Annual report of the central bank : The Summary

( April 09, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Section 35 of the Monetary Law Act requires the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to submit a report giving details of the state of the economy, the condition of the Central Bank and the policies and measures adopted by the Monetary Board during the year to the Minister in charge of the subject of Finance within four months of the commencement of the following year. The 62nd annual report of the Monetary Board was submitted to H.E. the President of Sri Lanka and the Minister of Finance and Planning today, the 9th Economic Research Department 09 April 2012 of April 2012. Following are some of the highlights of the report.
The economy grew by 8.3 per cent in 2011, the highest in Sri Lanka’s postindependence history, sustaining a growth momentum of over 8 per cent for the first time in two consecutive years. Improved consumer and investor confidence arising from the peace dividend, favourable macroeconomic conditions, increased capacity utilisation, expansion of infrastructure facilities and renewed economic activity in the Northern and Eastern provinces underpinned this growth.
Inflation remained at single digit levels for the third consecutive year supported by improved domestic supply conditions, prudent liquidity management by the Central Bank and benign
inflation expectations. Low inflation and subdued inflationary expectations allowed the
Central Bank to continue to ease monetary policy in January 2011, but cautious and gradual
tightening was initiated thereafter as credit and monetary aggregates continued to grow at a
rate higher than projected. High excess rupee liquidity and the possible emergence of
demand driven inflationary pressures necessitated the raising of the Statutory Reserve Ratio
(SRR) on all rupee deposits of commercial banks by one percentage point to 8 per cent in
April 2011. However, credit growth to the private sector increased rapidly reflecting the
pent-up demand for credit and the increased access to credit, including in the Northern and
Eastern provinces, as a result of the peace dividend. Credit to the government and public
corporations also expanded significantly during the year contributing to high monetary
expansion. As credit continued to grow unabated, in February 2012, the Central Bank raised
policy interest rates. The Central Bank also issued a Direction in March 2012 to licensed
banks as per Section 101(1) of the Monetary Law Act to limit credit growth to rein in
possible demand fuelled inflationary pressures and to contain import related credit in order to
safeguard external sector stability.
The government reiterated its commitment to the fiscal consolidation process by maintaining
the key fiscal indicators broadly in line with the budgetary estimates for 2011. Despite the
shortfall in revenue collection, prudent management of recurrent expenditure helped
maintain the fiscal deficit at 6.9 per cent of GDP, marginally above the budgetary target of
6.8 per cent of GDP. The budget for 2011 introduced major tax reforms to simplify the tax
system, broaden the tax base and improve tax compliance with the objective of strengthening
tax collection, while creating an environment to attract private investment. In addition,
various tax incentives were provided to encourage investment in specific sectors while
changes to the tax structure were intended to develop key sectors in the economy such as the
financial sector. While tax reforms are expected to enhance revenue mobilisation in the
medium term, the abolition of several taxes and the reduction in tax rates resulted in a
decline in the tax revenue collection during the year. Rationalisation of recurrent expenditure
and a slower growth in interest expenditure given the favourable interest rate environment
helped contain recurrent expenditure while investment on public infrastructure was
maintained at a level to support the high growth momentum. Reflecting the improvement in
the fiscal sector, the debt to GDP ratio declined to 78.5 per cent in 2011 from 81.9 per cent in
The external sector, which strengthened in the first half of 2011, came under pressure during
the latter part of the year due to adverse global developments and rapid growth in imports.
