An Echelon Media Company
Monday December 4th, 2023

Sri Lanka govt resorting to delay tactics, no plans to hold local polls: opposition

File photo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ruling party has no intention of holding local government elections soon, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) said, claiming that attempts are under way to use government agents to delay the polls.

SJB general secretary and MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara told reporters on Thursday December 22 that the president had met the chairman of the elections commission the previous day but no decision had been made about when to hold the local government polls, which ought to be held before March 20 next year.

“The election commissioner said in a discussion with us that the polls must be held at least a month early. So for it to be held by at least the end of February, the election should’ve been called by now,” said the MP.

A collective of 16 opposition parties including the SJB had met with the Elections Commission to discuss the local government polls. MP Madduma Bandara said the commission had pledged timely elections.

“But we learned that last week the president had convened the Election Commission. He had met them yesterday too, but no decision was made about holding the election.

“We also heard that GAs will be called and a problem will be created through them to delay the election. They’re apparently going to be asked if the conditions are right for an election,” the MP claimed.

“The government is afraid of elections. They cannot go before the people,” he added.

Leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya and former government heavyweight Udaya Gammanpila speaking at a separate press conference shared the SJB general secretary’s sentiments.

The EC’s enthusiasm for holding elections is contrasted by the government’s lack of enthusiasm for an election, he said.

The MP, who now sits in the opposition as an independent, claimed that there are three reasons the government won’t go to the polls yet. The newly introduced personal income tax hike, which will come into effect on January 01, warnings by trade unions of longer power cuts in the new year, and the apparent delay in the IMF board approval for its eagerly awaited bailout package.

“We will not allow the government to rob the people of their right to an election,” said Gammanpila.

A number of opposition parties have claimed that the government’s proposal to cut down the number of local councillors by half – from a staggering 8,000 to 4,000 – and the lengthy delimitation process that it would require is a delay tactic.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), meanwhile), claimed that it is ready to face elections.

SLPP MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena told reporters that the party has already prepared its nomination lists for a local government election.

Meanwhile, the United National Party (UNP), the party led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and represented in parliament by a single MP, is even more ambitious.

UNP general secretary said on December 20 that what is most timely at present would be a presidential election.

“We will field President Wickremesinghe as the candidate to save the nation,” he said.

Responding to Bandara’s comment, SJB general secretary Maduma Bandara told the privately owned NewsFirst network that evening that while the SJB was indeed ready for any election, a presidential election cannot be held constitutionally at the moment.

The time was right for local government polls, he said, claiming that the government was resorting to tricks to delay the local government elections.

“We say allow the people to elect a government of their choice,” he said. (Colombo/Dec22/2022)

Leave a Comment

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

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

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

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).

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading

Gov minister highlights abortion rights, sex-ed for children, and Sri Lanka men killing their women

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legislators have politicized the topics of rape and violence without addressing the elephant in the room, Jeevan Thondaman, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said in parliament on Monday (4).

“All the members here are talking about rape. What happens after that? We must talk about abortion rights. That is not something anyone wants to touch on, and that is why we are in this place right now,” Thondaman said.

“Despite alarming statistics on rape and violence, women are often blamed and punished for it. The criminalisation of abortion is a major example of this.”

Sri Lanka has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. According to a 2016 estimate by the Health Ministry, he said, approximately 658 abortions take place a day, and close to 250,000 a year.

“That’s 250,000 women whose lives you are endangering.”

He added that what was needed at this point in time was comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for children and young people.

“Only through CSE in schools will children and young people develop, accurate, age appropriate knowledge attitude and skills; positive values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, diversity and attitude and skills that contribute to a safe, healthy and positive relationship.”

Thondaman pointed out that CSE plays a pivotal role in preparing young people for a world where HIV, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and sexual and gender based violence still pose a risk to their well-being.

“CSE basically empowers children take control and make informed decisions freely and responsibly.”

Thondaman also highlighted the findings of a 2021 study (Fatalities_20211109_UNFPA) by the UNFPA and the University of Kelaniya that showed that a majority of women killed in Sri Lanka were murdered by those close to them.

“62 percent of homicides of Sri Lankan women are committed by either an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member. 84 percent are killed in their own homes by someone they know.”

Police and the judiciary have failed Sri Lanka’s women, the minister pointed out.

“Only 5 percent of these cases, between 2013-2017, were ever concluded. Men claim they were provoked, or are of unsound mind or have mental illness: These have been successful defenses. And the Police often express sympathy to this narrative as opposed to the victim’s.”

“We have a history of protecting oppressors.”

It takes 7-10 years for a child rape case to conclude, he pointed out.

Establishment of child courts are needed, he said, as well as several legislative amendments. “The government is working on a new law to reform the domestic violence act, reform of marriage and divorce laws to ensure there is an easier path to divorce: no one should be forced to remain in a marriage that is either abusive or not healthy.” (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

Continue Reading