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Sunday January 29th, 2023

Easter Sunday attacks: President pleads dont politicize issue as Church protests begin

BLAST EFFECT: Easter Sunday blasts by Islamist extremists generated widespread sympathy in the West giving Sri Lanka breathing space to follow better policy – if it wants to.

ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is asking Sri Lankans not to permit “interested parties” to politicize the Easter Sunday attacks issue and to treat the blasts and the aftermath as a national issue.

Speaking at his regular “conversations with the village” in Giribava yesterday, the President said the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena to look into the attacks that killed around 262 people and devastated the economy in 2019 had faulted the former government for the attacks.

The President’s remarks come as the Roman Catholic Church begins a “Black flag” campaign that is demanding the truth behind the Easter Attacks.

Sunday Congregations are being urged to wear Black to Church tomorrow in protest. Several political parties have also pledged their support to the campaign.

“The Commission report clearly says the inefficiencies of the former government and its neglect of National Security and efforts at reconciliation was the main reason for the attacks,” the President said.

The President said that a key finding of the PCoI was that the government at the time did not act against rising religious extremism.

“In several instances, in the report of the report the Commissioners pointed out that the government of the day has to bear the responsibility for the attacks,” he said.

“It is laughable that politicians from that government are saying we came to power after ‘selling’ the Easter attacks,” the President said.

“Some politicians are trying to blame us for the Easter attacks. This happened in April 2019, we were not in power at that time, our government was not in place, although some politicians are trying to point fingers at us,” he said.

He pointed out that the Commission has reported that the President of the time, the Prime Minister and the government should be held responsible.

“That is why it is untenable that members of that former government are pointing fingers at us for the tragedy,” he said.

He said that he understands why Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo is concerned about the issue.

“I understand his pain because Churches were attacked and he is responsible for their safety and well-being,” the President said.

The President read out sections of the Commission report which detailed witness statements that said the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to arrest rising Islamic extremism “because the government was dependent on the support of Muslim parties for its survival.” (Colombo, March 6, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Comments (2)

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  1. Gamini says:

    What has the “conversations with the village” got to do with this topic? Has his wires got mixed up or is it me?

  2. Andrew De Silva says:

    Mr. President its you who are politicizing the issue by getting unqualified government politicians to provide recommendations on the PC report. ACT now! there is the CID, TID, AG etc who have ample expertise to prosecute those responsible

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  1. Gamini says:

    What has the “conversations with the village” got to do with this topic? Has his wires got mixed up or is it me?

  2. Andrew De Silva says:

    Mr. President its you who are politicizing the issue by getting unqualified government politicians to provide recommendations on the PC report. ACT now! there is the CID, TID, AG etc who have ample expertise to prosecute those responsible

Sri Lanka operators seek higher renewable tariffs, amid exchange rate expectations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s renewable companies say they need tariff of 40 to 45 rupees a unit to sell power to the Ceylon Electricity Board and the agency owes them tens of billions of rupees for power sold in the past.

The association has strong exchange rate expectations based on the country’s dual anchor conflicting monetary regimes involving flexible inflation targeting with a reserve collecting target.

“In the coming year of course because of the rupee devaluation, I think the solar energy sector might require tariffs closer to RS 40 or RS 45, hydropower will also require tariffs on that scale,” Prabath Wickremasinghe President of the Small hydropower Developers Association told reporters.

“I think right now what they pay us is averaging around RS 15 to RS 20.”

Some of the earlier plants are paid only 9 rupees a unit, he said. The association there is potential to develop around 200 Mega Watts of mini hydros, 700 to 1000MW of ground mounted soar and about 1,000 rooftop solar.

In addition to the rupee collapse, global renewable energy costs are also up, in the wake of higher oil prices in the recent past and energy disruption in Europe.

The US Fed and the ECB have tightened monetary policy and global energy and food commodity price are now easing.

However in a few years the 40 to 45 rupee tariffs will look cheap, Wickremesinghe pointed out, given the country’s monetary policy involving steep depreciation.

From 2012 to 2015 the rupee collapsed from 113 to 131 to the US dollar. From 2015 to 2019 the rupee collapsed from 131 to 182 under flexible inflation targeting cum exchange rate as the first line of defence where the currency is deprecated instead of hiking rates and halting liquidity injections.

