Sri Lanka central bank says rates appropriate

Sri Lanka central bank says rates appropriate
Updated 04 June 2013

Sri Lanka central bank says rates appropriate

Sri Lanka central bank says rates appropriate

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s key policy rates are appropriate after two cuts since December, but the central bank is ready to act if needed if there are any major changes in the macroeconomic outlook, Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.
Sri Lanka’s monetary authority unexpectedly cut both repurchase and reverse repurchase rates by 50 basis points last month to 7 and 9 percent respectively to one-year lows after trimming them by the same margin in December.
“We want to see that there is no unnecessary inflationary pressure building up in the economy,” Cabraal said.
“Unless there is major movement in next few months, we think that it (the policy interest rate) is appropriate, but we stand ready to change if we find that is necessary.”
After the latest easing, Cabraal said the central bank expected an improvement in credit growth and foreign investment, and a decline in market interest rates.
“At the moment, the current interest rates seem to be supportive of that. If that continues, then we may not see a change (in policy rates).”
The central bank is expected to announce this month’s monetary policy rates on June 14.
The central bank went ahead with the recent rate cuts despite a warning from the International Monetary Fund against policy easing due to concerns it could stoke inflationary pressures.
Cabraal in justifying the decision said the move would help boost the economy, after a slower-than-expected pick-up in activity in the first few months of 2013.
“In the first quarter, we will have a slightly lesser number than what we had last year. But we are maintaining the 7.5 percent economic growth target (for all of 2013). Some of the steps we have taken will probably give impetus to the economy.”
Official growth data for this year’s first quarter will be released by mid-June.
The central bank’s 2013 growth estimate is much higher than IMF’s 6.3 percent.
Economic growth cooled to a three-year low of 6.4 percent last year, from a record expansion of 8.2 percent in 2011.
Sri Lanka’s annual inflation accelerated to 7.3 percent in May year-on-year from 6.4 percent a month ago, mainly due to an increase in electricity tariffs.
But Cabraal said inflation would moderate from June and expected the country to achieve the estimated target of around 7 percent for 2013.
“There may be one or two spikes here and there. But by and large, the trend would be downwards from this month. We think that inflation toward the end of the year should stabilize around mid single digits that’s we are aiming for.”


Saudi Arabian youth use less cash as Kingdom pushes for cashless society

Saudi Arabian youth use less cash as Kingdom pushes for cashless society
Updated 04 August 2021

Saudi Arabian youth use less cash as Kingdom pushes for cashless society

Saudi Arabian youth use less cash as Kingdom pushes for cashless society
  • Only 18 percent of Saudis aged between 16 and 22 years use cash
  • Almost half of people 60 and above use cash

RIYADH: Youth in Saudi Arabia are using less cash compared to other age groups, a sign that the Kingdom’s plans to create a cashless society is on course.

Only 18 percent of Saudis aged between 16 and 22 years use cash, while almost half of people who are 60 and above use cash till date, a report by Fintech Saudi showed.

The report also showed that 20 percent of the population in central region of Saudi Arabia, which includes the capital Riyadh, use cash in their everyday transactions, while 37 percent of those living in the western region use paper money in their daily dealings.

However, paper currency is far from total demise even as the overall number of transactions carried out using cash have declined. Fintech Saudi’s survey results showed that around 60 percent of individuals Kingdom-wide still rely on paper money at least once a week and one out of four people in Saudi use cash every day.

Under Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom aims to increase the number of non-cash transactions to 70 percent in 2025.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an acceleration in cashless activity with digital payments increasing by 75 percent over the past year, whilst cash withdrawals from ATMs and other payment points have declined by 30 percent over the same period,” the report said.


UAE’s ADNOC sells first cargo of blue ammonia to Japan

UAE’s ADNOC sells first cargo of blue ammonia to Japan
Updated 04 August 2021

UAE’s ADNOC sells first cargo of blue ammonia to Japan

UAE’s ADNOC sells first cargo of blue ammonia to Japan
  • Shipments were sold at an attractive premium to grey ammonia
  • CO2 from the ammonia production process will be captured and transferred to Al Reyadah

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said it has partnered with Fertiglobe to sell its first cargo of blue ammonia to Itochu in Japan, for use in fertilizer production.

The shipments represent the first production milestone of a planned scale-up of blue ammonia production capabilities in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to include a low-cost debottlenecking program at Fertiglobe’s Fertil site, UAE state news service WAM reported, citing a statement from ADNOC.

They were sold at an attractive premium to grey ammonia, underscoring the favorable economics for blue ammonia as an emerging source of low-carbon energy, it said.

Ammonia is a carrier fuel for hydrogen. A report earlier this year by Dii Desert Energy and Roland Berger said the Gulf region could create a $200 billion green hydrogen industry by 2050. The Gulf benefits from its strategic geographic location between European and Asian markets.

Green hydrogen is created with renewable energy and water, while blue hydrogen uses the traditional Haber-Bosch method but captures the carbon emissions.

CO2 from the ammonia production process will be captured and transferred to Al Reyadah, the first commercial-scale carbon capture plant in the Middle East and the world’s first commercial facility to capture CO2 from the iron and steel industry. The CO2 is subsequently used in ADNOC Onshore’s Rumaitha and Bab fields where it is stored underground. Each year, Al Reyadah captures up to 800,000 tons of CO2 from local UAE steel production.