Despite the healthy growth in exports, significantly high import expenditure reflecting high
oil prices and a surge in investment and intermediate good imports led to a rise in the trade
deficit to an unprecedented high level. Although improved foreign inflows through private
remittances and other inflows to the services account helped to cover a substantial part of
the trade deficit, the current account deficit as a percentage of GDP, increased to 7.8 per cent
in 2011. Inflows of private long term investments and inflows to the government were not
sufficient to offset the deficit in the current account. As the demand for foreign exchange in
the domestic foreign exchange market increased, the Central Bank intervened to reduce the
pressure on the exchange market. As a result the balance of payments (BOP) turned to a
deficit and gross official reserves reached US dollars 6 billion by end 2011. Several
measures were taken by the Central Bank to encourage foreign exchange inflows to the
The stability of the financial system further improved supported by conducive
macroeconomic conditions and strengthened supervision and regulation. The performance of
financial institutions improved significantly, while prudential indicators were maintained
with adequate capital and liquidity buffers and healthy profit levels. The asset quality of the
banking sector improved, as reflected by the positive development in non-performing loans
(NPLs), lowering the credit risk. The banking, finance and leasing and insurance sectors
expanded their branch network including in the Northern and Eastern provinces, thereby
increasing access to financial services. During the year, the Central Bank further
strengthened its supervisory and regulatory framework to improve risk management systems
in banks and to enhance customer protection. In order to combat the problem of unauthorised
deposit taking and finance business activities, a new Finance Business Act was enacted
replacing the Finance Companies Act and the definition of deposits was widened to cover a
broad range of fund mobilisation activities. A series of new and revised directions were
issued to the non-bank financial sector in line with the new Finance Business Act. The
proposed amendments to the Banking Act, with provisions to enable the consolidated
supervision of banking groups and measures to facilitate mergers and acquisitions for
consolidation and resolution, were submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.
During the year, the payments and settlements system was developed further, while the
regulatory framework was broadened to encompass emerging electronic payment
Real Sector Developments
The Sri Lankan economy grew by an impressive 8.3 per cent, in real terms in 2011,
following a growth of 8 per cent in 2010. The Industry and Services sectors were the drivers
of the high growth momentum in 2011. The Agriculture sector rebounded from the output
loss recorded due to adverse weather conditions at the beginning of the year. The expansion
in economic activity was reflected in the unemployment rate, which declined to the lowest
recorded level of 4.2 per cent in 2011.
The Agriculture sector recorded a moderate growth of 1.5 per cent due to severe crop
damage from the adverse weather conditions that prevailed during the first quarter of the
year. However, the Agriculture sector made a remarkable recovery during the second half of
the year. The Maha paddy production and other field crop output, which were adversely
affected by severe flooding in the first quarter of the year, recorded a substantial decline. The
recovery in the second half of the year is largely attributable to the favourable performance
in paddy cultivation in the Yala season and increased output in vegetables and highland
crops supported by conducive weather conditions. Fish production increased by 15.6 per cent
boosted by a recovery in fishing activities in the Northern province. Meanwhile, total milk
production also increased due to the strong commitment of the government to increase
domestic milk production. Export agriculture registered a mixed performance during the
year. Tea production recorded a marginal decline due to adverse weather conditions while
rubber production continued to increase due to attractive prices and an increase in the extent
of land under rubber tapping. The coconut sub sector, which suffered a significant setback in
2010, recovered strongly in 2011 supported by favourable weather conditions. The
production of cinnamon, cocoa, cardamom and betel increased while the production of
pepper and cloves declined in 2011. The Agriculture sector benefited from favourable prices
and policy measures introduced by the government improved agricultural production in
The Industry sector remained resilient in a challenging international environment recording
impressive growth of 10.3 per cent in 2011. The growth was largely propelled by factory
industry and construction activities. The growth in the Industry sector in 2011 was the
highest growth recorded during the past 33 years in value added terms. Consequently, the
Industry sector increased its share in GDP to 29.3 per cent in 2011 from 28.7 per cent in the
previous year. Strong aggregate demand conditions primarily emerging from low inflation
and declining interest rates in the domestic economy spurred the growth in demand for
industrial products while enhanced competitiveness of industrial exports led to a healthy
growth in export oriented industries despite the sluggish recovery in the global economy.
