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Thursday August 18th, 2022

Fireworks at post-mortem on Sri Lanka mob violence

ECONOMYNEXT – There was complete pandemonium on Saturday when embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with SLPP legislators for the first time since the latest wave of mob violence, which led to arson attacks against many of them.

Tight security granted to the president’s personal shaman, Gnana Akka, in Anuradhapura was figured at the meeting with angry MPs asking why the army protected her while legislators faced the wrath of mobs without any protection.

The Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) legislators had been invited for a closed-door meeting at the President’s tightly-guarded “Janadhipathy Mandiraya” where lawmakers pitched into the president for failing to curb violence against them.

Rajapaksa had wanted to discuss the election of a Deputy Speaker when parliament meets on Tuesday, but MPs wanted to discuss what happened to them, with one MP saying 60 of them lost their homes and offices to arson.

MPs accused the police of not taking faster action to save their homes, offices and vehicles.

SLPP Colombo district MP Premanath Dolawatte said he travelled for Saturday’s meeting in a van as his house and vehicle had been attacked. Former minister S. M. Chandrasena said he also travelled in a smaller SUV because his vehicles and homes had been set ablaze.

Vociferous and angry MPs criticised the police and army chiefs for failing to order men under them to use maximum force and beat back rioters.

Unable to field the barrage of complaints from emotionally charged MPs, the president had immediately summoned police chief Chandana Wickramaratne.

Sources at the meeting said Inspector-General Wickramaratne hit back saying that only three months earlier he had warned the government of a possible breakdown in law and order because of political interference in police appointments.

Transfers of officers in charge of police stations and other senior positions had been done under direct political interference.

One such appointment was the Kegalle division chief, K. B. Keerthiratna, an officer who had more spirits in him than above him. Senior Superintendent Keerthiratne is in remand custody for shooting dead a protester at Rambukkana last month.

Even after Keerthiratne was transferred out of Kegalle and brought to the police field force headquarters without any responsibility, a senior politician had wanted the errant officer given another plum post!

Almost all officers in charge of police stations across the country are chief inspectors hand-picked by local politicians of the SLPP, it had been pointed out.

It was possible for politicians to override the police chief thanks to the 20th amendment to the constitution which scrapped the independence of the police commission. President Rajapaksa has now agreed to scrap his 20th amendment and revert to the democratic safeguards he rolled back in 2020 by scrapping the 19th amendment.

SLPP MPs were told they may have paid a high price for getting incompetent, but loyal officers to head police stations in their local areas.

The MPs also pitched into army chief Shavendra Silva accusing him of failing to prevent the attack on “Gota Go Gama” which led to retaliatory strikes across the country.

Legislators said they had telephoned military units in their electorates to get help, but officers had said they were unable to get out of barracks as they had no orders from their boss to venture out to deal with mobs.

MPs asked the president how the military protected Gnana Akka, the president’s personal shaman when troops were not deployed to guard other VVIPs.

However, it was pointed out that Gnana Akka’s home and shrine too went up in flames and 150 soldiers were unable to stop it. It was not immediately clear if Gnana Akka had seen it coming, but she had recently charmed bottled water to subdue protesters at Galle Face.

Tonnes of bottled water had been delivered to the Gota Go Gama under a military-like operation which appeared to have backfired.

Not even Gnana Akka’s sorcery was able to beat back the mobs charged with a fury worthy Kali, the goddess of destruction.

Despite the heated exchanges, the SLPP members had agreed to support new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the very person they vowed to send home and nearly succeeded in the August 2020 elections. (COLOMBO, May 14, 2022)

Comments (1)

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  1. CitizenD says:

    Such destruction has to come on them MPs to taste when they keep blind eye when masses suffer. But violence not acceptable & those in charge failed miserably. Root cause is PM Mahinda.

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Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. CitizenD says:

    Such destruction has to come on them MPs to taste when they keep blind eye when masses suffer. But violence not acceptable & those in charge failed miserably. Root cause is PM Mahinda.

Sri Lanka stocks end steady after CB held policy rates steady; turnover slumps to over 2-wk low

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka stocks closed steady on Thursday (18) with turnover slumping to more than two-week low after the central bank held the key policy rates steady, dealers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) edged up 0.04% or 3.22 points to 8,910.57. On Tuesday, it fell from its highest
close since March 30.

“We saw the market stabilizing after slipping for the last two days on profit taking,” a top analyst said.

“But overall there was continued buying interest on the energy sector and in addition, we saw buying coming into the plantation-related stocks and their holding companies.”

There had been selling pressure on the banking sector, he said.

