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Saturday June 3rd, 2023

Challenging the 20A: All submissions to Supreme Court end tomorrow

ECONOMYNEXT – The Supreme Court will close submissions from all parties challenging or supporting the controversial proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution which seeks to bring back full executive powers to the Presidency, tomorrow, October 3.

A bench comprising the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buveneka Aluwihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardana and Vijith Malalgoda is hearing the petitions. They are due to deliver their ruling on October 13.

Thirty-nine Fundamental Rights petitions were filed challenging the proposed amendments which essentially takes away the independent commissions created by the 19th Amendment and grants sweeping powers to the President.

Leading the charge against the 20A in court has been the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) which has filed numerous petitions through the Party General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara as well as several other Members of Parliament and party activists.

In Bandara’s petition Counsel Suren Fernando argued that many of the proposed amendments are inconsistent with the concept of checks and balances to the power of the executive, with the Rule of Law and the “franchise of the People.”

The petition also said that the proposals are prejudicial to the sovereignty of the People and argued that they “cannot be enacted into law except if approved by the People at a Referendum in addition to a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Members of Parliament in favour as required by Article 83(a) of the Constitution.”

Former Minister and leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, representing himself made an emotional appeal to the judges. He be

Hakeem, who is an attorney began his submission by quoting his own speech in parliament on 19A debate, where he said must “grasp with both hands, the opportunity to atone for having voted for 18A.”

Hakeem said that is why he decided to appear in person to oppose this amendment which will create a President above the law and unaccountable.

“For me a party leader with a small number, I will be able to do little against a government with a juggernaut majority.”

So he said “we are in your lordships’ hands” and noted that “the country is in for a period of absolute cronyism and nepotism if we don’t prevent this happening.” He too prayed for the court to order a referendum.

Another petitioner, Municipal Councillor Lihini Fernando, pointed out that the 20A proposes the Amendment of an article in the Constitution that lays down the mandatory retirement age of 60 of the Attorney General (AG).

The Petition, submitted by Attorney Viran Corea, says because of this the AG can ask for extensions of office from the Executive and the officer “may feel pressure to satisfy the appointers.”

Two members of the United National Party Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene and General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and the leader of the Tamil National Alliance R Sampanthan were also among the petitioners along with former Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

A number of Civil Society organisations including the Centre for Policy Alternatives and several Human Rights activists and the Bar Council are also challenging provisions in the 20A and calling for a referendum. (Colombo, October 1, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Comments (2)

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    Oh DEM O CRACY, where art though.

  2. Paneetha Ameresekere says:

    19A was passed without a referendum, therefore, ipso facto 20A too will not need a referendum.

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    Oh DEM O CRACY, where art though.

  2. Paneetha Ameresekere says:

    19A was passed without a referendum, therefore, ipso facto 20A too will not need a referendum.

Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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