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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » Ranil takes Central Bank, SEC from Finance Ministry purview

Ranil takes Central Bank, SEC from Finance Ministry purview

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EPS

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Ranil takes Central Bank, SEC from Finance Ministry purview
In a major development, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs, has taken the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission under him.
Traditionally these two institutions have come under the Ministry of Finance, a portfolio currently held by Ravi Karunanayake, who on Tuesday said regulatory bodies were being brought under the Prime Minister.
This explains why the Central Bank and the SEC as well as the Public Utilities Commission have been brought under Wickremesinghe’s other portfolio of Policy Plan-ning and Economic Affairs. As per the gazette dated 18 January, Wickremesinghe has got additional subjects Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs as well.
However, insurance industry regulatory body IBSL continues to be within Finance Ministry. Similarly the Consumer Affairs Authority, also a regulatory body, is under the relevant Ministry of Food Security.
Another institution brought under Wickremesinghe is the Employees Trust Fund though the Employees Provident Fund is retained under the new Ministry of Justice and Labour Relations, a portfolio held by Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
The Central Bank under previous President Mahinda Rajapaksa regime became very prominent and equally controversial due to the role played by the then Governor Nivard Cabraal.
Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs is Dr. Harsha de Silva, who was a vociferous critic of the previous administration, especially the Central Bank and its management of the Employees Provident Fund and borrowing program as well as alleged stock market manipulations.
Whilst it appears that the move of bringing the CB and SEC under the Ministry of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs is to ensure better governance, the development drew a mixed response.
“In a situation where Cabraal remains as Central Bank Governor, then bringing the monetary authority under Policy Planning and Economic Affairs makes sense so as to ensure better oversight. However, since Cabraal has resigned and a less politically-oriented person will be appointed and given the good governance assurances from President Maithripala and Premier Wickremesinghe regime, the latest move is puzzling,” analysts opined.
“Under the new scheme of things and emphatic assurances, it would have been best that the Central Bank and the SEC were retained with Finance Ministry,” they added.
Top banker Arjuna Mahendran has been reported as the new Central Bank Governor-designate.
Prior to release of the gazette detailing institutions under new ministries, Daily FT popular columnist and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank W.A. Wijewardena on Monday in his article had a checklist for the new administration with regard to the Central Bank. (See online http://www.ft.lk/2015/01/19/to-regain-lost-credibility-central-bank-should-act-as-impartial-spectator-and-not-as-policy-owner/)
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
Among other things, Wijewardena emphasised that the central bank must act as an “impartial spectator” and not as a “policy owner.” If this recommendation is relevant, then Central Bank coming under the Ministry of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs could be interpreted as a situation where even under the new administration monetary authority will be a policy owner.
Others said that under the good governance promise of the new Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, thoughtemporary, what the Central Bank needs is not a shift of Ministry for oversight but true independence whilst retaining it under the Finance Ministry.
The shift however doesn’t mean the Finance Ministry will be spared of any links to the Central Bank. The Treasury Secretary will continue to be an ex-officio member of the Monetary Board.
In his widely-commended article, Wijewardena’s checklist on the future Central Bank included the following: Central banks are created to serve the people and not politicians; Central Bank can take ownership of only what is in its domain; Central Bank should present an apolitical view; and Central Bank reports should be dispassionate and objective.
With regard to the role of the Central Bank, Wijewardena said: “There are two legally-mandated goals which the Central Bank should seek to achieve. One is to maintain an inflation free world which is known as maintaining price stability. The other is to keep the financial system of the country in good health known as maintaining the financial system stability.
“Policies relating to these two goals are taken by the Central Bank and therefore it has the policy ownership for those policies. All other economic policies are taken by the Government and the Central Bank’s job in relation to them is to review policies independently and apprise the Government of the suitability of those policies.”
The former Deputy Governor emphasised that politicians should learn to honour Central Bank independence and emphasised conscience and not political will should guide Central Bankers. He also added that a subservient Central Bank will be cause of a Government’s electoral defeat and that the Governor should be accepted as an independent professional by the market.
Wijewardena went a step further suggesting the goal of ensuring full independence of the Central Bank could be included under the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe interim Government’s 100-day program which however focuses only on urgent political reforms.
Wijewardena said: “In the present 100-day program of the Government, the job of the Central Bank should be to take ownership of only the two mandates it has been given, namely, the maintenance of economic and price stability and financial system stability. It should not take ownership of the 100-day program, which seeks to establish democracy, rule of law, and good governance by abolishing the authoritarian executive presidency and re-establishing Parliamentary powers. However, the Central Bank can keep educating the public of the value of democracy, good governance and rule of law for long-term sustainable economic growth and improving the quality of life of people. Above all, the Central Bank can use this opportunity to win full independence from the Government since it goes well with the good governance principles being propagated by the Government in its 100-day program.” (Daily FT)
