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Tuesday January 31st, 2023

Over 300 Sri Lanka lawyers flock to represent 53 arrested protestors

ECONONYNEXT – More than 300 lawyers appeared on behalf of the 53 people to ensure the rule of law, a senior lawyer said on Saturday, a day after a court granted bail for police-detained suspects following a violent protest near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Mirihana private residence.

Police used tear gas and water cannons late on Thursday to disperse hundreds of protesters who tried to enter Rajapaksa’s residence after a silent protest turned violent.

Except six, all other arrested people were granted bail after police failed to present any strong evidence that the arrested people were involved in damaging public property. The six under arrest will be produced in an identification parade.

“This is a victory for lawyers,” senior lawyer Saadi Wadood, who appeared on behalf of arrested people, told Economy Next.

“Large number of lawyers voluntarily came forward to ensure the right of the people who expressed their displeasure is safeguarded.”

Many lawyers turned up Friday at Mirihana police and called for help from other seniors, ensuring that all the arrested people were produced in the court with legal representation.

The lawyers included Saliya Pieris, the president of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, several senior civil and criminal lawyers, and their juniors.

Lawyers who were present at Mirihana police station clapped when the detained were taken by the police to a bus before they were taken to Nugegoda Magistrate court.

“All the lawyers came forward because we thought we have a moral duty to make sure the rule of law prevailed,” Wadood said.

“This is the first time we have seen lawyers voluntarily coming together after former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was removed in 2013,” Wadood said.

Bandaranayake was impeached by the parliament when she struck down a bill presented by current finance minister Basil Rajapaksa during the presidency of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Bandaranayake was later re-instated briefly in 2015 under a new administration before her retirement.

Thursday’s protest came amid continuous suffering by the public who were forced to go from pillar to post to find cooking gas, fuel, and milk powder while power was cut up to 13 hours a day.

Protesters have demanded Rajapaksa to step down.

Sri Lanka is facing forex shortages and high inflation after two years of money printing by an intermediate regime central bank which has a habit of suppressing market interest rate under various pretexts until a currency crisis develops.

Calls have intensified to set up a currency board to stop inflationist-devaluationist ideologues (competitive exchange rate artists, REER targeters and modern monetary theorists) from printing money using ‘flexible’ policy but an unstable currency peg.

Wadood, however, said protesters also have a duty to make sure they do not resort to any violence.

“People have the fundamental rights to express their displeasure without crossing the limit,” he said.

“If somebody within the group or a third party is trying to create violence, it’s their duty to prevent such violence.” (Colombo/April 2/2022)

Comments (2)

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  1. dickie bird says:

    Is it of want or opportunistic ????? Presence of 300 was not necessary. Anyway 300 were present. Yes, I was there and to be seen.
    This is Sri Lanka

  2. Triple X says:

    At least now the educated are using their brain.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. dickie bird says:

    Is it of want or opportunistic ????? Presence of 300 was not necessary. Anyway 300 were present. Yes, I was there and to be seen.
    This is Sri Lanka

  2. Triple X says:

    At least now the educated are using their brain.

Sri Lanka shares down for 2nd day as tax hike, delay in Chinese debt assurance weigh

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged down on Tuesday as worries over delay in financial assurances from China which is mandatory for a $2.9 billion dollar IMF loan and rise in protests against tax hike kept investors in check, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) edged down by 0.28 percent or 24.62 points to 8,865.05. It fell for the second session after hitting more than three-month high.

“The market is looking for more macro cues because of faster Chinese debt assurance was expected. The market is also hit by fall in corporate earnings due to high taxes,” an analyst said.

China has given an initial response on debt re-structuring to Sri Lanka though analysts familiar with the process say it is not a ‘hard assurance’ sufficient for the IMF program to go through.

The International Monetary Fund is working with China on extending maturities of Chinese loans to defaulted countries like Sri Lanka, as there is resistance to hair-cuts, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters on January 14.
The earnings for first quarter are expected to be negative for many corporates with higher taxes and rising costs. However, investors had not expected earnings to be low in the December quarter because of year end pick ups on heavy counters, the analyst said.
Earnings in the second quarter of 2023 are expected to be more positive with the anticipation of IMF loan and possible reduction in the market interest rates as the tax revenue has started to generate funds.

