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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka former finance minister Mangala Samaraweera passes away

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s former finance minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away Tuesday (24) in a private hospital where he was being treated for coronavirus, a coordinator for the former minister said.

The 65-year-old politician contracted COVID-19 earlier this month and was receiving intensive care unit (ICU) treatment at the Lanka Hospital, despite being fully vaccinated.

When unconfirmed reports surfaced last week that Samaraweera had succumbed to the virus, sources close to him said he was in fact on the mend and was responding well to treatment.

Samaraweera had held key portfolios in the cabinets of former presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, all of whom he helped bring to power, earning him the reputation of being a king-maker.

An outspoken politician hailing from the Matara district, Samaraweera left parliamentary politics in 2020, focusing his abilities on forming a broader alliance of like-minded, independent liberal thinkers.

Most recently, he made headlines for his remark at the launch of a new movement named True Patriots that the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are two sides of the same coin.

Related: Sri Lanka ruling party and main opposition two sides of the same coin: ex foreign minister

To the critics of his tenure as minister of finance, Samaraweera said: “Even though I am a textile designer, I was able to bring fiscal discipline in this country as the finance minister for the first time since 1953.”

“I am always proud of two things. The first one is that, through the Sudhu Nelum Mal Movement (a peace movement under President Kumaratunga in the 1990s), I was able to help and reconstruct the Jaffna library and hand it over to the people. I am also proud of privatising Sri Lanka’s telecom sector. Before 1997, everybody had to wait 10-12 years to get a telephone line,” he said at what would be his final press conference.

Samaraweera was also known for being a staunch defender of minority rights and a vocal proponent of liberal democracy. He often courted controversy, being one of a handful of Sri Lankan politicians to openly challenge cultural norms and their self-appointed purveyors.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose election as president in 2005 Samaraweera was instrumental in, said Sri Lanka has lost a great leader.

Expressing his condolences, SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa tweeted: “Dear Mangala Samaraweera, you were a man of the age who respected humanity and was committed to the vision you believed in according to your conscience. May you attain Nibbana!”

The United National Party (UNP), of which he became a member after defecting from the Rajapaksa camp, said he was a loyal servant of Sri Lanka who had served the public nearly 40 years.

“The services rendered by Samaraweera to the people of Matara and the country have and will be enjoyed by numerous generations. He built his career on the principles of democracy and freedom, values that he fought to ensure all Sri Lankans enjoyed,” the party said.

The former minister’s colleague in the Yahapalana cabinet Dr Harsha de Silva tweeted the following:

Newly appointed health minister Keheliya Rambukwella tweeted: “In yet another tragic outcome of the #COVID19SL pandemic, my colleague Mangala Samaraweera has passed away. It is the loss of another great leader, a true political maverick. We may not have agreed on policy, but he always had my respect. #RIP

The ruling SLPP, too, expressed its condolences.

The opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said though they disagreed ideologically, Samaraweera never resorted to racism for political gain.

“A free thinker in politics, he stayed true to his principles even when doing so would be politically disadvantageous to him,” the JVP said in a Facebook post that was shared by party leader and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake. (Colombo/Aug24/2021)



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Sri Lanka finding ways to clear 1.1mn pending cases: Justice Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is taking a series of steps to speed up 1.1 million pending court cases and encourage alternative dispute solving mechanisms, Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe said.

“The delay in court cases is a serious problem,” Minister Rajapakshe told a briefing at the President’s Media Centre.

“We have already taken several steps to expedite cases.”

There were 5,680 cases in Supreme Court, 4,054 in the Court of Appeal, 6,168 in the High Court of Civil Appeal, 8,363 in the Commercial High Court, 28,000 in the High Court, 254,000 in District Courts and 791,000 in Magistrates Courts.

In 2015, only 49 percent of complaints to mediation boards were resolved. Following reforms, the ratio has been increased to 70 percent.

The value of disputes going to mediation board has been raised to one million rupees from 500,000 rupees.

To solve land problems in the post-war period, special mediation boards on property was set up in the North and the East.

Mediation boards on property will be set up in another 16 districts.

Commercial High Courts were increased to four from three.

Another Commercial High Court will be set up in the future. The consideration of cases that can go to a High Court was raised from 4 million rupees to 10 million rupees.

A commercial dispute resolution law will be introduced next January.

A small claims court has been established.

Case involving disputes below 2 million rupees can be directed to small claims court.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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