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
New SEC Chairman will be Tilak Karunaratne: Rajitha
Newly appointed Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Seneviratne yesterday said Tilak Karunaratne will be re-appointed as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Minister said Karunaratne will be tasked with curbing manipulations in the stock market and described some brokers as being “rogues” and had contributed to the recent slide in the Bourse.
New SEC…
Since 9 January, the market has lost Rs. 119 billion in value which analysts linked to investor concerns over policy uncertainty, pressure on interest rates to rise and wait and see attitude till Government presents the mini Budget later this month.
Senaratne said Karunaratne during his earlier tenure as SEC Chief was prevented from carrying out his duties and so was his predecessor Indrani Sugathadasa.
Karunaratne served only around nine months and resigned citing external pressure. (Daily FT)
Stock market dip persists
Shares fell to a three-week low on Wednesday amid low trading volumes as concern over political stability weighed on sentiment while investors awaited the new government’s interim budget scheduled for next week.
The main stock index ended 0.6% lower, or down 44.10 points, at 7,324.40, its lowest since 31 December.
The day’s turnover was Rs. 796.3 million ($ 6.04 million), less than last year’s daily average of Rs. 1.42 billion, exchange data showed.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s coalition has promised a 100-day program to restore democracy and reform the economy before he dissolves parliament for a general election after 23 April.
Sirisena’s Government will present an interim budget on 29 January with an aim to cut cost of living.
“Local and foreign investors are waiting to see some kind of direction from the budget, especially on interest rates and foreign exchange rates,” said a stockbroker.
Yields on short-term government securities edged up one basis point at Wednesday’s auction of government securities.
Conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc fell 2.38% and Caltex Lubricant Lanka Plc lost 3.99%, dragging down the index.
After the market closed, a Government minister said the new administration had reappointed Thilak Karunaratne as chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Karunaratne has been tasked with investigating past stock market deals suspected to involve corruption.
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
Stockbrokers said Karunaratne’s appointment and the investigations would pull down the index down in the near term, but would instill confidence over the longer term.
Foreign investors, who bought a net Rs. 22.07 billion worth of stocks last year, were net buyers of Rs. 69.1 million worth of shares on Wednesday. (Daily FT)
Upward trend in primary rates continue
The upward trend in primary yields continued as weighted averages (WAvg’s) at yesterday’s weekly bill auction increased by 01 basis point across the board. The WAvg on the 364 day bill was seen increasing to a sixteen (16) week high of 6.05% while the 91 day and 182 day bill fetched WAvg’s of 5.80% and 5.90% respectively.
Interestingly, the representation of the accepted amount on the 364-day bill against the total accepted amount was seen dipping to a seventeen (17) week low of 29% as most market participants were seen demanding the shorter two durations.
Activity in secondary bond markets was seen increasing yesterday as yields were seen increasing in morning hours of trading mainly on the liquid maturities of the two 2018’s (01.04.2018 & 15.08.2018), the 01.07.2019 and the 01.07.2022 to intraday highs of 7.30%, 7.40%, 7.45% and 7.96% respectively. However, subsequent to the release of the auction results yields were seen dipping marginally once again to close the day mostly unchanged against its previous day’s closing levels with the 01.07.2019 and the 01.07.2022 hitting intraday lows of 7.35% and 7.88%. In secondary bill markets, the 364-day bill was quoted at levels of 6.00% to 6.10% post auction.
Meanwhile in money markets, overnight call money and repo rates averaged 5.80% and 5.20% respectively as surplus liquidity increased to Rs. 70.85 billion yesterday. The Open Market Operations (OMO) department of Central Bank was seen draining out an amount of Rs. 57.92 billion by way of a two-day repo auction at a weighted average of 5.86%.
Rupee continues to slide
The rupee closed the day marginally lower at Rs. 132.85/00 yesterday in comparison to its previous day’s closing levels of Rs. 130.85/90 as continued importer demand was witnessed according to market sources. The total USD/LKR traded volume for 20 January 2015 was $ 79.83 million.
Some of the forward USD/LKR rates that prevailed in the market were one month – 133.40; three months – 134.50 and six months – 135.60. (Daily FT)
Colombo Port City promoter sets the record straight
China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), as the proponent of the Colombo Port City Project, yesterday issued a statement in what it described as “setting the record straight”.
The full statement is as follows.
CCCC wishes to extend its fullest corporation to the Government of Sri Lanka and relevant authorities in providing all necessary information according to relevant regulations to assess and review the Colombo Port City Development Project.
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
The Colombo Port City Project was born following a number of initiatives and attempts by different prospective project proponents, to develop a waterfront property in the city of Colombo.
The first attempt was made by the Singaporean company CESMA, in 1998, initiated by the Government of Singapore, to study the ‘Colombo Metropolitan Regional Structure Plan’. The final plan published on 2004, developed by the Sri Lankan and Singaporean team, proposed a Western Region ‘Megapolis’ by 2030.