From 2020 to 2022 the rupee collapsed from 182 to 360 under output gap targeting (over stimulus) and exchange rate as the first line of defence.

“The tariffs are paid in rupees,” Wickremasinghe said. With the rupee continuing to devalue in other 5 years 40 rupees will look like 20 rupees.”

Sri Lanka has the worst central bank in South Asia after Pakistan. Both central banks started with the rupee at 4.70 to the US dollars, derived from the Reserve Bank of India, which was set up as a private bank like the Bank of England.

India started to run into forex shortages after the RBI was nationalized and interventionist economic bureaucrats started to run the agency. Sri Lanka’s and Pakistan’s central bank were run on discretionary principles by economic bureaucrats from the beginning.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka was set up with a peg with gold acting as the final restraint on economic bureaucrats, but it started to depreciated steeply from 1980 as the restraint was taken away.

Now under so-called ‘exchange rate as the first line of defence’ whenever the currency comes under pressure due to inflationary policy (liquidity injections to target an artificially low policy rate or Treasuries yields) the currency is depreciated instead of allowing rates to normalize.

Eventually rates also shoot up, as attempts are made to stabilize the currency which collapses from ‘first line of defence’ triggering downgrades along the way.

After the currency collapse, the Ceylon Electricity Board, finances are shattered and it is unable to pay renewable operators.

Unlike the petroleum, which has to stop delivery as it runs out of power, renewable operators continue to deliver as their domestic value added is higher.

However they also have expenses including salaries of staff to pay.

The CEB which is also running higher losses after the central bank printed money and triggered a currency collapse, has not settled renewable producers.

“In the meantime, we have financial issues with the investors and CEB owns more than 45 million rupees in the industry,” Warna Dahanayaka, Secretary of Mini Hydro Association, said at the conference.

“We can’t sustain because we can’t pay the salaries and we can’t sustain also because of the bank loans. Therefore, we are requesting the government to take the appropriate action for this matter.”

Sri Lanka and Pakistan have identical issues in the power sector including large losses, circular debt, subsidies due to depreciating currencies.

In Sri Lanka there is strong support from the economists outside government for inflationary policy and monetary instability.

The country’s exporters, expatriate workers, users of unofficial gross settlement systems, budget deficits and interbank forex dealers in previous crises have been blamed for monetary instability rather than the unworkable impossible trinity regime involving conflicting domestic (inflation target) and external targets (foreign reserves).

The country has no doctrinal foundation in sound money and there is both fear of floating and hard peg phobia among opinion leaders on both sides of the spectrum regardless of whether they are state or private sector like any Latin American country, critics say.

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Sri Lanka top chamber less pessimistic on 2023 GDP contraction

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“The forecast of 2023 is quite negative in terms of the international forecasters,” Shiran Fernando Chief Economist of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce told a business forum in Colombo.

“Our view is that there will be some level of contraction, may be zero to two percent. But I think as the year progresses in particular the second half, we will see consumption picking up.”

The World Bank is projecting a 4.2 percent contraction in 2023.

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Most businesses have seen a consumption hit, but not as much as indicated, Fernando said.

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Acuity Knowledge Partners with Sri Lanka office to be bought by Permira

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Equistone Partners Europe, from which Permira is buying the stake will remain a minority investor, the statement said.

In 2019, Equistone backed a management buyout of Acuity from Moody’s Corporation.

Acuity Knowledge Partners says it serves a global client base of over 500 financial services firms, including banks, asset managers, advisory firms, private equity houses and consultants.

“Despite the current challenges for the financial services sector, we have experienced continued growth and a strong demand for our solutions and services,” Robert King, CEO of Acuity Knowledge Partners, said.

“Given the significant demand within the financial services sector for value-added research and analytics, and the need for operational efficiency, with Permira’s deep experience in tech-enabled services and its global network, I am confident the business will continue to flourish.”

London headquartered Acuity has offices in the UK, USA, India, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, China and Dubai, UAE.

Equistone was advised on the transaction by Rothschild & Co and DC Advisory, and Latham & Watkins acted as legal counsel. Robert W. Baird Limited served as financial advisers to Permira, and Clifford Chance is acting as legal counsel.

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