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Saturday January 28th, 2023

Animal shelter overwhelmed by dumped puppies and kittens

Sign board in front of the Wennappuwa Sunaka Sewana (Source: Arosh Perera)

ECONOMYNEXT- Puppies and newborn kittens are sick and dying in an animal shelter run by the Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha which has become a magnet for those abandoning baby animals from far and wide.

The Wennappuwa Sunaka Sevana (Dog Shelter) was welcomed by the local residents and Chairman Susantha Perera was praised for the initiative which uses the land for a garbage dump in Dummaladeniya.

Chairman Perera asked the people in his municipal area to bring their animals to the shelter instead of abandoning them by the roadside.

Perera told EconomyNext that he started this animal Shelter to provide protection and care for the stray dogs and cats abandoned in the area.

“I felt that apart from the development of the area, to provide protection and care for the animals,” he said.

“I instructed the people in my area to just handover their dogs and cats to that place rather than abandoning them,” he added.

But with Social Media users posting about the dog shelter, folks from areas outside Wennappuwa began bringing puppies and kittens they did not want to care for to this shelter with the hope that they will be well looked after.

They did not want to care for them or spay or sterilize their own pets, a typical reaction from pet owners in Sri Lanka who do not want to sterilize or euthanize due to religious beliefs.

Arosh Perera from Dankotuwa is a 21-year old who visits the dog shelter in Wennappuwa daily with his friend to provide food for the animals in the shelter.

He told EconomyNext that there is no proper roof for the animals and the people are bringing animals to the shelter daily and many animals die trying to cross the road.

Cardboard boxes in place to provide warmth to the animals (Source: Arosh Perera)

Arosh said that people from outside Wennappuwa have started to bring their animals to the shelter

The state of a tent built to provide cover to the animals (Source: Arosh Perera.

He also said that although medications for the animals were done by some animal welfare groups it hasn’t been successful, “Diseases have are already spread among the animals,” he claimed.

A dead kitten in the shelter (Source: Arosh Perera)

Another person who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that all the five puppies she took home from the Dog Shelter in Wennappuwa died of worm diseases within days as it was too late to save them.

She said that although more than enough food has been provided to them by various means, there are little puppies and kittens who have not even opened their eyes who need the love and care to grow.

“There are about 40 kittens who can’t even raise their heads to eat. It has become a breeding ground for diseases,” she said.

Earlier this month, Champa Fernando from the Kandy Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW) had conducted free sterilizations and rabies vaccination for 21 animals in the shelter.

Animals lying around the garbage dump which is behind the dog shelter compound. (Source: Champa Fernando)

Following the programme, KACPAW wrote to Chairman Perera about the problems they identified saying about 20 or more, hardly a month old pups and kittens were being dumped almost daily by people from as far as Kurunegala and beyond.

The letter also had said that the news that the Dummaladeniya Dog Shelter takes in any unwanted animal has spread across the country via Social Media and soon people will bring animals from other districts too. If that happens, our Sterilization of animals in Wennappuwa will not provide any sustainable results and “the huge investment we make will be futile.”

And that the place is fast becoming a death trap to these animals who would have survived had they been elsewhere. Daily there are new carcasses of animals lying all over.

To which they have proposed solutions such as Removing the words “Dog Care Center” from the board put up there, Do a strong publicity campaign to negate the publicity the PS gave asking people to bring their unwanted animals, setting up a PS fund for Sterilizations, inviting people to donate to it and ensuring that workers do not take in animals for bribes. That usually happens in such care facilities.

Letter Written by Champa Fernando to the Chairman of the Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha.(Source: Champa Fernando)

Save a Paw with Love organisation has supported the shelter and had built a fence around the compound of the dog shelter while a gate was also built to stop the animals from getting out. EconomyNext could not get through to Shivanthi Sansoni who is the founder of the organisation.

Perera said that a health worker who is attached to Pradeshiya Sabha is appointed to look after the animals in the shelter.

Further, he said certain groups of people are willing to provide food for the animals once they tell them the required amounts.

In term of medications for the animals, he said that the area Veterinarian is helping, while certain animal welfare organisations from Kandy, Negombo and Ragama had also offered to provide medicine.

When questioned whether animals die due to lack of care and medications, he said that some animals who are already sick are being leftover by the shelter at night.

“When we started this, at first we didn’t have great knowledge of these things but now we are taking measures to face such things,” he said.

The Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman denied that animals have been killed by accidents while trying to cross the road after escaping the shelter.

He said that an animal welfare organisation from Ragama has helped them to build a fence around the compound recently.

“What I saw was a lot of puppies and kittens were taken by most of the people who come there, only the big animals get leftover, early March we conducted sterilisation to the animals,”

Animal rights activists have been constantly pointing out that there are no animal welfare laws in the country, while a Bill to enact the Animal Welfare Act has been blocked in parliament since 2006.