However, the central bank said the IMF deal is likely in the first quarter or in the first month of the second quarter.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 dropped by 0.64 percent or 17.74 points to 2,764.51 points.

The central bank has said it could cut interest rates in future when the country sees fall in inflation, which has already started decelerating.

The market saw a turnover of 1.7 billion rupees, slightly lower than the month’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees and while being significantly lower than 2022’s daily average turnover of 2.9 billion rupees.

The bourse saw a net foreign inflow (NFI) of 93 million rupees extending the net offshore buying to 413 million rupees so far this year.

Top losers were LOLC, Royal Ceramics Limited and Hayleys. (Colombo/Jan31/2023)

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Sri Lanka exports fall in December as global recession weighs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports earnings fell 9.7 percent in December year-on-year as the island nation saw a drop in buying from its key export destinations which are facing a looming recession after the Russia-Ukraine war.

The earnings from the merchandise exports recorded $1.04 billion  in December 2022 compared to the same month in the previous year as per the data released by the Sri Lanka Customs.

“This was mainly due to the decrease in export earnings from Apparel & Textiles, Tea, Rubber based Products, and Coconut based Products, Food & Beverages, Spices & Essential Oils and Fisheries products,” the Export Development Board (EDB) said in a statement.

“The reason for this decline was due to the ongoing recession in major markets due to rising cost of production, energy etc. Imports declined sharply due to inflation and demand for goods and services are reduced.”

However, Sri Lanka saw a record export earning of $13.1 billion in 2022 due to increased demand in the key exports throughout the year

Earnings from all major product sectors except Electrical & Electronic components as well as Diamonds, Gems & Jewellery fell in December.

Exports of Apparel & Textiles decreased by 9.6 percent to $480.3 million in December 2022.  Export earnings from Tea fell by 3 percent to $107.3 million, Rubber and Rubber Finished products dropped 20.3 percent to $74.5 million,

However, export earnings from the Electrical & Electronics Components increased by 16.18 percent to $42.9 million in December 2022, while Diamond, Gems & Jewelry jumped 35.7 percent to $30.8 million. (Colombo/Jan31/2023)

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Sri Lanka records over 6,000 dengue cases in first three weeks of January

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka recorded over than 6,000 dengue cases in the first three weeks of January 2023 after a spell of heavy monsoon rain though a drop in cases is likely from February, officials said.

Health officials identified 6,204 dengue patients by January 22, up from 5,793 recorded in the corresponding period last year.

“A rise in cases can be observed in the November-January period with the heavy rain due to the northeast monsoon,” an official from the National Dengue Control Unit told EconomyNext.

Of all reported cases, 46.3 percent were from the Western Province, official reports showed.

Akuressa, Batticaloa, Eravur, Trincomalee, Madampe, Badulla, Eheliyagoda, Kegalle, Kalmunai North and Alayadivembu MOH areas were identified as high-risk areas for dengue during the third week of January by the health officials.

“We are expecting a decline in dengue cases soon. The Western province is always in the top position with the highest number of dengue cases. Apart from that, we are seeing a higher number of cases during this period in areas like Puttalam, Jaffna districts. A certain number of cases have also been recorded in the Kandy district,” the official said.

“Usually the cases peak in December, but they decline by February. This year, too, we are facing this scenario. There is an increase of dengue during the months of November, December and January”.

Due to the economic situation in the country, the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) in an earlier report said, diesel and pesticides are not being provided by the ministry.

However, rejecting the allegation, the official from the NDCU said the government has provided enough funds for get the necessary pesticides but it is being used according to a scientific method to avoid building a resistance in the dengue mosquito.

“The recommendation is to do the fogging if there is a dengue outbreak or if there are few patients reported from the same locality.

“If you use this pesticide haphazardly, the mosquitos will develop resistance against it,” the official said, adding that there are adequate stocks of the chemical available. (Colombo/ Jan 31/2023)

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