewed that with this reduction of policy interest rates, along with the monetary policy measures carried out since June 2023, sufficient monetary easing has been effected in order to stabilise inflation over the medium term.

Hence, the Monetary Policy Board underscored the need for a swift and full passthrough of monetary easing measures to market interest rates, particularly lending rates, by the financial institutions, thereby accelerating the normalisation of market interest rates in the period ahead.

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CBSL further reduces Policy Interest Rates

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The Monetary Policy Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held yesterday (July 23), decided to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 25 basis points (bps) to 8.25 per cent and 9.25 per cent, respectively.

The Board arrived at this decision following a careful assessment of the current and expected macroeconomic developments and possible risks and uncertainties on the domestic and global fronts with a view to maintaining inflation at the targeted level of 5 per cent over the medium term, while enabling the economy to reach its full capacity.

In arriving at this decision, the Board considered the need to signal the continuation of the eased monetary policy stance, thereby inducing a further reduction in market lending rates to support economic activity, amidst a benign inflation outlook.

The Board noted that, based on the available information, inflation is likely to remain below the inflation target of 5 per cent by a sizeable margin for the next several months before aligning with the targeted level over the medium term.

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Relief for those who pawned gold jewellery in banks

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Cabinet approval has been granted to provide relief facilities to those who pawned gold jewellery in banks, Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.

He was speaking at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department.

The immense economic crisis experienced within the country during the past affected every sector in the economy negatively both directly and indirectly and as a result of the crisis, pawning gold jewellery accelerated.

The arrears of pawn advances of Rs.210 billion in 2019 increased up to Rs.571 billion by the March 2024 making it a growth of 172 percent. Considering the said circumstances, licensed banks have recognised the necessity of granting relief to low income generating community who obtained pawn advances from them.

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the resolution by President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Finance, Economic Rehabilitation and National Policies Minister to implement an appropriate programme to grant an interest relief by the General Treasury subject to a maximum of an annual 10 percent for pawn advance that do not exceed Rs.100,000 that has been obtained from the licensed banks on or before June 30, 2024 on an individual basis.

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Vehicle import ban extended until next year

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The government has postponed the lifting of the ban on private vehicle imports until the beginning of next year.

A decision has been made to put off lifting the ban because the country’s economy has not stabilised enough and foreign reserves are not at a sufficient level to facilitate such imports, a senior Treasury official told the Sunday Times. He said the import of private vehicles will result in an annual foreign exchange outflow of about USD 1 billion.

However, the import of commercial vehicles such as lorries, buses and trucks, as well as vans used in the tourism sector, can start next month, the official added. Vehicles used for government ministries and other agencies too will only be imported from the beginning of next year when the ban is lifted on private vehicle imports.

The government had earlier planned to allow the import of electric vehicles and private cars by the end of this year. This has also now been postponed until next year.

Motorbikes and three-wheelers make up the largest number of private vehicle imports. The import of these vehicles will have to be postponed until at least May or June next year due to the economy still not having recovered enough, the official revealed.

Small cars with engine capacities ranging from 600 cc to 800 cc are usually imported in bulk. Therefore, the government will allow only a certain quota of such vehicles to be imported. Only authorised local agents of the parent companies will be allowed to import such vehicles initially.

When allowing the import of vehicles from the start of next year, the government will also give priority to companies that locally assemble the vehicles from imported parts, the Treasury source said.

Meanwhile, about 10,000 vehicle permits issued to doctors and senior government officers are still pending. The official said they would only be able to consider allowing these vehicle imports next year, but that their vehicles too would not be allowed to be imported in bulk. The decision on these imports will depend on the state of the economy.

Traders will not be able to import vehicles in bulk and will only be allowed to import a limited number of vehicles. Only reconditioned vehicles that are two years old or less will be imported. Their engine capacities, too, will depend on what the government considers can be imported without harming the still fragile economy.

If the vehicle imports prove too much of a burden on the country’s economy and lead to serious strain on the US dollar and the country’s foreign reserves, the Treasury will not hesitate to re-impose restrictions, the official added.

(sundaytimes.lk)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by sundaytimes.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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