The Bill received Cabinet approval in 2016 under the former government but it was never passed in Parliament.

The proposal aims to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority, which will have the role to oversee matters in relation to animal welfare and subsequent punishments for breaking the law. Some of the suggestions would be to include penalties for those who abuse or neglect animals, abandon animals on the road or at temples after allowing them to procreate without taking proper responsibility for them, imprison animals in kennels without giving them adequate freedom, haphazardly kill animals and disregard the safety of animals when they are being transported.

The Bill introduces a duty of care on every person who is in charge of animal(s) and the draft Act stipulates a fine of 100,000 LKR as well as a one-year prison sentence for violations. (Colombo/Mar30/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka utility to continue power cuts, regulator says no

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to continue power cuts, as the dry season hits the country despite orders to give 24 hours of power.

The utility said its Board “has decided to continue the demand management programme” and it has informed the regulator of this decision on January 27.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said it had not approved the power cuts “as it violate and affect the rights of 331,000 students sitting for the Advanced Level exams.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB has high running costs due to long term scuttling of planned coal plants by activists and lastly President Maithripala Sirisena.

‘CEB’s costs went up as demand went up since the last coal plant opening and steady collapse of the currency from 131 to 182 to the US dollar due to open market operations unleashed to suppress rates and operate a flexible inflation targeting by the central bank.

Even more aggressive liquidity injections after 2020 to target an output gap then busted the currency from 182 to 360 to the US dollar.

CEB has to use extra fuel from around February to April 2022 as the dry season hits reducing hydro power.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission has ordered the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to supply fuel and banks to give credit for extra power.

Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has alleged that CPC officials agreed under duress and threat of jail sentence to supply fuel.

The CEB has to cut power in case demand outstrips supply to maintain frequency at 50 Hz to avoid cascading failures, according to sector analysts. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka president suspends parliament till Feb 08

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suspended parliament till February 08, according to a gazette notice.

Parliament will re-convene at 1000 am on January 08.

President Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he would make a speech, officially declaring his intention to give effect to the 13th amendment to the constitution on provincial councils.

Provincial councils, a power sharing arrangement backed by India as a solution to the ethnic Tamil have not yet been given police and land powers. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka, other defaulting nations have widely differing debt indicators: Expert

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka other recently defaulting nations have widely differing debt indicators, and some other countries survive with even higher levels of debt, a US based analyst has said.

“If you look at the ratio of debt to GDP, the size of the economy the number is very high, mostly because there has been a lot of depreciation, so the debt in dollars keeps growing relative to GDP,” Sergai Lanau, Deputy Chief Economist at Washington based Institute of International Finance said.

“This is sometimes over-emphasized… but this ratio at 120 is a lot.”

He was speaking at a forum organized by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

“Just for a reference point about 6 or 7 years ago Italy’s debt was 120 percent GDP, there was a lot of concern in the Euro area and that is a country that has the ECB. So Sri Lanka at 120 is a lot.”

Italy however is in a monetary union with Euro which is a floating exchange rate without anchor conflicts and forex shortages and basic external payment problems.

Sri Lanka is trying to bring the ratio down to 95 percent by 2032 under an International Monetary Fund backed program, according to a leaked letter from India.

“Typically for many years there was as lot of emphasis on debt ratios, when people looked at debt restructuring – or at least economists,” Lanau said.

“And that is something that always puzzled bond traders who came from the corporate sector. For them it is all about the flows and gross financing needs.

“The IMF has shifted its focus a lot financing needs over the years and it is a less of a problem now.”

Ghana has defaulted and it is trying to reduce its debt from around 90 percent to below 60 percent by 2028. It is starting at a much lower level and correcting within a shorter period to an even lower level.

Sri Lanka’s debt ratio is high but it “may or may not be a constraint”, he said.

What the … was that?

The IMF’s default workout framework is a work in progress, which has changed over the years since mass defaults hit market market countries which were denied monetary stability through intermediate regimes especially in Latin America from the early 1980s.

Until 1980, when the so-called BBC policy (now called exchange rate as the first line of defence) where countries were encouraged to bust their currencies instead of withdrawing inflationary policy, sovereign defaults were not a problem.

“During the 1970s, the risk of sovereign default was not perceived as a major concern,” the IMF itself admits.

“Most “external arrears” generated by a country were created by exchange restrictions. For example, an importer might miss a payment because the authorities were slow to release foreign exchange.

“Sovereign default had not been a problem since the Second World War.

“Therefore, the IMF’s policy framework was not equipped to confront the complications that arose in the context of the sovereign debt difficulties that emerged in the 1980s.

“In fact, it took until 1980 for the IMF’s Executive Board even to agree that a default on sovereign debt should also be covered under the external arrears policy.”

Washington based policy circles began to prescribe, inconsistent, anchor conflicting intermediate regimes with aggressive open market operations to anyone who was willing to listen after the Fed floated, in the false belief that currencies fell due to ‘overvaluation’ and not liquidity injections.

