Indrajit Coomaraswamy: Road map - monetary and financial sector policies for 2018 and beyond

Speech by Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Colombo, 3 January 2018.

Central bank speech  | 
25 January 2018

1. Introduction

Your Excellencies, Members of the Monetary Board, Senior Deputy Governor, Deputy Governors and Officials of the Central Bank, Distinguished Invitees, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, let me warmly welcome you to the presentation of this year's Road Map.

Continuing our tradition that was initiated in 2007, today we are pleased to present the eleventh Road Map of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. It is our belief that sharing our future policy direction and actions would help you to plan your business trajectory with more certainty. I hope this Road Map will enhance the transparency and clarity of our policies, which would help you to achieve your targets more effectively. The successful outcomes in your businesses would ultimately help us to implement our policies more effectively for the benefit of both the economy and people of Sri Lanka.

The year 2017 was challenging. We have seen economy-wide effects due to inclement weather conditions. The drought and floods disturbed agriculture activities and agro based industrial activities. Spillover effects of these adverse weather conditions impacted the other sectors of the economy as well. As a result, economic growth is expected to be subdued and lower than we projected at the beginning of the year. The tight monetary policy stance of the Central Bank as well as the relatively tight fiscal policy stance of the government, which were adopted with the aim of regaining macroeconomic stability, partly affected public and private investment spending that also contributed to low economic growth. Consumer price inflation increased, mainly due to high food prices associated with weather related domestic supply disruptions, revisions to indirect taxes and increased prices of imported commodities, making our efforts to anchor inflation expectations challenging. Despite the tight monetary policy stance maintained by the Central Bank, growth of monetary aggregates was high during most of 2017, before decelerating to envisaged levels towards the end of the year. Although we have seen signs of a firm recovery in exports with better prospects in key export markets and the flexible exchange rate policy of the Central Bank, the trade account continued to be affected by a largely weather induced increase in import expenditure. The decline in workers' remittances resulted in a reduction in the cushion against the widening trade deficit in the external current account. Although the fiscal sector has recorded notable improvements in terms of revenue collection, some slippage in the budget deficit is likely in 2017 mainly as a result of weather related fiscal costs and higher interest payments. This could have an adverse impact on achieving the envisaged fiscal consolidation path, while complicating the conduct of monetary and exchange rate policies.