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Friday June 2nd, 2023

FBI confirmed Maulavi Naufar masterminded Sri Lanka Easter attacks: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that Maulavi (Islamic preacher) Mohamad Ibrahim Mohamad Naufer masterminded Sri Lanka’s 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara told parliament today (19).

The minister was responding to a May 18 statement by Attorney General Dappula De Livera that there was a grand conspiracy behind the attacks that killed 269 people and injured over 500.

De Livera in a letter written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) C D Wickramaratne and a subsequent statement to the public said that he has been unable to press charges or file indictments against the conspirators and abettors of the Easter Sunday attack due to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigations being incomplete.

Related: Sri Lanka Attorney General claims “grand conspiracy” behind Easter attack: report

Minister Weerasekara said in parliament today that the investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks was an international investigation as many foreign nationals lost their lives in the attack. The CID conducted investigations along with international investigative teams such as the FBI and the Australian Federal Police.

It takes a long time complete international investigations, the minister said defending the delay.

Usually, it takes a long time to complete international investigations,” he said.

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was considered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is still in detention. It took years to file a lawsuit against the terrorist who assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It took three years to file charges against the assassins of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar,” he said.

Similarly, said Weerasekara, it takes years to file charges in the case of an attack such as the Easter bombings as investigations must be thorough in order to gather all evidence so that suspects cannot escape through a loophole in the law.

The minister said AG has already filed indictments against 16 suspects in the Kegalle High Court for damaging a Buddha Statue in Mawanella and six suspects in the Puttalam High Court for storing explosives in Wanathawilluwa. Three more were indicted in the Kegalle High Court for the attempted murder of Mohammad Taslim, a key witness whose body is partially paralised as a result of a gunshot to the head. Police believe Taslim was shot on the orders of Zaharan Hashim, the ringleader of the suicide bombers that blew themselves up on April 21 2019.

Mohammed Naufer Mohammed Yusri and Hejaaz Hizbullah and another were indicted for aiding and abetting terrorist activities in Gampaha and Puttalam High Courts.

Weerasekara said in November 2020, eight documents with charges were presented to the AG regarding the eight attacks that happen on Easter Sunday 2019.

“After that, I met the Attorney General personally on a few occasions. I understood that he was working on this with great dedication and enthusiasm. He said to wait till the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOl) is released to see whether there is a contradiction between the evidence and what the report revealed,” Weerasekara said.

The PCol that probed the attack presented its findings to the AG in February this year. According ot the minister, from March 12 to April 24, a team of 54 police investigators together with state counsels from the Attorney General’s Department worked in a team led by a Senior Assistant Solicitor General to thoroughly analyse the evidence and facts under the personal supervision of the AG.

Shortcomings in the investigation was reported to the police on April 24. The AG had then resubmitted the report to the IGP on May 12, by which time police had addressed most of the shortcomings and reported back to the AG’s Department, said Weerasekara.

Weerasekara said this could be the reason for the AG’s statement on May 15.

“We hope to attend to the rest of the shortcomings in the near future, after which the Attorney General can file indictments against suspects,” he added.

Authorities have apprehended 704 individuals suspected of being connected to the bombings, according to Weerasekara.

“We appreciate the assistance and the professional commitment the AG has demonstrated in this regard,” he said. (Colombo/May19/2021)

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Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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