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Tuesday May 30th, 2023

20th Amendment to the Constitution tabled in Parliament amid uproar

ECONOMYNEXT – The 20th Amendment to the Constitution which proposes to takes away power from Parliament and vest them with the President was tabled in the House a short while ago amid protests from the Opposition.

Justice Minister Mohamed Ali Sabry tabled the proposal for its First Reading. This allows objections to be raised to the amendment within the next seven days.

The day began with the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa strenuously objecting to the decision by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene allowing Ratnapura MP Premalal Jayasekara who is under a death sentence to be sworn in as a MP.

Members also passed a vote of condolence on the demise of former Minister Arumugam Thondaman. (Colombo September 22, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka President cleared to discuss cancelled LRT after soured Japan relations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe discuss resuming a Japan funded. Light Rail Transit (LRT) project cabinet spokesman said, as the island nation is in the process of mending ties with Tokyo.

However, any such deals are likely to take place after the debt restructuring and Sri Lanka starts to repay its foreign loans to come out of default, analysts say.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the 1.5 billion US dollar LRT and East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while it was one of the tripartite members of the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

The abrupt cancellation hit the diplomatic ties between the two countries and Sri Lankan government officials have said Japan had given the project to Sri Lanka at a very lower financing cost.

President Wickremesinghe returned from Japan late last week after having met top officials of the Japanese government including its prime minister.

“In recent history, due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the weekly media briefing.

“Before he went, he got the approval from the cabinet to resume the discussion on the light railway project. He got the approval from the cabinet to get parliament approval for bilateral agreements signed or any other investments project. Any change or cancellation of a project could be done only with the approval of the parliament.”

Japan has backed Sri Lanka under Wickremesinghe’s presidency after the island nation declared sovereign debt default. (Colombo/May 30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to tighten grip on television with broadcast law

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has formulated a broadcast authority law to regulate electronic media which will be made public soon, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

“The draft prepared by a cabinet subcommittee under Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa has discussed with various parties will be given to all media institutions and broadcast media,” Gunawardana said.

“We do not have to hide or force anyone. A legal framework that can be acceptable to all for all sectors.”

“In a week or two Minister Wijedasa will discuss with state and private stakeholders.”

At the moment Sri Lanka has issued frequencies without conforming to an “international procedures”, he said.

In Sri Lanka television frequencies are issued under a state television act.

Successive administrations in Sri Lanka has since around 1980 mis-used state television duopoly which including for conducting elections according to critics.

Private television as well a raio emerged around the 1990s and has since over shadowed state media.

There have been calls by ruling party politicians from time to time to control private media. There is now calls to control social media.

At a Committee on Public Accounts meeting of the Department of Government Information, ruling coalition legislators called for regulation of television content. (Colombo/May30/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares fall in mid day trade on need for clarity on DDO and DDR

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares fell in mid day trade on Tuesday on selling pressures and a wait and see approach on delays in confirmations of debt restructuring and debt optimization, an analyst said.

“Investors are adopting a wait and see approach on the need for more clarity on debt restructuring and debt optimization and decisions taken at the Policy Review Meeting,” an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was down 0.68 percent or 53.25 points to 8,516.86, while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was down 0.41 percent or 10.02 points to 2,418.90.

The market generated a turnover of 272 million rupees at 1230 hours.

The top losers were Vallibel One, Lanka IOC & Ceylon Tobacco Company. (Colombo/May30/2023)

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