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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Classist, aristocratic cabal in Sri Lanka conspiring to prevent Premadasa presidency: MP

ECONOMYNEXT – Classists and ‘radalawaadin’ (backers of aristocracy) in different camps have teamed up to prevent Sri Lanka opposition leader Sajith Premadasa from becoming president, opposition MP Nalin Bandara said.

The main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP told reporters on June 09 that the government may be hoping to use Prime Minister Ranil Wikcremesinghe to weaken the opposition.

“It was [government minister] Mahindananda Aluthgamuge who was bragging the most about Wickremesinghe entering parliament,” he said.

The former prime minister has been speculated to enter parliament through the one national list seat his party is entitled to after a spectacular defeat at the parliamentary polls in 2020.

The increasingly crisis-riddle government may be planning to appoint Wickremesinghe to its cabinet in an attempt to overcome their perilous state, said Bandara.

“Or perhaps they dream that after Wickremesinghe enters parliament, the opposition will split into two. When you see that you’re losing you’re grip on power, it is natural to grasp at straws,” he said.

“The government’s plan is to latch on even to Ranil if they have to, just to weaken the opposition and strengthen their own ranks,” he added.

Bandara said the SJB has no objection to the government’s taking Wickremesinghe into their fold.

“He is an experienced politician with his own personal diplomatic ties. We have no objection.  But the opposition will not be weakened. Ranil is one. There are over 50 of us in the SJB,” he said.

The MP said the government is also using people like Wickremesinghe and model Piumi Hansamali who was recently involved in a quarantine scandal to distract the public from the real issues.

Without using the word ‘caste’, Bandara claimed that the opposition faced by Premadasa is nothing more than an issue of social status.

“We know that [former president and the SJB leader’s late father) President R Premadasa faced by many obstacles in his road to the presidency. He came from Kehelwatte; not from Colombo 07; not from an aristocratic family,” he said.

Bandara claimed there was a cabal of classists in Sri Lanka who cannot bear the thought of a Premadasa presidency.

“These people have teamed up, unconditionally, and made deals,” he said.

Commenting on a remark by Minister Aluthgamage that Wickremesinghe could potentially be made opposition leader with the support of 15 SJB parliamentarians who according to him will readily switch loyalties, Bandara said: “Yes, that is their dream. We have to wonder if Wickremesinghe is being controlled by the government.”

The SJB issued a statement on June 08 that the party’s parliamentary group has unanimously expressed their support for Premadasa’s leadership, amid speculation that all is not well with Sri Lanka’s main opposition party.

Bandara said the elitist cabal he alluded to have a “game plan”.

“We know they’ve all teamed up. They’re all on the same side. But we can guarantee that it’s not a plan that will succeed,” he said. (Colombo/June09/2021)

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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