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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

New Sri Lanka president pledges professionalism, efficiency in administration

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s newly-elected president Gotabaya Rajapaksa Monday said he would rebuild government administration giving priority to professionalism and efficiency.

His government would also give priority to strengthening national security while maintaining friendly relations with all nations and not get caught in international power struggles, Rajapaksa said.


“The government should always set an example to society,” he said in an address to the nation televised live soon after he was sworn in following Saturday’s presidential poll which he won with a decisive majority.

“Professionalism and efficiency should be the cornerstone of government administration,” Rajapaksa said.

“Meritocracy and technocracy should be promoted at all times. Corruption will never be tolerated under my administration.”

He said he would rebuild the state administration free of bribery and corruption and respect the rule of law.

Foreign Relations

Rajapaksa said his government hopes to be friendly with all countries and not get caught in power struggles.

“We want to remain neutral in our foreign relations and stay out of any conflicts among world powers.”

Rajapasksa, who as Defene Secretary directed a successful war against Tamil Tiger separatists took oaths by Ruwanweli Seya, a Buddhist Dagoba, in Anuradhapura, an ancient capital where King Dugugamunu ruled.

Dutugamunu defeated Elara, a Chola ruler.

Rajapaksa said he was happy to take oaths in front of a statue of King Dutugamunu.

He scored large majorities in the Sinhala South of the country, while the mainly Tamil and Muslim areas voted for his defeated rival Sajith Premadasa.

Sinhala Vote

“The main feature of my victory is that I won with Sinhala majority. I knew I could win with a Sinhala majority,” he said.

“I asked Tamil and Muslims to join me. The support was not as high as I expected. But I call on them to support my government whether they voted for me or not.?

He said he was from a Buddhist family and studied at a leading Buddhist school in Colombo. With his Buddhist background he had learned values such as discipline.

“In my time i will protect and nurture the Buddhist religion,” Rajapaksa said.

“In will protect the Sinhala heritage of thousands of years. I will give state protection for our values, ape kama and sirith virith (practices)” (Colombo/Nov18/2019)

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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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Sri Lanka new CB law to cabinet soon as IMF prior action

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new central bank law will be submitted to the cabinet as a prior action of International Monetary Fund with clauses to improve governance and legalize ‘flexible’ inflation targeting, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

Under the new law members of the monetary board will be appointed by the country’s Constitutional Council replacing the current system of the Finance Minister making appointments.

“It will be a bipartisan approach,” Governor Weerasinghe told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, Colombo-based brokerage.

“The central bank’s ability to finance the budget deficit will be taken out. Thirdly the flexible inflation targeting regime will be recognized in the law as the framework.”

The law will also make macro-prudential surveillance formally under the bank.

There will be two governing boards, one for the management of the agency and one to conduct monetary policy.

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