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Sunday March 26th, 2023

Churches urge calm after videos of Monk attacking Christians go viral

Bishop Asiri Perera, head of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka is appealing for calm after videos of a Buddhist Monk attacking Christians in Batticaloa went viral in the past few days.

Perera, in a statement released to the public yesterday, Dec 29, exhorted Christians and “all peace-loving people” not to react “to these videos that are going viral which can cause religious tension and disharmony in our motherland, which is the last thing we want to see happening.”

The videos in question feature the controversial 50-year old Buddhist Monk, Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero, chief incumbent of the Sri Mangalaramaya temple in Batticaloa, attacking what appear to be Christian evangelicals in the city.

Already a social media star for his vituperative, obscenity-laden verbal attacks against public servants and others, Sumanarathana has re-emerged around this Christmas. He has been condemned by some, but for others, he is a hero.

A previously viral video posted on the Neth FM website

In one video he is seen slapping a man who appears to be a Church worker and in the other verbally challenging evangelicals including a man wearing what looks like the Cassock usually worn by Roman Catholic priests.

Sumanarathana is seen castigating these evangelicals for distributing pamphlets in what he calls is a Buddhist majority region.

The first reaction from the official Church to this incident came from the Catholic Church with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s spokesman Fr. Jude Krishantha saying that the Christian Priest subjected to attack in the videos is not from his church and also not from any recognized Christian denomination in Sri Lanka.

Fr. Jude Krishantha spokesman for Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

Krishantha also said that Catholics do not attempt to convert non-Christians to their faith.

Methodist leader Perera identified the man under attack as Nalaka Fonseka, a former worker in his church, who was asked to leave due to “disciplinary reasons.” Perera added that Fonseka was never ordained as a priest “during the time he served my church.”

Former Methodist Church worker Nalaka Fonseka and Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero in Batticoloa last week/WhatsApp image

The Methodist President also added that since leaving his church Fonseka “seems to have operated on his own as a freelance evangelist without being accountable to any Church body for his ministry work.”
WhatsApp video of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero challenging evangelists in Batticoloa that went viral/WhatsApp video

Perera also condemned Fonseka’s attitude in the video. “His body language and facial expressions do not reflect a spirit of humility. He should have got down from his bike when speaking to the monk. He is not wearing a helmet when he rides the Motor Bike as if he is not under the law of the country,” he said.

Perera also commented that Sumanarathana’s “particular behaviour in this video and a few other videos which are circulating do not in any way reflect the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha, I leave it for the Ven. Maha Nayakas and Maha Sangha councils to do the needful to put the house in order.”

He noted that the viral videos are “causing embarrassment to both Buddhism and Christianity, two religions that have coexisted in Sri Lanka even in the 6th century A.D. in Anuradhapura.”

He also pointed out that in recent times “police inaction has escalated to alarming heights. The Methodist Church like several other Christian Churches has experienced and suffered certain discrimination carried out by certain law enforcing authorities, about which we have lamented but not heard much. I am also displeased with religious dignitaries of one religion taking the law into their hands to do policing over another legitimate religion that has the right to function, practice and publicly proclaim its own faith in this land.”

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Sri Lanka seeks to settle India ACU debt, credit lines over 5-years

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has requested India to settle payments due to the country under the Asian Clearing Union mechanism and credit lines given in 2022 over 5 years, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, an advisor the island’s government said.

Sri Lanka is negotiating with India to settle the money over a 5-year period, Coomaraswamy, a former central bank governor told an online forum hosted by the Central Bank.

“Our request from the Indians is to settle it over five years,” he said. “That I think is still in the early stages of negotiation. The same with the one billion line of credit.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank owed the ACU 2.0 billion US dollars to the Asian Clearing Union according to a year end debt statement, issued by the Finance Ministry.

Sri Lanka owned India, 1,621 million dollars according to ACU data by year end, excluding interest.

India has given a 1 billion US dollar credit line to Sri Lanka as well a credit line for petroleum.

Sri Lanka in March 2024 has paid 121 million US dollar out of a 331 million US dollar IMF tranche to settle an Indian credit line.

Indian credits were given after the country defaulted in April 2022 as budget support/import when most other bilateral lenders halted giving money. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices up 1.16-pct

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s coconut auction prices went up by 1.16 percent from a week ago at an auction on Thursday, data showed.

The average price for 1,000 nuts grew to 83,219.45 from 82,260.58 a week earlier at the weekly auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority on March 23.

The highest price was 92,500 rupees for 1,000 nuts up from the previous week’s 90,600 rupees, while the lowest was 76,500 also up from 70,000 rupees.

The auction offered 900,010 coconuts and 583,291 nuts were sold. (Colombo/Mar 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka in talks for billion dollar equivalent Indian rupee swap

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks with India for a billion US dollar equivalent Indian rupee central bank swap, to facilitate trade, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, ad advisor to the government said.

“The amount is still uncertain it could be up to the equivalent of a billion US dollars,” Coomaraswamy told an online forum hosted by Sri Lanka’s central bank.

The money will be used to facilate India Sri Lanka trade, he said.

India has been trying to popularize the use of Indian rupees for external trade and also encouraged Sri Lanka banks to set up Indian rupee VOSTRO accounts.

However the first step in popularizing a currency for external trade is to get domestic agents, especially exporters, to accept their own currency for trade, like in the case of the US or EU, analysts say.

India’s billion US dollar credit to Sri Lanka given during the 2022 crisis is settled in Indian rupees (transaction need).

However the Indian government itself has chosen to denominate it in US currency for debt purposes (future value).

In most South Asian nations, receivers of remittances are willing to accept domestic currencies, leading to active VOSTRO account transactions.

Sri Lanka is expected to repay a 400 million US dollar swap with the Reserve Bank of India next year under an International Monetary Fund backed program for external stability and debt re-structuring.

Central bank swap proceeds sold to banks, which are then sterilized with inflationary open market operations, can trigger forex shortages and currency crises, analysts warn.

Sri Lanka went to the International Monetary Fund after two years of inflationary monetary operations by the central bank’s issue department (money printed to suppress interest rates) triggered the biggest currency crisis in its history and external sovereign default.

Sri Lanka had gone to the IMF 16 times with similar external troubles except for the April 2003 extended fund facility under Central Bank Governor A S Jayewardene which was a purely reform-oriented program with the World Bank (PRGF/PRSP) program at a time when he was collecting reserves with deflationary monetary policy and perhaps the lowest inflation since the Bretton Woods collapsed. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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