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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012

Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012

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Director - Equity Analytics
Director - Equity Analytics

Apr 30, 2012 (LBO) - Consumer prices in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from 5.1 percent in March, the state statistics office said.

The index rose 0.6 percent in the month to 159.8. The food and non-alcoholic beverages component rose 1.0 percent and non-food items rose 0.1 percent.

Sri Lanka's food prices rose steeply in the first quarter of 2011 and the food component was negative for the past several months. In the past 12 months the food index had climbed 0.2 percent.

Non foods however had risen 11.3 percent. Following steep increases in fuel and power, transport costs rose.

Sri Lanka's rupee has also fallen from 110 to the US dollar to 130 so far amid pressured by high credit growth and sterilized sales of foreign exchange by the Central Bank.

2Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012 Empty Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012 Tue May 01, 2012 12:37 am


Global Moderator

Bourse falls 0.39%

LBO: The country’s tiny stock market continued to fall on Monday, despite few large trades in Kegalle Plantations, Capital Alliance Finance and PC House, brokers said.

The benchmark All Share Price Index fell 21.32 points or 0.39 percent to 5,419.20, while the more liquid Milanka Price Index lost 6.16 points or 0.12 percent to close at 4,851.24, according to figures published by the Colombo Stock Exchange.

Monday’s turnover ended at 631.2 million rupees, with conglomerate John Keells Holdings dominating trading.

John Keells, with investments in ports, leisure and finance, saw its share price fall 50-cents to 203.00 rupees on 589,870 shares.

PC House, that offers IT hardware and peripheral products, saw its share price edge 10-cents to 6.90 rupees on volumes of 17.1 million shares. The firm saw two large parcel of shares worth 13.3 million changed hands at a discount of 6.00 rupees each.

Capital Alliance Finance, a small finance company, saw its share prices slip 20-cents to 34.70 rupees on trades of 1.2 million shares.

Kegalle Plantation, which has exposure to tea and rubber estates, saw its share price fall 7.40 rupees to 110.00 rupees on volumes of 253,306 shares. During late afternoon trading, a parcel of 248,543 Kegalle shares changed hands at a premium of 110.00 rupees (up 7.40 rupees).

Brokers expect the market to remain subdued in this short trading week, with capital markets close for business on Tuesday, on account of May Day.


Global Moderator

Bartleet Finance PLC announced the appointment of veteran financier S. Sirikannathan to its board as a Non Executive Director with effect from April 2012.

‘Sri’ as he is affectionately known, counts over 40 years of audit experience and was the engagement partner in audits of star-class hotels, conglomerates, development organisations, multinational banks, finance companies and several listed companies. He also served as a director and financial consultant to Associated News Papers of Ceylon (ANCL), the largest state-owned publication company in Sri Lanka, between 1994 and 1997. In his capacity at ANCL, Sri was responsible for the overall finance function of the organisation.

He served a term secondment with Robson Rhodes’ professional practice in the UK and conducted a number of cross-border assignments in countries including Cambodia, Cape Verde and the Maldives. Sri was also a partner at KPMG Ford, Rhodes, Thornton & Co. Sri Lanka until his retirement on March 31 this year. He functioned as the staff partner and Chief Information Officer of the firm. In that role, he oversaw the staffing, finance, administration and information technology functions of the practice in Sri Lanka.

Sri is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (FCA) and is also a Fellow Member of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka (FCMA). He holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Physical Science (Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics) from the University of Peradeniya and has been an examiner for a large professional institution in Sri Lanka.

Sri also served on the Accounting Standards and Auditing Standards Committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka for 11 years and seven years respectively.


Global Moderator

*Treasury Secy. says economy would stabilise, govt. forecasts
account for US$ 120 oil price per barrel
*Sovereign bond issue this October
*Rupee to appreciate soon, speculators beware

Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating could be at risk if global oil prices continue to increase, Standard and Poor’s said yesterday (April 30), warning that subsidies would have to be adjusted accordingly in order to avoid a possible downgrade.

A Standard and Poor’s report titled ‘The Asia-Pacific Sovereign Seesaw: If Oil Prices Soar, Some Ratings Could Fall’ said that oil subsidies can weaken fiscal and external indicators underpinning sovereign creditworthiness despite the support they lend to economic growth. Lowering subsidies, on the other hand, may risk political instability for some sovereigns.

"In India and Sri Lanka, we expect fuel and related subsidies to markedly worsen fiscal and external deficits unless subsidy levels fall. In the absence of offsetting positive developments, these sovereigns could see negative rating actions as a result," said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Kim Eng Tan.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that a sustained increase in oil prices could catalyze rating actions among some Asia-Pacific sovereigns.

"Sovereigns that subsidize oil consumption are the most vulnerable to negative rating actions if average oil prices stay above US$150 per barrel for more than a year, a scenario we currently consider to be only modestly likely," Tan said.

The report said that credit metrics of almost all sovereigns in Asia-Pacific would weaken from a scenario of rising oil prices. But policy decisions—e.g., toward subsidies—would affect the severity of the deterioration and the impact on various credit factors. These will determine how, and if, sovereign ratings change.

Sri Lanka recently introduced sharp increases to domestic fuel prices in a bid to contain a growing trade deficit and balance of payments problem.

Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundera told journalists yesterday that the government was committed to reducing the budget deficit target to 6.2 percent of GDP this year. He said if global oil prices did not increase by much, Sri Lanka could stabilise its balance of payments, bring down the exchange rate to well below Rs. 125 to a dollar and ease pressure on interest rates to rise.

He said the government had made all its forecasts on the assumption that oil would reach US$ 120 a barrel this year, anything more than this the economy would feel added pressures.

He said the government was planning to rollover a US$ 500 million sovereign bond issue this October, but would increase the tenure to 10 years.

"A bigger issue will also be noticed by the larger fund managers so we are exploring the possibilities of raising a further US$ 500 million and we are confident we would be able to price it below previous issues," he said in response to a query raised by The Island Financial Review.

Dr. Jayasundera said the exchange rate was being manipulated by speculators.

"We do not have to get worried about this. We need to give the market space and time to find the appropriate exchange rate. At the moment, the movement of the exchange rate is not backed by fundamentals. Speculators are leading the market. The recent measures we have taken should bring the exchange rate to well below Rs. 125 to a dollar. If speculation persists, the government is willing to intervene, but for the moment, we are adopting a professional approach and we will see what happens," he said.

Dr. Jayasundera said that should the exchange rate fall to Rs. 140 to a dollar, or even Rs. 150, it meant that the economy could handle it because the demand was still there. "This will show that people are still willing to pay Rs. 150 for a dollar. However, the measures we have taken in the recent past will bring the necessary changes to reduce the trade deficit and I am optimistic that the rupee would begin to appreciate. By end May we will see more clearly the results of the recent policy actions," he said.

In 2008 and 2009 the exchange rate had come under the influence of speculators. "The government intervened then, and it would do so now, if the need arises," Dr. Jayasundera said.

5Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012 Empty Inflation rises to seven month high Tue May 01, 2012 12:43 am


Global Moderator

Inflation, the rate at which general price levels increases, has picked up in April largely driven by price increases to non-food items on the country’s official inflation index, the Colombo Consumers’ Price Index.

Year-on-year inflation increased to a seven month high, reaching 6.1 percent in April from 5.5 percent the previous month, the Department of Census and Statistics said yesterday (April 30).

"On a year-in-year basis, the highest contribution to the overall increase of around 99 percent came from non food commodities which increased by 6 percent in April 2012. The combined effects of both domestically produced and imported food commodities contributed to the decrease in the food sub Index," the government statistics office said.

"Among the food commodities, rice, vegetables, coconut and coconut oil which have significant weights in the CCPI basket recorded price decreases on a year to year basis. It is worthwhile to note that year-on-year inflation for vegetables decreased by 17.5 percent in April 2012. Under the non food category, the prices of Kerosene Oil, Petrol, Diesel and Gas rose by 74 percent, 19 percent, 43 percent and 8 percent respectively."

The annual average rate of inflation has declined to 5.7 percent in April, the lowest since October 2010.

6Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012 Empty Govt. reopens probe on two major cases Tue May 01, 2012 6:51 am



Govt. reopens probe on two major cases

Amid pressure by rights groups and various other international
organisations, the Government has reopened the cases into the killing of
five students in Trincomalee and 17 aid workers in Muttur, Daily Mirror

It is learnt that the Attorney General’s Department has instructed
Police Chief N.K. Ilangakoon to reopen the cases and carry out further
police investigations.

Sri Lanka Newspapers Tuesday 01/05/2012 Getimage
During side events at the recently concluded United Nations Human
Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva, the human rights watchdog
Amnesty International repeatedly questioned the government on the status
of the investigations into these two tragic events, which occurred
during the war in 2006. The French Embassy is also known to have
pressured the government through diplomatic channels on this matter
because the 17 aid workers were attached to the French NGO – Action
Against Hunger

Daily Mirror



UK accuses Sri Lanka of not making concrete progress


The United Kingdom, in its latest human rights report, accused Sri Lanka
of not making concrete progress in holding accountable those alleged to
be responsible for violations of international human rights and
humanitarian law during the final stages of the war.

The report which was launched by Foreign Secretary William Hague said
that the human rights picture in Sri Lanka in 2011 was mixed. The UK
said that the Sri Lankan government continued to focus on post-conflict
reconstruction, including the resettlement of civilians displaced during
the 30-year civil war.

In its report for the year 2011, the UK accepted that Sri Lanka had made progress in reintegrating former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters back into society. “At year end, significant
progress was still needed to address the institutional weaknesses that
allow for frequent human rights violations. Terrorist suspects continued
to be held without charge for long periods. There were restrictions on
freedom of expression, political violence, reports of torture in
custody, further cases of disappearances and almost no progress in
investigating past disappearances. No concrete progress was made in
holding accountable those alleged to be responsible for violations of
international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages
of the war, the report says.

According to the report, a key focus in 2012 will be follow-up to
the LLRC report and National Human Rights Action Plan. The UK will
encourage the Sri Lankan government to implement recommendations, and
address outstanding questions regarding accountability for alleged war
crimes. In September 2012, we will contribute to Sri Lanka’s Universal
Periodic Review under the UN human rights system in Geneva.

With regard to elections, the UK has noted in its report staggered
local elections held in most parts of the country in March, July and
October. The report says that the run-up to the polls was marked by
violence and violations of election law, with at least six people killed
and a number of people injured in disputes between political factions.

The report has also made an obvious reference to the assassination
of UPFA organiser for Kolonnawa Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and a
few others in October, last year.

Source: Daily Mirror

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