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Saturday September 30th, 2023

Sri Lanka campus canteen triggers Colombo security alert

ECONOMYNEXT – Thousands of heavily armed troops and elite commandos were deployed Sri Lanka’s capital following a false alarm based on an unusually large lunch order at the Colombo university, top security sources said Sunday.

Panic-stricken police chiefs of the Western province mobilised special Task Force Commandos, riot squads and contingents of women constables to deal with what they believed was another uprising led by undergraduates.

“Intelligence units had picked up information that the canteen had received an order for 1,500 lunch packets on Friday,” the source said. “This was (mis) interpreted as a mass gathering to march to government buildings.”

Some 500 freshers had been invited to the university for the arts department celebration and they expected most of them to be accompanied by parents or siblings and hence the order for 1,500 meals of bread, pol sambol and one curry.

The source said security at President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 5th Lane home was also beefed up even though he is no longer residing there after it was torched a year ago during widespread violence across the country after the attacks on Galle Face protesters.

Hundreds of officers drawn from police stations outside the city had no idea why they had been called for special duties, but soon shared messages on social media speculating that there was likely to be a change of government.

A top official said police were becoming victims of their own rumours and more police were drawn into the Colombo university area to prevent what they expected to be rioting. All this time, under graduates were playing pop music from the 1980s at their Arts Week celebrations inside campus.

Embarrassed by the false alarm, the authorities were unwilling to admit that they had blundered but kept on the alert on Sunday too saying it was an exercise to test their preparedness to deal with any situation.

To divert attention away from the Colombo university, the authorities carried out checks on motorists outside the capital and mobilised troops in the suburbs too to give the impression of a broader security exercise.

However, the show of force by the troops and the police may have backfired with many embassies reporting back to their capitals about the nervousness in Colombo and the fear of the security forces of an impending uprising.

The security over kill also comes at a time when the government is trying to attract more tourists saying Colombo has returned to normality after last year’s uprising that toppled Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the country faced its worst economic crisis. (COLOMBO/May14/2023)

Comments (3)

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  1. Yoshana says:

    Tax payer money well spent.

  2. Bandu Abey says:

    I believe, this was an emergency practice/rehearsal by Ranil and hjs security as a contingency in pretext to a possible future uprising. It is interesting to find out analysis of how did the exercise was unfolded. The success and failure.

  3. Brendan says:

    The stupid unintelligent group of bufoons must be replaced asap. Their capability is to only lick the anatomy of politicians in power

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Comments (3)

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

  1. Yoshana says:

    Tax payer money well spent.

  2. Bandu Abey says:

    I believe, this was an emergency practice/rehearsal by Ranil and hjs security as a contingency in pretext to a possible future uprising. It is interesting to find out analysis of how did the exercise was unfolded. The success and failure.

  3. Brendan says:

    The stupid unintelligent group of bufoons must be replaced asap. Their capability is to only lick the anatomy of politicians in power

Sri Lanka bank bad loan expansion slows in June quarter

ECONOMYNEXT – Bad loans at Sri Lanka’s banks, measured as ‘Stage 03’ loans to total loans and advances expanded by 0.5 percent to 13.7 percent in the second quarter of 2023, central bank data shows, which is a slower pace than the previous three quarters.

Bad loans went up 1.9 percent in the September 2022 quarter, and 1.0 percent in the December quarter and 1.3 percent in the March quarter, as debt moratoria also ran out.

In Sri Lanka and other countries, large spikes in bad loans are usually ‘hangover’ of macro-economic policy deployed target growth.

Amid a stabilization effort, credit can also contract, making the bad loans bigger.

Sri Lanka’s bad loans usually spike after period of credit growth re-financed by printed money (reverse repo injections made to artificially target a call money rate), and not real deposits, which then trigger balance of payment deficits which require steep spikes in rates to restore monetary stability.

Sri Lanka economic bureaucrats cut rates with the printed money in the belief that there is a growth shortcut by cutting rates to target real GDP, which has led to external crises since a central bank was set up in 1950.

However, policy worsened after 2015 when the International Monetary Fund taught the country to calculate potential out and dangled the number in front of a central bank which had taken the country to the agency multiple times after running down reserves.

In December 2019, inflationists also cut taxes on top of rate cuts, deploying the most extreme Cambridge-Saltwater macro-economic policy ‘barber boom’ style with predictable results.

When rates are hiked to restore monetary stability, bad loans rise and a currency collapse destroys purchasing power of the consumers and sales of firms which had taken loans.

