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Wednesday February 1st, 2023

20th Amendment: End to Sri Lanka’s Democracy: Shouldn’t it be Resisted? – Uyangoda

Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya activists protest against 20th Amendment

ECONOMYNEXT – The debate on the proposed 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution is gathering momentum. The proposal, which has been published in the Government Gazette, is indeed a constitutional bombshell, literally. Its provisions are very destructive in their objectives as well as consequences. Perhaps, the management gurus and media moguls who advise President Gotabaya Rajapaksa may have successfully converted him to the somewhat naïve and politically dangerous doctrine of ‘creative destruction.’


Even a hurried reading of the draft 20th Amendment tells the reader that its framers are motivated by the following two immediate political objectives:

• Creation of a new office of ‘executive presidency’ and granting to the holder of that office unfettered and unchecked powers over the Cabinet, the legislature, the judiciary, the political system and society. The office of the President will once again be, as it was in 1978 and 2009, the central institution of state power which will stand above, and superior to, everything, and everybody, else in our society and polity.

• Assigning and securing to one ruling family the monopoly of political power in Sri Lanka.


There are many negative consequences of the proposed 20th Amendment if it is passed into law by Sri Lanka’s parliament. Some are short-term and others are both medium and long-term. It has the most destructive potential to create conditions for:

• Bringing an effective end to Sri Lanka’s much-venerated parliamentary democracy and liberal democratic traditions and institutions.

• Creating a political system in Sri Lanka similar to the one we have had under the pre-1931 colonial state, thereby ignoring and erasing all the achievements and advances the Sri Lankan people have made in term of political progress since 1931. The framers of the 20th Amendment and its well-wishers have also closed their eyes to the bloodbath which the J. R. Jayewardene project of despotic constitutionalism caused soon after the enactment of 1978 Constitution.

• Making it difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge the incumbent ruling family or whomsoever who occupies the office of President, from power by peaceful and electoral means.

• Depriving the people of Sri Lanka their sovereign right to change governments and remove rulers who violate their trust by peaceful means available within the framework of open, competitive, multi-party and electoral democracy.

• Granting constitutional sanctity to the arbitrary exercise of political power by the Executive, with only very restricted, if not non-existent, opportunities for society to exercise any control within the framework of Rule of Law which has so far been the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s constitutionalism.

• Eventually establishing a one-party state in Sri Lanka in line with the much dreaded South-East Asian developmentalist state model.

• Making liberty and freedoms of citizens vulnerable to arbitrary executive action in a situation in which new law reforms would seek to severely restrict (a) freedom of thought, (b) freedom of expression, (c) freedom of association, and (d) right to dissent and disagree.

• Facilitating a swift transition from a weak democracy to an autocratic and tyrannical system of government.

With those consequences, Sri Lankan citizens will have to watch a rather tragic situation in which:
(a) Parliamentary democracy is used to facilitate its own negation, that is, ending parliamentary democracy itself, (b) One hundred and fifty or so Members of Parliament would be asked to sign their symbolic death warrant collectively by voting for the new constitutional amendment as envisaged by the proposed draft.

That is why the proposed 20th Amendment is politically and constitutionally so destructive. It will destroy the most precious political legacy of Sri Lanka’s modernity and progress, parliamentary democracy and rule of law, and create in its place a post-democratic leviathan.

That is why the proposed 20 Amendment should be critiqued, opposed and resisted. That is also why President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be asked by all his critics that he also has a duty to exercise some degree of political sanity and prudence in his capacity as Sri Lanka’s ruler. (Colombo September 20, 2020)

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Sri Lanka bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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Sri Lanka services exports down 5.9-pct in 2022

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s services exports were estimated to have fallen 5.9 percent to 1,876.3 million US dollars, the island’s Export Development Board said.

Services exports estimated is made up of ICT/BPM, construction, financial services, transport and logistics.

There are more than 500 ICT companies, the EDB said.

Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports were up 4.6 percent to US dollars 13.1 billion dollars in 2022 from 2021.

Sri Lanka’s goods exports are slowing amid lower growth in Western markets. (Colombo/ Feb 01/2023)

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