Improved productivity, enhanced quality, adoption of best practices in green manufacturing
and strengthened strategic partnerships with key customers helped export market oriented
industries to maintain their growth momentum. The government extended its support to
industrialists through fiscal policy measures and other programmes aimed at enhancing value
addition, export orientation, import substitution and Small & Medium Enterprises (SME)
development. Fiscal incentives were offered to firms carrying out research and development
activity while the SME sector benefitted from cluster development programmes, which were
aimed at promoting selected industries. The construction sector grew at a high rate of 14.2
per cent in 2011 reflecting the major infrastructure development activities undertaken by the
government and increased construction activities of the private sector.
Meanwhile, the Services sector maintained its growth momentum, with notable contributions
from wholesale and retail trade, transport and communication, and banking, insurance and
real estate subsectors. The Services sector contributed 61.8 per cent to the overall economic
growth expanding at 8.6 per cent in 2011. The wholesale and retail subsector recorded an
impressive growth with improved performance in import and export sectors and healthy
growth in domestic trade. The transport and communication sector grew with improved
performance in all three sub sectors, namely; transport, cargo handling, port and civil
aviation and post and telecommunications. The banking, insurance and real estate sector
expanded with increased income from both banking and non-banking sectors as well as the
insurance sector reflecting increased demand for financial services with growing economic
Total consumption expenditure increased significantly by 22.4 per cent while domestic
savings contracted widening the savings investment gap in 2011. Private consumption as a
per cent of GDP increased to 69.8 per cent in 2011 from 65.2 per cent in 2010, while
government consumption expenditure declined marginally from 15.6 per cent to 14.8 per
cent in 2011. Both domestic and national savings declined from 19.3 per cent to 15.4 per
cent and 25.4 per cent to 22.1 per cent, respectively. As a percentage of GDP, private
investment increased from 21.4 per cent in 2010 to 23.7 per cent in 2011 while public
investment increased marginally to 6.3 per cent from 6.2 per cent in 2010. With these
developments, total investment as a percentage of GDP increased from 27.6 per cent in 2010
to 29.9 per cent in 2011. Accordingly, the gap between national savings and investment
widened from -2.2 per cent of GDP in 2010 to -7.8 per cent of GDP in 2011, which was
reflected in the higher deficit in the current account of the BOP.
External Sector Developments
The external sector encountered heightened challenges in 2011 with unfavourable global
developments and rapid growth in import demand domestically. Globally, the intensified
sovereign debt crisis in the Euro area, sluggish recovery in the world economy and
geopolitical uncertainty in some oil producing Middle Eastern and North African countries
exerted pressure on oil prices and financial flows. Domestically, expansion in aggregate
demand led to a rapid growth in imports, and as a result, the trade deficit widened
substantially despite significant growth in exports. Although inflows to the capital and
financial account remained strong, those inflows were insufficient to offset the high current
account deficit. Inflows of private long term investments including FDIs and inflows to the
government remained healthy. However, the higher current account deficit resulted in the
overall BOP recording a deficit of US dollars 1.1 billion by end 2011.
Earnings from exports increased by 22.4 per cent while the expenditure on imports
increased at a faster pace of 50.7 per cent in 2011, compared to the corresponding period of
2010. The expansion in exports amidst a fragile global economic recovery in Sri Lanka’s
traditional markets such as the USA, European Union, North Africa and the Middle East,
which faced social and political uncertainties, reflected the resilience of Sri Lankan exports.
Industrial goods exports grew by 31.1 per cent, accounting for 75.7 per cent of total exports
in 2011. Textiles and garments continued to be the foremost industrial export followed by
rubber products and petroleum products. The sharp increase in imports was due to the high
demand for all major categories of imports; consumer, intermediate and investment goods as
well as increased international commodity prices. Imports of intermediate goods accounted
for 60.6 per cent of total imports in 2011 driven by higher expenditure on petroleum imports
due to the increase in both international oil prices and the volume of imports. Investment
goods, which accounted for 21.2 per cent of total imports, increased by 55.4 per cent in 2011
mainly due to the accelerated implementation of several infrastructure development projects.
