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Monday April 22nd, 2024

Gnanasara Thero likely to win Buddhist Monks’ tussle over National List seat

BUDDHIST FORCE – Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero leads march in Kandy

ECONOMYNEXT – Ultra Right-Wing Buddhist Monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero will be nominated to be in Parliament by a small party called Our Power of People Party (OPPP) his Media spokesman said.

The party which fielded numerous Buddhist Monks did not win enough seats in any electorate they contested but under Sri Lanka’s Proportional Preferential system won enough votes to nominate a single member to the Parliament on the National List.

Eranda K Navaratne the spokesman for the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Sri Lanka’s best known right-wing Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist organisation said that Gnanasara Thero is the party’s nominee.

The road to a Parliamentary seat, however, is not smooth for Gnanasara who heads the BBS.

BBS is one of the main components of the OPPP.

According to tradition, the National List MPs do not contest individual electoral seats but campaign for the party across the country.

Also if a candidate is defeated, he or she is not nominated for a National List seat.

Gnanasara was nominated to contest in the Kurunegala District but his papers were rejected by officials on technical grounds.

“Then our campaign shifted to tell our voters that we are asking for votes for Gnanasara Thero to be in Parliament on the National List,” Navaratne told EconomyNext.

Videos released by the BBS have shown door-to-door campaigners asking voters to choose their party to send Gnanasara Thero to Parliament.

Navaratne claimed that the Executive Committee of the OPPP agreed that if they win a National List seat Gnanasara would be their nominee.

The other major political Monk in the OPPP, Atureliye Ratana, contested from the Gampaha district but was rejected by voters.

A source close to Gnanasara told EconomyNext that Ratana, an ex-Parliamentarian who has been with several mainstream political parties, had asked Gnanasara to step aside and give him the opportunity to return to the legislature.

Gnanasara, this source said, had turned him down.

Ratana and Gnanasara Theros came together to form the OPPP because they did not have a party to contest the elections, the spokesman said.

Navaratne added that another Monk who is in the National List will take up the appointment in Parliament and cede the position to Gnanasara Thero.

That Monk is likely to be Vitarandeniye Nanda, Navaratne said.

Gnanasara Thero was convicted of contempt of court for berating a Magistrate in a courthouse and threatening Sandhya Eknaligoda, wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.

He was jailed but released on a pardon by President Maithripala Sirisena.

After his release, Gnanasara has urged Buddhist Monks to form their own political front.

However, the leaders of the Buddhist priesthood in Sri Lanka have urged the government to pass laws to ban Monks from active politics and contesting for positions in all legislatures. (Colombo, August 8, 2020)





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IMF official: Sri Lanka’s road ahead is challenging, critical to keep up with reform momentum

ECONOMYNEXT –International Monetary Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said Sri Lanka’s future with many reforms are challenging, but it is critical to keep up with the reform momentum.

Gopinath stated this after meeting the island nation’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington.

“I commended them on hard-won economic gains in the past year. The road ahead is challenging and it’s critical to keep up with the reform momentum,” Gopinath wrote on her X platform.

Under IMF programme, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has implemented a raft of hard reforms including higher taxes.

Sri Lanka agreed to the IMF programme after it declared bankruptcy with sovereign debt default in April 2022.

Semasinghe after the meeting tanks Gopinath for acknowledging Sri Lanka’s economic progress.

“Our discussion was insightful and productive, and we appreciate the opportunity to delve into the challenges and opportunities ahead,” the State Finance minister said in his X platform.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our reform agenda and eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with the IMF to advance our shared goals.”

Sri Lanka was compelled to go for IMF after the unprecedented economic crisis which was followed by a political crisis that ousted former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government who were legitimately elected.

The IMF programme has included reforms in state-owned enterprises, fiscal sector and financial sectors to ensure debt sustainability.

The global lender also has pledged its support to speed up the island nation’s lingering debt restructuring process with private creditors including sovereign bond holders. (Colombo/April 22/2021)

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Sri Lanka motor racing crash claims 7 lives, 4 critical

ECONOMYNEXT – A deadly accident at motor Race Sri Lanka’s hill country town of Diyathalawa has claimed at least 7 lives police said, after a racing vehicle, in the seasonal Fox Hill Super Cross ploughed in to spectators after running off the track.

Another 21 spectators were injured Sunday, and hospitalized and at least four were critical, police said.

Thousands of people come to watch the Fox Hill Super Cross race, which is usually held in April, as large numbers of people head to the cooler climes in the hills.

According to footage taken by spectators one car overturned on the side of the track.

Sri Lanka’s Newsfirst television said Marshalls were waving flags to caution other vehicles, when another car went off the track and crashed into spectators. (Colombo/April21/2024)

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Widespread support for Sri Lanka debt workout, reform progress at IMF/WB meet: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – There was widespread support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring and acknowledgement of progress made under an International Monetary Fund program, at meeting of the fund and World Bank, State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said.

“The strides made in our economic recovery and financial stability have been acknowledged as significant advancements towards our country’s prosperity by our stakeholders and international partners,” Minister Semasinghe said in an (twitter) post after attending the meetings.

“Further, it was heartening to note the widespread appreciation and support for Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to reaching the restructuring targets and confident of smooth progress in the continued good-faith engagements for a speedy debt resolution that will ensure debt sustainability and comparability of debt treatment.”

Sri Lanka ended a first round of talks with sovereign bondholders in March without striking a deal but some agreement on the basis for a deal.

An initial deal with bilateral creditors have been reached, but they may be awaiting a deal with private creditors to sign formal agreements.

International partners have appreciated reforms made under President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister Semasinghe said.

“It was great to engage in productive bilateral discussions with all of whom appreciated the recent economic developments, progress in debt restructuring, strengthening of tax administration, and ongoing governance reforms,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has been allowed to re-appreciate by the central bank amid deflationary monetary policy, bringing tangible benefits to people in the form of lower energy and food prices, unlike in past IMF programs.

Electricity prices were cut as a strengthening currency helped reduce the cost of coal imports.

Related Sri Lanka central bank mainly responsible for electricity price cut

The currency appreciation has also allowed losses to the Employment Provident Fund imposed to be partially recouped, helping old workers near retirement, as well as raising disposable incomes of current wage earners on fixed salaries.

Related Sri Lanka EPF gets US$1.85bn in value back as central bank strengthens rupee

The IMF, which was set up after World War II to end devaluations seen in the 1930s after the Fed’s policy rate infected other key central banks, started to actively encourage depreciation after a change to its founding articles in 1978 (the Second Amendment).

The usefulness of money as a store of value, or a denominator of current and future values then decline, leading to loss of real savings, real wages and increases in social unrest.

Before that, members who devalued more than 10 percent after printing money for growth or any other reason, faced the threat of suspension from the organization as punishment.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has appreciated to around 300 to the US dollar now from 370 after a surrender rule was lifted in March 2023.

But there is no transparency on the basis that economic bureaucrats are allowing the currency to gain against the US dollar (the intervention currency of the central bank).

The rupee is currently under pressure, despite broadly prudent monetary policy, due to an ‘oversold position’ in the market after recent appreciation made importers and banks to run negative open positions as the usefulness of the currency as a denominator of future value declined with sudden strenghtening. (Colombo/Apr21/2024)

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