Sri Lanka Treasuries flat ahead of traditional New Year

Apr 12, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bills yields were flat at Monday’s auction, held early ahead of a two-day holiday for a traditional New Year, following a fully rejected auction a week earlier. The government’s debt office said 3-month bills were sold at 8.52 percent, 6-month bills at 9.24 percent and 12-month bills at 9.47 percent.

The debt office said 10 billion rupees of bills were maturing but only 5.4 billion worth of bids were accepted from real bidders.

In Sri Lanka the central bank can print money and buy bills directly from the primary bill market in a ‘quantity easing’ style move.

Last week all the bids for the weekly auction were rejected.

Cash demands increase during the traditional New Year in April requiring more money to be drawn out of the banking system.

Sri Lanka has a pegged exchange rate system, but unlike in more successful pegs like in Singapore or Honk Kong where cash needs during the Chinese New Year are met with lower deposits at the monetary authority, Sri Lanka expands the total monetary base.

Money is also usually printed to meet government salary advances for the festival period.

Critics have said in the past, such moves, where the entire monetary system is mis-used for the benefit of the state, have been one of the reasons for chronic high inflation in the country.

Ironically in the late March to April period the exchange rate strengthens, giving less rupees to exporters as they sell dollars to pay salary advances to their own workers.