Increased real incomes and the reduction in the effective tax rates applicable on motor
vehicles and selected electronic items supported by enhanced access to credit at competitive
rates contributed to a 47.5 per cent growth in consumer goods imports in 2011. The
substantial increase in import expenditure relative to export earnings led to a significant
widening of the trade deficit to US dollars 9.7 billion in 2011 from US dollars 4.8 billion in
The surplus in the services account increased significantly in 2011. All subsectors of the
services account, mainly transportation, computer and information, travel, construction and
insurance performed well in 2011. Workers’ remittances, which constitute a greater share of
private transfers, continued to be the foremost foreign exchange earner in 2011,
surpassing the export earnings from textiles and garments for the third consecutive year.
Gross workers’ remittances increased notably by 25 per cent to US dollars 5.1 billion, from
US dollars 4.1 billion in 2010. The current account deficit increased considerably to US
dollars 4.6 billion in 2011 from US dollars 1.1 billion in 2010. In terms of GDP, the current
account deficit increased to 7.8 per cent of GDP in 2011 from 2.2 per cent of GDP in 2010
reflecting a widening savings-investment gap. Inflows to the capital and financial account
increased with inflows to the private sector as well as to the government. However, the high
current account deficit, which exceeded the surplus in the capital and financial account,
resulted in a deficit by end 2011. The BOP which recorded a healthy surplus of US dollars
1.2 billion by August 2011 turned into an overall deficit of US dollars 1.1 billion by end
The Central Bank’s intervention in the domestic foreign exchange market in absorbing
foreign exchange inflows, the receipts to the government including the Sovereign bond
proceeds and the receipts under the IMF Stand- By Arrangement (SBA) resulted in gross
official reserves reaching a historically high level of US dollars 8.2 billion by mid-August
2011. However, during the latter part of 2011, a widening trade deficit necessitated the
Central Bank to supply foreign exchange to meet the increased demand in part, despite
increased receipts on account of workers’ remittances, tourism and inflows to the
capital and financial accounts. As a result, gross official reserves (excluding Asian Clearing
Union (ACU) balances) which include international reserves of the Central Bank and the
government amounted to US dollars 5,958 million by end 2011, compared to US dollars
6,610 million by end 2010. The reserve position at year end was equivalent to 3.5 months of
imports in 2011.
Meanwhile, several measures were initiated by the Central Bank to attract more foreign
inflows to the country. By relaxing exchange control regulations, local enterprises were
encouraged to borrow directly from international financial markets, while commercial banks
were permitted to raise foreign funds for Tier 2 capital. Further, foreign inflows to the
government securities market were encouraged by raising the threshold on investments in
Treasury bills and Treasury bonds.

Fiscal Sector Developments
The focus of the budget for 2011 was to create a conducive environment to enhance
investment to maintain high economic growth, while continuing the fiscal consolidation
process. The budget for 2011 announced major reforms to simplify the tax system and to
broaden the tax base to enhance revenue mobilisation in the medium term. Further, the
government reiterated its commitment to fiscal consolidation by rationalising recurrent
expenditure, while maintaining public investment at a high level. Accordingly the overall
fiscal deficit in 2011 as a percentage of GDP was reduced to 6.9 per cent from 8 per cent in
2010. Despite the revenue shortfall, restraints on recurrent expenditure and prioritisation of
capital expenditure helped to maintain the fiscal balances during the year broadly in line with
the estimates for 2011.
Revenue collection in 2011 suffered a setback with the abolition of several taxes, the
reduction in tax rates and the upward revision in tax thresholds. However, the major reforms
that were introduced in the budget for 2011, to simplify the tax system and to broaden the tax
base, are expected to enhance revenue mobilisation in the medium term although in the short
term these measures are likely to result in some reduction in the tax/GDP ratio. Exemptions
granted, particularly on imports of petroleum and milk powder, to mitigate the pressure on
the domestic market from rising international prices, also adversely affected revenue
mobilisation in 2011. Consequently, the revenue to GDP ratio declined to 14.3 per cent in
2011 from 14.6 per cent in 2010.
