Sri Lanka bans land sales to foreigners

Updated 22 February 2013
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Sri Lanka bans land sales to foreigners

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has decided to ban land sales to foreigners after finding that some offshore investors did not use land and property purchases to benefit the nation's economy, the government spokesman said.
The decision comes as the $ 59 billion economy is struggling to boost foreign direct investment despite gradually stabilizing macroeconomic economic conditions since the end of a three-decade war.
The cabinet has decided to prohibit foreigners from purchasing absolute ownership of state and private lands in Sri Lanka, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.
"Wealthy foreigners buy lands and do not utilize them fully. They just keep it for their private consumption and don't contribute to the national economy such as by boosting tourism," he said.
However, Rambukwella said long-term leases of land will still be allowed, and law will not apply to diplomatic missions.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) last year totalled $1 billion, only half of the government's target and the same figure as for 2011.
Government officials say the slowdown in advanced economies hit FDI in 2012, while economists say inconsistent economic policies in Sri Lanka have contributed to the below-target result.
On Thursday, Sri Lanka's Central Bank Governor said in Mumbai that he expects $1.8 billion FDI in 2013.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last November proposed banning state land purchases by foreigners. The sale of a prime hotel construction site in Colombo to a Chinese firm had previously been cancelled after the opposition said the price was too low.
Sri Lankaís parliament passed legislation in November 2011 allowing the government to acquire enterprises or assets it deems underperforming or underutilized.


Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

Updated 5 min 9 sec ago
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Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices fell over 1.5 percent on Monday as traders factored in an expected output increase that was agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna on Friday.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $74.21 per barrel at 0343 GMT, down 1.8 percent from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $68.40 a barrel, down 0.3 percent, supported more than Brent by a slight drop in US drilling activity.
Prices initially jumped after the deal was announced late last week as it was not seen boosting supply by as much as some had expected.
OPEC and non-OPEC partners including Russia have since 2017 cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to tighten the market and prop up prices.
Largely because of unplanned disruptions in places like Venezuela and Angola, the group’s output has been below the targeted cuts, which it now says will be reversed by supply rises especially from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia. Although analysts warn there is little space capacity for large-scale output increases.
“Several ministers suggested that (rises) would correspond to a 0.7 million bpd increase in production,” said US bank Goldman Sachs following the announcement of the agreement, although it added that were risks “that Iran production may be even lower than we assume” and that its output could fall further due to looming US sanctions.
Still, Britain’s Barclays bank said OPEC’s and Russia’s commitments would take “the market from a -0.2 million bpd deficit in H2 2018 to a 0.2 million bpd surplus.”
Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the agreement “represents a compromise between responding to consumer pressure and the need for oil-producing countries to maintain oil prices and prevent harming their economies.”
In the United States, US energy companies last week cut one oil rig, the first reduction in 12 weeks, taking the total rig count to 862, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
That put the rig count on track for its smallest monthly gain since declining by two rigs in March with just three rigs added so far in June, although the overall level remains just one rig short of the March 2015 high from the previous week.