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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Confusion over whether Sri Lanka’s IMF deal will be presented to parliament

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena – Image credit:

ECONOMYNEXT – There was some confusion in Sri Lanka’s parliament Thursday morning over purportedly misquoted remarks made by the Speaker about the crisis-hit country’s staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told parliament on Thursday September 22 that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had informed him that the cabinet had yet to be briefed about the government’s ongoing discussions with the IMF. The cabinet would be briefed “very soon” once all details were available, the president had said.

Members of the opposition and the Speaker would be invited to this briefing.

“That is what he told me this morning; to inform you that this has not been finalised. It has not been approved by the [IMF] board,” said Abeywardena.

More revisions need to be added, he said.

“The president informed me that even the cabinet has not [been] briefed about these discussions. Though they say it has been agreed with officials, it has to be approved by the IMF board. So before that, he has to have some discussion with the other creditor countries and their report also has be added into that. Until such time, it will not be decided by anybody (sp),” said the Speaker.

“So before that, there will be a cabinet briefing. Even the cabinet has not been informed yet. The cabinet will be briefed very soon once he received all the details.”

Main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Lakshman Kiriella said that once cabinet has approved the agreement, it will be too late for parliament to pursue it. He asked the Speaker for an assurance that it would be submitted to parliament prior going to the cabinet.

The SJB has been calling for the IMF agreement to be tabled in parliament.

Speaker Abeywardena appeared to suggest that the president had consented to briefing both the cabinet and the opposition and other interested parties before going ahead, though his words were somewhat vague.

Online and SMS news alerts emerged soon after the speaker’s announcement, stating that the cabinet and the opposition would be briefed on the agreement only after the creditors’ report has been added and approved by the IMF board.

SJB MP Harsha de Silva referring to the news reports asked about their veracity, to which the Speaker said he might have been misquoted.

“What he told me was all the discussions and finalities (sp) are reached before going into the IMF that he will brief the cabinet and the relevant ministers,” he said. (Colombo/Sep22/2022)

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Sri Lanka to introduce social security system: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Labour minister has said that they are set to introduce a comprehensive national social security system, covering all workers.

“The system will address the weaknesses of the current system and provide much-needed support to workers and their families,” Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment said on X (formerly known as Twitter).
He did not specify the details.

Nanayakkara also spoke of the need for robust social security when he met with exporters last week to discuss labor law reforms, boosting female workforce participation and attracting FDI.

Sri Lanka plans to reform labour laws for an export-oriented economy.

The pandemic and the economic crisis highlighted the need to improve the coverage of social security.

Studies have shown that Sri Lanka’s women are kept out of formal employment by childcare, elderly care and housework, as day care and elderly homes are either too expensive or too few.

The government imposed a Social Security Contribution Levy to increase its revenue last year. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s stocks up in trading on Wednesday morning

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares were picking up in trading on Wednesday morning.

Turnover was at 50 million. Trading in the Capital Goods Industry Group was driving turnover.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.37 percent or 41.78 points to 11,289.94, while the S&P SL20 was also up 0.68 percent or 21.66 points to 3,187.65.

Hatton National Bank, Commercial Bank and LOLC saw gains in morning trade, while Tokyo cement and Lanka Hospitals were trading down during morning trading. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar, bond yields stable

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar on Wednesday, after closing on Tuesday at 323.70/324.20 to the US dollar, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 15.50/70 percent on Wednesday up from Tuesday’s close at 15.45/65 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 was quoted at 14.50/55 percent from closing at Tuesday at 14.30/55 percent. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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