When central banks cut rates with liquidity injections bad loans also go up in floating rate regimes (the housing bubble), but balance of payments are crises are absent. (Colombo/Sept29/2023)

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Sri Lanka expects restructuring decisions from all creditors: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is engaging positively with all foreign creditors State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said this week as an International Monetary Fund review hangs in the balance on restructuring.

“All creditors are engaging positively with us,” Minister Semasinghe said. “We expect decisions from all our creditors. For us earlier the better.”

Sri Lanka is negotiating with Paris Club creditors and several non-Paris Club creditors like India and Saudi Arabia together and China separately. China is an observer in the Paris Club meeting.

The Paris Club held a meeting on Sri Lanka on September 22 with China as an observer.

Though Paris Club creditors have a well-oiled mechanism to give a quick decision on countries that default, the entry of China which had earlier not been willing to restructure debt, but was willing to give fresh loans to repay instalments, have complicated matters.

“Let me say again that we support Chinese financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment with Sri Lanka,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on September 26.

“We are ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.”

There are expectations that Sri Lanka may be able to wrap up a preliminary deal with official creditors as early as October 2023 around the time IMF’s annual sessions take place in Morocco.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe is to make an official visit to China October.

Sri Lanka is expected to finalize a refinery deal in Hambantota among other investments during the visit, according to reports.

Completing Sri Lanka’s external debt restricting is key to completing the first review of the island’s reform and stabilization program with the International Monetary Fund, which is expected in October or November.

Without completing a review Sri Lanka will not have formal IMF economic targets for December, and no disbursement of the second tranche.

World Bank and IMF with the G20 group, which include India and China has formed Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable has been trying to fine tune debt restructuring going beyond the Paris Club.

IMF’s Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka Peter Breuer said Sri Lanka’s debt is ‘spread around quite a bit’ to a question whether an IMF review could progress without China, possibly indicating that the lender would prefer to have the country on board.

“This is a process that we have that applies in the case of Sri Lanka to both official creditors, meaning other countries that have lent to Sri Lanka on a bilateral basis as well as commercial creditors, for example, bond holders,” Breuer told reporters in Colombo.

“And as you know, the government is in discussions with all of these groups. In Sri Lanka’s case, the debt is spread around quite a bit externally and domestically.”

READ MORE Sri Lanka’s external debt restructure ‘progress’ decision by IMF exec board

Out of Sri Lanka’s 36.59 billion US dollars of central government debt, multilaterals held 29.8 percent or 10.9 billion US dollars which will not be restructured.

Bilaterals held another 29.9 percent of which Paris Club was 12.1 percent and China 12.7 percent.

Of the commercial debt which was 40.3 percent, China Development Bank held another 6 percent, relating to a monetary instability loan it has given as a bailout without asking for rate hikes to stop output gap targeting.

China without AIIB held 6,850 million US dollars or 18.7 percent of central government external debt. (Colombo/Sept29/2023)

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Sri Lanka can build strong tourism ‘eco-brand’: UN official

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka can build an ‘eco-brand’ catering especially to younger tourists who feel strongly about the environment, United Nations Resident Representative to Sri Lanka, Azusa Kobota said.

About 70 percent of global travellers prioritise sustainability in their holiday choices, marking a ten percent increase from 2021, while around 30 percent of travellers feel guilty about flying, due to carbon emissions, she said.

“As the world embraces green thinking during this time of economic recovery efforts, the objective of the tourism sector cannot simply be about increasing the number of inbound tourists,” Kobota said at an event marking World Tourism Day in Colombo.

“It has to be about enhancing their experience through green lenses, by implementing a responsible, eco-conscious paradigm for the sector and building a stronger eco-brand around the sustainable agenda for Sri Lanka,”

“This is no longer about reducing the trade offs between growing the industry and protecting the environment.

“We must see nature as our asset and solutions to be obtained for the exponential growth for our future generations.”

The sustainable tourism market is estimated to have earned 195 billion US dollars in 2022, and is expected to reach about 656 billion US dollars in 2032, she said.

“Tourists, particularly the younger generations from gen X,Y,Z are deeply, deeply conscious about the long term choices of their actions, and the adverse impact of tourists on the environment.

“Statistics show that a significant proportion of global travellers, about 30 percent, feel guilty about flying due to the environmental impact and 22 percent say they actively prefer public transport and bicycle rental options, over renting a car.”

Sri Lanka welcomed one million tourists by September 26 and is expecting more that 1.5 million tourists by the end of the year. (Colombo/Sept29/2023)

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