Measures taken by the government to rationalise recurrent expenditure, while prioritising
public investment to strategically important infrastructure development projects helped to
reduce total expenditure and net lending to 21.4 per cent of GDP in 2011 from 22.9 per cent
of GDP in 2010. The reduction in total expenditure and net lending by 1.5 percentage points
of GDP was the combined outcome of a reduction in recurrent expenditure by 1.4 percentage
points and capital expenditure and net lending by 0.1 percentage points. The fiscal
consolidation measures taken in the previous year as well as the low interest rate
environment slowed the growth in interest expenditure, largely helping to moderate recurrent
expenditure in 2011. However, investment on key infrastructure projects in the areas of
roads, ports, power and energy, railways, water supply and irrigation were continued to
enhance economic activity.
The fiscal deficit was mainly financed through domestic sources with the banking sector
contributing a major portion of the required funds. The limited resources available with the
non-bank sector, as part of their funds were invested in alternative investments, and the tight
rupee liquidity in the domestic market during the latter part of the year, increased the
purchase of government securities by the Central Bank from the primary market.
Considering the favourable response from foreign investors and the relatively low interest
rates that prevailed in the international market, a 10-year international sovereign bond was
issued to reduce the crowding out impact of budgetary financing and to reduce pressure on
domestic interest rates. Consequently, net domestic financing in 2011 amounted to 3.5 per
cent of GDP, while net foreign financing amounted to 3.4 per cent of GDP.
Continued improvement in government debt sustainability was reflected in the outstanding
debt to GDP ratio, which declined to 78.5 per cent from 81.9 per cent in the previous year.
Fiscal consolidation efforts together with higher economic growth contributed to the
reduction in the debt burden, although the depreciation of the rupee against major foreign
currencies towards the end of the year had some adverse impact on the outstanding debt
Monetary Sector Developments
The Central Bank eased its monetary policy stance in January 2011, but in view of the
continued expansion of credit and monetary aggregates at a rapid pace, the Central Bank
adopted a more cautious approach in the conduct of monetary policy during the rest of the
year. The Repurchase rate and the Reverse Repurchase rate, which were reduced from 7.25
per cent and 9.00 per cent, respectively, to 7.00 per cent and to 8.50 per cent, respectively, in
January 2011, were held unchanged thereafter during the year. As rupee liquidity in the
domestic money market continued to remain high, the SRR applicable on all rupee deposit
liabilities of commercial banks was adjusted in April 2011 to absorb a part of excess liquidity
permanently while signaling a change in the direction of monetary policy. With credit
extended to the private sector by commercial banks expanding rapidly, the Central Bank
resorted to moral suasion to restrain the expansion while daily auctions under open market
operations (OMO) were recommenced towards the latter part of the year to maintain short
term interest rates at desired level amidst declining excess liquidity. Considering emerging
macroeconomic imbalances, particularly the high growth of imports and credit and to ensure
that inflation continues to remain at single digit levels, the Central Bank raised the
Repurchase rate and the Reverse Repurchase rate by 50 basis points each to 7.50 per cent and
9.00 per cent, respectively, in February 2012 while directing commercial banks in March
2012 to restrain the credit growth.