At the monthly policy review meeting held today, the central banks kept the rates unchanged.

Market analysts said investors have been looking for profit taking after the index gained nearly 2,000 points in the 12 consecutive sessions through Monday.

Investors, however, have been shifting from top liquid shares to energy and plantation sectors now, analysts said.

The market generated 2.72 billion rupees in turnover, its lowest since August 3 and less than this year’s average daily turnover of 3.13 billion rupees. This is also the lowest turnover in last nine sessions.

Sri Lanka has already declared sovereign debt default on April 12 this year and failed to pay its first sovereign debt in May amid a deepening economic crisis which later turned into a political crisis and led to a change in the president, cabinet, and government.

The more liquid S&P SL20 index ended 0.52% or 15.33 points up at 2,962.33.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst fuel and economic crisis in its post-independence era and the economy is
expected to contract 7 percent this year.

The main ASPI gained 15.2 percent in August so far after gaining 5.3 percent in July. It lost 9.3 percent in
June, 23 percent in April, and 14.5 percent in March.

The market index has lost 27.1 percent so far this year after being one of the world’s best stock markets
with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Net foreign inflow was 83 million rupees on Thursday, but the total net foreign outflow so far this year is 1.09 billion rupees.

Investors are also concerned over the steep fall of the rupee from 203 to 370 levels so far in 2022.

LOLC pushed the index up, closing 3.4 percent firmer at 589.3 rupees a share.

Sri Lanka Telecom closed 24.9 percent up at 42.2 rupees a share, and Dipped Products slipped 5.5
percent to 44.3 rupees. (Colombo/Aug17/2022)

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Sri Lanka rupee, yields in govt securities slightly changed

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions weakened on Thursday (18) and yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly while in T-bill edged down in dull trade after the central bank kept key monetary policy rates steady, dealers said.

On Thursday, before the market opened, the central bank held its key policy rates steady at 15.50 percent, while data showed market interest rates are close to twice the rate of them while private credit and imports falling as a consequence.

The central bank is injecting 740 billion rupees of overnight money to banks at 15.50 percent, which were originally injected mostly after reserves were sold for imports (or debt repayments) to artificially keep down rates (sterilized interventions), effectively engaging in monetary financing of imports.

The injections (sterilizing outflows) prevent the credit system from adjusting to the outflows and encourage unsustainable credit without deposits, which is the core problem with soft-pegged central banks, triggering a high rate and an economic slowdown later.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.90/28.00 percent, slightly up from 27.75/90 percent on Wednesday.

The three-months bill closed at 28.30/29.25 percent, down from 29.25/30 percent on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions weakened by one cent to 360.97 rupees against the US dollar on Thursday from 360.96 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 367.97 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 18/2022)

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Japan grants medical equipment worth 500-mn yen to Sri Lanka govt hospital

ECONOMYNEXT –  The  Japanese government has granted medical equipment worth 500 million Japanese yen to the Sri Jayawardenepura government hospital to improve the hospital’s treatment facilities under Japan’s Non-Project Grant Aid Programme.

A statement by the Department of External Resources said the grant was given in response to a request by Sri Lanka’s government.

Under the 500 million Japanese yen (approximately 1,265 million rupees) grant assistance, angio-CT machine, other radiology equipment, ophthalmic instruments, surgical instrument sets (stainless steel with satin finish), 15 dental units with accessories, liver transplant instrument sets, and a cardiac catheterization laboratory will be provided, a statement said on Thursday August 18.

Sri Lanka due to its worst economic crisis in its post-independence history is currently facing shortages of essential medicine, non-essential and lifesaving medicines pressuring the health sector to only attend to emergency cases to preserve available limited medicine stocks.

On Thursday at the policy rate announcement media briefing by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, with the strict measures taken in the recent past, Sri Lanka is currently managing the limited forex income coming into the country to purchase essential goods such as fuel and medicine.

Sri Lanka has received various grants from several countries including China and India which gave a 200 million US dollar credit line to purchase medicine from India.

In June, Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella said there is no shortage of vital medicines in the country and all medicines will be restocked by August 2022. However, shortages of medicine aer still being reported in various hospitals islandwide.

“This improvement at the hospital will facilitate the enhancement of the quality of the care provided especially to the patients with non-communicable diseases while enabling high quality medical professional training to medical undergraduates and postgraduates from the National School of Nursing at the aculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Sri Jayawardenepura,” the External Resources Department statement said.

“This project will eventually assist the development of human resources of the health sector in Sri Lanka,” it said. (Colombo/Aug18/2022)

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