However, the concept plans could not be implemented due to the vast cost in building the breakwater in deep water to protect the reclaimed land. The Port City became financially feasible only when the breakwater was integrated with the Colombo Port Expansion Project.
Ranked 187th in 2014 among the ‘Fortune Five Hundred’ companies in the world, CCCC as a responsible corporatereiterates all necessary procedures were followed in the initiation of the project.
CCCC has sought the expertise of internationally reputed development consultancy firms such as AECOM (America’s premier fully integrated infrastructure and support services firm), ATKINS (globally recognised UK based design engineering and project management consultancy), SWECO (Nordic region’s leading consulting engineering company in sustainable engineering and design), JLL (US and India’s professional services and investment management company specialising in real estate services), Pinsent Masons (UK) and PWC (US).
Further, prior to CCCC undertaking the development of the project, in 2010 an initial Technical Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project was performed by the University of Moratuwa, under the directive of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The Technical Feasibility Study was subsequently approved by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Environmental Impact Assessment was published for the public’s benefit. Once public inquiries were answered, the Environmental Impact Assessment was approved by Government-approved agencies.
Additionally, an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was submitted by CCCC, and approved after monitoring the project’s environmental and coastal impact, as per the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
The total duration of the process from submitting the proposal to signing the agreement, extended to four years, as all procedures of the Government’s procurement regulations were followed.
CCCC is committed to support the Sri Lankan Government’s vision of making the country a gateway to South Asia. Spanning 233 hectares, the Colombo Port City is currently the single largest private-sector development project in Sri Lanka’s long, rich and storied history. The Colombo Port City will add strong economic pillars to the country’s existing development plans to make it a viable investment destination in South Asia.
The project aims to create 83,000 new employment opportunities within different sectors, attract $ 13 billion of foreign investments from investors and developers across the region like India, Singapore, Malaysia and China and increase the number of tourists visiting the country for the next 30 years.
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
CCCC, as a responsible corporate citizen, is fully committed to fulfil its enterprise responsibilities through due diligence, help develop the country’s economy and communities, share common interests and goals, and contribute to the sustainable growth of the country.
FT Quick Take
The first attempt was made by Singaporean company CESMA, in 1998, initiated by the Government of Singapore, to study the ‘Colombo Metropolitan Regional Structure Plan.’ The final plan published on 2004, developed by the Sri Lankan and Singaporean team, proposed a Western Region ‘Megapolis’ by 2030.
However, the concept plans could not be implemented due to the vast cost in building the breakwater in deep water to protect the reclaimed land. The Port City became financially feasible only when the breakwater was integrated with the Colombo Port Expansion Project.
In 2010 an initial Technical Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project was performed by the University of Moratuwa, under the directive of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The Study was subsequently approved by the Government and EIA was published for the public’s benefit
Total duration of the process from submitting the proposal to signing the agreement, extended to four years
The project aims to create 83,000 new employment opportunities within different sectors, attract $ 13 billion of foreign investments from investors and developers across the region and increase the number of tourists visiting the country for the next 30 years. (Daily FT)
Pumping up presidential pledge: Fuel prices cut
The new Cabinet at its first meeting last night decided to reduce fuel prices with immediate effect. The reduction ranged between a low of 14% and a high of 22%.
The price of a litre of 96 Octane is down 20% or Rs. 30 to Rs. 128, 92 Octane by 22% or Rs. 33 to Rs. 117, a litre of diesel down by 14% or Rs. 16 to Rs. 96, super diesel by 17% or Rs. 23 to Rs. 110. A litre of kerosene is now priced at Rs. 65, down 20%.
Pumping up…
Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka said last night that the reduction follows the Cabinet deciding to remove taxes slapped on fuel in keeping with the pledge made by Maithripala Sirisena during his presidential campaign.
Ranawaka also said that a price formula will be introduced to determine fuel prices in the near future in tandem with fluctuations in global markets. (Daily FT)
Harris appointed Executive Director at Softlogic Finance
Senior banker Harris Premaratne has been appointed as an Executive Director of Softlogic Finance Plc with effect from 21 January.
Taprobane Securities (Pvt) Ltd – Research + 94 11 5328200 research@taprobane.lk
Premaratne counts over 40 years of banking experience with commercial banks. He also serves the Boards of Softlogic Holdings Plc, Asiri Hospital Holdings Plc, Asiri Surgical Hospital Plc, Asiri Central Hospitals Plc, Softlogic Capital Plc and Central Hospital Ltd. Previously he served as the Managing Director of Sampath Bank Plc from 2009 to December 2011 and as CEO of Cargills Bank Ltd., from 2012 to December 2014 and still continues as a Director of the latter.
He is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of London and held the position of Chairman of Sri Lanka Banks’ Association. (Daily FT)
HDFC Chairperson resigns
HDFC Bank Chairperson S.N. Wickramasinghe has resigned from the Board with effect from 21 January 2014, the bank announced yesterday.
No successor has been appointed yet.
Wickramasinghe who counts 35 years of banking experience was appointed as HDFC Bank Chairperson in May 2010. (Daily FT)