A sharp decline in excess rupee liquidity in the domestic money market was observed
towards the latter part of 2011. Excess liquidity, which amounted to Rs. 113.5 billion at end
2010, turned to a deficit of Rs. 5.4 billion by end 2011. In addition to the expansion in credit
disbursed by commercial banks, the increase in SRR in April 2011 and sale of foreign
exchange by the Central Bank absorbed a considerable amount of liquidity from the market,
although there was a substantial injection of liquidity following the issue of the US dollars 1
billion international sovereign bond by the government in July and the Central Bank
purchase of Treasury bills from the primary market during the last quarter of the year. The
Central Bank managed liquidity on an overnight basis through standing facilities under OMO
throughout the year and through the recommencement of daily OMO auctions in September
The monetary policy framework of the Central Bank was further strengthened with a more
comprehensive economic and monetary analysis enabling the capturing of ongoing structural
changes in the economy together with changes in the financial practices of the general
public. The Central Bank continued to focus on broad money as the intermediate target of
monetary policy, which is linked to reserve money, the operating target, through the money
multiplier. The monetary programme, which was prepared based on all macroeconomic
developments of the economy, envisaged an average growth of 14.5 per cent of broad
money, which was consistent with the nominal growth of GDP. Initial projections for real
GDP indicated a growth of about 8.5 per cent while the implicit GDP deflator for the year
was anticipated to be about 6 per cent, which formed the basis for the stipulated growth of
broad money. Growth of reserve money, however, was expected to be higher at around 16.4
per cent due to the low money multiplier on account of the rise in the currency to deposit
ratio since 2009. However, the annual average growth target for reserve money was raised to
19.5 per cent in view of the upward revision to the SRR in April 2011 in order to offset the
contractionary impact it would have on the money multiplier and thereby, on broad money.
Tightening monetary conditions, as reflected by declining excess rupee liquidity in the
domestic money market exerted upward pressure on the interest rate structure towards the
end of the year. In the interbank market, the average weighted call money rate (AWCMR)
remained broadly around the middle of the policy interest rate corridor in the first three
quarters of the year, but moved upward during the last quarter. With regard to deposit rates,
the average weighted deposit rate (AWDR), which was 6.23 per cent in December 2010,
recorded an increase of 101 basis points during the year reaching 7.24 per cent by December
2011. The average weighted fixed deposit rate (AWFDR) remained in a range of 8.11-8.24
per cent during January-November 2011, before increasing significantly to 8.95 per cent in
December 2011. During the year, the weekly average weighted prime lending rate (AWPR)
hovered within a range of 8.92-9.96 per cent until early November, before increasing
substantially to reach 10.77 per cent for the last week of the year. Yield rates pertaining to
government securities in the primary market also increased towards the end of the year. The
secondary market yield curve for government securities shifted upwards, although it was
flatter than that of the previous year by the end of 2011.
Financial Sector Performance
The financial system remained stable and resilient underpinned by strong domestic economic
growth amidst increased risks emanating from the global macro financial environment.
Domestic macroeconomic conditions remained favourable with expanding economic
activity, and accelerated demand for credit in 2011, while liquidity pressures began to
surface in the domestic financial markets towards the latter part of the year. The performance
of financial institutions improved significantly, and prudential indicators were maintained
with adequate capital, liquidity and profitability buffers. Money and credit markets remained
liquid and interest rates remained stable during most of the year. The price indices of the
Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) declined after the upsurge in the previous two years, while
funds raised by way of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and Rights Issues (RIs) increased
significantly in 2011. The systemically important payments and settlements system
operations continued with efficiency while improvements to business continuity
arrangements were adhered to. The regulatory framework was strengthened and prudential
requirements were enhanced.
The overall financial conditions and soundness of financial institutions improved, reflecting the increase in financial transactions to facilitate the growing economy. The banking,
finance and leasing and insurance sector expanded their branch network around the
country, particularly in the Northern and Eastern provinces, thereby increasing access to
financial services. The activities of the banking sector further accelerated through robust
credit expansion with strengthened risk management practices. The asset quality of the
banking sector improved. As reflected by the positive development in NPLs, credit risk
declined. The banking sector remained well capitalised, despite a marginal decline in capital adequacy ratios on account of high credit expansion. The profitability of the banking system was maintained despite a marginal decline in profitability indicators on account of the decline in interest margins. With regard to the non-bank financial sector, capital and prudential requirements of finance and leasing institutions continue to be enhanced to facilitate the provision of credit and financial services to the wider economy. The profitability and assets quality of non-bank financial institutions sector improved, while the level of capital was maintained above the minimum regulatory requirement. Insurance
companies experienced growth in premium income and assets. However, the investment
income of insurance companies declined on account of the low interest rates environment
and the price decline in the CSE.