Fertiglobe, the world’s largest seaborne exporter of nitrogen fertilizers, is a 58:42 joint venture between Dutch-listed chemical producer OCI and ADNOC. In June, Fertiglobe, ADNOC and ADQ said they would partner in a one million metric ton per annum blue ammonia project at TA’ZIZ in Ruwais, subject to regulatory approvals.

In April, it was reported that ADNOC and OCI had hired banks, including Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, for a possible $7 billion IPO of Fertiglobe.

“Today’s announcement builds upon ADNOC’s commitment to expanding the UAE’s position as a regional leader in the production of hydrogen and its carrier fuels, meeting the needs of critical global export markets such as Japan,” said Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, minister of industry and advanced technology and ADNOC group CEO.

Ammonia can be used as a low-carbon fuel across a wide range of industrial applications, including transportation, power generation, refining and industries, including steel, wastewater treatment, cement and fertilizer production. For Japan, in particular, hydrogen and its carrier fuels, such as blue ammonia, are expected to play an important role in the country’s ongoing industrial decarbonization efforts.


UAE, China agree to cooperate on money laundering, terrorism financing

UAE, China agree to cooperate on money laundering, terrorism financing
Updated 04 August 2021

UAE, China agree to cooperate on money laundering, terrorism financing

UAE, China agree to cooperate on money laundering, terrorism financing
  • Countries will share financial transaction information

ABU DHABI: The Financial Information Unit of the UAE’s central bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center to share financial information to aid the combating of money laundering and terrorism financing.

The MOU will see the two authorities exchanging transaction information related to their respective investigations, in accordance with the local laws and regulations applicable in both countries, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.

The agreement was signed by Ali Faisal Baalawi, head of the Financial Information Unit in the UAE, and Zhou Yunjun, director general of the China Center for Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis.

“We will continue our unremitting joint efforts to confront all suspicious activities at the regional and international levels, and we will endeavor to reduce the threats these activities pose to the stability and integrity of the global financial system,” said Baalwai.

The UAE has become the largest market for Chinese exports, and the second largest trading partner for China in the Arab world, said Zhou.


Riyadh-based Al startup Intelmatix completes first investment round

Riyadh-based Al startup Intelmatix completes first investment round
Updated 04 August 2021

Riyadh-based Al startup Intelmatix completes first investment round

Riyadh-based Al startup Intelmatix completes first investment round
  • Size of funding round not disclosed
  • Investors include STV, Sultan Holdings

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia-based AI startup Intelmatix has closed its first investment round led by STV, Mena’s largest venture capital fund, and Sultan Holdings, a leading strategic investor in some of Mena’s largest companies.

“Artificial Intelligence offers opportunities worth billions,” Intelmatix Co-Founder and CEO Anas Alfaris, Wamda reported, citing a statement. “In the Saudi Arabian market alone, Location Intelligence opportunities exceed SR2 billion annually, and globally, the value is more than SR100 billion each year.”

Intelmatix, headquartered in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said on its official Twitter account it is pleased to announce the closing and launch of its operations in Riyadh, London and Boston.

“We recognize the revolution occurring today in the business world due to artificial intelligence and advanced analytics,” said Sultan Holdings Chairman Naif Bin Sultan Bin Muhammad bin Saud Al Kabeer. “For us, Intelmatix is more than an investment, it is a key strategic step to advance the prospects of AI adoption and enablement in the business sector.”

Intelmatix, founded by MIT graduates, is a pioneer in accessible AI and advanced analytics that deliver technologies that improve operations, productivity, growth, and sustainability for governments and the private sector.

“The Intelmatix team is made of the brightest minds in the region, and they have the ability and vision to make the company a major global AI player,” STV’s founder and CEO, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni said.

Global technology foresight firms report that the revenues from artificial intelligence in the Middle East will exceed SR1 trillion during the next 10 years, half of which is expected to be in the Saudi market, where AI will contribute at least SR500 billion to the Saudi economy by 2030.


Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs

Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs
Updated 04 August 2021

Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs

Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs
  • UAE said it would scrap on Aug. 5 a transit flight ban

DUBAI: Dubai’s state airport operator expects a “surge” in passenger traffic over the coming weeks and months, its chief executive said on Wednesday, after the United Arab Emirates announced an easing of travel restrictions from African and Asian countries.
The Gulf state, a major international travel hub, on Tuesday said it would scrap on Aug. 5 a transit flight ban which Emirates airline later said applied to passengers traveling from 12 countries, including major market India.
The UAE will also lift this week an entry ban on those who had visited India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria or Uganda over the past 14 days for those with valid residencies and who are certified by Emirati authorities as fully vaccinated.
Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said Dubai International was “ready to accommodate the anticipated surge in the coming weeks and months” once restrictions ease.
The Indian subcontinent is traditionally the largest source market for Dubai International, which is one of the world’s busiest airports and the hub for state airline Emirates.
Griffiths said the easing of entry restrictions on inbound travelers from South Asia as well as Nigeria and Uganda would allow for thousands of UAE residents to return.
“It’s a great development from both a social and economic standpoint,” he said.
Those traveling to the UAE or transiting through its airports need to meet various conditions including presenting a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) coronavirus test prior to departure.
Dubai International Airport is targeting 8 percent growth in passenger traffic this year to 28 million. It handled 86.4 million in 2019, the year before the pandemic struck.