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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Ex-Sri Lanka president Sirisena to run again; apologises to Catholics, compares self to Mandela

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s former president Maithripala Sirisena who was recently ordered by the Supreme Court to pay compensation for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings has apologised to the Catholic community and announced his intention to run for president again.

Drawing comparisons to former South African president Nelson Mandela, a visibly emotional Sirisena said he will not back down in the face of any aggression and will confidently contest the next presidential election.

“Mandela was in prison for 27 years, but he came out and the people made him president.

“I will not back down in the face of anything. I’m not affected by any conspiracy. The people who made these cases are the conspira— [stops himself]. I respect the courts and the law and bow down to the court.

“I have read Mandela. No matter how badly I’m treated, I will contest the next presidential election with the support of my party, knowing that I can win,” said Sirisena, speaking at a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) press briefing in Colombo on Tuesday January 31.

Sirisena also apologised profusely to Sri Lanka’s Catholic community which was affected by the devastating Easter attack in 2019.

“As far as I know, the Catholic people hold no grudge against me.

“As someone who read the Bible at 15, 16 years of age, I ask God for forgiveness that something like this happened during my tenure — though carried out by others and because of which I have had to pay compensation — I ask for forgiveness from those who died and lost their limbs and from God that an incident like this occurred during my term,” he said.

Though seemingly contrite in his apology, the former president took pains to stres that the attack occurred without his knowledge.

“This verdict does not say that I did anything wrong. It says if officials appointed by the president makes a grave mistake, the president is responsible. That’s what the paragraph on the verdict says about me,” said Sirisena.

In an unprecedented verdict, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ordered Sirisena and four top defence officials and the State to pay compensation totalling 311 million rupees to victims of the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 269 people.

The court held that a Victim Fund be established at the Office for Reparation which must formulate a scheme to “award the sums ordered as compensation in a fair and equitable manner to the victims and families”.

The verdict was welcomed by the Catholic church, which also anticipates criminal proceedings against some of the respondents.

Head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said he was “very happy” with the verdict and expressed his hope that it will mark the beginning of a new era where equality before the law is entrenched in society and no public official or politician operates above the law. (Colombo/Jan31/2023)

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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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