The domestic financial market was broadly stable during the year. Liquidity became
constrained and there was upward pressure on interest rates towards the latter part of the
year. The equity price indices of the CSE declined in 2011, following the impressive
performance recorded in the stock market in 2009 and 2010. Measures such as restrictions on
credit extended by brokers, continued net foreign outflows, liquidity drain on account of
several IPOs, RIs and private placements and the impact of the development in global
financial markets impacted negatively on the performance of the share market. The market
price to earnings ratio (PER) of the CSE declined and foreigners were net sellers in the
market continuing a downward trend which started in the latter part of 2009. There was a
considerable increase in the amount of funds mobilised from the market through IPO activity
and RIs.
The regulatory framework for the financial system was strengthened. During the year, the
Central Bank further strengthened its supervisory and regulatory framework to improve the
risk management systems in banks and customer protection. The Finance Companies Act
was replaced with the new Finance Business Act to combat the problems of unauthorised
finance business and deposit taking. A series of new and revised directions were issued for
the non-bank financial sector in line with the Finance Business Act. A new law to regulate
microfinance institutions was finalised. The proposed amendments to the Banking Act were
submitted to the Cabinet for approval, with provisions to enable the consolidated supervision of banking groups and measures to facilitate mergers and acquisitions for consolidation and resolution. The regulatory framework of the insurance sector was strengthened with the enactment of amendments to the Regulation of Insurance Industry (RII) Act in January 2011. Directions were also issued to amend the solvency margin rules, particularly with regard to the valuation of assets. With regard to the stock market, regulations relating to the provision of credit by brokers were introduced and a new Unit Trust Code was issued to provide for the regulation of exchange traded funds.
Given the uncertain outlook for global commodity prices, especially with regard to oil,
the challenge ahead would be to maintain inflation at a low and stable level. Although,
the recently implemented policy measures would moderate growth and ease demand
pressures to some extent, monetary policy will need to continue to focus on restraining
demand pressures to maintain inflation at a mid-single digit level. Managing supply side
shocks to ensure an adequate domestic food supply would also be required to complement
demand management strategies. Developing quality seed varieties to suit local conditions,
expanding cultivation to different agro climatic zones to ensure uninterrupted supply,
increasing storage facilities and improving supply chains to ensure a reasonable price for
producers and consumers are some areas that may need to be addressed in this regard.
Sri Lanka’s sustained growth momentum has taken the country to a high growth trajectory
placing the country among middle income economies in the world. Against this background,
challenges, which can have a downside risk on potential growth, become focal to economic
policy management. The weak recovery in the global economy as well as geopolitical
uncertainties in Sri Lanka’s traditional export markets are likely to affect export growth.
Demand for exports needs to be improved through diversification of both markets and
products. Also, foreign inflows must be strengthened, particularly in the areas of service
inflows and FDIs through appropriate policies and macroeconomic environment. High oil
prices in international markets can have a significant impact on an oil dependent economy
like Sri Lanka. Policies need to be put in place to mitigate the impact of high oil prices by
promoting energy efficient production technologies, increasing the use of renewable energy
sources and energy conservation. Moreover, a price mechanism that reflects movements in
international energy prices may need to be considered to help avoid the need for large
adjustments of domestic energy prices while lessening the burden on public enterprises. In
the labour market, the substantial decline in unemployment is expected to tighten labour
market conditions. Policies need to be put in place to improve labour productivity and to
address structural rigidities in the labour market while increasing capital intensity to deal
with any manpower shortages. Attention should also be paid to realign Sri Lanka’s education
system to generate a human capital base with the skills necessary to sustain this new growth
Full text of report can be downloaded at below link;

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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