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Wednesday February 1st, 2023

Ranil is staying put; postpones decision to quit

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was expected to resign after he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today has not done so and has deferred the decision to quit to a series of meetings scheduled for tomorrow and the day after.

The new President and the Prime Minister met at the Presidential Secretariat and discussed “the way ahead for the government and Parliament,” a senior official in the Prime Minster’s office told RepublicNext.

After the heavy electoral defeat at the Presidential elections on Saturday, Wickremesinghe was expected to offer his resignation to President Rajapaksa today at their first formal meeting after the President’s inauguration.

There is a growing clamour among the United National Party Members of Parliament that the government should resign and sit in the Opposition allowing President Rajapaksa to appoint an interim government which will function until General Elections are held in four months time.

Two days ago after the defeat at the Presidential poll Cabinet Ministers who met with the PM had urged him to quit and give up government. Yesterday at a stormy Parliamentary Group meeting a number of MPs had insisted that they should resign and not allow the President to dissolve the House until he legally can on March 1, 2020.

A number of Ministers have already submitted their resignations and non-Cabinet Minister Dr Harsha de Silva is the latest to do so today.

Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara told reporters in Colombo this morning, that the UNP will gain a political advantage only if they allow the Rajapaksa camp to take over and attempt to implement their presidential election manifesto in the run-up to an election.

Bandara is not alone in expressing anger and frustration at Wickremesinghe who appears to be dragging his feet.

Wickremesinghe met UNP “seniors” today and is expected to talk to the leaders of the United National Front tomorrow. It is not clear who they were.

Meanwhile, leaders of political parties in Parliament will also meet tomorrow to decide the future course of action the House should take in the light of the Presidential Election which the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna won comfortably.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has asked the party leaders to choose between three options they can take:

First, whether the Parliament would be dissolved according to the Constitution on March 1, 2020 and the poll held sometime in April.

Second whether Parliament should by a two-thirds majority resolve to dissolve the House earlier than March 1st.

And thirdly for the Prime Minister and the government to resign voluntarily and pave the way for the President to appoint an interim government.

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Sri Lanka bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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Sri Lanka services exports down 5.9-pct in 2022

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s services exports were estimated to have fallen 5.9 percent to 1,876.3 million US dollars, the island’s Export Development Board said.

Services exports estimated is made up of ICT/BPM, construction, financial services, transport and logistics.

There are more than 500 ICT companies, the EDB said.

Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports were up 4.6 percent to US dollars 13.1 billion dollars in 2022 from 2021.

Sri Lanka’s goods exports are slowing amid lower growth in Western markets. (Colombo/ Feb 01/2023)

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