Quibit


Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
So it was Ranil's decision to replace Nalaka with Thilak? Who said Ranil is smart?

gamaya


Assistant Vice President - Equity Analytics
Assistant Vice President - Equity Analytics
Excellent decision.

Judgement day for the wheeler dealers.

No doubt the wheeler dealers will try to show "doomsday" has come. Smile Smile

That would be a good opportunity for the EPF, ETF to pick some bluechips at bargain prices.

schemer


Senior Manager - Equity Analytics
Senior Manager - Equity Analytics
what is the use if rajith controls them.PM and PRESIDENT  should keep their back bone straight without letting themselves to be controlled by Rajitha.

Please tell him " your area is health. do it to your maximum. but never ever try to poke your nose in to other ministries"

kash1989


Manager - Equity Analytics
Manager - Equity Analytics
@schemer am agree iwith you.he is a real ribber

Senior Citizen

Senior Citizen
Senior Manager - Equity Analytics
Senior Manager - Equity Analytics
@schemer wrote:what is the use if rajith controls them.PM and PRESIDENT  should keep their back bone straight without letting themselves to be controlled by Rajitha.

Please tell him " your area is health. do it to your maximum. but never ever try to poke your nose in to other ministries"


Looks like you have not held any high positions before.
Tamil has planned it that way for Rajitha to propose and decide and for Ranil and MS to second it or veto it. You see that way Ranil doesn't have to back down on his words or actions. It's Rajithas idea. that's smart.

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