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Friday August 12th, 2022

Mass protest planned for July 09 as fuel crisis threatens to paralyse Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – A massive people’s protest is planned for Saturday July 09 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government as the country goes through its worst fuel crisis on record.

Social media chatter on the protest indicates that citizens from around the country have been advised to congregate in Colombo in what the organisers claim will be the “greatest uprising in the history of Sri Lanka”.

Anuruddha Bandara, a youth activist who was recently arrested in connection with a protest and was subsequently released, said in a tweet that organisers are “trying their best” to get opposition parties Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and others onboard.

They are “almost in”, he said.

Sri Lanka is in the throes of the worst economic crisis in its 74-year post-Independence history, with unprecedented forex shortages leading to crippling shortages of essentials including fuel. A wave of protests, referred to as the Aragalaya (or struggle), demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation began in April, culminating in an Occupy Wall Street-style permanent agitation site named GotaGoGama (Gota Go Village) right outside the presidential secretariat near Galle Face, Colombo.

Things took a turn when supporters of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa launched an unprovoked attack on peaceful protestors at GotaGoGama (GGG) and its sister site MynaGoGama (aimed at the then PM) on May 09, which triggered a storm of retaliatory mob violence against government ministers, MPs and their backers. One ruling party MP was killed.

The Galle Face protests have since reduced in intensity and crowd strength, particularly following incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickermesinghe’s replacement of Mahinda Rajapaksa. But skyrocketing commodity prices and a worsening fuel situation that’s resulted in miles-long queues for petrol have seen a quiet resurgence of public anger against the government.

Organisers expect the July 09 protest  to rejuvenate the Aragayala.

However, with ongoing fuel shortages and public transport functioning at significantly reduced capacity, it is unclear how the organisers will be able to mobilise people from around the island.

Chaminda Dias, a protest organiser in Thimbirigasyaya, Colombo, said the July 09 will be an acid test.

“Our plan is to mobilise with the protestors at GGG. Since Wickremesinghe was appointed, there have been attempts made to dilute the protests, to silence it and whatnot. So July 09 will be a sort of acid test to see if people have the determination, if they have the strength to come out.

“The government will be watching of course, and we have to show that we are not frightened,” he said.

(Colombo/Jul04/2022)

 

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Sri Lanka cancels visa of Scotswoman who documented anti-govt protests

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration has cancelled the visa of Kayleigh Fraser, a Scotswoman who had been documenting the country’s anti-government protests on social media.

Immigration officers had approached Fraser at her home on August 02 and confiscated her passport.

“This is what will happen if you raise your voice against state violence in Sri Lanka,” Fraser wrote on Wednesday August 10, posting a letter ordering her to leave the country by August 15.

“I am proud to have been a part of this. I am proud to have met so many of you. I have… so many social enterprises I want to work on here that I know will benefit so many,” Fraser said on Instagram.

“Deporting me is a massive, massive mistake for this country. The love I have for it and its people appears to be a threat to the current rulers. Does that sound right to you?”

Fraser posted that she was not prepared for the financial cost of flights and relocation, and that all her funds were in Sri Lankan currency, and that banks were not allowing foreign transactions.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa had told a privately owned news organisation that Fraser was sharing “negative content” about Sri Lanka via her social media.

“It is not right for a foreign national to be in our country and share such mass negative content. She is not a media personnel either, to cover the protests and GotaGoGama,” he has said.

Fraser has been vocal about state sanctioned violence against protestors.

News of Fraser’s deportation has caused a small riot on social media, with many protestors voicing out their support for the foreigner who documented and showed support next to them.

Seemingly indiscriminate arrests of protestors aided by an ongoing State of Emergency have both angered and frightened Sri Lankan protestors, and many active protestors have gone into hiding to evade arrest.

Some protestors said they were “taking a break” or “distancing themselves” due to continued harassment.

However, the authorities maintain that all arrests are in accordance with the law. The government has pointed to acts of retaliatory mob violence on May 09 and the forced occupation of government buildings by protestors on July 09.

“They are calling us terrorists for holding placards. This was such a peaceful protest, the only terrorism carried out was by the government against the people,” said an active protestor, who preferred not to be named.

Fraser wrote that Sri Lankans should not forget that they got to the streets for a system change.

“Live in such a way that your children will thank you for the world they inherit,” she said.

“It’s not over till it’s over. I have an unbelievable amount of high profile people fighting this order for me to leave.”(Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka to acquire 35,000MT of petrol; unloading on Aug 12

ECONOMYNEXT-  Sri Lanka to receive a cargo of 35,000 metric tonns of petrol on Thursday August 11 with unloading scheduled for Friday, Minister of Power & Energy Kanchana Wijesekara said.

Wijesekara tweeted that the ship will arrive at the Colombo port Thursday night, and that the payment for the cargo had been completed with the support of the Central Bank by Wednesday.

The minister had said earlier on Wednesday that a separate cargo of crude oil is also expected on Saturday August 13, and from August 19 onwards, locally produced fuel is expected to be released to the market from the Sapugaskanda refinery.

Meanwhile, in an earlier report, Lanka IOC, a local unit of the Indian Oil Corporation (OIC), said a vessel carrying 30,000 metric tons of fuel for LIOC is scheduled to arrive between August 10 and 15.

Related: Three shipments of fuel to arrive in Sri Lanka by mid, end July, August: Lanka IOC

Meanwhile, Wijesekara said that 5.7 million people have signed up for the QR-code facilitated National Fuel Pass.

From July 21 up to now, Wijesekara said, a total of 54.9 million litres of fuel had been sold through 1,053 CPC fuel stations while 207 LIOC stations have sold 11.26 million litres of fuel. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

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MPs nominated to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary committee on public finance

The sun sets over the Parliament at Shri Jayewardenepura

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament has appointed members to its Committee on Public Finance, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said.

According to his announcement made in parliament on Wednesday August 10, in terms of the provisions of the Standing Order 121 of Parliament, MPs Bandula Gunawardana,  Vidura Wickramanayaka,  Nalin Fernando,  Anura Priyadharshana Yapa,  Vijitha Herath,  Duminda Dissanayake,  Shehan Semasinghe,  Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and Harsha de Silva have been appointed.

Indika Anuruddha Herath,  Siripala Gamalath, Seetha Arambepola, Suren Raghavan,  M A Sumanthiran,   Kavinda Heshan Jayawardhana,  Mujibur Rahuman,  Harshana Rajakaruna,  Chaminda Wijesiri,  Isuru Dodangoda,  Anupa Pasqual and  (Prof) Ranjith Bandara also have been appointed to serve as members in the Committee on Public Finance.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled a proposed framework during his time as Prime Minister under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for sectoral oversight committees in parliament with the objective of increased bipartisan parliamentary involvement in governance and policy-making.

Wickremesinghe told parliament on July 06 that under such a system, the entire parliament irrespective of party difference will participate in governance.

On July 06, he said he had approached former Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayauriya to formulate a proposal on activating the sectoral oversight committees.

Sectoral Oversight Committees shall function for the duration of Parliament and conduct its inquiries notwithstanding any adjournment or prorogation of Parliament, according to the parliament website.

The Committee of Selection shall determine the subjects and functions to be allocated to each Sectoral Oversight Committee.

The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall have the power to examine any Bill, any subsidiary legislation including Regulation, Resolution, Treaty, Report or any other matter relating to subjects and functions within their jurisdiction.

The Parliament, any Committee or a Minister may refer any matter to a Sectoral Oversight Committee having jurisdiction over the subject or function for its consideration and report. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

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