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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

Gazetted Health Regulations for Elections are more relaxed than what was stipulated by the Health Department – CMEV

ECONOMYNEXT – Election watchdogs are expressing alarm that the Gazetted rules the August 5 election is to be conducted under are considerably more relaxed than the guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19 issued by the Health Services.

They point out that relaxing the regulations at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be worsening is a matter of serious concern.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in a statement issued today pointed out that the Government Regulations issued on Friday, July 17 loosens the rules the Health Experts had wanted.

For instance, the number of persons permitted to attend election meetings was 100, according to the experts, but this has been increased to 300, and 500 if the Party Leader is present.

“Relaxing the restrictions on meeting attendance, depending on the attendance of party leaders, seems especially illogical,” CMEV said.

The maximum number of people allowed to go canvassing door-to-door has also been increased from 3 to 5.

The Gazette was issued 38 days after the guidelines were issued with only 18 days to go for the poll.

CMEV accused the government of partisanship and urged it to protect the people.

The watchdog body pointed out that “numerous provisions in the original guidelines have been omitted from the gazetted regulations altogether, including provisions relating to: checking and bundling of ballot papers at District Returning offices; polling booths; conducting the election in the quarantine centres; receiving ballot boxes at counting centres; counting centre etiquette; results tabulation centres; transport of staff and materials; special instructions for Police officers; disinfection; waste disposal; after the election.”

Also missing is the Health Administrative Structure outlined in section 7 to implement the guidelines.

Taking all this into consideration, CMEV requests the Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services and the Director-General of Health Services to:

Gazette the remaining provisions in the originally published guidelines, and

Provide an explanation to the voting public about why the originally published guidelines have been relaxed in this manner, and what steps they will take if the relaxed guidelines contribute to the pandemic situation becoming worse

Work with healthcare workers, particularly PHIs, to resolve existing issues and to promote the regulations and educate the public. (Colombo, July 19, 2020-sb)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana


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Sri Lanka rubber farmers to get boost from France, Michellin

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will start a project supported by France and Michellin group to support 6,000 rubber farmers, cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said.

Rubber farmers in Badalgama and Medagama in the Moneragala district will be supported improve their capacity and supply chains at a cost of 726,700 Euros.

Financial support will be provided by France’s Michellin group which has a subsidiary in Sri Lanka and the government of France.

The project will be implemented by France’s Ksapa group under the guidance of Ministry of Industries.

The cabinet of ministers had cleared a proposal by the Plantations Industries Minister to enter into an agreement to implement the project. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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A new Sri Lanka monetary law may have prevented 2019 tax cuts?

ECONOMYNEXT – A new monetary law planned in 2019, if it had been enacted may have prevented the steep tax cuts made in that year which was followed by unprecedented money printing, ex-Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

The bill for the central bank law was ready in 2019 but the then administration ran out of parliamentary time to enact it, he said.

Economists backing the new administration slashed taxes in December 2019 and placed price controls on Treasuries auctions bought new and maturing securities, claiming that there was a ‘persistent output gap’.

Coomaraswamy said he keeps wondering whether “someone sitting in the Treasury would have implemented those tax cuts” if the law had been enacted.

“We would never know,” he told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The new law however will sill allow open market operations under a highly discretionary ‘flexible’ inflation targeting regime.

A reserve collecting central bank which injects money to push down interest rates as domestic credit recovers triggers forex shortages.

The currency is then depreciated to cover the policy error through what is known as a ‘flexible exchange rate’ which is neither a clean float nor a hard peg.

From 2015 to 2019 two currency crises were triggered mainly through open market operations amid public opposition to direct purchases of Treasury bills, analysts have shown.

Sri Lanka’s central bank generally triggers currency crises in the second or third year of the credit cycle by purchasing maturing bills from existing holders (monetizing the gross financing requirement) as private loan demand pick up and not necessarily to monetize current year deficits, critics have pointed out.

Past deficits can be monetized as long as open market operations are permitted through outright purchases of bill in the hands of banks and other holders.

In Latin America central banks trigger currency crises mainly by their failure to roll-over sterilization securities. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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Sri Lanka cabinet clears CEB re-structure proposal: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has cleared proposals by a committee to re-structure state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijeskera said.

“Cabinet approval was granted today to the recommendations proposed by the committee on Restructuring CEB,” he said in a message.

“The Electricity Reforms Bill will be drafted within a month to begin the unbundling process of CEB & work on a rapid timeline to get the approval of the Parliament needed.”

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board finances had been hit by failure to operate cost reflective tariffs and there are capacity shortfalls due to failure to implement planned generators in time. (Colombo/Nov28/2022)

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