Countries like Sri Lanka where there is no doctrinal foundation in sound money and no knowledge of classical monetary theory, were easy prey, critics say.

East Asia and Japan rejected such regimes. Malaysia is a prime example which despite not having a legal hard peg, fixed itself, repaid debt ahead of time, when tin and other commodity prices collapsed in the wake of Volcker tightening, while Latin America defaulted.

Elephant in the room

A country with a soft pegged central bank (flexible exchange rate or intermediate regime) will see debt rocket each time it suppresses interest rates to target a policy rate and triggers a currency crisis.

Once a currency crisis hits, on one had the domestic currency value of external debt which is denominated in dollars protecting sovereign bond holders, goes up.

Interest rates of domestic debt also have to go up to stop the money printing and halt forex shortages which can widen the overall deficit in the short term.

The currency collapse also kills purchasing power and the real economy slows or contracts.

Once the credibility of the exchange rate has been lost, due to excess money injected the country loses the ability to settle both imports and debt repayment by exchanging domestic money for dollars.

The reserves (savings of past years) are used for current imports and debt repayments more money is injected to sterilize the interventions to maintain the policy rate, reserves collected over several years are run down in a few months.

Falling reserves, a depreciating currency then trigger rating downgrades (usually due to so-called exchange rate of as the first line of defence which saw downgrades in 2018 and 2020 in Sri Lanka) and sovereign bond as yields soar, and market access is lost, triggering a default.

As reserves dwindle further due to holding the policy rate with new money, more downgrades follow.

Countries with flexible exchange rates/flexible inflation targeting with market access can default at virtually any level of debt, critics say.

Market Access

Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratio shot up over 100 percent and lost almost all its reserves following a currency crisis in 2000/2001.

But at the time (or in earlier soft-peg crises in 1988/89 and earlier) the country did not have market access and bullet repayment debt.

In Sri Lanka bonds are big part of the country’s debt.

“Once you have lost market access there is virtually no level of gross financing needs that is sustainable,” Lanau said.

Analysts say the once market access has been lost, and the IMF declares that debt is unsustainable, which blocks the World Bank and ADB from giving loans, default is almost certain.

Argentina which has the archetypal soft-pegged Latin America central bank, which sterilizes interventions, strikes zeros off the peso at intervals and get into forex trouble.

“The country got into an IMF program in mid-2018, it was a very optimistic set of IMF targets, policy adjustments,” Lanau said.

“And this IMF program did not work and the situation got critical in August 2019 at which point Argentina defaulted.”

In March 2020 the IMF had presented a debt sustainability analysis where it was expected to to get its debt to 40 percent of GDP by 2030 and foreign exchange debt service to 3 percent of GDP, Lanau said, compared to 4.5 percent for Sri Lanka to make debt sustainable.

Ecuador which had a successful pre-emptive debt re-structuring, had debt levels of around 60 percent when it went talked to bond holders.

It was an ‘easy re-structuring, Lanau said.

It was a “lot about a bunch of maturities coming due in very few years as opposed to a very high debt ratio or a situation that was very unsustainable economically.”

Ecuador however is a dollarized country where its central bank effectively died in the 1990s after the sucre collapsed to 25,000 to the US dollar.

The Central Bank of Ecuador is no longer capable of creating forex shortages or driving the people to starvation and external debt is effectively in domestic currency.

Ecuador’s gross financing needs are now down to around mid single digits, while Sri Lanka’s has shot up to around 30 percent of GDP following the currency collapse.

Ecuador central bank was set up by Edwin Kemmerer, a US money doctor, with a gold peg (no obstinate policy rate) but was corrupted in 1947 by Robert Triffin, a US Keynesian who set up Argentina style central banks in several Latin America countries that frequently defaulted from the 1980s.

Sri Lanka’s central bank was also set up in 1950 by a US money doctor with broadly similar sterilizing powers.

Sri Lanka also started to depreciate the currency from around 1980 without withdrawing inflationary policy (an earlier re-incarnation of first line of defence strategy) triggering strikes, social unrest but no sovereign default due to lack of market access.

Sovereign defaults were mostly absent during the Bretton Woods era even in Latin America when countries maintained their pegs more or less with complementary monetary policy and the IMF also supported external anchors.

However after 1980 when the US tightened policy under Chairman Paul Volcker there were widespread defaults in pegged Latin American countries which did not hike rates in tandem or sterilized interventions (resisted the BOP) trying to operate independent monetary policy.

Now there are a number of market access countries in Africa and Asia with reserve collecting central bank which are trying to operate flexible inflation targeting, another monetary policy which are in conflict with the balance of payments which are ripe for serial currency crises and default.

Clean floating central bank do not use foreign reserves for imports nor collects them. (Colombo/Dec27/2022)

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